Friday, November 12, 2010

The Mac Off

The other day I was reading my weekly email from the Charleston City Paper and saw a blurb about the first annual "Mac Off" being held at the Charleston Visitors Center bus shed.

Um, what? First cupcakes and NOW mac-n-cheese? Those are my two favorite food groups!

At first I was excited to go and when I was getting ready I ran out of steam because I had nothing to wear. All my winter sweaters are STILL in Ohio (yes, it's been almost two years!!) and I've been having some really blah days about my personal appearance. I am convinced I look like Morticia Addams all the time because of my long dark hair and my love of all things black. Though she is much smaller than me... she probably isn't running off to Cupcake Camps and macaroni and cheese competitions all the time!


I finally got dressed and we headed downtown, parked and walked over to the bus shed. From the beginning the event was sheer chaos. We weren't really sure of how the event was going to run and the girls at the ticket tables weren't very forthcoming with information. We paid our admission and walked in. We passed the I.D. check table since we didn't plan on drinking and then walked into the area with the vendor tables.

There were people swarming about and we had no idea what to do. Robin saw people with tickets so we assumed we needed those to get our mac-n-cheese samples. We walked from one end of the shed to the other looking for a ticket table - not an easy task with millions of people wandering aimlessly! When we got to the end and saw nothing so we walked back to the front to ask the girls at the admission table. They told us there were tickets "inside" but they would sell us some. Uh, thanks!

Cheesy Chaos!

The vendor tables were set up in one long row and if you wanted a sample you simply stood in the long line and when you got to the front you gave them your ticket and they gave you a sample. Tickets were a $1 and really... most of the samples were kind of small.

Nothing too exciting for $1

We each bought 5 different types of macaroni and cheese and I only ate two. Well, I sampled the others but honestly, they were gross. The first one we sampled I think we spent more time looking at it intensely trying to figure out what was in it... some kind of meat. I didn't finish it. I actually spit two out right after putting them in my mouth (I know... classy!) and the other one Robin tasted and then immediately caught me before I put it in my mouth and said "Don't do it! You'll hate it" - well, I didn't listen to her but she was right. It was horrible. I won't name names, but I WILL say that the best one of the five that we tasted was from Crave.

Cheesy goodness from Crave!

I was pretty disappointed because the Mac Off website said that sampling was going to be from 7pm to 10pm but several of the restaurants actually ran out of mac-n-cheese before 8:30! We were in line for Palmetto Cafe and were only 5 people from the table when they ran out of samples! What?!?! I was pretty bummed because I overheard several people say that they were one of the better ones!

The last of Palmetto Cafe's samples :(

I'm wondering how it will effect the results of the contest if most people weren't even able to sample some of the restaurants because they ran out. By the time we made it over to J. Paulz their table was completely wiped clean. They must have really run out really early because it was only 8pm at that point!

I think if the Mac Off is going to continue as a tradition they really need to rethink their set up. First of all - they need a much bigger venue! Secondly, the restaurants need to have signs ABOVE their tables so people can tell who is who! There were so many people that you couldn't tell where the line ended, or if there even was a line! Most times you couldn't tell what line you were even in! We got into a routine where Robin would wait in line and I would walk to the front to see what restaurant it was. The restaurant visibility was pretty shabby. I think only two restaurants had signage that was visible to everyone. Finally, plan for a crowd - don't run out of mac-n-cheese, people!

I think both of us were ready to leave soon after we arrived. Neither of us drink and you couldn't stand in one place without being in someone's way. After we (quickly) ate through our tickets we made our escape and headed to the top of the parking garage where our car was. Robin joked that we should have made our own mac-n-cheese and just sat up there in some chairs eating it out of a pan while enjoying the view and the music.

Now there's and idea for next year! At least we would save $30!

The Visitors Center and bus shed from above

Our beautiful city at night!

1 comment:

Clytie said...

(Love those bicycle lights!)

Maybe next year you should bring your own mac & cheese, sit out in the parking lot and SELL it to the people coming out after 8 PM! you'd probably make a ton of $$$