Field Trip! Duck Confit Mac & Cheese at The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District
Every year, we are down in Orange County (I grew up there - if you call it "The OC" I will upchuck upon you) for an annual conference. And each year, I love getting together with childhood friends and reconnecting. This year, there was a big buzz about the opening of the Anaheim Packing District - so of course, I needed to go check it out myself. I met up with a friend of mine on a Saturday around 11:30am. We agreed to meet up a little early as we'd heard that parking could be difficult and we didn't want to be surrounded by a hungry mob. My friend mentioned that she's heard there was a hidden speakeasy within the space, and so that made it to the top of list of spots to find while there. Once we met up (it's been so many years!), we set out finding the speakeasy. Along the way, we sampled some delicious meats and cheeses from Wheat & Sons (my friend completely confounded the gentleman helping us at the counter, to the point that both I and the rest of the staff were giggling at the ongoing exchange) and ended up grabbing some to-go as we looked for the speakeasy.
As it turned out, the speakeasy, The Blind Rabbit, was almost across from Wheat & Sons. And, we were just a little early as they didn't open until noon. That didn't stop my friend from popping in the open door and striking up a conversation with the staff. We ended up grabbing two overstuffed chairs around a nice low table (it felt as though we were in our living room, in a good way) rather than bellying up to the bar. Since we knew we were "home" and here for the duration, we got cozy and after asking if it was okay, unwrapped our Wheat & Sons parcel to nibble. And the entire staff, by the way, was amazing, knowledgeable, and friendly. Aces, every one. You see that libation above? The one with the big ole ice cube and a hunk of bacon perched atop? That's a Bacon Old Fashioned (bacon-infused bourbon, Grade-B maple syrup & Angostura bitters) and it is waaaaaay better than you could ever imagine. So much so that I had three of them. Hey - I was there for over five hours. And I am now trying to find out to make bacon-infused bourbon; if you have a recipe, I'd love to try it! But amazing drinks aside, around the middle of my second Bacon Old Fashioned we realized that we were both ready to grab something more substantial for lunch.
After perusing the Blind Rabbit menu, we decided to split the Duck Confit Mac N' Cheese (truffle oil, topped w/Panko crust + micro fine herbs). Of course we did. How was it? Weeeeeellllllllll, I want to tell you that it was amazing. Unfortunately, the parts appeared better than the sum. It had a nice afterburn from a little cayenne pepper and it had a nice overall mellow, creamy flavor. Unfortunately, it was on the dry side and that exponentially worsened after it sat for more than two minutes. I'm giving it three elbows, but there is definitely room for improvement here. I was a bit sad, as I really wanted to love it (it sounds amazing!!!), but a third Bacon Old Fashioned helped ease the pain a bit.
Me? I'll probably be back next time we're in town for the drinks and the staff - and hopefully, the next mac & cheese I try there will knock my socks off.