Monday, July 27, 2009

Road Rasher: Top Chef slings bacon, beer

Note: Head BDJ Lab Tech Jenni S. was lucky enough to score a spot at the first Wandering Goat, a traveling backyard dinner bash thrown by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. Here's her report...

God bless Twitter--I've scored more free stuff in the past couple of weeks from that site/service/whatever the F you want to call it than you could shake a stick at. Bacon soap from Archie McPhee, Lyle Lovett tickets from Ravinia, and--thanks to a Twitter-based contest--tickets to a swingin' backyard culinary bash. The host: Top Chef champ and Chicago native Stephanie Izard. The purpose: Izard's gearing up for the opening of her Drunken Goat restaurant a few months down the road. The crowd: veteran food journos like Steve Dolinsky (aka ABC-7's "Hungry Hound" guy), restaurant marketing whiz Ellen Malloy of the Restaurant Intelligence Agency, and scores of hungry food fans like me.

Holy crap, the food was great. I'm a horrible blogger, because I was more concerned with stuffing my face and imbibing mass quantities of Three Floyds' excellent Gumballhead wheat ale, than I was about marking down details regarding the food I was wolfing down. Here's what I ate, to the best of my now-cloudy memory:
* This grilled octopus dish, with pineapple and some other stuff sprinkled on it (pancetta, I think): awesome
* Little triangles of polenta, with wee slivers of radish, creamy sauce stuff, and tangy berries on the side: fabulous
* Cute little biscuit rounds with smoked BBQ pork and slaw on top: brilliant
* Oysters with some other stuff on the half shell: yum
* Calamari stuffed with lamb: OH MY GOD--I think i had three servings of this one
* Hunks of fried bread with some meat or other on top: never got to it because I was so apeshit about the calamari

Inside, Wandering Goaters were treated to a trio of divine gelatos: banana curry, lemon ginger and roasted red pepper. I marveled at all three, but the banana curry had me going back for seconds, despite the fact that my fullness level was already at the pants-bursting point.

Ms. Izard didn't just walk around schmoozing--she spent most of the evening working shoulder to shoulder with her prep staff in cooking and plating the dishes. However, she did take a break to grab a beer and tell me she's already hard at work on the menu for next month's menu. While she's tight-lipped about the specific dishes, she did share the star ingredient that will dominate the dishes: BACON. Come hell or high water, I will be there--and next time, I'll take better notes.


  1. I am so jealous! Though I really have no interest in Twitter at all, the possibility of scoring free admission to this does make me think twice about that.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Aw, thanks. I'll most likely be going next month, although I might take up Stephanie's offer to have me help. I'd have to work, BUT I'd get an awesome Wandering Goat T-shirt.