Happy Thursday, friends.
Last week we announced the first lamb of the season, and now the volume of births has turned into something like a parade; new lambs now appear all day, tottering on their spindly legs as they savor their first rays of sun, inaugural tastes of milk and the warmth of their mommas’ sides.
Nurturing these tiny beings into healthy adults takes work and savvy. Sometimes, ewes reject a lamb, and when that happens members of our farm team cradle the little ones and bottle feed them. We also need to keep them safe from predators, a task largely assumed by our outstanding guard dogs. With so much brand new and fragile life meandering across fields, it simply forces us to pay constant attention to them. This is not a responsibility that we resist; it’s always a highlight of the year.
While part of the farm team revolves around livestock, which now means they are fairly attached to sheep and lambs, the rest of the team attends to the farm’s myriad plants. The recent snow and rain restored fields that had grown a bit too dry. Today, everything from endive to arugula to onions is thriving in our vibrant organic soil.
Among other things, this week we planted 40,000 leek plants and 250,000 onion plants. We are set to plant an acre’s worth of potatoes, that will yield 40,000 pounds of the tuber. And we just finished planting our second succession of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
We invite you to relish some of this bounty on Monday night, when our next Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner ushers chicories — endive, escarole and radicchio — onto Bramble & Hare’s atmospheric stage. Read on for much more about this special event.
Meanwhile, we hope to see you at the Farm Store at 4975 Jay Road; our two farmers market stands, in Boulder and Longmont on Saturday. Also, next week the Boulder County Farmers Market opens its Wednesday evening market in Boulder, and we will be there, too!
Celebrate the Pleasures of Chicories at Dirt Dinner
We often encounter vegetables like endive, radicchio and escarole in markets and restaurants, and they can seem a bit like aliens. What exactly are these sturdy botanical specimens?
They all are part of the chicory family, which also includes frisée. And the chicory family falls within the broader lettuce family. But while lettuces kept getting selected and bred to shed bitterness and embrace a floppy leafiness, the chicories remained more wild, and went off in their own direction. In fact, wild chicory flourishes across Colorado; the plant has a long, spindly stalk with light blue flowers. You’ll find it beside roadsides and trails all over Boulder.
These are extremely versatile and profoundly delicious vegetables, but they only shine for brief windows every year. To protect themselves from pests, the plants concentrate bitter elements in their chemistry once they flower, which makes them largely inedible. But until they reach that tripping point, chicories are superb culinary partners.
Eric says the time to eat chicories is when you might need a heavy coat before heading outside. If you’re thinking flip-flops, it’s probably too late to enjoy the glories of vegetables like escarole and radicchio.
“Many people buy these vegetables in the summer, and have a bad chicory experience because they are so bitter,” Eric says. But right now, they are jaw-droppingly amazing.
Chicories hardiness makes them especially valuable at Black Cat Farm. Lettuce gets zapped once temperatures sink into the 20s, but chicories can persist across most of Colorado’s tough winters. We’ve been harvesting and serving it all winter, for example.
For this Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner, on Monday, May 1, with seatings at 6, 6:30 and 7, all of the chicories were seeded outdoors in September and October, and now are shot through with sugars and utterly delectable. The dinner will feature four or five kinds of chicory, including escarole, endive and radicchio. Varieties include Indivia Sacrola Gigante di Bergamo, an escarole from Italian seed, and Maraichere Tres Fines, a French frisée varietal (frisée is a kind of endive; it’s also known as curly endive).
Monday night’s Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner offers four courses revolving around these spectacular chicories, plus a welcome aperitif that plays with them.
Meanwhile, the hospitality team is eager to once again invite guests to order simply “white” or “red” wines, all of which have been curated by our outstanding sommelier Logan to complement our evening’s dinner, which arrive wrapped in burlap. Diners who participate in the engaging challenge then receive the sort of taste, aroma, color and texture scorecards that sommeliers use to understand wine, and to take part in blind tastings. From there, guests have fun exploring the wines and guessing at their varietals, countries of origin and more.
At each of our dinners, the sommelier game captured the imaginations of guests who signed up; we love watching them having fun tasting and talking about the wine, and then researching the wines once they learned their identity.
Not interested in using the sommelier’s grid during dinner? No problem. You can order the bottles of wine that Logan selected to pair with the meal, or you can work with a server to discover something you love on the wine list, or turn to cocktails and other beverages. Either way, we cannot wait to welcome you into our dining room in downtown Boulder and share four courses of culinary excellence with you, all of which will revolve around next week’s diva, rapini.
The celebration, on Monday May 1 in our convivial dining room, costs $75, plus tax, gratuity and adult beverages.
Coming up: On Monday, May 8, we will celebrate arugula.
The Black Cat Organic Farm CSA
If you haven’t signed up for our 2023 CSA yet, spots still remain. Our CSA differs from most: Instead of us filling sacks or baskets with vegetables for you to pick up, for our CSA we invite you to visit the Farm Store 20 times between June and October and fill Black Cat CSA totes with produce. In addition, CSA members enjoy 5% discounts on all store items, plus a bonus U-Pick credit based on share size.
The link contains loads more information about how the CSA works, as well as a way to sign-up. Welcome to the Black Cat family.
Farmers Markets in Boulder and Longmont
The forecast predicts climatic glory on Saturday, with a cool start but reaching 50 by noon and nothing but sun for most of the day. We cannot wait to serve you at both of our farmers market booths, in downtown Boulder from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Please visit us at the Farmers Markets this week for:
- Salad mix
- Sourdough bread
- Roving wool from our sheep
Guinea eggs. Duck eggs. We now carry them both in the Store, along with chicken eggs.
Chances are, you’ve never tried a guinea egg. Now is your chance! The eggs are a bit smaller than chicken eggs, and the taste and texture is similar. We think it would be fun to fry a guinea and chicken egg, and taste them side by side to understand the subtle differences.
Duck eggs are more common, although they still aren’t items you’ll typically find in local grocery store aisles. But they are quite different from chicken eggs: bigger and fattier, with a rich flavor that offers a more focused egg flavor and cooked textures that are a bit more firm.
Eric loves them in dishes like flan, pots de crème and custard. He has made superb fettuccine with duck eggs. They serve as wonderful baking partners, and they improve the texture of gluten-free dishes like muffins and quick breads; the higher density of proteins in duck eggs give these leavened dishes higher loft and more developed structure.
Give them a whirl! We are selling them in half cartons. But don’t do a one-for-one swap with chicken eggs if you are baking with duck eggs. The duck eggs are larger. The best bet is to weigh the chicken eggs, and then get as close to that number as possible with duck eggs.
Please visit us this week and weekend at the Farm Store, located at 4975 Jay Road and open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for:
- Chicken eggs
- Duck eggs
- Guinea eggs
- Salad mix
Black Cat Grains and flours and legumes
- Sourdough bread
- Flours from Black Cat Organic Farm grains
- Dried beans
- Ancient grains
- Merguez sausage
- Grama Grass & Livestock Beef
- Cuts of Black Cat heritage lamb
- Pork ribs, pork chops and bacon
Black Cat Farm Provisions
- Braised lamb curry
- Spaghetti squash stuffed with vegetable stew on a bed of sauteed greens
- Orange cake with beet mousse
- Beef chili
- Vegetable curry
- French onion soup
- Tomato sauce with basil and garlic
- Basque piperade
- Yellow Tomato Sauce with French thyme
- Salsa amarilla con rajas
- Spicy harissa
- Carrot cake
- Chocolate cake
- Taos Bakes Cosmo Nuts
- Mini Moos Goat Cheese
- Frog Hollow Farmstead Crackers with Nettle Salt
- Frog Hollow Farmstead Apple Butter
- Full Stop Bakery Sourdough Crackers
- Tenderfoot Farm Jam
- Plains & Prairie goods
- Humble Suds cleaning products
- Bee-Och Organics tooth powder, muscle pain rub, beard oil, deodorant
- Growing Organic probiotic soaps
- Purple Fence Farm lotions, soaps, bath salts, facial toners and salves
- Annie Bee’s Hand-Poured Beeswax Candles
- Bluecorn Beeswax Candles
- Havenly Baked Gluten-Free Bread
- Boulder Broth
- Bee Grateful Honey Caramels, in chocolate, espresso and salted flavors
- Bjorn’s Colorado Honey and doggie treats
- Boulder Valley Honey
- Bolder Chip salsa, corn chips and tortillas, and uncooked flour tortillas
- Green Tahini dips and dressings
- Pueblo Seed Grains and Seasoning
- Heartbeets Veggie Burgers and doggie treats
- Spark + Honey Granola
- Mountain Girl Pickles
- Project Umami Tempeh
- Silver Canyon Coffee
- French mustard
- Gorgeous Italian balsamic vinegar
- Ambrosial Italian apple cider vinegar
- Vegan charcuterie from Greece
- Italian risotto rice
Bramble & Hare
A recent Bramble menu featured spanakopita, the classic Greek dish starring spinach and complementary ingredients encased in phyllo dough. You’ve likely had it before, and maybe even loved it. But chances are the spinach was frozen, and from a conventional field somewhere other than your own town: California grows the most spinach in the United States, but 90% of the world’s spinach is grown in China.
This is not flavor-electric spinach, nor does it yield winning textures.
But our spanakopita, from just-harvested sweet spring spinach? Now that’s spinach broadcasting charisma and charm. Our Bloomsdale spinach, the centerpiece of a recent Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner, turns spanakopita into another dish entirely, one you will think about and crave long after you try it at Bramble.
Meanwhile, the popular rabbit leg entree is often back, and our New York Strip with samosa-spiced potatoes, saag and Hazel Dell mushrooms is gaining a following. The Colorado striped bass with red quinoa, braised onions, roasted cauliflower and Romesco sauce receives heaps of love from guests. And the olive oil cake with beet mousse, orange caramel, beet meringue and Chantilly cream? You can’t miss it.
The Bramble menu changes every day, based on what we are harvesting from the fields. We can’t guarantee everything on this recent menu will appear on the menu when you arrive at the nation’s most true farm-to-table restaurant. But we can vouch for your reaction to the day’s menu — joy!