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Discover Fair Play & the Sierra Foothills AVA
You may be unfamiliar with the Fair Play/Sierra Foothills American Viticultural Area (AVA). If so, you are not alone. Nestled deep in the Northern hills of California it is the easiest AVA to overlook. You could drive right through it and not even know there was a single vine! Chances are if you are familiar with this area, then you probably live there.
Layout of the region
Grapes were first planted in 1840 by early pioneers during the California Gold Rush. They certainly knew how to keep a secret. The Fair Play/Sierra Foothills AVA is the largest AVA in land size. Even still it only has a meager 6,000 acres planted here today. However, this American Viticultural Area contains many sub-AVAs that you may know. Those include Amador, Placer, and El Dorado. All have Hot-Summer Mediterranean climates and nutrient-rich soil. Because of this, they make perfect for growing those fruit-forward Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs, and Chardonnays.
This dish is rich, and serves 8 to 10 as a side dish. Pair with Mediterranean Vineyards 2016 Syrah.
Heat oven to 300F.
Mix panko with garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for only 5 to 10 minutes, until panko begins to brown and is crunchy. Monitor closely to make sure it does not burn.
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions in salted water, leaning toward the al dente side. Run cold water over it if necessary, to avoid overcooking after you drain the pasta, and set aside.
Heat butter in a medium-large sauce pot on the stove and sauté one chopped garlic clove until it just begins to brown. Add milk to pan and heat to a low simmer. Add all four cheeses and mix until cheese is completely melted. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
Mix pasta into cheese mixture to coat pasta and serve immediately, topped with panko crumbs and paired with a glass of Syrah.
It’s that easy!
Note: If you aren’t serving this dish immediately then keep the pasta and cheese sauce separate until you are ready to serve. Add more milk as necessary to keep it creamy.
When the season changes to Fall each year I find myself cooking richer dishes and creating flavors that call for a different wine pairing. I love Chardonnay all year long, but I think the flavors of Fall pair especially well with both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This savory butternut squash galette is a favorite of mine; it's rich and addictive, with two types of cheese, roasted squash and garlic, and caramelized onions. It's a great recipe for holiday dinner parties, and its easy because much of it can be prepared in advance, then assembled and baked at the last minute.
The balanced acidity of our Myka Cellars Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay helps temper the richness of this galette just enough. You can currently pick up the Chardonnay at the Mediterranean Vineyards Tasting Room, or purchase online.
Serves 6 - 8
Pulse flour and salt in food processor. Add butter pieces and pulse to form a mixture resembling small peas. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until dough mostly sticks together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Shape dough into a disk, wrap tightly in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 ˚F. Toss butternut squash with two tablespoons olive oil. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet, add head of garlic to sheet, cut side down, and bake in oven. After 25 minutes pour wine over veggies on baking sheet, return to oven. Continue to cook until squash and garlic are tender and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Squeeze individual roasted garlic cloves out head, and combine with goat cheese in a bowl.
Heat two tablespoons olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they soften and caramelize into a deep brown. Turn down heat if onions brown too quickly or begin to burn. Add honey, mix to combine. Turn off heat, set onions aside to cool.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Transfer to baking sheet. Spread garlic cheese mixture over dough, leaving 1 inch border. Top with caramelized onions, then butternut squash, maintaining border. Fold edges of dough towards center and pinch to hold in place. Top with parmesan cheese.
Bake galette at 400˚F until crust is crisp and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve warm with glass of Myka Cellars Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
While we've been hard at work finishing our Tasting Room, Mica has been hard at work tending to our estate vineyard and keeping us updated on the season. We expect to start harvest in early September, not long after our Tasting Room officially opens. When you visit us in early September you may get to taste ripe wine grapes with us.
We've been worried about the persistent smoke in the air from the fires throughout California, and what effect it could have on this year's grape harvest, so we asked Mica.