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It is a monumental food moment when you uncover the perfect Macaroni and Cheese. It’s a simple dish, but getting it just right isn’t easy. Most childhood memories are filled with Kraft Dinner (aka KD), so as an adult you crave a more grown-up version. It requires the perfect combination of cheeses, the right type of pasta that’s cooked al dente, a harmonious balance of noodles to creamy sauce and a nicely browned top crust. Caren’s Wine & Cheese Bar (158 Cumberland St.) in Yorkville has perfected their Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

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The deep dish is filled with penne noodles and four types of cheese: Cheddar, Swiss, Sao Miguel and Parmigiano-Reggiano. There’s also flecks of real chiles, parsley and it’s topped with a sprinkle of chives. It’s a hearty meal at $16 ($21 with proscuitto) and definitely a portion big enough for two. Pair it with a glass of wine and an appetizer, and you’ve got a top-notch meal.

Carens is right across from the Cumberland 4 Cinema and a great spot for a pre- or post-movie bite. Plus, the ambience is cozy and romantic, ideal for a first date or an intimate celebration.

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And for those days you can’t make it over to Yorkville, why not perfect your own spicy version of that childhood favourite with Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe. Just be prepared to fall into a deep cheese coma.

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