Some micro organism I consumed earlier this week has knocked me down for the count. This past weekend I had a jam packed food centric weekend lined up with with PR events, work with the caterer, and an epic dinner invitation from Lori Lynn at Taste With The Eyes for a special dinner for ten at Stephanie Izard’s Girl and The Goat arranged by her adoring brother, Don. I had to cancel my whole weekend , just to be be able to recover, and attend this dinner I wouldn’t have missed for the world. By midday Sunday, after plenty of sleep, bed rest, liquids, and other things I wont mention on a food blog, I was ready , to take Lori Lynn up on her gracious invitation. Mind you, I hadn’t really eaten in about a day and half. Marie from Proud Italian Cook ,kept checking in on me all weekend to see if I would make it. To say we were excited would be an understatement.
If you don’t know who Stephnaie Izard is, than you should. She is the only female winner of Top Chef ,and we in Chicago are damn proud of her. The past few months as I have been thinking about blogging, chefs, cuisine, and the food industry in general, I have been thinking of who’s the real deal and who’s just perpetrating . There is a lot I’m not overly impressed with when I analyze it all.Having been all over, and dined all over. I can say Stephanie is the Real Deal. I confess most of the times I go the hottest new restaurants, I’m left with a feeling of not being impressed and let down after spending my precious time and money. Many overly hyped places and people are really not that original or want to really stretch themselves or their diners. But after having dined at Girl and The Goat,I cant say I have ever dined like that in my life. Stephanie is a wizard in flavors and ingredients. Imagine a perfectly seared chicken with watermelon and olives. Crazy but does it work! Marie and I agreed no one coaxes and manipulates vegetable entrees like Stephanie. I could go vegetarian if I had her recipes. Besides the food, I was wowed by her rustic elegant interiors that made you feel comfortable and at ease. There was a casual laid back, yet clean and efficient ease with the staff. Her stacks of pottery and various jars as serving vessels inspired me to pull out my own for use.
What I admire most about Stephanie is her graciousness. Graciousness and modesty seems to be hard to find in this modern age. Lori Lynn’s brother had Stephanie cook for him at a private event in his house once before.Later that year, he had also bid and won on another local Top Chef contestant to cook for another private dinner at a charity event.That didn’t work out and Stephanie stepped in and offered him a gracious dinner at her new restaurant as compensation. She didn’t have to do it, but she did. I have worked in a few kitchens, and from what I saw Stephanie is a hard working , graceful chef with a pleasant attitude and no airs no matter how sticky things get. That’s a rarity in this business. And my hunch is people feel this and will gravitate to Girl and The Goat. For a Sunday evening all the tables were in use, and there was wait list for at 9pm.We reluctantly gave up our table after 3 hours for the next party. That’s not typical for Sunday nights in a recession.
Our gracious hosts ordered practically the whole menu for us to sample with accompanying wines. I barely made it through the appetizers, as I was still recovering. But we slowed the flow and I managed to sample most of the offerings.I had to go easy on some on the heavier meat dishes as I wasn’t quite up to that yet with my stomach. Here is what we dined on from the menu. I placed a star by my favorites although I found everything was exceptional.
warm marinated olives *
pan fried shishito peppers with parmesan , sesame, and miso *
sauteed green beans with fish sauce vinaigrette and cashews**
shaved kohlrabi with fennel, blueberries, evelon, and toasted almonds *
chickpea fritters with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
grilled baby octopus with guanciale, lemon- pistachio vinaigrette *
seared scallops with braised veal, caponata, and marcona almond butter
steamed clams with pork sausage, fennel.green tomato, and linguine *
seared summer flounder with brandade, tart plums, and sweet onions *
pork liver mousseline with ham hock jus, apple mustarda, and crumpets *
ham frites with smoked tomato aioloi and smoked swiss
smoked goat pizza with honeycrisp soffrito , black kale, cipollini, and ricottta
skirt steak a la planch with chiogga beets, house pickles, wilted romaine, salted goat milk caramel
wood oven roasted pig face with sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, and potato stix
braised beef tongue with masa, beef vinaigrette, and salsa verde
pan roasted chicken with fermented black bean, nicoise olives, celery, watermelon, and mint *
goat belly with lentils
sweet corn nougat with plum apricot and candied bacon *
fudgecicle with olive oil gelato and dragons milk *
fried potato dumplings with candied eggplant, figs, and honey yogurt
goat cheese bavaroise with blueberry and brown sugar cake *
Pretzle bread with apple mustard