Back to the Black Cat
A review of our return meal at Eric Skokans Boulder Restaurant.
Make sure to look at the end of the article for Chef Skokan's Duck Confit Recipe!
Barb and I went back to the Blact Cat about a week or so after our chat with Chef Skokan. We were given different seats this time and honestly both of us thought that the change of seating really made the entire experience better as the table we were in the first time was right near the door and just a little small. This time we were seated at was a booth like table against the left wall (these are the ones I would ask for when coming to the Black Cat) with a full view of the kitchen where you can watch the Chef perform his magic.
One thing that really struck me was how intense Eric looked while he was cooking, completely focused on the cooking, hardly ever even pausing to look up, just now and then speaking a few words to his sous chef or the patron or 2 that came up to the window to ask him a question. This was a large contrast to the easy going relaxed attitude we saw with Eric when we visited him at his gardens (see our previous posting -Going Green with Eric Skokan). This time around we chose to go with the 5 course tasting option with wine pairings as last time around, the 7 course ended up having us waiving the white flag well before it was all over).
Looking into the kitchen there are shelves lined with spices and cooking implements as well as a few cook books.
As we were waiting for the meal to begin we watched Chef Skokan working away in the kitchen.
First the amuse bouche.
Chilled Lemon Cucumber Soup with a little bit of olive oil on top.
Wine served was a non vintage Villa Sandi White Wine (this wine was a pairing for the first course - not the amuse bouche).
I am not a huge cucumber fan so this was kind of meh for me however it did taste just like a cucumber without the crunch. I can only rate on what I think regardless what someone who likes cucumber a lot more than I would. I give it a 6.
As you may remember, I am not a fan of the cold soups, but this one was head and shoulders above the rest that I've had. I'd give it an 8.
Our server was Jordan and she was very enthusiastic about the food and the chef of the Black Cat and seemed to know everything about any of the courses or the wine that we wanted to know. She told us if we come in again and want to up the adventure level of the food just let her know, we may just have to do that next time though I am not sure what this would entail.
The pacing was pretty well done and shortly after we finished the first item the second came out.
Himachi Crudo with Seafoam, a slice of lemon cucumber and garlic chive flowers and a bit of burnet. Served with the non vintage Villa Sandi White.
I am starting to like this kind of dish more and more. The fish had a nice almost buttery taste and the lemon cucumber gives it a little citrus kick that stays with you for a bit. The flowers and burnet were a nice little visual touch though I don’t remember them adding much in the way of taste. I will give this a 7.5.
I too am enjoying this dish more and more. At first, I wasn't a big fan, but the pairings have started to make a big difference. I would give this one a 8.
Third item out
Crispy Duck Confit with Plums and Greens from the Chef's Garden
Wine was a Selbach Riesling Cabernet '06
WOW- Yes I said WOW. I think WOW may trump Mmmmmm or even Yummmmmm. The combination of the Duck Confit and the plums was so darn good. The sweet taste of the plums and the rich slightly gamey flavor of duck just blew me away. The duck was sooo good… How good was it? It was so good I used the greens to try to mop up some of the juice after all the duck was gone. Yes That good. 10 for sure
OMG! From the first bite to the last, this dish was down right delicious. The mixture of the plums and the duck was so tasty together. I wish the next coureses were the duck confit over and over again. I give it a 10!
Semolina Flour Gnocchi with Farmer Cheese and a Highland Beef Bolognese Crème Sauce and Rosemary, Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese.
Was told the gnocchi is boiled in the whey from the house made mozzarella!
Wine Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais '06
Ok, yes, there is only one Gnocchi in that picture. I don’t know if it was the left over enthusiasm from the duck or the mouth watering description of this dish but I forgot to take a picture till it was almost gone. Needless to say it was good, very very good. The Gnocchi had a wonderful soft texture and a great cheesy taste and the sauce added a great meaty overall taste to it. I have been going back and forth on what to give this it meets the 9 rating criteria by making me go Mmmmm out loud, but I am not sure it’s the best I have ever had but Barb is pretty darn sure of it so another 10 here.
In the past, the Gnocchi I've tried, I have just not liked. Well, guess what: this Gnocchi was awesome. Maybe it's because it's made in the whey, I don't know. But this is the first time I've enjoyed it. It melted in your mouth, so delicate. I would give this a 10.
Roasted Prawns with Pistachio Risotto and Red Bell Ppepper Puree and Purini on top
Wine: Clos Dula Coutal Loire Valley - 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot
The Prawns were very meaty and well cooked and the risotto was outstanding with a deep nutty flavor. The red bell pepper sauce had a rich flavor that just enhanced the taste of the shrimp without overpowering it. I will give this one a 8.
Again, a dish where I haven't liked it in the past: risotto. But the Chef was on this night. The red pepper sauce and the the risotto blended so nicely that I don't think I left any on my plate. I have to say that each dish that came out was just outstanding. I would give this one an 8.5.
Lamb Two Ways: Roasted Loin with Fennel Puree and Braised Lamb Leg with Grilled Fennel and a Garlic Sauce with Fingerling Potatoes
Wine: Cotes du Rhone 2006 syrah Domaine de la Jardiniere
The lamb was very good and had a great flavor and I overall enjoyed this. The one turn off for me was the grilled fennel. I took a nibble of this and decided, no thank you. Leaving that aside it was a very good course. I will give it a 7.
The lamb was very good as Jonathan said, but after the previous dishes this did not hit me the way they did. I guess I was in a Duck Comfit coma still. I would give it a 7 as well.
Last main course:
Confit of Pork Shoulder with a Red Wine Gastrique with Summer Fruits, Creamy Polenta and Dandelion Greens
Wine - Magness Napa Valley cabernet '05
What can I say, the man does confit well and while this did not reach the heights of the duck, it did pretty darn well. Very tender with a great slightly sweet flavor. Strangely, the one thing that stood out for me was the polenta. The last time I had polenta my reaction was basicly yuck and I really was not happy to see the pork resting on it but to my big surprise I liked it in this setting and it seemed to pair very well with this course. Overall, I would give it a 8.
As Jonathan mentioned the man can do confit, but agree that the duck was the winner of the night. So much so, that I don't ever remember this dish, so I don't feel right in giving it a score.
Back to Front Flourless Chocolate Cake with Cream and a Malt Crumble, Peach Cobbler with a Maple Sauce and Berry Consommé with Lavender Custard
Wine Kopke Non Vintage Port
The surprising thing about the dessert course is that the chocolate cake was actually the weakest of the lot, which totally shatters a comment I made a few weeks back about it being hard to impress with a non chocolate dessert. The cake was nice and rich and had a great chocolate taste but nothing really special. The Peach Cobbler was fantastic the peach flavor just bursting out and the maple taste added in very well without over powering the peach flavor. The Berry consommé was the winner for me here. The berryies just exploded with flavor and the lavender custard was something I have never tasted before and it was very pleasing and the only way to describe it I can think of is that it tasted as good as lavender smells. I will give the desserts a 8.
The Berry Comsomme was my favorite as well. The lavendar custard was light and airy and the mixture with the berries was delightful. The Peach Cobbler was also very tasty. And I do love my chocolate, but this cake was just ok. We started with the chocolate and ended up with the berries and the berries were my winner (which suprised me). I would give the desserts a 9.
Numbers and such: The overall score including the .75 bump for a 5 or more course meal was a 9.09, which is our current best score we have given in Colorado it was just a outstanding meal. The cost for the Black Cat 5 course tasting is $62 per person if you add the outstanding wine pairings it brings it up to $99 per person.
Thanks again for stopping by and if you have any questions, comments or ideas where we should go next; we would love to hear from you. Make sure to look below for Chef Skokans Duck Confit recipe!
Jonathan and Barb
Chef Skokan was nice enough to give us his recipe for duck confit!
Recipe: Duck Confit with Ginger Gastrique
4 duck legs
1 ½ T salt
3 cups rendered duck fat
1 stick cinnamon
1 orange, halved
1 T whole black pepper
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine duck legs and salt. Mix to ensure that legs are evenly coated with salt. Let duck legs stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a casserole dish combine duck, duck fat, spices and orange. Bake at 400 degrees until fat temperature has reached 170 degrees when read on a thermometer (about 20 minutes). Decrease oven temperature to 170 and cook until drumstick bone begins to show, about 6 hours.
3. Remove and drain legs from fat. Duck fat mat be reused multiple times. Serve legs hot with a drizzle of ginger gastrique.
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger sliced thinly on a mandeline
1. In a stainless small steel pot over high heat, combine vinegar, sugar and ginger. Boil and reduce until it becomes a syrup, about 25 minutes.
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