Chef Currence was the recipient of the 2009 James Beard Award for "Best Chef of the South." As you may recall, "Savor the Moment" won a James Beard award in 2001. A New Orleanian by birth, Chef Currence began cooking in Chapel Hill, NC at Crooks Corner. It was here he began his training in the unusual cross of classic French technique and traditional Deep Southern American cuisine. After returning to New Orleans and holding positions at Gautreau's and with the well-known Brennan family, Chef Currence decided to open City Grocery. He has since expanded and opened two other establishments including Bouré, an upscale, full service family concept, and Big Bad Breakfast, an ingredient-driven breakfast concept and smokehouse. After reading about his accomplishments and unique cooking style, I was very excited to finally sample our fabulous menu!
We were also fortunate to have two Vintners providing the wines for our evening: Champagne Taittinger of Reims, France and Clos du Val of Napa, California (we were really roughing it). As I mentioned in my last post, Champagne Taittinger was represented by Clovis Taittinger while Clos Du Val was represented by Winemaker and Co-Founder Bernard Portet. Portet has been making wine in the Napa Valley since 1972 and was one of the first to recognize the potential of the then-undiscovered Stags Leap District. Portet’s old-world approach to winemaking combined with Napa Valley fruit is the essence of Clos Du Val’s approach to creating classic estate-style wines of balance, elegance and complexity. You also might be surprised to learn Clos Du Val wines are some of the best "placed" wines in Hollywood! They have appeared in episodes of The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Will & Grace as well as feature films including Fever Pitch, 21 Grams and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (one of my favorite movies!). I was fortunate enough to be seated next to Mr. Portet during dinner. He was smooth, approachable and memorable - much like his remarkable wines.
After a lovely Champagne reception with some delicious passed hors d'oeuvres, we dined alfresco in the DeVita's beautiful, outdoor garden. We were blessed with some of our perfect South Florida weather with just a slight chill in the air to remind us it was still winter after all. The evening flowed beautifully with our winemakers giving toasts and speaking about their respective wines when each dish was served. The 5-course dinner consisted of innovative dishes that highlighted Chef Currence's signature style. My favorite dish was the Crispy Pork Belly with Bourbon Molasses Glaze topped with Peanut Butter Dust (pictured) - what's not to love?! I have included the menu here for your review (prepare yourself - it's a GOOD one):