January 23, 2020  - Black Cat Bistro at Bookcliff Vineyards

A special dinner in a very unusual location - Bookcliff Vineyard’s winery! Eric Skokan of Black Cat Bistro, his wife Jill, and son Avery prepare dinner at the winery. Since this is mid-winter, Black Cat farm’s root cellar is featured. At the start of winter, it’s loaded with somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 pounds of carrots, onions, potatoes, and any other vegetables that will store for the winter. This year was a little special, we had a really hard freeze fairly early, so they had to harvest and smoke something like 1,500 - 2,000 pounds of eggplant. 

To clearly distinguish between the menu and our descriptions, the menu will be in a Helvetica Neue font, our descriptions will be in the usual Times New Roman font.

Here’s an overall view of the venue. The aging barrels are at the right. The various fermentation tanks are at the left.

A look right

A look left, with the barrels reflected in the stainless tanks.

A couple of the many, many awards Bookcliff has won!

The setting before the dinner starts. The napkin fold is a pocket fold with 3 pockets.

Plating the 1st course. The prosciutto is made by Eric from mule shoe pigs raised on the farm and aged in a room in the basement of the restaurant.

The first course.


Mache, apple, prosciutto with warm goat cheese fritters

-paired with Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Bill’s note on the wine: Some pineapple/tropical fruit on the nose.

The second course.


Smoked eggplant, curry spices, cilantro, crispy shallots

-paired with Chambourcin 2017

The carrots were slow cooked in one of Eric’s favorite ovens, an Alto-Shaam that can hold temperature far more precisely than normal ovens.

Chambourcin is a cross between a native American grape and a French grape. Eric noted that it’s like the South African Pinotage, so he did what they do and paired it with a curry. 

Bill’s note on the wine: Good fruit and it did match well with the curry.

The third course.


cocoa jus, grilled oranges, creamy polenta, roasted beets

-paired with Ensemble 2017

The Porchetta was sous vide cooked for many hours and then finished with a quick stovetop sear in olive oil. 

Bill’s note on the wine: Mild but noticeable tannins. 

Martin adds - this is pretty young for a rich red wine.

The fourth course.


Parsnip puree, red wine sauce, parsley or kale salad, grated black radish

-paired with Syrah 2017

Scottish Highland is actually the breed of cattle. It’s raised in Boulder county. This was truly amazing beef. Very, very tender with great flavor.

Bill’s note on the wine: The Syrah was a really great pairing!

The fifth course.


Smoked chile-white chocolate fondue, candied hazelnuts

-paired with Souzao, port-style

Wow! The tiny accent of chili really made for a neat dessert.

Martin’s note on the wine: This almost port wine is one of my favorites. Incredibly rich and full of fruit!