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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.