Farm vegetables have different roles in the restaurants. We’ve got preening divas, like tomatoes, that fully ripen and get harvested for just about five or six weeks every year. They and others, like peppers, are stars. And we preserve them with abandon — fermenting, pickling, turning into sauces, sun-drying — to assist through the rest of the year in Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare.
They are not workhorses, however.
Arugula? Now there’s a workhorse.
Arugula Loves Cold Weather
We grow arugula for much of the year, from seed we have saved from arugula plants for 14 years. The origin of the first harvest? A packet of organic seed from McGuckin’s. Thank you, our favorite hardware store!
Our arugula is under row cover all winter, and we harvest it through most of the winter. We often sweep away snow from row cover to get to the plants.
Once the ground begins to warm up, sometime in late March, the arugula under row cover begins to get bushy. By the time the Farmers’ Market kicks-off in April, we have mountains of sweet arugula.
Emphasis on sweet. Double emphasis on spectacular.
Arugula is at its best when it experiences cold. Frigid weather compels roots to pump sugars into leaves, which acts as antifreeze. This antifreeze is one reason that greens like arugula and kale persist through frosts, but greens lacking sufficient antifreeze, like basil, do not.
We don’t normally associate antifreeze with culinary pleasure. But arugula antifreeze is one we champion.
As daytime temperatures begin to rise into the 80s, and nights no longer require sweaters, that antifreeze remains in arugula’s roots, rather than the leaves. As a result, the greens grow increasingly bitter and “hot,” like wasabi or horseradish.
We plant arugula every few weeks through the summer, and normally have it fresh to harvest all summer. And we still savor arugula in July and August. But it’s not quite as beguiling as during colder months.
Now, of course, we are back into arugula’s sweet spot.
We planted our last field of arugula for the year this week. We will begin harvesting it sometime in December.
Meanwhile, arugula we planted in August is getting harvested today. And due to the cold nights, the antifreeze is beginning to spread back into the leaves again. As fall tightens its grip, the arugula will grow more candylike with every passing week.
Arugula Culinary Preparations
Arugula is no shrinking violet; it stands up to bold flavors. In salads, it’s wonderful with things like grilled tomatoes and grated Parmesan cheese. One dish we love in the restaurant involves thinly sliced beef tossed with arugula — a simple and outstanding warm salad.
We also frequently puree arugula it in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, nuts and parsley, for what is truly a majestic pesto.
A trick: Put an ice cube in the blender when you puree arugula. The cold helps maintain the vivid green color that is so appealing in pesto or another arugula treat, salsa verde. Also, a squirt of lemon juice helps keep the sauce green.
Another easy arugula prepartion involves something most of us anticipate, now that the air is cooling down: soup. Fill a big bowl with fresh arugula leaves, and ladle brothy hot soup over the leaves. The soup instantly cooks the arugula.
We will have plenty of the elegant workhorse arugula at the Market, as well as a bounty of other from-the-field pleasures. We look forward to seeing you at the Market, as well as Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare.
It’s the Season for Booking Holiday Parties
It was in the 60s yesterday. Jingle Bells remains on the horizon. Months away.
Ditto for the parade of holiday parties.
Planning for festivities, however, has started. Our dining rooms already are getting booked for holiday parties.
We would love to serve you during the season, and help make your party special and memorable.
To book our dining rooms for parties, please contact Black Cat general manager Maygen Brown: [email protected]. Or call Black Cat Bistro for both Black Cat and Bramble & Hare bookings, 303-444-5500.
We treasure our annual Thanksgiving tradition at Black Cat Bistro, and are eager to share this magical event with our Boulder community.
Annual Black Cat + Bramble & Hare Thanksgiving Feast
Please join us for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. We offer a three-course meal, with choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. In addition, we serve all of the classic side dishes.
This is Thanksgiving like you have never experienced. A true farm-to-table celebration of community, with most of the food coming from our nearly 500-acre farm. And all of it prepared and served by committed culinary and dining professionals.
When: Thursday, November 28th.
Times: Seatings at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m.
Cost: $78 per person
Location: Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare dining rooms are combined for this festive tradition.
Reservations: Book through OpenTable (links at the bottom of this newsletter), or call Black Cat Bistro, 303-444-5500 or Bramble & Hare, 303-444-9110.
Join us and the Flatirons Food Film Festival for the screening of The Biggest Little Farm, including a post-film discussion with Eric and Jill on Sunday, Oct. 13th at 4pm. Then dine with us at a 7 p.m. for a four-course dinner at Bramble & Hare, where Eric and Jill will talk about the meal and farm between courses.
Flatirons Food Film Fest Is Almost Here (And a Diana Kennedy party at Bramble)
Like Molly and John Chester of The Biggest Little Farm, Eric and Jill were new to agriculture when they started their organic farm. Both couples overcame obstacles in creative ways, and increasingly integrated raising animals with growing produce as the benefits of regenerative farming became apparent. The film will screen at Muenzinger Auditorium on the CU-Boulder campus. For more information and tickets: http://www.flatironsfoodfilmfest.org/festival-program
The Flatirons Food Film Festival takes place on October 10-13 in Boulder. Enjoy four days of films, food and wine tasting events with acclaimed local and national chefs and Master Sommeliers. Attend lectures, art exhibitions, activities about bees, a Mexican feast, an African romantic comedy, and more.
One can’t-miss event: an after-party at Bramble & Hare honoring culinary legend Diana Kennedy. Come lift a glass to Diana Kennedy’s extensive research into Mexican regional cuisines and the nine cookbooks that she wrote about it. Click the link for more details and tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/diana-kennedy-tribute-after-party-tickets-70429886687
At The Boulder County Farmers’ Market
Cabbages · Hakuri turnips · Sweet potatoes · Yellow onions · Arugula · Mizuna · Chinese collard greens · Squash: Delicatta, Hokkaido, Spaghetti, Acorn, Butternut · Pickling cucumbers · Corn · Eggplant · Peppers · Tomatoes · Purple potatoes · Golden potatoes · Beets · Sweet basil · Summer squash · Parsnips · Red kale · Mixed salad greens · Radish greens · Osaka purple · Tatsoi · Spicy mustard greens · Celery · Carrots
Sonoran White wheat flour · Khorasan wheat flour · Swiss rye wheat flour
Black Cat Heritage-Breed Pork & Lamb Raised on Organic Pastures
All cuts of lamb · All cuts of pork · Pork skin · Pork jowls