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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Night to Remember: James Beard's 2009 Best Chef in the South Stirs up Mississpi Magic

Steve & I with a Magnum of Taittinger Rosé !
As I alluded to in my previous post and as part of my "research," Steve & I attended one of Boca Bacchanal's Vintner Dinners last Friday night. The dinner was hosted by our friends Joyce and Thom DeVita at their beautiful home in East Boca Raton. Joyce has a fabulous cooking school cleverly named "The JOYce of Cooking" and is an excellent Chef in her own right. Tonight's meal; however, was being prepared by one of Boca Bacchanal's featured Chefs, Chef John Currence of Oxford Mississippi's City Grocery Restaurant.

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!

Bernard Portet, me & Chef John Currence

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):

Pickled Deviled Eggs, Caviar & Country Ham Dust
Absinthe Marinated Oysters, Celery, Parsley & Shallot
Seared Pork Rillettes with Pepper Jelly
Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française NV
Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grand Cru NV
Champagne Taittinger Prestige Rose NV

Dinner Menu
Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc 1998
Seared Diver Scallop, marinated Cucumber, Sweet Corn Coulis, Lardon, Mango Vinegar
Clos Du Val Ariadne, 2007
Medallions of 18 Hour Butter-Braised Duck Breast, Sweet Potato Puree,
Worcestershire Syrup, Okra Powder
Clos Du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet, 2005
Country Ham-Wrapped Lamb Loin, Caramelized Turnips and Sweet Onion,
Pickled Grapes, Lamb Demi-Glace
Domaine De Nizas AOC Rouge, 2006
Crispy Pork Belly, Bourbon/Molasses Glaze, Peanut Butter Dust
Clos Du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet Franc, 2006
Balsamic-Compressed Louisiana Strawberries, Cornmeal Shortcake, Sabayon
Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose en Magnum, 2000

Needless to say it was quite an evening! This weekend we are experiencing some serious Boca Bacchanal withdrawal but, somehow, we'll manage! Many thanks to everyone involved in creating such a magical evening, especially our hosts Joyce & Thom DeVita - we are already looking forward to next year! Cheers!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Champagne Taittinger, Stone Crabs, & "Savor the Moment" Mustard Sauce: What's Not to Love?

It's been nine days since my last post - eek! That's a record for me since starting this blog last August. I have been busy doing my favorite kind of "research": eating, drinking and meeting some fabulous and interesting people in the world of food & wine. I look forward to sharing all the juicy details with you over the course of the next week or so.

As I mentioned last week, Boca Bacchanal, the premier wine and food event in Palm Beach County, took place this past weekend. I am happy to report it was a resounding success! In an attempt to perpetuate the Boca Bacchanal buzz (**sigh** it's hard to believe it's over), I'll continue to highlight wines of the remaining Vintners we had the privilege of enjoying, paired with the recipes of "Savor the Moment." One of the participating Vintners at the Vintner Dinner Steve and I attended Friday night was Champagne Taittinger.

Located in Reims, France the Taittinger Estate is one of the three most extensive in the Champagne district. Champagne Taittinger is proprietor of approximately 752 acres of vines, and the firm's major holdings in Chardonnay vineyards are representative of the Taittinger philosophy and style. The cellars are situated in the underground caves or crayères once belonging to the 13th century Abbey of Saint-Nicaise. Champagne Taittinger was represented at Boca Bacchanal by the delightful Clovis Taittinger, son of Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger, President of Champagne Taittinger. Clovis also served as Boca Bacchanal's Honorary Wine Chairman this year. As a big fan of Champagne, it was a pleasure meeting him and having the opportunity to try a variety of his fabulous cuvées...more about that in the next post.

The weekend prior to the event, Steve and I enjoyed a fabulous bottle of the Taittinger Brut La Française with Florida Stone Crabs and a delicious Mustard Sauce (pg. 74) from "Savor the Moment." If you are a fan of Stone Crabs, you are probably aware that every establishment or seafood market has its own recipe or signature "mustard sauce." Some have more mustard; some, more mayonnaise and some are kind of sweet. The recipe from "Savor the Moment" falls into the sweet category due to the addition of brown sugar. It had nice flavor to it but, personally, I prefer the more mustardy, spicy sauces. We served the crabs with a "modified" Wedge Salad consisting of Iceberg lettuce, beautiful juicy, red, ripe tomatoes and creamy blue cheese dressing.

Regardless of which type of sauce you prefer, the Champagne was a wonderful pairing! Taittinger Brut La Française is produced from select Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes grown in specific microclimates of the Champagne region. These three varietals are important to the blend for different, but important reasons: Pinot Noir lends the finished blend body, structure, power and elegant red berry aromas typical of the variety; Pinot Meunier provides a supple, round fruitiness to the wine; Chardonnay adds elegance, finesse, crispness and delicacy, as well as structure and longevity. Taittinger's reliance on the Chardonnay grape for this cuvée, which approximates 40 percent of the finished wine, or over twice the percentage of Chardonnay used in the standard cuvées of most champagne houses, is indicative of the dedication to quality and overall refinement of the Taittinger style. Upon popping the cork, the Taittinger Brut La Française had lovely aromas of toasted brioche and lemon followed by delicious flavors of pear, apple tarte tatin and a hint of key lime pie. In addition to the flavors, the clean, crisp acidity made it a wonderful pairing for the Stone Crabs with Mustard Sauce. Whether you're a longtime fan or have never tried Florida Stone Crabs, I highly recommend you give this pairing a try! To get you started here's the Mustard Sauce recipe:

Combine 1/2 cup brown mustard, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons dry sherry, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard in a bowl and mix well. Chill for 1 hour to 4 days before serving.

Hope you enjoy - Cheers!

***Wines for this blog kindly provided by National Republic Distributing Company, a presenting sponsor of the 2010 Boca Bacchanal.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Boca Bacchanal Countdown Perfect Pairing: Sesame-Seared Tuna Salad & Masi Masianco

Today's Boca Bacchanal Countdown pairing involves another fabulous dish from "Savor the Moment" paired with an Italian white wine from Masi, a featured Boca Bacchanal Vintner. The dish, originally submitted by Max's Grille in Boca Raton, is a delicious, Asian-inspired Sesame-Seared Tuna Salad (pg. 132) that I paired with a 2008 Masi Masianco.

I mentioned the Masi Masianco in a previous post, paired with Roasted Sea Bass in Prosciutto (pg. 178) - a marvelous match! While I usually prefer a Pinot Noir with seared tuna, this recipe sounded like it needed a white wine. Masi, owned by the Boscaini family for six generations, is a specialized producer of premium wines from the Venetian region of Italy. The winery specializes in the production of Amarones and Reciotos, using the historic technique of "appassimento" (drying of the grapes), and has gained worldwide reputation for being the only producer making seven different types. Masi markets successful wines such as Campofiorin, its special selection Brolo di Campofiorin, Valpolicella dell'Anniversario Serego Alighieri and Passo Doble, produced in Argentina.

The Masianco is a blend of 75% Pinot Grigio and 25% Verduzzo and has a lovely almost citrine color and lush aromas of citrus and pear - definitely not your typical Pinot Grigio! Paired with the Sesame-Seared Tuna, it highlighted the nuttiness of the toasted sesame seeds, and with its notes of lemon cream and citrus, really made the ginger flavors of the dish "pop." The tuna also made for a beautiful presentation - reminding me of a Lilly Pulitzer ad with all the fabulous pink and green. I used fresh, rosy-hued, sushi grade tuna purchased from Captain Clay's Fish Market in Delray Beach. I chose to cook 2 8-ounce tuna steaks and cut each in half for our salads...personal preference. I am also happy to report that it tastes as good as it looks! This was a very successful pairing, one I definitely look forward to repeating. This delicious duo would be perfect for a Spring luncheon or the next time you're simply in the mood for tuna.

Sesame-Seared Tuna Salad
Oriental Vinaigrette
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced gingerroot
1 teaspoon prepared wasabi
1 tablespoon catsup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

8 (2-ounce) pieces tuna
1/2 cup black and white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups mesclun or mixed greens
1/2 cup julienned carrot
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons wasabi
4 teaspoons pickled gingerroot
For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, garlic, gingerroot, wasabi, catsup, soy sauce and lemon juice in the food processor container and process for 30 seconds. Add the vegetable oil and sesame oil gradually, processing constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad, coat the tuna with the sesame seeds. Heat the oil in a saute pan just until it begins to smoke and add the tuna. Sear for 10 seconds on each side.
Combine the mesclun with the carrot in a bowl. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss to coat well, reserving remaining vinaigrette for another use. Spoon into the centers of 4 serving plates. Arrange the cucumbers around the greens. Slice the tuna into halves and arrange around the greens. Serve with the wasabi and gingerroot. Serves four.

For the Boca Bacchanal Vintner Dinners this Friday, the wines of Masi, represented by Tony Apostolakos, will be paired with the cuisine of Donna and Giovanni Scala's Bistro Don Giovanni located in California's beautiful Napa Valley. Steve and I had the opportunity to dine there a few years ago and the food and ambiance were just fabulous! With a focus on Italian cuisine, this will no doubt be another perfect pairing - Cheers!

**Wines for this blog kindly provided by Republic National Distributing Company, a presenting partner of the 2010 Boca Bacchanal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Countdown to Boca Bacchanal - Get Ready to Revel!

This week marks the official countdown to the Boca Bacchanal, one of my favorite Florida food & wine events! For the next week, I'll be featuring recipes from "Savor the Moment" paired with fabulous wines from the 2010 Boca Bacchanal Vintners.

The festivities kick off Friday, March 19th with Vintner Dinners taking place in private homes in Boca Raton, followed by the Bacchanal and Auction on Saturday night. The Bacchanal and Auction is an extravaganza of sensational food and wine created by some of the world’s most accomplished chefs and internationally acclaimed vintners as well as fabulous silent and live auctions! The weekend concludes Sunday with a Wine Seminar given by Instructor Charlie Arturaola followed by The Grand Tasting taking place at the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park Amphitheatre featuring food prepared by 30 top local restaurants and an exceptional presentation of 140 featured wines. If you are in the area, attending one or all of these events is a MUST!

Today's dish is a delicious Filet Mignon with Shallot Sauce (pg. 149) - probably one of my favorite recipes so far! I paired the dish with a 2006 Bodegas Arzuaga Ribera del Duero Crianza. This red wine from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot. The term "crianza" means the wine has spent at least a year in oak barricas and then aged for some time in the bottle; it isn't released until its third year. With aromas of cherry, pepper and black licorice the wine had flavors of black cherry, plum and chocolate with nice, firm tannins and a delightful, juicy acidity - yummy!

I first served the wine with a wedge of Manchego cheese. Also from Spain, this creamy, nutty sheep's milk cheese mellowed the tannins in the wine beautifully - a fabulous pairing! Next time guests are coming for cocktails, treat them to this delicious duo. The wine also paired very nicely with the filets which also mellowed the tannins in the wine and complemented the flavor of the caramelized shallots. I served the filets on a cozy little bed of garlic mashed potatoes with some lightly steamed, beautiful green asparagus. I grilled the steaks for a portion of the cooking time but, because they were so thick, I finished them off in the oven for about 5 minutes until they reached a perfect medium rare. Delicious!

Filet Mignon with Shallot Sauce (pg. 149)
1/2 cup thinly slices shallots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken stock or canned broth
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 (8-10 ounce) 1-inch beef filets
Saute the shallots in the heated olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute or until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Stir in the chicken stock and beef stock. Boil for 10 minutes. Season with the thyme, salt and pepper.
Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Grill until done to taste. Serve with the shallot sauce.
Note: The shallot sauce can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and reheated to serve. Serves four.

At the Friday night Vintner Dinners, the wines of Bodegas Arzuaga will be paired with the cuisine of Chef Gerry Klaskala of Atlanta's Aria restaurant and Chef Lee Hillson of Phoenix's Royal Palms Resort. Yet another perfect pairing! For more information on the Vintner Dinners or any of the events please visit I hope you enjoy this recipe and look forward to seeing you at the Bacchanal - Cheers!

***Wines for this blog kindly provided by Republic National Distributing Company, presenting partner of the 2010 Boca Bacchanal.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cheers to the 2010 South Beach Wine and Food Festival!

This year marked the 9th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival, one of my favorite wine & food events of the year! It is billed as "a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities." If you have a passion for food and/or wine, this is definitely the event for you! There is such a variety of events to choose from, ranging from a $525 dinner honoring Chef Daniel Boulud to the $25 Kids Kitchen interactive seminar.

This year Steve and I attended two seminars given by two fabulous wine experts: Kevin Zraly and Gary Vaynerchuck. I love the seminar format because you really get to interact with your instructor, ask questions and always come away learning something new and fun. The seminars were held at the very hip and oh so trendy W Hotel on Miami's South Beach.

The "One-Hour Italian Wine Expert" seminar was presented by wine expert and "ultimate wine educator," Kevin Zraly. Probably best known for his tenure at Windows on the World Restaurant, located in the north tower of the World Trade Center, he was with the restaurant from its opening in 1976 until its tragic demise on September 11, 2001. Zraly is the founder and teacher of the revered Windows on the World Wine School and has been teaching wine for over 30 years. He also authored the Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and the 25th Anniversary Edition was just published in 2009. Having read and heard so much about him, I was very excited to take his class!

The seminar was a guided tasting of seven quintessential Italian wines: Chianti Classico Riserva, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo, and Amarone. Representing three of Italy's 20 wine regions, Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto, Mr. Zraly took us through the process of classifying each wine starting with the country and finishing with the grape varietal (i.e. Barolo is from Italy, the Piedmont region and is made from the Nebbiolo grape.) We were even required to use the requisite Italian hand-shaking gesture while repeating in unison "Neb-bi-O-LO" (likewise for "Sangio-VE-SE.") Zraly's dynamic and witty style was immensely enjoyable and kept us all very engaged in the presentation.

The Wines:
1. 2005 Antinori Chianto Classico Riserva Tenute Marchese
2. 2006 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
3. 2004 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino
4. 2008 Renato Ratti Barbera d'Alba
5. 2004 Pio Cesare Barbaresco
6. 2004 Prunotto Barolo
7. 2004 Allegrini Amarone Della Valpolicella

If you're a fan of Italian wine you can definitely appreciate this list! It includes some fabulous wines from some very well-known Italian producers. My favorites of the list included the Brunello di Montalcino which was perfectly balanced with wonderful fruit nicely mellowed with some age; the Renato Ratti Barbera D'Alba with its interesting flavors of dark fruit and cassis; the Pio Cesare Barbaresco with its delicious plum flavors; and the Amarone with its raisiny overtones, high alcohol content and hint of residual sugar - definitely a great pairing for chocolate! Overall, this was a fabulous seminar and it was such a pleasure meeting one of America's best and most entertaining wine educators!

The other seminar we attended was entitled "The Pulse of the Wine Word with Gary Vaynerchuck." It was designed to improve our "wine self-esteem," empower our palates and introduce us to some up-and-coming wines from some emerging wine-producing regions.

I am a fan of Vaynerchuck's refreshingly irreverent approach to wine and the wine industry. He is the host of Wine Library TV a video blog which he describes as "the Internet's most passionate wine program" and Director of Operations at Wine Library in Springfield, NJ. In addition to his passion for wine, he is also a marketing expert and has recently published a book entitled "Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion." It is a guide to using the power of the Internet and social media to turn your passion into your profession. I am a big fan of the book and Gary was nice enough to sign my copy after the seminar - thanks, Gary!

The Wines:
1. Juve y Camps Cava Brut Rose (Spain)
2. Trapiche Torrontes (Argentina)
3. Wachau Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Terrassen (Austria)
4. Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo (Italy)
5. Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages (France)
6. Amisfield Pinot Noir (New Zealand)
7. Delas Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France)

Once we had given each wine a swirl, a "sniffy-sniff" and a taste, we expressed our feelings about each one through a show of hands. The scale including "loved it", "liked it", "meh", "disliked it" and "hated it." While none fell into my "loved it" category, my favorites were the Torrontes with its intense floral aromas, citrus flavors and bright acidity; the Grüner Veltliner with flavors of peach and white pepper; the Pinot Noir with cherry and currant flavors and nice acidity; and the Châteauneuf du Pape with flavors of blackberry and fig and a nice, long finish. Vaynerchuck encouraged us to continue broadening our palates by frequently trying new wines and not limiting our experiences to the mass produced varietals and styles we frequently see on store shelves.

After a long and enjoyable day of learning (and drinking) in Miami Beach we decided to swing by Joe's Stone Crab for dinner before heading home. Established in 1913, Joe's is an institution and "the place" to go for Florida stone crabs - next time you're in Miami I highly recommend it! It was a delicious meal and the perfect ending to a fabulous day. I'm already looking forward to South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2011 - Cheers!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Perfect Pairing: Open that Bottle Night & Boca Bacchanal

Do you have a special bottle of wine sitting in your cellar that you’ve just never been ready to open? The bottle is either too expensive, too special, or you’re just not exactly sure when to open the darn thing? To aid in the decision making process and to take some pressure off of selecting an exact date, “Tastings” columnists, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of The Wall Street Journal have instituted “Open that Bottle Night.” Celebrated on the last Saturday of every February, it is a designated night to pop the cork on that special bottle you’ve been holding onto, um, indefinitely. (Photo is of the oldest cellar at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France taken during our trip last year. Don't let this happen to your wine!)

This past Saturday, February 27th, marked the 11th Annual OTBN. In years past, Steve & I usually open an older bottle of wine we’ve been holding onto. These have included wines from Plumpjack, Mount Veeder, Darioush and Silver Oak (do you see a theme here?) but this year the wines we opened were special for a different reason. They are wines from Vintners participating in this year’s Boca Bacchanal, a celebration of wine and food taking place March 19-21 here in beautiful Boca Raton, FL. I’ll be sampling more of these wonderful wines in the next few weeks leading up to the event. To complement tonight’s wines, I selected some delicious recipes from, you guessed it, “Savor the Moment.”

The first wine we opened was from King Estate Winery. Founded in 1991 by the King family, this winery is located southwest of Eugene, Oregon and produces Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and limited amounts of Chardonnay. The winery uses organic & sustainable farming methods to produce their wines, an added bonus! We popped the cork on a 2007 King Estate Domaine Pinot Gris for our first course and paired it with Caramelized Onion and Cheese Canapés (pg. 19).

These canapés consist of onions caramelized with a hint of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar that are then spooned atop toasted slices of French bread generously slathered with goat cheese. If you are a caramelized onion fan you need to make these tonight! If you are a goat cheese fan too you need to make them NOW! I could really eat these all day long (I think I pretty much did actually) - they are easy to make and so delicious I had to include the recipe below!

The canapés paired very nicely with the citrus, melon and peach flavors of the Pinot Gris. In addition, the sweetness of the caramelized onions picked up on the slight sweetness in the wine which made for a great synergy. It was official, our OTBN was off to a great start!

For our second wine, we selected a 2006 Clos Du Val Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Founded in 1972, Clos du Val had its beginnings in the then largely undiscovered Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. French-born winemaker and Estate Co-Founder, Bernard Portet’s old world approach to winemaking combined with Napa Valley fruit makes for a sublime and very enjoyable wine drinking experience.

I paired this wine with the Rosemary Roasted Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce (pg. 154). I have to say, this is probably one of my favorite recipes out of “Savor the Moment” yet. I am literally thinking ahead to plan when I can make it again! You coat the rack of lamb with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, butter and chopped fresh rosemary and roast it until your house smells heavenly. Once done, you make a delicious sauce using shallots, wine, Dijon mustard, beef broth and the pan drippings that is utterly delicious. I did part with ¾ cup of the wine in order to make the sauce. It’s generally a good idea to use the same wine in a recipe that you plan to serve with it (within reason of course) – at least wine in the same genre, just to keep things consistent. My one word of advice when preparing this recipe would be to cook the lamb until it reaches at least 140-145 degrees on your meat thermometer for medium-rare. The recipe suggests 125-130 degrees which was definitely NOT enough. Once done, I served the lamb on a fluffy bed of garlic mashed potatoes, spooned the Cabernet sauce over the top and dove in!

The lamb paired very nicely with deeply hued, inky Clos Du Val Cab, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. This wine differed from many Napa Valley Cabs in the subtleness of its fruit flavors; it definitely drank more like an old world wine. The flavors of dark fruit, cassis and spice combined with nice, firm tannins made this wine a great match for the lamb. This combination was so good, for dessert we had – more lamb!

I look forward to meeting Bernard Portet of Clos Du Val and Steve Thomson of King Estate who will both be in attendance at the upcoming Boca Bacchanal. It should be a wonderful event this year with Chefs and Vintners hailing from all over the globe! Proceeds of the event benefit the Heritage Education and Historical Preservation Programs of the Boca Raton Historical Society. If you are in the neighborhood (even if you're not) check out for more information. It's the perfect opportunity to savor the moment, all weekend long. Look forward to seeing you there - cheers!

Caramelized Onion and Cheese Canapes
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
24 (1/4 inch) round slices bread
12 ounces chevre
Saute the onions in the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until light brown. Add the brown sugar. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute longer.
Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Toast lightly in the oven. Spread the cheese on the bread and top each with the onion mixture. Serves eight.

**Wines for this blog were kindly provided by Republic National Distributing Company, a presenting sponsor of the 2010 Boca Bacchanal.
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