Citizen Smith, Hollywood – Jalapeno Mac n Cheese Update

citizen smith, hollywood, los angeles, ca - jalapeno mac n cheese
You ruined it for me. You did.

I hate when you do that.

You talked up the Jalapeno Mac n Cheese at Citizen Smith. You told me I had to go, I just had to go and try it. You built up my expectations. You made me think I was going to have an orgasm in the form of spicy-comfort fusion. You did.

If only you hadn’t done that. If only, then I probably would have drawn my own conclusion that Citizen Smith’s Jalapeno Mac N Cheese was God’s gift to Delicious. But I didn’t. Look, it wasn’t bad. Sure, I smiled at the table when I tasted it. I said I liked it. I may have even pseudo-purred an “mmm.” It just wasn’t as mind-blowing as you promised.

(Hm, why does that scenario sound vaguely familiar?)

We were seated at the lone dining table in Citizen Smith’s back bar area. It’s an enormous dark wood table, long, heavy, almost Medieval looking. Seated around it, it felt like we were party to an invisible Henry VIII.

The Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese held much promise when it came to the table in its tiny individual casserole dish. Macaroni and cheese just slightly over-filled the dish, creating an ever so gentle dome of bumps and crevices, garnished with thin slices of fresh jalapeno that had wrinkled and blistered into warped little rings of fire and spice. In the darkness, there appeared to be a crumb topping, but by candlelight, it was actually just browning of the cheese under a broiler. I hate to use such a cliché term, but my mouth was watering at the tastethought of crispy, crusty, toasted cheese.

The macaroni and cheese part of the dish was as it should be, though I would not have been opposed to cooking the pasta a little less before sending it off to cook even further under the heat of the browning broiler. The disappointment came from the jalapenos, or rather, the lack of jalapenos. I was expecting a much more pronounced jalapeno flavor and heat. In fact, at first, I could not figure out where the jalapenos came into play in the dish, if at all, other than the garnish on top. They had been chopped into a fine dice and mixed into the cheese sauce. The flavor was faint, and the heat was almost undetectable to me.

With the expectation of a creamy burn, I had to ask the server for hot sauce. He asked me whether I wanted Tabasco, Tapatio or sriracha. I am almost positive that my eyes visibly lit up. Hot Cock! Citizen Smith has Hot Cock?! I asked him to bring me the sriracha.

The server returned empty-handed. Either he had been toying with my expectations and emotions on purpose, or he was just stupid. Citizen Smith doesn’t have sriracha, he told me apologetically. How does one accidentally tell a guest that they have sriracha? “Sriracha” is not a natural, easy word to just let slip out. The server must have gotten Citizen Smith, a bar and ultra-lounge in Hollywood, mixed up with his other job of hurling egg rolls and chop suey into takeout boxes out of the back of a B-rated cart on a dirty street corner in Chinatown.

Yes, I was mad that he had teased me like that. I ate as much of the Jalapeno Mac N Cheese as I could stomach against the disappointment of little heat, then shared the rest with the table.

I am going to make Jalapeno Mac N Cheese at home. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But damned if I don’t make one that’s better than Citizen Smith’s.

At the very least, I’ll have sriracha.

(There are quite a few recipes for Jalapeno Mac N Cheese out there, but what on earth makes it any different from a regular macaroni and cheese recipe with the addition of jalalpenos? Not one to pass up an opportunity to geek out on research, I will likely be doing competitive, comparative recipe building based on a few: Jalapeno Macaroni a nd Cheese Casserole, Rock & Roll Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese Casserole, Gourmet Magazine’s Spicy Macaroni and Cheese, and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Jalapeno Mc N Cheese — which I have to make just because it’s Jimmy Buffett. No, I am not a Parrothead.)

Citizen Smith
1600 N Cahuenga Blvd (@Selma Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA

** a year ago today, dried plums weren’t a date at warszawa **
** two years ago today, excellent, detailed, totally sophisticated wine tasting notes on three bottles. um, yeah. **

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