August 16th, 2013

LITTLE GOAT DINER

Posted in Celebrity Chefs, New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants, Travel, Trends

I was fortunate enough to make it to Little Goat Diner when I was in Chicago. If you are not aware, Little Goat Diner is the 2nd installment in the restaurant empire of Stephanie Izard, Top Chef winner, season 4.

Little Goat Diner and its adjoining neighbor opened to much anticipation in December of 2012. Little Goat Bakery provides all of the baked goods for the diner, the restaurant across the street, and the booth at the Chicago French market.

The interior of the diner is airy and modern, with soft gray and gold softening the light in the diner. An open-air kitchen faces the main seating area.

When we asked for a seat, we were told we would have to wait for 45 minutes and would receive a text when our table was ready. So in the meantime, we decided to check out the bakery next door.

I was lucky to catch the guy behind the counter singing out names of customers. It definitely added to the atmosphere!

The pastries sold here were pretty interesting, including a cherry chocolate chili bagel, a blueberry fennel scone, and a cherry-corn cupcake. We had other plans though, so filling up on pastries didn’t seem like such a good idea.

We found two stools at the bar, and upon making ourselves comfortable, were informed that the bar was full service. It was nice to know we didn’t have to wait 45 minutes. That was all we needed, and we got right into settling in.

First order of business: coffee with goat’s milk and goat’s milk cajeta. It’s not often that you see goat’s milk coffee on a menu, so we gave it a try. According to the bartender, it’s made with half goat’s milk, half cow’s milk, and goat’s milk cajeta.

THE LITTLE GOAT

For Breakfast we saw quite a few interesting dishes but settled on a couple with a distinctive Asian bent.

KIMCHEE & BACON & EGGS & PANCAKES ASIAN STYLE BREAKFAST TASTY THING

Yes, that is the official name of this dish. By whatever name, this was a really tasty breakfast dish, though a bit unexpected. House Kim Chi, crispy pieces of bacon and fluffy eggs are stuffed inside pancake batter. An overly crispy, caramel edge on the pancake was the highlight of the dish. A handful of fresh bean sprouts and scallion keep the dish fresh and light. A simple sauce of what seems to be sherry, soy and sesame adds the needed acidity.

BRANDADE & BELLY

This dish was the collective favorite at the table. For starters, the biscuits were ethereal, light and tender: the biscuits I wish I could make. Topped with a delicious Brandade, crispy pork belly, two perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs, Kim chi, and pickled banana peppers, I could eat this for breakfast everyday and be perfectly content. Portions here are generous, luckily, or we would have been fighting over the last bite of that bacon/biscuit/Kim chi mash-up.

TEMPURA MASHED POTATOES

For our last taste of the day, we took a ride to Tater Town and ordered the Tempura mashed potatoes. So creamy in the middle with a crispy crust, they were accompanied by shredded vegetables, Asian BBQ, and house ranch dressing. Everything that I love about potatoes was in this dish. The creaminess, the earthiness, all perfectly contained in a crispy little Tempura shell.

Honestly, the menu at Little Goat is so extensive; you could eat at the diner everyday for a week, for 3 squares, and still not sample everything. While quite a few of the dishes were mainstream, there were just as many that were unusual with interesting combinations. We sat next to someone at the bar who ordered poached eggs on toast. Simple dishes will appeal to your picky spouse, while the more adventurous dishes will bring the adventurous eaters by the dozens. Overall, the menu and selection is a bonanza for those playing it safe as well as the diner that likes to eat on the edge of the seat.

One thing to say about the blossoming Izard empire: she does really a great job a promoting her brand. Her goat logo is easy to remember; you can even by a goat bobble head doll if you want to bring the Izard experience home with you.

Make sure to pop in the next time you are in Chicago!

April 5th, 2011

Cooking Over an Open Fire

Posted in Travel

S’mores around camp fires and hot dogs roasted on sticks were something we always did around big lakeside bonfires in the summer.  Chips and salsa were pretty common, as were Pop Tarts in the morning, and crackers and cheese later in the day.  However, camping doesn’t have to mean days filled with basic foods like hot dogs, sandwiches and chips. 

For some people going camping means renting one of the new Kabins at their local KOA or throwing up a tent for the night and leaving before breakfast in the morning.  But the type of camp food I’m talking about is a little more fun than chips and sandwiches.  Our green chile egg torta with black bean and corn salsa and chopped cilantro turned out pretty well, and our late night skillet cornbread was dynamite with a touch of honey. Say goodbye to milk and cereal in tiny bowls! Read more »

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March 3rd, 2011

Good Ol’ Texas Barbecue

Posted in Pork, Travel

Finding the best barbecue in Texas is like looking for the best cheese curds in Wisconsin, the best lobster roll in New England, or the best microbrewery in the Northeast.  It’s a he-said, she-said type of debate and what it really boils down to is personal taste.  The one thing nearly all Texas barbecue aficionados can agree on is this: beef is king, and more specifically, brisket.  Recently I was fortunate enough to take a small tour of Texas barbecue joints.  What I found is a wide array of juicy brisket, both lean and fatty, smoky hand-made sausage, tender smoked turkey and sticky-sweet stick-to-your-ribs ribs. Read more »

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January 28th, 2011

El Bulli – A Masterpiece Meal

Posted in About Allison, Pork, Spain, Travel

I have always had a little crush on Ferran Adrià.  Well, at least on his food!  Ferran Adrià has been called many things, the “Salvador Dali of Food”, the World’s Best Chef, the World’s Most Creative Chef, a genius and many other monikers.  When I first stumbled upon his cooking, it was because of my interest in “molecular gastronomy”.  Now, Ferran Adrià seems to shudder at this term, so maybe I should say my interest in the combination of food and science.  Somehow, it is more than just that, maybe his cooking defies a title?  When Adrià began to appear on the food scene, everyone began to wonder, where did this guy come from?  Ferran Adrià was born in 1962 in Spain and was schooled in Barcelona.  In 1980 he left school, where he was studying business administration, and became… a dishwasher.  My hero.  I have a theory that all great chefs are born out of serving their time with hands in a sink of dirty dishes.  Read more »

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December 17th, 2010

Road Food

Posted in Travel

What is road food?  This term can mean so many different things to so many people.  To some it may mean a large, specific fast food chain, often more than once daily.  To others it may mean finding something quick to eat wherever and whenever they can while they’re on the go; between flights, on your way to the airport, to the rental car place, or to and from work.  Road food can be driving around San Diego on a Monday night trying to decide which place will disappoint you the least.  And yet others may take it upon themselves to find the out-of-the way barbecue joints or the homegrown burger stops.  You can find good road food (and bad), in spots all over the country.  Small towns, roadside food stands, highway rest stops and airports are all good candidates for road food gems.  Read more »

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December 9th, 2010

World of Flavors Conference 2010!

Posted in About Allison, Food Shows, Travel

The smell of grape must surrounds me as I drive through sunny Napa Valley, I love that smell!  It reminds me of the grape harvest, good wine and the great food that is found in this area.  Every November, the Culinary Institute of America hosts a food conference at their Greystone location in St. Helena, CA.  Greystone is centered in the heart of California’s northern wine country and offers the perfect location to immerse in all things culinary.  All while drinking wine.  Not a bad days work!  The Worlds of Flavor conference brings together the top chefs and experts in the industry to immerse the attendee in a sea of culinary knowledge.  This year’s topic was Japan, a cuisine I profess to know little about, so I was anxious to dive in and learn.

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November 23rd, 2010

Pork Belly

Posted in Food Shows, food tours, Travel

Chefs love pork belly.  It lends itself to so many different preparations, cooking techniques and flavor combinations.  It is one of few food items that have the unique ability to absorb the flavors of what it is cooked or served with, while maintaining its own flavor and texture.  It can be sweet, it can be salty, it can be smoky.  It can be all of the above at the same time. 

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November 5th, 2010

Sial Food Innovation Show

Posted in About Allison, Food Shows, Travel

My job as Research Chef has taken me many places with fabulous food, but Paris is always a highlight for new culinary experiences.  The fresh open air markets make me want to run and find a kitchen so I can cook and play with the delicious ingredients found there.  Scallops still in the shell with roe attached, unpasteurized fresh cheeses, melt in your mouth foie gras, whole and freshly caught rabbits, flaky, buttery croissants that are like no other, macaroons that deliver incredible flavors in one bite.  Don’t get me started on the incredible wines to go with all these ingredients!  The fresh, local ingredients that are found here are the building blocks of a great cuisine that has produced some incredible classic dishes.  It makes sense that Paris was a perfect backdrop for the Sial conference, a food exhibition that showcases new trends, ingredients, products and technology served up at the convention center a short distance from the city’s center.

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July 20th, 2010

Exploring the NRA Show

Posted in Food Shows, food tours, Trailer/Street Foods, Travel

The National Restaurant Show was held a few weeks ago in Chicago, IL.  While it seemed to be smaller than in past years, I still found a few interesting items and ideas.  Let’s start with the “Best of Show”, for me it was the Cholive. 

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May 21st, 2010

Portable in Portland

Posted in About Allison, food tours, Trailer/Street Foods, Travel

What makes a meal memorable?  The atmosphere, the flavors, the presentation?  For me all of these things, but what is most important is the people you share the meal with.  The stories behind the chefs or purveyors dishing up the food are fascinating to me, as they are often as unusual and varied as the meals themselves. 

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