The event was the launch party for COOKGIRL, a website dedicated to celebrating female chefs. COOKGIRL kicked off its mission in Chicago, honoring a handful of the city's favorite female chefs and asking a few local female food bloggers to weigh in on their foodie favorites.
As if that wasn't already cool enough, we were dining in the private room at Little Goat where chef Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Little Goat) and her team were preparing dinner for us in the open kitchen. I've dined at both Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner and both were amazing, but being here in this intimate group with chef Stephanie speaking to us about the menu she customized and prepared for us was pretty amazing.
And chef Stephanie's menu did not disappoint. I love her food because it always feels unique, but still approachable. And while Girl & the Goat is one of the hottest reservations in Chicago, the atmosphere is warm and inviting and not stuffy.
We started dinner with a delicious salad served family style: thinly shaved kohlrabi, kale, and fennel tossed with toasted almonds in a ginger dressing. It had a really great smoky flavor and reminded me that I love kohlrabi and should start cooking with it more often!
Known for her use of goat meat in her cooking, chef Stephanie's next course was a generous plate of goat empanadas. Flaky pastry was stuffed with tender goat meat and served warm with radish, queso fresco, and a deliciously creamy miso-harissa aioli.
The next dish was one of my favorites: pierogies stuffed with creamy celery root puree and topped with tangy brown butter kimchee. Give me the whole plate now, please!
For a fish course, chef Stephanie served a single large scallop. It was seared perfectly and served with tart grapefruit segments, avocado, garlic chives, and a spicy Asian sesame oil.
Next up: lamb ribs. How beautiful is this plating? The ribs were fall off the bone tender and were topped with crunchy marcona almonds and a root veggie caponata.
Another favorite dish of the night was a simple vegetable side, but one that I have tried and loved at Girl & the Goat too. This perfectly roasted cauliflower is caramelized and served with pickled peppers, pine nuts, and fresh mint. I love that savory roasted cauliflower with the briny and slightly spicy pickled peppers. So good!
And finally, sauteed shrimp and pork belly served with fried grains and noodles, served with some shaved vegetables in a light tamarind vinaigrette.
Dessert came out in two rounds: the first was a mini citrus pavlova. Crunchy meringue served with blood orange semifreddo (it tasted like cotton candy!), yuzu curd, and candied kumquats.
Along with the pavlova, a selection of Little Goat Bread's signature cookies: "wookie pies" -- chocolate cream filling sandwiched between two little chocolate cakes, s'mores cookies -- my favorite of the bunch, and an only slightly sweet cashew cookie.
It was a really wonderful meal and such an impressive group of ladies-- both the chefs and the women behind COOKGIRL!