Still, at its core, macaroni and cheese is about, well, macaroni and cheese, and my favorite versions are the ones that make the most of those two components. Think about how, in a good macaroni and cheese, the hollow elbows nestle together to form a beautiful, springy honeycomb structure. At Artisanal, a cheese-centric New York City brasserie, chef Terrance Brennan refines that already elegant design by replacing macaroni with penne rigate, which has a grooved surface that really holds the cheese sauce. "I also use four different cheeses," he says; "fontina for creaminess; Gruyere for its earthy flavor and hint of Alpine grasses; Comte for nuttiness; and Parmesan, in the topping, for that umami quality." But ask Lyra Petrie, the owner of Ginger Root, a Caribbean cafe near my Brooklyn apartment, and she'll tell you that a sharp cheddar is all you really need. "As long as you use a quality cheese, you can't go wrong," she assured me the last time I stopped in for a helping of her custardy, nutmeg-spiced macaroni pie. The best part is, they're both right.