Inaugural Macaroni Festival a tasty affair

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The humblest of dishes—macaroni and cheese—got its due at Huntsville’s inaugural Macaroni Festival on September 15. Festival-goers could sample 12 different dishes from seven local restaurants and one caterer:

Affogato Café – Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese, Candied Bacon Mac & Cheese Gelato;
Burnt Ends BBQ – Smoked Mac & Cheese;
Huntsville Brewhouse – Jalapeño Cheddar Mac & Beer Cheese Croquette breaded in spent grain crumb and served with New England IPA Jelly;
Main St. Local – Creole Style Mac & Cheese with Crab and Bacon;
Marigold Indian Cuisine – Tikka Masala Mac & Cheese, Butter Chicken Rice, Chana Masala Mac;
That Little Place by the Lights – Creamy Baked Pancetta and Peruvian Pepper Mac & Cheese and Lasagna;
The Mill on Main – Smoked Brisket Mac & Cheese; and
Whimsical Bakery – Cheeezy Traditional Mac & Cheese.

Everyone buying the $2 sample tickets received a Pasta-Port to vote for their favourite dish. The winner will be announced by the Downtown Huntsville BIA, presenters of the event, soon.

There was also pasta-themed street art for kids, artists decorating paddles in their own pasta visions, music and square dancing at Town Hall, and a variety of vendors including the 100k Market in a new Main Street location for the day.

The festival was a nod to Huntsville’s one-time macaroni factory. More than 100 years ago, in 1913, the Strano Manufactory of Macaroni was established on Main Street. It and the then Lyceum theatre occupied the space where the Algonquin Theatre is today.

Domenico Strano came to Huntsville as the foreman of the Standard Chemical Company and later, attracted by the business possibilities in Huntsville, decided to open a bakery and macaroni factory. He found a market in the vibrant Italian community of workers at the tannery (the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company) and he also shipped to Toronto and Montreal. Strano sold the business in 1926 to Martin Iverson. The building that housed the macaroni factory survived until February 24, 1992, when it was destroyed by fire. (Details courtesy of Susan Pryke’s Huntsville: With Spirit and Resolve.)

If you didn’t get a chance to sample the variety of mac and cheese on offer at the festival, you’ll have to trust us that they were delicious. If you did, who did you cast your ballot for? Let us know in the comments!

Peter Redwood (left) and Ambrose Adams were just two of the smiling faces selling sample tickets

Peter Redwood (left) and Ambrose Adams were just two of the smiling faces selling sample tickets

The Pasta-Port detailed the delicious dishes. Samplers cast their ballot at the end.

The Pasta-Port detailed the delicious dishes. Samplers cast their ballot at the end.

Manny (left) and Lindsay Buttus serve up Creamy Baked Pancetta and Peruvian Pepper Mac and Cheese (right) and lasagna

Manny (left) and Lindsay Buttus from That Little Place By The Lights serve up yummy Creamy Baked Pancetta and Peruvian Pepper Mac and Cheese (right) and lasagna

The most unusual dish of the day was Affogato's Mac and Cheese Gelato with Candied Bacon. They also served Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese.

The most unusual dish of the day was Affogato’s Mac and Cheese Gelato with Candied Bacon. They also served Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese.

Seth Verzyden of Burnt Ends BBQ served smoked mac and cheese on Main Street

Seth Verzyden of Burnt Ends BBQ served savory Smoked Mac and Cheese on Main Street

One of three dishes at Marigold was the spicy Chicken Tikka Masala Mac and Cheese

One of three dishes at Marigold was the spicy Chicken Tikka Masala Mac and Cheese

The 100k Market moved on to Main Street for the day

The 100k Market moved on to Main Street for the day

Nick is grinning because the Huntsville Brewhouse's Jalapeno Mac and Beer Cheese Croquettes (served with New England IPA jelly) are that good!

Nick is grinning because the Huntsville Brewhouse’s Jalapeño Mac and Beer Cheese Croquettes (served with New England IPA jelly) are that good!

The Mill on Main served up a tasty Smoked Brisket Mac and Cheese with horseradish sauce

The Mill on Main served up a tasty Smoked Brisket Mac and Cheese with horseradish sauce

The Fernglen Fiddleheads provided entertainment - and square dancing music! - at Town Hall

The Fernglen Fiddleheads provided entertainment – and square dancing music! – at Town Hall

(From left) Caitlin. Chloe and Max Cooke enjoy the Fernglen Fiddleheads

(From left) Caitlin. Chloe and Max Cooke enjoy the Fernglen Fiddleheads

Whimsical Bakery's Cheeezy Traditional Mac and Cheese was sold out by 2 p.m.

Whimsical Bakery’s Cheeezy Traditional Mac and Cheese was sold out by 2 p.m.

Juliette Sewell adds to the macaroni street art while Holly Sewell watches

Juliette Sewell adds to the macaroni street art while Holly Sewell watches

Who did you cast your ballot for?

Who did you cast your ballot for?

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5 Comments

  1. Too bad last week’s Huntsville newspaper said the Macaroni Festival started at 10:00am on Saturday. We were there around 10:30am and only the usual Saturday Farmer’s Market vendors were there, along with some entertainment. So we left and obviously missed the main event. Perhaps the advertisement for the festival could be a little more accurate if it will be an annual event.

  2. I have to say they were all good, forcing tough decisions, but I ended up voting for Marigold’s chicken tikka masala mac & cheese, with Affogato’s gelato with cheese and bits of bacon coming in a close second for being ridiculously original, and the Brewhouse’s jalapeno croquette also standing out, and… well, can I just give everyone else an honourable mention?
    .
    Raphi voted for That Little Place’s lasagna, which I agree was more vividly tasty than your run-of-the-mill lasagna, but today he’s arm-wrestling me for the last of the Marigold samples (they actually served *four* dishes) which we took home because we were stuffed.
    .
    He and I shared the experience with a couple of neighbours and it was interesting to see the differences in tastes and tolerances. For instance, with that classic love-it-or-hate-it herb, cilantro, which Marigold used liberally, I’m firmly in the love-it column and my neighbours both hate it (“It tastes like soap!”). While I thought the Brewhouse’s sweet IPA jelly was a lovely cool sweet foil for the nice burn on the croquette, Raphi turned up his nose. Chacun a son goût!
    .
    Altogether a great event and I hope it continues for years to come. Congrats and thanks to the restaurateurs, organizers, volunteers, musicians, vendors and others who made it happen.

    • 2 queries: How can anybody not love cilantro?; and Why do your neighbours eat soap? My vote went to The Little Place By The Lights; creamy pancetta with Peruvian peppers. The peppers were unique, and very sweet…yum!

  3. I only was able to try the Mill on Main Mac and Cheese and Brisket and it was truly awesome. I arrived too late as most were at the end of the day.
    But what fun and a great idea….and a tribute to the Strano Family and their contribution to Huntsville history. I grew up with and played sports with Don Strano but wasn’t aware of this part of our town’s history before this great event. Thanks to the BIA…great idea and another enjoyable day on Main Street.

  4. Enjoyed the festival once we realized where to buy the tickets and that some restaurants you had to go inside to get samples. My husband was only able to enjoy a couple because he is Celiac and most weren’t gluten free.
    Next time you need better signage as to where to buy tickets. People who came from Centre St or Brunel Rd were very confused.

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