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What's up with the lobster mac 'n' cheese?

mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 08:59 AM

This has been bothering me for a while. I learned to cook while living in Italy, where combining seafood and cheese is a cardinal sin. I have tested this rule a few times just to be sure and always come to the same conclusion -- it produces a foul, sour taste. With this in mind, what he heck is going on with all these restaurants offering "lobster mac 'n' cheese"? Do they not know this rule?

  1. JugglerDave Mar 23, 2007 09:24 AM

    Mac 'n' Cheese = $6 side dish.

    Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese = $18 entree.

    Besides, cheese is not too far of a progression from a Newberg sauce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JugglerDave
      Rubee Mar 23, 2007 09:38 AM

      "cheese is not too far of a progression from a Newberg sauce"

      Just what I was thinking. If you live by this 'rule', for example, you'd be automatically ruling out such classic dishes as Lobster Newburg and Coquilles St. Jacque.

      1. re: Rubee
        mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 10:02 AM

        Hmmm...the dishes you guys mention all involve crustaceans. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

    2. m
      mojoeater Mar 23, 2007 09:28 AM

      Come on! Even in Italy, people top their shrimp linguine with parmesan!

      9 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater
        mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 09:29 AM

        This couldn't be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, they'll look at you like you're crazy if you ask for such a thing.

        1. re: mangiatore
          mojoeater Mar 23, 2007 09:38 AM

          I didn't get any weird looks. But maybe my face was in the pasta and I didn;t notice!

          But as JD said above, Newbur sauce and bisque aren't too far from cheese. I like shrimp in quesadillas and butter on my lobster, so I'd try lobster mac.

          1. re: mojoeater
            hotoynoodle Mar 23, 2007 02:34 PM

            you were in a place frequented by americans, then.

            the whole point of shellfish and fish is the delicacy and brininiess of flavor. cream and cheese completely obliviate that. sure, i agree, cream and cheese are delicious. but they don't need to go on everything.

            1. re: hotoynoodle
              mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 02:41 PM

              Amen hotoynoodle!

              I was just about to ask mojoeater if he/she was eating in St. Mark's square in Venice or something.

          2. re: mangiatore
            hrhboo Mar 23, 2007 06:11 PM

            Yes, but mac n' cheese can hardly be classified as an Italian dish.

            1. re: hrhboo
              jfood Mar 23, 2007 06:37 PM

              That's called baked ziti. Love it.

              1. re: jfood
                charmedgirl Mar 24, 2007 06:45 AM

                Except baked ziti usually includes a tomato sauce element and traditional american mac n'cheese does not.

                1. re: charmedgirl
                  QueenB Mar 24, 2007 08:11 AM

                  Unless you're eating it in my house, where the baked ziti is 75% cheese, 20% pasta and 5% tomato sauce. What can I say...I love cheese!

                  1. re: charmedgirl
                    jfood Mar 24, 2007 08:15 AM

                    Tongue in cheek, charmed, sorry.

                    The tom sauce in Jfood ziti is probably a 10% ingredient as well Mainly there for a little flavor and make is easy to mix the ricotta and mozzy into the dish. Mostly pasta and cheese.

          3. c
            chowfamily Mar 23, 2007 10:09 AM

            This reminds me of a story told by Jacques Pepin about dining with his wife in Italy. She requested cheese for her seafood pasta, and the chef demanded to know who was this person wanting cheese. When informed, the chef conceded that if it was for them, it was fine.

            1. Megiac Mar 23, 2007 10:16 AM

              Because it tastes good? Seriously, a local restaurant serves a lobster mac 'n' cheese made with mascarpone, and it is absolutely delicious.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Megiac
                azhotdish Mar 23, 2007 11:00 AM

                Yes, I made lobster mac-n-cheese last month using a rich lobster broth and fontina cheese...topped with a little white truffle oil, I'd like to find anyone saying seafood and cheese don't mix after tasting it!

                1. re: azhotdish
                  chef chicklet Mar 26, 2007 09:03 AM

                  I would love to try this! Both lobster and mac and cheese are huge favorites, and love and use fontina mostly. I am interested in your recipe azhotdish, will you share?

                  1. re: chef chicklet
                    azhotdish Mar 26, 2007 09:39 AM

                    Sure, I used this as a starting point and made a couple of small tweaks.

                    The lobster stock is a critical step, so don't skip it - it really makes the dish.

                    1. re: azhotdish
                      chef chicklet Mar 26, 2007 10:56 AM

                      Looks so good, I can't wait to try this! Thanks so much!

              2. jfood Mar 23, 2007 11:16 AM

                Like I have said in posts about pizza, we gotta get another name for the fru-fru derivatives of classic belly burners.

                For example, I suggest we limit what we call pizza to basic toppins and please do not include pineapple, chicken and any generality from Asia. Thai pizza? Not. It may have wonderful combinations but let's change the basic noun from pizza to, say, flatbread.

                Mac & Cheese with Lobster. For the record, I chuckle when I see it. If I want Mac and Cheese give me Mac and cheese. I want it down and dirty. At most throw some bread crumbs on top to give it a little crunch. I have a hard time coming up with anything to call it, but I get a bit of the shakes when I see people order this at a resto.

                Out of curiosity to those that have eaten it. What part of the lobster, if you know, does the resto put into the dish? Is it the tail and you feel you are getting your money's worth or is it the leftovers and the kitchen is maximizing revenue? TIA.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jfood
                  lebelage Mar 23, 2007 11:28 AM

                  While I do think lobster Mac n' cheese is an abomination I don't believe in that hard&fast rule of no cheese with seafood ever.

                  Sauce Mornay is a classic with seafood and has cheese.
                  What about cream cheese and lox?
                  Creme fraiche is not entirely dissimilar to cheese and goes well with many seafood items...
                  In general seafood and cheese are poor companions as both cancel out the subtleties of the other. But there are always stand out exceptions. I just don't think Lob Mac n' Cheese is one of them.

                  The trend started with The French Laundry cookbook.. lobster with pasta in a mascarpone enriched lobster cream sauce I believe it was... now every wannabe neverwill cook out there is throwing cheese on lobster.

                  1. re: lebelage
                    jfood Mar 23, 2007 11:48 AM

                    French Laundry wasn't the Chris Columbus of this combo but stole it from that other great taste sensation the Burger King Whaler sandwich, who stole it from McD's with the fish filet with cheese sandwich.. Only kidding.

                    For Jfood the only thing between me and my lobster (when i eat it) is drawn butter. Period.

                    1. re: lebelage
                      mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 11:55 AM

                      "lobster with pasta in a mascarpone enriched lobster cream sauce I believe it was"

                      I can see a chef who knows what he's doing (I think Thomas Keller qualifies) defying the rule with a cheese that is extremely mild such as mascarpone or cream cheese. But, I mean, lobster mac-n-cheese using a rich lobster broth and fontina cheese topped with a little white truffle oil??? Fontina is definitely a cheese that will end up giving a sour taste to seafood. And truffle oil on top of that? Could you even taste the lobster?!

                      1. re: lebelage
                        spankbot Apr 4, 2007 08:39 PM

                        I'll bet you this mac n' cheese is made with a Mornay stile sauce. That was the forst thing that came to mind when I saw the original post.

                    2. icey Mar 23, 2007 11:57 AM

                      perhaps it has more to do with the type of cheese as opposed to cheese in general. i am from an italian family that instilled this rule in me as a child, "NO CHEESE ON FISH OR FISH PASTA!!!". and i still find it very disturbing when i make a wonderful seafood pasta and have people ask me for parmiggiano. perhaps it is the parmiggiano that does not mix well with the fish or seafood. (maybe its too salty and sharp?) anyways, i think that as jugglerdave and rubee said, there are great exceptions to the rule...i have never eated lobster mac and cheese but perhaps the cheese is very mild that it doesnt overwhelm the lobster.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: icey
                        mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 02:07 PM

                        I avoid the problem with guests asking for parmigiano by saying the following before it hits the table: "so, since this is a seafood pasta (or risotto), there won't be any parmesan cheese." Then I walk away and act busy before anyone has the chance to object.

                        1. re: mangiatore
                          jfood Mar 23, 2007 03:53 PM

                          My guests are welcome to ask for anything to make our evening together more enjoyable. If someone wants to put ketchup on their risotto, I would ask them to give it a shot first and then if they want ketchup, I would gladly bring it in. These are my friends, why would I want to create tension because of something so silly as cheese on risooto.

                          A little too controlling.

                          1. re: jfood
                            snaporaz Mar 23, 2007 04:55 PM

                            I couldn't agree more. First of all it should be about hospitality.
                            Secondly, I am Italian and grew up in Rome, and though this rule is a mantra, I remember hearing my dad (sicilian, born in Palermo) saying it to me straightfaced while sprinkling parmigiano on his tagliolini al salmone.
                            His point being: you should know the rules, but feel free to break them.

                          2. re: mangiatore
                            QueenB Mar 23, 2007 03:53 PM

                            Wow. I've made seafood risotto before that includes shrimp and scallops and I always like to grate fresh parmesan on top. And liked it. And never found it nasty.

                            But that's what makes us human. We all have different likes/dislikes!

                            And if I were having seafood risotto at your house, and you told me that, I'd probably end up raiding your fridge for your block of parm. ;-)

                            1. re: QueenB
                              jfood Mar 23, 2007 04:05 PM

                              You and me QB. I really like cheese on seafood risotto, coquille st jacque and lots of other stuff the cheese police would give me a ticket for eating.

                              1. re: QueenB
                                mangiatore Mar 23, 2007 04:39 PM

                                Ha! Now that is funny QueenB. But seriously, next time you make a seafood risotto try it before adding the cheese. You might be surprised. You might also try adding a bit of high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

                                1. re: mangiatore
                                  QueenB Mar 24, 2007 08:14 AM

                                  I always taste my risotto before adding the cheese. The cook always has to taste the meal before serving it, right? I honestly just prefer the taste with a sprinkle of cheese. I know it's not traditional and I know it's against the "food laws", but I like it that way, so that's the way I eat it.

                                  I will try a drizzle of olive oil though.

                                  1. re: mangiatore
                                    jfood Mar 27, 2007 06:44 AM


                                    I'm with QB on this one and like cheese on my risotto with shellfish. I have tried in with and without and have gone as far as trying different cheeses to get different flavors. I am also one of the only people I know when the chicken soup hits the table and the Mom says "It definitely needs salt" that actually tries it first and 50% of the time i like the flavor of the soup without the salt.

                                    So yes I think everyone should try it first and then if the person feels they will enjoy my cooking more with a little cheese, snap my fingers and there it is. Isn't enjoying the whole point of cooking and eating. If a guest enjoys it more why demand elsewise. You should grab a copy of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi episode. Not a pretty picture.

                                2. re: mangiatore
                                  greenstate Mar 24, 2007 06:46 AM

                                  Wow, I wouldn't want to eat at your house. What are you the food Nazis? Sheesh! Relax and enjoy your dinner guests and make them feel welcome. Isn't that the point of having dinner parties? Otherwise we could all sit in our little homes, eating whtever food combinations that we each deem acceptable, and never be bothered by other people's perceptions of what they think tastes good.

                                  (meant to reply to Mangiatorre's earler post, about not allowing parmigiano at the table)

                                  1. re: mangiatore
                                    thinks too much Mar 27, 2007 05:51 AM

                                    Hmmm. I think that there is definitely a balance to be working towards on this one. While the words themselves sound a bit controlling I can appreciate part of the sentiment. I have lots of friends (and family members) who are absent-minded about food. They will order the safest thing and cook the safest thing. So if I am busting nuts in the kitchen to make something that is just a little out of their rut, I'd like them to try it my way... for 2 or three bites. The first will just identify that it's different, which will often elicit an attempt to bring the food back into the familiar ("and when in doubt, add cheese.") The second and third taste, will allow a person to explore that new taste. Afterwards, as a point of good hosting, I'll hand them anything.

                                    I liked that mangiatore was trying to slip in some education about why she/he was doing something a specific way, rather than merely being a diva. Don't most of us read more about food than many of our friends?

                                    1. re: thinks too much
                                      icey Mar 27, 2007 06:42 AM

                                      Guys you gotta calm down a bit. Go easy on me and mangiatore. Just because we get annoyed at people asking for parm, I would definetly not refuse to give it to someone if they asked for it. I recently made pasta with shrimp and my guest asked for parm...I gave it to her and watched her load the pasta with parm, have a forkful, and keep grating and eating one forkful until all was gone...YES I CRINGED!!!!! but it didnt ruin my evening...and I would never make a guest feel bad about it. SHEEESH! personally, i also liked the fact that mangiatore was trying to educate his guests, and they may actually realize that a seafood pasta tastes better without parm...if they still want it after they've tried it, thats their perogative.

                                3. Davwud Mar 23, 2007 12:37 PM

                                  I may not know a lot but I do know two things.
                                  1) I'll eat cheese with anything.
                                  2) A couple months back I made crab risotto which had parmesan in it and it was fantastic.


                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Davwud
                                    jfood Mar 23, 2007 01:02 PM

                                    Was it real crab? If it was fake than it was not seafood but a fish (and a really ugly one). Not a huge difference, but still something to consider.

                                    BTW - I put grated cheese on my pasta with shrimp and scallops all the time. Likewise my scallop risotto, so i'm with you. I like it and that's all that matters at my dinner table. Likewise Mrs Jfood puts more on than me.

                                    1. re: jfood
                                      operagirl Mar 24, 2007 12:11 PM

                                      If anybody's making surimi risotto and calling it "crab," then I just don't know what the world is coming to. I doubt Davwud would've made something so gross!

                                      1. re: operagirl
                                        jfood Mar 24, 2007 02:06 PM

                                        I will guarantee that there are restos that do. Davwud will let us know the D kitchen.

                                      2. re: jfood
                                        Davwud Mar 24, 2007 03:07 PM

                                        Not only was it real crab. It was Alaskan King Crab that I shelled myself. It was on sale so I thought, "What the heck!!"

                                        Just for a test, I had salmon (Pouch style) on the menu Friday night and had parm risotto with it. I prinkled some parm on the salmon and it was great. No problems with it at all.


                                    2. m
                                      malibumike Mar 23, 2007 01:04 PM

                                      Seafood not going with cheese??? Dont forget the Gourmet delight ---- Mc A Dee fish sandwich that comes with a slice of american cheese on top!!!

                                      1. g
                                        gaianeh Mar 23, 2007 03:21 PM

                                        I'm breaking all kinds of rules when I order a pesto pizza with clams.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gaianeh
                                          Glencora Mar 23, 2007 04:43 PM

                                          Guess so. I've seen shrimp pizza with cheese, but that was in Belgium and what do they know. (I'm kidding.) Oh, and I had a really nasty pizza with pickled seafood including baby octopuses in France. Pesto with clams seems sane by comparison.

                                        2. hrhboo Mar 23, 2007 05:39 PM

                                          It isn't that different from Lobster Thermidor, a delicious if highly outdated dish.

                                          I love mac n' cheese with or without lobster. If I can tolerate people eating that wretched blue box stuff then I'm sure my penchant for lobster mac can be tolerated too!

                                          1. Donia Mar 23, 2007 11:29 PM

                                            I guess I'm not a purist, but I believe in eating what you like...even if it's mac & cheese with lobster.

                                            1. chigirl71 Mar 24, 2007 07:02 AM

                                              Rules were made to be broken and lobster mac n' cheese is a wonderful example. 2 of my favorite foods combined in one tasty dish?! There is no way that can be wrong. That said, I cringe when I see people putting parmesan on pasta with fish -- that "rule" should be an iron-clad no no.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: chigirl71
                                                jfood Mar 24, 2007 08:10 AM

                                                That's not fair. :-((

                                                I think all rules (wrt food) can be modified, changed and broken. I just have a brain cramp when i see a name that I immediately understand (mac & cheese or pizza) and then see new ingredients that do not make sense on a knee jerk point of view. Thai or Hawaiian Pizza, no. Call it Thai or Hawaiian Flatbread.

                                                Look at the marketing for hamburgers. We took a perfectly good name for something made from beef and when we switched to soy and turkey we called it a soyburger or a turkey burger. We did not call it a soy hamburger or a turkey hamburger. I gues we have to start with a misnomer to work the system properly. Don't get me started on hot dogs. woof.

                                                1. re: jfood
                                                  Davwud Mar 24, 2007 03:14 PM

                                                  I'm with you J

                                                  One of the most abused words is "Cajun." I can get Cajun pizza, Cajun pasta, Cajun chicken salad. Cajun just about anything. Even if it has no taste resembling Cajun flavour.

                                                  Don't get me started on adding a couple of "High end" ingredients and adding $$$ to a poor mans food. Like your Lobster Mac & Cheese or your $20 hamburgers because they've got fois gras on them or things like that. Some people just always have to reinvent the wheel.


                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                    chigirl71 Mar 24, 2007 09:35 PM

                                                    Wait a minute, I just said I *cringe* when I see people put parmesan on their pasta with seafood, and IMO that should be an ironclad no. I didn't say I handcuff my dinner guests and frog march them out of my house or publicly ridicule them if we are out in a restaurant and demand that they be removed for breaking a cardinal food rule.

                                                    1. re: chigirl71
                                                      jfood Mar 25, 2007 04:47 AM

                                                      Chigirl71, understood, and i love your description starting with "frog march" what a great description to read on a sunday morning. Thank you.

                                                      But, the cringe to ironclad perp walk is what i mentioned is unfair. A cringe is an internal reaction that suck a little air and move on, but an ironclad rule is no way jose rule. I cringe at the idea of mayo on hot dogs (and being from chicago i think you might agree, you have pretty good dogs out there and way much better ribs than ct), but at a jfood bbq if one of the guests asks for it, then the hellman's comes out of the fridge, i think that's just basic host politeness.

                                                      So if you are saying it is ironclad for you but you are accepting when guests ask if you are serving seafood and pasta that's one thing, but if they ask and you refuse you have done the equivilent of the frog march to their tongues and desires.

                                                      1. re: jfood
                                                        chigirl71 Mar 25, 2007 04:39 PM

                                                        Hi jfood. Perhaps I was too hasty in my use of the term "iron clad."

                                                        When I was dating my husband, I made shrimp scampi and he asked for parm. . .and I married the guy, so obviously my definition (or lack thereof) of iron clad is not so good.

                                                        I like to think of myself as a gracious host, so of course if they want cheese with thier seafood I am more than happy to oblige. No handcuffs. No frog marching.

                                                        It is a personal rule (I retract the iron clad across the board.)

                                                        The mayo on a hot dog? If I saw that at a Chicago hot dog stand I would fear for the persons life, I actually have seen people publicly ridiculed for requesting ketchup. If a guest at one of our cookouts requested it I would, again, oblige just to see someone actually eat it. . .not unlike watching an episode of Bizzare Foods, or watching someone eat a live goldfish.

                                                        So, no iron clad rules in my house when it comes to guests. Personally, I have iron clad food rules that boarder on OCD.

                                                        Thank you for setting me straight. Happy eating!

                                                2. John Manzo Mar 24, 2007 06:05 PM

                                                  Yeah, tuna melts are a real abomination.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: John Manzo
                                                    jfood Mar 25, 2007 04:48 AM

                                                    I love tuna melts but mrs jfood is in your camp.

                                                    1. re: John Manzo
                                                      Panini Guy Mar 25, 2007 06:07 AM

                                                      JM - can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. One would hope not. Tuna melts have been a staple of my diet for 30 years. And it's one of our top sellers - our version features olive bread, asiago and arugula around a salad of tuna in olive oil, cannellini and seasoned riso.

                                                      1. re: Panini Guy
                                                        John Manzo Mar 25, 2007 07:38 PM

                                                        I LOVE TUNA MELTS! i love a wrap with tuna, mayo, manchego and arugula w/ tarragon dijon in a wrap on my panini grill. I was indeed being sarcastic since I cannot stand arbitrary orthodoxy and freakily LOVE LOVE LOVE lobster mac and cheese, and lobster "lasagna" with potatoes au gratin in place of pasta, and lobster poutine with mascarpone in place of cheese curds (you get this delicacy at Brava Bistro in Calgary)... I can tolerate orthodoxy when it has a clear point- eg, eat Thai curries with a spoon, not because you'd otherwise offend anyone, but because it's impossible to really get all the rice curry slurry any other way. I will NOT refuse,for example, to put wasabi in my soy sauce because it "offends" the sushi chef- screw the chef, he is here to "not offend" ME. And if I like seafood and cheese, then dammit, I am going to eat seafood and cheese.

                                                        1. re: John Manzo
                                                          mojoeater Mar 26, 2007 09:43 AM

                                                          I don't like hot mayo. That's my problem with tuna melts. Maybe if the binder was sour cream instead...

                                                    2. j
                                                      jrhsfcm Mar 25, 2007 12:59 PM

                                                      Iron Clad Rules?  Can you imagine the boring cuisine we'd have if everyone actually bought into that notion?  There are plenty of people who believe science has no place in the kitchen, yet the world of molecular gastronomy has opened a world of new dishes and techniques.  C'mon - we're humans: we have an urge to break rules. haha  

                                                      As for seafood and cheese, I think it's just a matter of understanding the flavor profiles of the ingredients you are using.  For instance, I make a lovely crab risotto, but instead of using parmesan I use some marscapone.  Same general concept of the Keller lobster "mac & cheese" - the sweetness compliments the natural sweetness of the crab (or Keller's lobster).  

                                                      Another faux pas in the culinary world: pairing red wines with fish.  For the LONGEST time people would balk at the idea of pairing a red (even a light red) with fish.  What do you know - by understanding the flavor combination, many people prefer pairing certain reds with fish.  For instance, Eric Ripert did a short interview a few months ago with Menshealth: he almost exclusively drinks red wine with fish.  As he says, he's the worst nightmare of classically trained sommeliers.

                                                      If the chefs behind two of the country's (and the world's) most respected restaurants, The French Laundry and Le Bernardin, can break such rules... well, certainly the populous at large (and our guests are allowed) to experiment and make choices based on our own palettes.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: jrhsfcm
                                                        chigirl71 Mar 25, 2007 04:41 PM

                                                        I've retracted the iron clad statement.

                                                        There are no rules. It's culinary anarchy!

                                                        1. re: chigirl71
                                                          mangiatore Mar 26, 2007 08:27 AM

                                                          Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller can get away with it because they know what they're doing. The generally questionable chefs here in San Diego cannot.

                                                          1. re: mangiatore
                                                            jfood Mar 26, 2007 08:49 AM

                                                            Every chef started somewhere. Each probably made some hot dogs, grilled cheese and the like in their youth and probably still love these classics when no one is looking.

                                                            We once had a chef at our club who was a sous chef at a NY resto (very high end) and right out of cooking school he would try his "what ifs" on many of us. Some of these sauces and dishes became staples at the NY resto. As they say in Lottery, "Hey you never know."

                                                      2. paulj Mar 25, 2007 01:16 PM

                                                        Seems that most of the objections come from individuals steeped in Italian cooking and traditions. I wonder if flavors of Italian cheeses have anything to do with it. Would a Swiss, such as Gruyere which is often described as having a nutty character be any different? How about a cheddar, which even at its sharpest goes well with fruit (apple pie)?

                                                        From a texture standpoint, I would think that lobster would go well with mac'n'cheese, being slightly firmer, yet without much of a grain. Cubed ham or pork tenderloin come to mind as other items have the right texture.

                                                        I haven't eaten enough lobster to comment on the 'foul, sour taste'.


                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                          coastie Mar 25, 2007 07:53 PM

                                                          To each his own - there are very few instances where I eat any cheese with my fish.( they do exist)
                                                          There is a historical reason why the no cheese and seafood rule. You could not tell if the fish was bad. The cheese smell would cover up and mask the smell of the fish.

                                                          1. re: coastie
                                                            John Manzo Mar 25, 2007 09:19 PM

                                                            This has got to be an apocryphal crock of, you know, stinking rotten fish. Do you seriously believe this? Don't put X on the fish because you might not be able to tell the fish is bad? Why not say not to use basil or onions or whatever?

                                                            If you have a reference I'd love to see it. I don't buy a word of fhis.

                                                            1. re: John Manzo
                                                              misohungrychewlow Mar 25, 2007 09:47 PM

                                                              There are a few exceptions -- crustaceans sometimes seem to be compatible with cheese/cream concoctions, but ...I just grilled a lovely piece of mahi mahi and cannot imagine any circumstance when it would not be irredeemably debased by cheese. Or, say, cheese on swordfish (vomit) ... ugh ... It may not be a law like kosher or halal, it's more like ... Heinz on peach cobbler, or slathered on melon and prociutto instead if home fries or onion rings. No.

                                                              1. re: John Manzo
                                                                chef chicklet Mar 26, 2007 09:17 AM

                                                                Yes you certainly can tell if you have a good nose, which comes with a good palate.
                                                                Because when a fried calamari dish was brought out to me, which I have had numerous times before and they never served it parmesean cheese on top (!) only with a dipping sauce and lemon, I more than certainly could smell the bad fish within inches of my nose. It was the first time ever and it has not happened since, but it was a nasty attempt to sell the fish.

                                                                1. re: John Manzo
                                                                  coastie Mar 26, 2007 09:36 AM

                                                                  I'll do a little reasearch and get back to you...... since you were so "kind" about your doubt..... remember we are talking historical and we are talking about a group of people that thought tomatoes would kill them. Good quality cheese is a bit off smelling in and of itself - food poisining killed you as often as not in those days....
                                                                  This is the explanation they gave us in culinary school. Most of the dishes in this thread offered up as examples of fish and cheese tasting good together are not strict Italian or they are modernized American versions of the Italian cuisine

                                                              2. re: paulj
                                                                paulj Mar 25, 2007 09:49 PM

                                                                How about shrimp and cheese?

                                                                A web search turned up lots of entries for shrimp and cheese grits.

                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                  Jeanne Apr 5, 2007 09:53 AM

                                                                  Shrimp and grits is a great southern dish - whether the grits are made with parmesan, as one local restaurant does, or made with cheddar cheese, as I do - it's GOOD EATS!

                                                              3. Vexorg Mar 25, 2007 11:59 PM

                                                                Who exactly enforces these rules anyway? I'm getting a mental picture here of a deranged chef sitting in front of a huge video screen watching hidden cameras, fists clenched in fiery indignation as he summons his goons to take out another seafood cheese-eater. Sure, if you are eating in a fine traditional establishment, I can see that being the case (and would probably trust the chef on it) but chances are that somewhere along the line, someone's going to mangle the rules well beyond recognition, and the results (in some cases) will probably actually be quite good.

                                                                It's a good thing nobody actually enforces these rules, as I'm pretty sure most of us would have been dragged off by a pack of angry French chefs ages ago.

                                                                1. jfood Mar 26, 2007 03:32 AM

                                                                  I now have the authoritative conclusion that fish and cheese are absolutely, positively, acceptable;

                                                                  A bagel with novey and cream cheese.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                    JABDDD Mar 26, 2007 05:10 AM


                                                                    Anyway, the only lobster mac and cheese I have had, and it is delicious, is made with a saffron bechamel (I think) and is seriously to die for. If you are in Philly, try Stella Blu in Conshy. It is amazing.

                                                                  2. s
                                                                    swsidejim Mar 26, 2007 09:07 AM

                                                                    I couldnt see wasting such a great, flavorfull item such as lobster is in such a pedestrian dish as Mac-n-cheese.

                                                                    what some folks think is good eating is constantly surprising me.

                                                                    Different strokes I guess.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: swsidejim
                                                                      paulj Mar 26, 2007 09:37 AM

                                                                      What is it that makes mac-n-cheese pedestrian? Something inherent to the recipe, or pedestrian ingredients? Consider this recipe from Robert Irvine, that uses a cup of butter, heavy cream, truffle oil, and 8yr old cheddar, along with the lobster - and 1 lb of pasta (or less).


                                                                      Lobster is a luxury item for most of us, but at one time it was food for the poor in Maine, and macaroni was a nickname for someone who aspired to high European style.


                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                        swsidejim Mar 26, 2007 09:48 AM

                                                                        I think most know the history of lobster in this country.

                                                                        I also stated "different strokes for different folks" so people can eat what they like.

                                                                        I just dont consider mac-n-cheese a gourmet item no matter how much some chef attempts to "dress it up".

                                                                    2. jen kalb Apr 4, 2007 03:01 PM

                                                                      Your statement is much, much too strong. Im thinking of the seafood lasagnes I was served in Venice - they definitely had a cheese component, AND they were delicious. Ive seen other contexts in which cheese and fish were combined - usually a very mild white fish, but fish nevertheless or where a little bit of cheese was added to enrich a seafood pasta sauce. It definitely goes on. What doesnt go is the dribbling of parm or other cheese indescriminately onto every pasta dish.

                                                                      When we were in Campania last week, it was notable that grated cheese was NOT routinely offered, as it is in some northern regions.

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