Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Black Cat Organic Farm Episode 2

Culinary Gardens - Black Cat Organic Farms - Part 2 from BVMA on Vimeo.

Yesterday, I featured Episode 1 of the Culinary Gardening series produced in conjunction with Boulder Valley Media Alliance (Channel 22), and Eric Skokan, the owner of Black Cat Farm and Black Cat Farm Table Bistro.

Today, Episode 2 is available for viewing (above).

Filmed again on Black Cat Farm, we followed Eric into his root cellar, a dugout with stairs leading 6 feet down into a small, damp room that maintains a temperature of around 40-degrees Fahrenheit.

The dug out, which reminded me of a very snug wine cellar, is a recent addition to the farm. Built in the fall of 2009, it has yet to stand the test of a hot, dry Colorado summer.

It did do its job over a very long and cold winter, successfully storing and maintaining around 10,000 pounds of vegetables!

Most of the veggies stored appeared on the Black Cat Bistro's fall and winter menus, but at the time of filming, about 600 pounds of root vegetables were still in the

As you can see in the pic to left, and in the video above, tubs of gnarly parsnips line the side of the cellar, as do turnips, and parsley root, a conical-shaped veggie that tastes like carrot and has a green-leaf top like flat-leaf parsley.

Eric cooks and purees parsley root, using it as a bed for meat dishes, with the green tips as a parsley salad accompaniment.

Next to the root cellar is a hoop-house, a temporary hot-house that can be moved. Should there be an infestation of disease, on an organic farm like Black Cat, the structure can be relocated, leaving the disease behind.

Starting afresh on a clean patch of earth means chemicals are not necessary, the use of which would render the growing process of hot-house vegetables non-organic. A temporary hoop- house, versus a fixed, greenhouse structure, is one of the conscious choices Eric makes as an organic, farm to table chef.

Unlike the damp, near-freezing temperature of the cellar, the hoop-house was steamy warm and filled with the gentle aroma of moist dirt, and in that dirt there were lots of veggies starters and more young salad greens.

Eric's intention with the farm is to make sure his bistro menu showcases the myriad of produce grown on the farm, with a fun selection of seasonal vegetables appearing on plate as cooked, pureed, and or roasted in combination with raw, crunchy, leafy salads -- something I tried to achieve with my last Meatless Monday post.

Because the Black Cat Bistro menu is truly seasonal, the challenge on the Farm is to plant variety so that say, carrots aren't the signature vegetable over winter, and red lettuce isn't the summer salad ingredient.

To counteract the potential for a repetitious menu, Eric grows around 200 varieties of vegetables and fruits on 10 acres! And one of his personal favorites is asparagus.

We end Episode 2 up close and personal with several spears just starting to appear above ground. Eric shared details of a dish he intends preparing with asparagus and local morel mushrooms.

Episode 3, which I'll upload in the next few weeks, begins with a discussion over the now fully-grown asparagus and a sampling of both green and white varietals. I was absolutely blown away by the tenderness and sweetness of the raw spears, but more on that in episode 3!

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