Sunday, April 12, 2015

Specially Selected Truffle Macaroni and Cheese; Mascarpone and Sun-Dried Tomato Mac and Cheese (Aldi)

SPECIALLY SELECTED TRUFFLE MACARONI AND CHEESE
Definitely not the blue-box macaroni and cheese you grew accustomed to!
It should only take you one, maybe two reviews before you realize that I do not have anything close to a refined palate.  I can’t pick apart certain flavors when given a complex dish, nor can I swish around wine and tell what vintage it is.  The only way I know to enjoy food is to put it in my mouth and rely on what my blue-collar taste buds tell me.  At least, that’s usually how it works.

I’ve eaten half of the bowl, and I still can’t even tell what I think of Specially Selected’s Truffle Macaroni and Cheese.  I will say that it cooks up nice and creamy on the stovetop, thanks partly to the packet of cheese powder and dried mushrooms that comes inside the box.  As you probably know, “truffle” is basically code for “mushrooms”, and while I’m not a fan of mushrooms, I felt like the combination could be pretty delicious.  And as the cheese sauce starts to thicken a bit more, it seems to explode with more flavor.  This definitely isn’t your typical boxed macaroni and cheese, as the cheese isn’t so cartoonishly exaggerated; there’s plenty of it here, but it’s also offset by the earthy taste of the mushrooms, so those looking for a cheese overload would do best to look somewhere else.

Even though I can’t exactly describe this flavor as “addicting”, it’s different enough that I keep getting urges to take another bite, so that certainly has to account for something.  The texture, between the soft noodles and the creaminess of the cheese, is a big reason for that; but you definitely can’t ignore the taste…I’ve seriously never had a macaroni and cheese like it, boxed or otherwise, and while I definitely won’t be getting this again any time soon, I certainly would get it again at some point in the future.

Points must also be awarded for value.  Given the “Specially Selected” label, I was figuring that the box would make even less than a typical box of national brand mac and cheese, but it ended up making the same amount, which was definitely enough to fill me up.  A box of this costs $1.99, which I initially thought was pretty affordable; after tasting it and seeing just how much it makes, I have to conclude that it’s a pretty solid deal, especially since it’s only a couple quarters more than the national brand of shells and cheese, yet packs in a much more unique cheese flavor.  If you’re tired of the same ol’ macaroni and cheese, and don’t mind a little fungus in your food, you should definitely scope this one out.

Overall: 7.5/10.  Tired of “typical” macaroni and cheeses?  This is definitely a step in the opposite direction!  I’m not a huge fan of mushroom, but decided to give this a shot anyway, and I’m glad I did.  The mushrooms provide a nice, earthy taste that coexists with the rich, creamy cheese; the end result is a surprisingly addictive twist on an all-time American classic!


SPECIALLY SELECTED MASCARPONE AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO MAC AND CHEESE
A few days ago I tried Specially Selected’s Truffle Macaroni and Cheese, a review which you will find paired up with this one.  But the one I was secretly most excited for was this one, which my wife picked up during the same trip.  I’m not one for mushroom (though I did end up liking it quite a bit), but the combination of cheese and tomatoes have never let down anyone.

I’m not too familiar with my cheeses, especially “exotic” ones like mascarpone, so I can’t say with exact certainty that’s what this smells like, but this dish is packed with an overwhelming smell of cheesiness.  Like the truffle mac, once cooked, it’s smothered in cheese, with the added benefit of having little bits of sun-dried tomatoes, instead of mushrooms.  But this isn’t just one of those women that are just good looks and no personality…no, this has the taste to match.

It’s absolutely exploding with a decadent cheesy flavor, and “decadent” is a word I usually reserve for desserts at fancy restaurants.  The tomatoes actually play a key role here, helping to offset the mascarpone explosion, by balancing it out with a hint of sweetness.  For being completely dried out, the tomatoes manage to taste at least somewhat fresh in the finished dish, and have a nice, soft texture.

Now one thing I will say, is for this one, my wife added the recommended, but optional, additions of butter and grated parmesan cheese, something I did not do while preparing the truffle mac.  So that no doubt helped to make this even creamier and more delicious.  I have no doubts it would taste pretty darn good even without those additions, so if you don’t have butter or parmesan on hand, you’ll still be left with a delicious, and at least somewhat healthier, entrĂ©e.

Overall: 8/10.  We wouldn’t hesitate to get this again.  A ridiculously cheesy macaroni with bits of sun-dried tomatoes…how could you go wrong?  As this dish proves, you can’t.  If you like really any kind of cheese, but especially mascarpone, you owe it to yourself to check this out.  I should note that we did prepare this with the recommended additions of butter and grated parmesan cheese, which no doubt made it even creamier (and even less healthy) than it would normally be, but I also wouldn’t think twice to try it the way it is right out of the box.  It’s a Special Buy at Aldi stores, meaning once it’s gone, it’s gone until the next time, so time is of the essence!

16 comments:

  1. just tried the Truffle mac and cheese myself. It was good, though next time I have some... refinements in mind. For instance, would use half white wine and half water. Next add some bleu cheese crumbles, would keep it modest, but would add a great deal of earthiness with the truffles. Am looking forward to trying the other two flavors I picked up, going to start with the wine thing right off the bat on those. lol

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    1. Oooh, bleu cheese crumbles would be a fantastic addition! Do you get those from Aldi, too? I love theirs, if you haven't tried them before...soft and rich. I've also never thought of adding wine to macaroni and cheese of any kind, but then again, I'm definitely not the cook of this family...

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    2. Found this site looking for alternate places to purchase Specially Selected Macaroni & Cheese TRUFFLE. I upgraded the water called to 2% milk or half & half and it was excellent.

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    3. That seems to be the word on the street...with some modifications it can be pretty delicious. I'll give it another shot with milk, or some other addition, the next time it's available. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. After eating the truffle Mac and cheese, I felt I needed something to compliment the flavor, so I drank a pint of gasoline and immediately smoked a cigarette so my taste buds would never have to endure that travesty of flavor. Wouldn't eat again if you paid me.

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    2. To each their own, I suppose. The earthy flavor of mushrooms certainly aren't for everyone. The plus side is you don't ever have to eat it again!

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  3. My Aldi has stopped carrying the tasty treat 'Truffle Macaroni and Cheese' in a box. Please tell me where I can buy them in bulk, to send to all 3 of my current college, freshmen grandkids. Any help you can offer will be appreciated!!

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    1. I looked on eBay and Amazon, which would probably be far and away your best bets, and couldn't find this specific product. HOWEVER, I did find this:
      https://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Italian-Macaroni-Sun-Dried-Truffle/dp/B01MYMBXMY

      It's not the Aldi product specifically...or is it? The packaging looks the same, and they offer the same three variations that Aldi carries (tomato & mascarpone, pesto, and truffle). Either this is the main brand that Aldi's version is emulating, or this is another private label version made by the same company.

      Only downside is they only seem to have three packs consisting of one of each flavor, instead of being able to just order the truffle. But maybe you can contact them and see if they can just send you three truffles!

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    2. The pricing for this is ridiculous on Amazon for bundle of three @ one each. Amazon price is $16.99 (avg. $5.99 per box) and Aldi price is $1.79 - $2.29 per box. Will wait for Aldi to display again and stock up.

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    3. Oh, I definitely agree that buying them from Amazon is ridiculously overinflated, but they were asking for help in locating them between Special Buy cycles, and this is, to my knowledge, the only way to do it.

      With some products, it might actually be worth it to buy elsewhere if you have a craving, because they're available only once a year, or sometimes even less (I'm STILL waiting for them to have Cherry GT Cola again, which I haven't seen since 2009), but these seem to be available pretty frequently.

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  4. You must add 2 cans of tuna and hollar back. Talk about tuna casserole stove top. Oh yeah.

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    1. Haha, I'm going to take your suggestion and give that a shot the next time I see these. That actually sounds pretty good.

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  5. I just made the truffle mac and cheese last night for dinner. I really enjoyed it and so did my family. I did add the parm and butter. I tried the pesto version as well a few days ago. ( I've been craving carbs a lot lately) I undignifiedly ate almost the entire box by myself.

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    1. Haha, that can be all too easy to do. I wish I had the same problem with healthy items!

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  6. This is amazing o loves every drop. I made it with spaghetti pasta instead of the shells or came with. I also added chicken and spinach for a full meal. I will for sure make this again.

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