Stylist / Model

Photographer Jak Wonderly www.jakwonderly.com - Stylist Athena Nicole Grey - Breeches 2KGrey MUHA Hallie Jacinto Suarez.  

Assistants Lorena Florez and Shira Taylor 

Horse owner - Dr. Nigel W. T. Quinn 

Location, Sonoma County 

 

Photographer Jak Wonderly www.jakwonderly.com - Stylist Athena Nicole Grey - Breeches 2KGrey MUHA Hallie Jacinto Suarez.  

Assistants Lorena Florez and Shira Taylor

Horse owner - Dr. Nigel W. T. Quinn 

Location, Sonoma County 

Photographer Jak Wonderly www.jakwonderly.com - Stylist Athena Nicole Grey - Breeches 2KGrey MUHA Hallie Jacinto Suarez.  

Assistants Lorena Florez and Shira Taylor

Horse owner - Dr. Nigel W. T. Quinn 

Location, Sonoma County 

Photographer Jak Wonderly www.jakwonderly.com - Stylist Athena Nicole Grey - Breeches 2KGrey MUHA Hallie Jacinto Suarez.  

Assistants Lorena Florez and Shira Taylor

Horse owner - Dr. Nigel W. T. Quinn 

Location, Sonoma County 

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

Wine Enthusiast Magazine always a pleasure to work with - here are a few images of shoots we have worked on together. 

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

California Issue 2013 

Sonoma: Entertaining

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

The Polo Tailgating Party

Athena Nicole Grey’s tricks to preparing a sophisticated alfresco spread.

A small road in the Valley of the Moon bends west off Highway 12 and heads toward the foothills. A few turns later, a driveway framed by bronze horse statues leads to an equine oasis amid the vineyards—Wine Country Polo Club.

The group was established by Henry Trione, a banker who also founded Trione Vineyards in Geyserville. Still vigorous in his 90s, Trione watches matches from the shade of the trees, greeting spectators and players, who range from schoolteachers to software moguls to winemakers. “I want you to enjoy all this,” he says, waving towards the impeccable emerald field. 

Open to the public, the club hosts regular matches as well as top events such as the Junior Achievement benefit in September—complete with classic cars and ladies’ hat contest. But visitors can have just as much fun watching the Thursday afternoon “stick and ball” practices.

Club member Nicole Grey is known for her graciously elaborate tailgate picnics. “I see beauty everywhere and I love to create it,” she explains. An entertaining stylist, she owns the namesake Nicole Grey, a purveyor of luxury goods.

Recreate the Region

The Menu

Players come back hot and hungry after a match. Grey carries on her Greek-American heritage by incorporating an Aegean-inspired recipe or two in her menu. She serves bread and slices part of the roast chicken because “some people—especially the men and the kids—prefer to eat sandwiches.”

Local charcuterie and cheeses, such as Mt. Tam (Cowgirl Creamery) and Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove)
Grilled seasonal vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant & asparagus
Orzo salad with sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and artichokes
Fresh bread from Wild Flour Bakery, Freestone
Roast chicken
Watermelon (in bite-size portions)
Home-baked cookies (peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips)
Athena's Orzo Salad (recipe below)

The Décor

Grey arrays her spread in the back of her Porsche Cayenne or on a portable table. Guests might lunch at picnic tables topped with white tablecloths or spread blankets on the grassy berm. Channeling Downton Abbey-meets-wine country, she often places Bokara carpets under chairs—”The rugs hold up well and get you out of the dust.” Grey prefers serving off “real” dishes and glassware. “Bringing fine tableware to the country makes picnics even more special. Stoneware from Juliska is practically unchippable. For glassware, I like Simon Pearce tumblers—or anything without a stem.” Any paper plates will be heavy-caliber ones like Caspari. And, she mentions, you don’t need to be feeding a polo
team. “You can do this for just you and your honey.”

The Playlist

No music during chukkas, please. A polo tradition, the “divot stomp” takes place at half-time, when spectators go onto the field to tamp down grass torn by galloping hooves. During this intermezzo, the announcer plays fun music people can move to—the reggae-accented “Country Roads” by Toots & The Maytals is Grey’s favorite. During lunch after games, her playlist mingles the nostalgic with the unexpected. “Horses and country music just go together.” She leans towards old school twang like Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash. Other eclectic tunes might come from Beth Rowley, Pink Martini, Ray LaMontagne, Madeleine Peyroux, Max Sedgley or Garrett Hedlund—what better setting for “Turn Loose the Horses?”

The Drinks

“At most sporting events you drink beer from a can. For polo, you sip sparkling wine from a flute,” one bystander quipped. Bubbly from Korbel in Guerneville is served at the divot stomp for major events, with Trione wines also featured. The Trione Chardonnay or Pinot Noir (both Russian River Valley) pair well with Grey’s roast chicken and salads. Most important—drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

Athena's Orzo Salad

Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena Nicole Grey uses her birth name for her Greek-style recipes like these.

 1  pound orzo pasta
¹⁄³  cup Greek olives, pitted
½  cup feta cheese, crumbled
½  cup artichoke hearts, sliced
½ cup cucumber, diced
1 each roasted red bell pepper, sliced
9  tablespoons Greek extra-virgin olive oil
½  cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3  tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3  tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3  tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and boil until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse the orzo briefly with cold water. Toss the pasta with all other ingredients except tomatoes and fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the orzo salad cool for one hour, refrigerate until ready to pack for the tailgate. Before packing toss in tomatoes and fresh herbs. Serves 6–8.

Athena’s Roasted Potatoes

10 large unpeeled red potatoes, cut into
6–8 wedges per potato
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dried Greek oregano
1 lemon, juiced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons fresh Greek oregano, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fill a large pot with salted water, parwboil the potatoes for five minutes and then strain. Place the potatoes with all remaining ingredients into a large bowl and toss.

Align one layer of potatoes in a shallow baking pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, or until potatoes have reached a golden color.  Check occasionally to make sure they are roasting evenly. When done let cool for 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh oregano, if desired, before packing for tailgate. Serves 6–8.

Risa Wyatt

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

California Issue 2013

Monterey: Entertaining

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

Little Italy

Farm-to-Table Feasting with the Pisonis

Descended from Swiss-Italian immigrants, Eddie and Jane Pisoni began farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley in 1952. Their son Gary planted vines on the family cattle ranch in the 1980s—the passionate pioneer of Pinot Noir in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Today, his sons Mark (vineyard manager) and Jeff (winemaker) operate Pisoni Vineyards & Winery. The family produces wines under the Pisoni Estate and Lucia labels, with fruit sourced from the Pisoni, Soberanes and Garys’ vineyards (the latter two farmed in partnership with Gary Franscioni).

Most Sundays, four generations of Pisonis dine around a long (very long) table at either the vineyard or house in Gonzales belonging to Jane, the 88-year-old matriarch. Festivities center on Jane’s specialty: steaming cauldrons of cioppino (chuh-PEE-no), a zesty fish and seafood stew popularized by early Italian immigrants in San Francisco. Thanks to the piscine plenty of Monterey Bay, fresh catch here is a given.

“The meal brings back the notion that when anybody pops in, you can sit down and enjoy each other,” says Susan Pisoni Tavernetti, Jane’s daughter. “The food is good, but it’s really about the company.”

Recreate the Region

The Menu

“Dungeness crab, prawns and clams are at the heart of the cioppino,” says Susan. The Pisonis modify the recipe depending on what fish is available—Monterey Bay crab season runs mid-November to mid-June. The Pisonis serve salad along with the cioppino—acid from the dressing offsets richness of the fish.

Antipasti (cheese, home-canned vegetables, homemade salumi)
Cioppino
Pane (homemade bread)
Salad
Lemon meringue pie

The Décor

On cold days, the family dines at Jane’s house where she uses china that belonged to her mother-in-law, Esther. “The dishes are more than 100 years old,” Susan adds. “They have family value—they allow that grandmother to
be with us at the table.” 

If dining at the vineyard, the Pisonis use white ware with deep bowls. Small seafood forks help pry every bit of crabmeat from shells.

Kids decorate bibs made out of butcher paper while awaiting the meal. “Cut rectangles with U-shaped holes for the neck,” Mark explains. “Use Sharpie-type markers if kids are bigger and you can trust them; otherwise, they decorate them with crayons. Punch holes and tie with string in back.”

The Playlist

No music—everyone’s too busy chatting. “As dinner goes on we get even louder,” Mark says. “It’s really fun.”

The Drinks

Riedel Burgundy glasses are the family go-to choice—they use them for all wine varietals.

The family loves to have a wide range of beverage options to accommodate their multi-course menu. To start, the Pisoni’s prefer a rosé with their antipasti, like their Lucy Rosé from the Santa Lucia Highlands or a Provencal selection from Triennes. For the cioppino, the family opts for a Pinot Noir, like their Lucia Garys’ Vineyard bottling or Dehlinger Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. Chardonnay makes for a lovely companion to the lemon meringue pie for dessert, and they look to their Lucia Soberanes Vineyard selection or the Peter Michael Chardonnay from Knights Valley.

Jane also adores sparkling wine and Champagne. The Pisonis often pop the cork on bottles from their neighbor, Caraccioli Cellars.

Jane Pisoni's Cioppino

¼ – ¹⁄³ cup olive oil
3–6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped 
2 each medium onions, chopped
6 stalks celery with tops, chopped
4 28-ounce cans organic whole peeled tomatoes (with basil, if desired)
2 14.5-ounce cans organic stewed tomatoes 
2 8-ounce cans tomato purée or tomato sauce 
2–3 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced 
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon basil 
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 cup dry fino Sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
2 dungeness crabs (cleaned, cracked)
½ pound cod or sea bass, de-boned and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds prawns (shelled, deveined)
2 dozen clams
1 dozen scallops (optional, cut in half if large ones)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy kettle. Sauté the garlic, parsley, onion and celery for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and purée, and mushrooms. Season with bay leaves, basil, marjoram, Sherry, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer at least an hour (whole tomatoes must break down into sauce).

Add the crab, fish and prawns to the sauce. Simmer for another hour.

Scrub clamshells well. Steam in a little water with a garlic clove and parsley to open the shells. Strain some of the liquid into the sauce. Add the scallops and clams in their shells shortly before serving. Serves 8.

Pane (bread)

6 cups organic, unbleached white flour (divided)
1¾ cups boiling water
1 each package active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt

Place 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then mix to make sure there are no dry spots. Cover with a damp dishtowel and let sit overnight.

The next day, proof the yeast in the warm water according to package instructions. Add the yeast mixture to the flour-and-water mixture. Sprinkle in the salt. Stir and then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until somewhat smooth. Add the remaining 4 cups of flour, a handful at a time, until the dough is smooth and satin-like. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes on a floured wooden surface. Cover the dough and let rise about 1½ hours, until doubled.

Shape the dough into a round loaf by flattening it and folding the edges into the middle. Seal the seams with the heel of the hand. Let the loaf rise for 30 minutes. Then flatten the loaf with your hands to half its original height. Flip it over onto a well-floured surface. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Put the loaf directly on a baking stone or baking tray. Bake 45-50 minutes, until the golden crust sounds hollow when tapped. Shut off the oven and let the bread remain inside for 5 minutes to develop the crust. Serve warm with cioppino.Makes 1 round, 2-pound loaf of bread.

Lemon Meringue Pie

For the pie dough:

2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup shortening
½ egg, beaten (save remainder in refrigerator for another use)
¼ cup ice water (approximate)
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat an oven to 475°F.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening. Pour egg into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough ice water to make ¼ cup. Add the lemon juice. Gradually add remaining liquid to the flour-and-shortening mixture. Don’t overwork. Gather dough together into a ball.  

Use half of the dough in the ball. Roll out on floured board. The dough may be temperamental (due to the weather and humidity) and may need to be pieced together. Ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim edges with scissors, leaving ½-inch overhanging the pan. Fold extra pastry back and under, building a high-fluted edge. Hook the points of the fluted edge under the pan to help prevent shrinkage while baking. Prick the bottom and sides of the pastry to prevent puffing during baking. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

This makes two single-crust pie shells. Any leftover dough can be frozen for another use.

For the 9-inch pie filling:
1½ cups sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
1½ cup water
3egg yolks, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter
¼cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon rind, grated

For the meringue:
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil one minute. Gradually stir at least half the hot mixture into the egg yolks, being sure not to cook the eggs.  Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the sugar and cornstarch in the saucepan. Boil 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Continue stirring until smooth and thick. Blend in the butter, lemon juice and lemon rind. Pour into baked pie shell. Immediately pile meringue over the filling.

For the meringue:

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar. Whisk until stiff and glossy and all the sugar is dissolved. Do not underbeat. Beat in vanilla. Pile meringue onto hot pie filling, sealing the meringue onto the edge of the crust to prevent shrinking and weeping. Swirl the top of the meringue with a spoon or spatula or pull up points to decorate the pie. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until the meringue turns a delicate brown.

Virginie Boone

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

California Issue 2013

Mendocino/Lake Counties Entertaining 

Picnic Perfection

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn of Navarro Help Pack Your Basket

Navarro Vineyards’s Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn were drawn to the Anderson Valley in the 1970s to plant Gewürztraminer, a favorite variety.

They are now 40 years into making delicious Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and late-harvest wines. Most lunch hours the redwood picnic tables on the winery’s tasting room deck and throughout its gardens fill with travelers.

“Views of the vines, redwood-covered hills and flocks of sheep help slow down even the most hassled ‘bright lighter’ (‘city slicker’ in Boontling, the local language),” says Cahn. 

The tasting room sells cheeses from Pennyroyal Farm down the road in Boonville, the going concern of the Cahn-Bennett’s grown-up daughter, Sarah.

Pennyroyal gets its milk from Babydoll Southdown and Panama sheep and a plethora of goats that graze in Navarro’s vineyards, as well as a 66-acre farmstead in Boonville, peppered with wild grasses and pennyroyal mint, the genesis of the name.

One of the family’s favorite wine and cheese combinations is Sauvignon Blanc with Bollie’s Mollies, a firm-surfaced, ripened crottin with a clean, lemony taste. Pennyroyal Boon’t Corners, an aged tomme made from raw goat and sheep milk and aged two, four or six months, is a knockout with Navarro’s Pinot Noir.  A mild goat blue cheese, Boonter’s Blue pairs astutely with Navarro’s Cluster Select Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, a wine that is equally interesting with Pennyroyal Laychee, a fresh chèvre.

Recreate the RegionThe Menu

The Pennyroyal cheeses: Bollie’s Mollies, Boonter’s Blue and Laychee topped with Navarro fig compote
Smoked salmon on olive oil flatbread
Nunes Farms almonds with sea salt
Butter cookies (recipe below)

The Décor

Simple and charming picnic basket and blanket.

The Playlist

Ry Cooder’s “A Meeting at the River,” aptly named for sitting close to the Navarro River, or Cooder’s “Hollow Bamboo”

The Drinks

Navarro Cuvée 128 Sauvignon Blanc (Mendocino)
Navarro Méthode à l’Ancienne Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley)
Navarro Riesling (Anderson Valley)
Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest Gewürztraminer (Anderson Valley)

Three Granddaughters' Butter Cookies

½ pound (two sticks) organic butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt

Heat an oven to 375°F. It is not necessary to grease the cookie sheets but use a baking mat for faster cleanup—and eating. Cream the butter with the vanilla.  Add the sugar and eggs and beat well. In a separate bowl, add the flour and salt to the butter mixture, blending thoroughly.

Arrange ½ teaspoons of dough on cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a wet metal spatula and bake until cookies start to brown, about 8 minutes. Makes a dozen cookies.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

California Issue 2013

Livermore Valley: Entertaining

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

Guitar Hero

How winemaker Karl Wente chills when off duty.

When he’s not making wine or doing yoga, fifth-generation Livermore Valley winemaker Karl Wente is usually playing guitar with plenty of friends. They jam from the porch of his comfortable family farmhouse on the sun-strewn Louis Mel Vineyard, where neighbors are few and far between.

Those who have hung out at Karl’s say he is an amazing home cook, professional on every level except attitude, which settles characteristically at laid back. With his days spent managing 3,000 acres of family-farmed grapevines and overseeing the production of 600,000-plus cases of Wente wines, he does need, after all, to relax.

Recreate the Region

The Menu

The food includes cheese and Triscuits, as well as flatbread. “For the flatbread I’ve been doing thin-sliced potatoes and truffle oil with hummus as the base,” Wente says. 

The Décor

“It’s temperature and light dependent,” he explains. “If light and warm enough, we sit outside on the front porch facing west, just slightly angled to the north. The sun sets through the diversity of trees on the property, with many of the species planted by Louis Mel [one of the Livermore Valley’s most important early wine pioneers] himself in 1912—California oak, eucalyptus, sycamore, pine, olive, cherry, and of course grapevines.

“If cold or dark, we move inside to my living room, which is designed to be a classy grip and rip place to play music. Tuned instruments are intermingled with artwork on the wall and percussion instruments are strategically placed throughout the room so that each person in attendance is enticed to play.”

The Playlist

“We do our own jamming.”

The Drinks

“The wine always includes that which has been bottled and not yet released to see how the wines are progressing post-bottling. If not drinking the above-mentioned wine, I have various beers on tap from the newly founded Altamont Brewery brewed around the corner from my house, supporting local!”

Karl's Flatbread

Karl’s cooking philosophy: no measuring, no timers. Be there and in the moment. 

Spread hummus on flatbread. 

Cook or fry thin-sliced potatoes separately in olive oil. 

Layer potatoes in a round baking pan or skillet and put cheese of choice on top. 

Drizzle with white truffle oil, salt and pepper, and bake in oven until cheese starts to melt.

Put the entire potato round on flat bread. Bake flatbread with potatoes until browned. 

Slice like a pizza and serve. 

Virginie Boone

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

California Issue 2013 

Sonoma: Entertaining

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

Stress-free Hosting

It’s a party, so have fun. Allie Quady Shaylor shows you how.

Allie Quady Shaylor was raised at her parents’ winery in Madera. During the 1990s, her father, Andy Quady, became known as the Muscat King after persuading Central Valley growers to grow Muscat for his dessert wines, Elysium and Essensia, in addition to grape varieties traditionally used to make Port. 

The Quadys also produce Vya Vermouth in both sweet and dry versions. Shaylor is helping the family leap into the cocktail world, crisscrossing the country to promote their tasty wares.  She also has two Quady cocktail recipe books, free online.

“The dessert wine category is shrinking but the apéritif category is getting bigger,” she says.  ”That’s our unique spot, making aromatic, intensely flavored wines. We want to let people know how many uses there are for our wines.” 

Quady’s key trick: “Emphasize flavor, by putting more wine and less alcohol in your cocktails. It’s nice to savor your drink and be able to have another.”

Recreate the RegionThe Menu

Caramelized endive and gruyère cheese
Rye bread, gouda and olives
Meatballs and cream sauce
Cucumber salad
Seasonal vegetable tempura and spicy sauce 
Gravlax or smoked salmon and mustard dill sauce

The Décor

“We love to break out the nice glasses and flatware, but we’re really focused on the food and wine,” Quady says. “Plus, along with good music and good company, that’s honestly all we need.” 

The Playlist

Classic jazz for classic cocktails: Art Blakey’s Serious Business, Charles Mingus’ Mingus Mingus Mingus or change it up with Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage.

The Drinks

Extra-dry martinis made with Vya Vermouth garnished with olives, and paired with gravlax. And 50:50 Manhattans: equal parts whiskey and vermouth, paired with the meatballs. 

Quady Family Danish Gravlax

3+ pounds fresh salmon filet with skin (You want to end up with two pieces similar in size; center cut works best but any two matching      pieces will work.)
1 large bunch dill (if not pungent, chop coarsely to release flavor)
¼ cup salt (coarse—kosher or any type salt crystals)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons peppercorns, crushed (white preferred but black is fine)

Place half the fish, skin side down, in a glass, enamel or stainless steel dish. Dish needs to be deep enough to hold both layers of the fish and platter to cover fish inside the bowl. Wash, shake dry the dill bunch and place on the fish. In small bowl combine the salt, sugar and crushed peppercorns. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the dill. Top with other half of fish, skin side up. Cover with aluminum foil. 

Set a platter atop aluminum-foil covered fish filets and pile the platter with weights—three to four cans of food work well. Refrigerate 48 hours or up to three days, turning fish every 12 hours and basting with the liquid marinade that accumulates. 

Separate the halves to baste salmon inside and turn the salmon over and replace platter and weights each time. When finished, remove the fish from marinade and separate halves.

Scrape away the dill and seasonings and patdry with paper towels then place skin side down on carving board. Slice salmon halves thinly on the diagonal, detaching from the skin. Serve with mustard-dill sauce, lemon wedges, small toasts or thin rye bread and a lettuce salad. Serves 8–10.

Mustard-Dill Sauce

4 tablespoons mustard, whole-grain
1 teaspoon mustard, powdered
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar (white preferred but regular wine vinegar is fine)
⅓ cup oil (vegetable or light olive oil)
3 tablespoons dill, fresh, chopped                       

In small deep bow or electric hand blender mix two mustards, sugar and vinegar to paste. With wire whisk slowly beat in the oil until the mixture forms a thick, mayonnaise-like emulsion. Stir in the chopped dill. Refrigerate in small jar until ready to use. Shake vigorously or beat with whisk before serving. You can make this several days ahead. Makes about 1/2 cup.      

Pickled Cucumber Salad

2 each cucumbers, large
1 tablespoon salt
¾ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons dill, fresh chopped

Scrub cucumbers and dry. Score lengthwise with a fork. Cut them into thinnest possible slices. Arrange in thin layer in shallow glass dish. Sprinkle with salt. Place weights on top to press out excess water and bitterness. Leave at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in refrigerator. Remove plates and drain cucumbers of all liquid. Wash slightly to remove excess salt, pat dry and return to dish.

For vinaigrette: In small bowl, beat together vinegar, sugar salt and pepper. Pour vinaigrette over cucumbers and strew with chopped dill. Chill for two or three hours up to overnight. Just before serving, drain away nearly all the liquid. Serves 4 as salad or more if accompaniment to gravlax.

Meatballs in Sour Cream Sauce               

6 tablespoons butter
½ cup onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds ground elk, buffalo, or beef (if using beef, increase seasonings)
1 pound pork, lean ground
1 cup bread crumbs, soft fresh white, pulverized in a blender
1 each egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk    
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme (dried), crumbled
1 tablespoon salt    
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter over moderate heat in heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet. Add onions and garlic, cook for about five minutes until soft and translucent but not browned. Scrape contents of skillet into deep bowl. Add ground meat, pork, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper to the bowl. Knead vigorously with both hands to incorporate all ingredients. Beat mixture with wooden spoon until smooth. To shape meatballs pinch off about 1 tablespoon of mixture and roll between hands into ball about 1 inch in diameter.

In skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter with oil and brown the meatballs, 10 or 12 at a time. Turn balls frequently and regulate heat so they color evenly without burning.

With slotted spoon transfer to plate when brown and add more meatballs. When all meatballs are browned, pour off remaining fat in skillet.

Add chicken stock to skillet and bring to boil over high heat, scraping in any browned bits from meatballs. Return all meatballs to the skillet with any liquid accumulated around them on the plate. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or until no trace of pink when pierced with knife. With slotted spoon remove meatballs to heated bowl and cover to keep warm.

For sour cream sauce, beat sour cream, flour and mustard together with a wire whisk in a bowl until well blended. Add the sour cream mixture to liquid remaining in skillet. Whisking constantly, cook over low heat for four to five minutes until sauce is smooth and lightly thickened. Taste for seasonings. Pour meatballs and sauce into heated chafing dish and stir. Place toothpicks or small forks with chafing dish for guests to serve themselves. Makes about 4 dozen 1-inch meatballs.

Virginie Boone

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

California Issue 2013 

Sonoma: Entertaining

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

Take It Outside

Scott and Melly Klann’s playbook for the ultimate alfresco dinner party.

Scott Klann is the winemaker behind Zinfandel-focused Newsome-Harlow; his wife Melanie—whom he refers to affectionately as Melly—is a chef. Based in the Calaveras County town of Murphys, together they know their wine and food, honing in on great vineyard sites throughout the Foothills and offering companionable bites from their tasting room kitchen. Great entertainers, they prefer to keep things casual, gathering around the bocce court in their backyard or meeting friends in Murphys Park for an all-day hang out. Even in spring and fall their style of entertaining leans more towards the outdoors.

Virginie Boone

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey 

Grilled or Broiled Salmon Pairing: 

Gaia 2013 Wild Ferment Assyrtiko (Santorini)

Pro: Daniel Beedle, wine director, Juni, New York City

“My go-to wine for salmon would be Gaia Assyrtiko from the Aegean island of Santorini. [Its] Wild Ferment bottling spends 12 hours of contact with the grape skins, allowing for added richness and texture. Assyrtiko, which is naturally high in acidity, brings along with it fresh saline and citrus notes as well as a creamy brioche flavor from the use of yeasts indigenous to the island. The acidity and body of the wine balances with the buttery character of the salmon, allowing for the herbs and seasoning to really pop and stand out.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Fish & Chips Pairing:

Domaine Chandon NV Étoile Rosé (Sonoma-Napa) Pro: Mariya Kovacheva, wine director, Café Boulud, Palm Beach, Florida

“One of my personal favorites with fried fish is Domaine Chandon’s Étoile Rosé. This American bubbly is made exactly the same way as any wine from Champagne, using ChardonnayPinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wine possesses terrific acidity to cut through the richness of fried fish. At the same time, it reveals great length and texture to stand up to the body of seafood with breading. Domaine Chandon’s Étoile Rosé has fresh aromas of ripe red plum, raspberry and nutmeg that build the profile of an intense wine—a perfect match for one of my favorite dishes.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks 

Cobb Salad Pairing: 

Poseidon Vineyard 2013 Estate Chardonnay (Los Carneros) Pro: Josiah Baldovino and Stevie Stacionis, proprietors, Bay Grape, Oakland, California

“We like the idea of pairing something American with a Cobb salad, since it is a classic, all-American dish. There are a lot of flavors and textures going on in this salad, so we want something with enough weight and intensity to match up with it. We really like Molnar Family’s Poseidon Vineyard Chardonnay from Carneros. It’s a California Chardonnay that sees a bit of oak but is from a slightly cool climate, so the great acidity stands up to the vinaigrette. The creaminess of the Chardonnay stands up to the chicken and avocado, while the acidity slices through the bacon and blue cheese.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks 

Pasta Primavera Pairing:

The Crossings 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (Awatere ValleyPro: Jessica Altieri, CEO, Wine Channel TV Network, Chicago 

“If you’re looking for a weeknight wine adventure, I suggest opening The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. The sunny citrus and passion fruit aromas, complemented by a bright mineral finish, makes this Sauvignon Blanc a perfect pairing for pasta primavera made with fresh seasonal veggies. Fresh hints of lemon in the sauce pair up wonderfully with the citrus notes of this wine and will have you dreaming of the fast-flowing Awatere River and the cool water of Clifford Bay in Marlborough.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks 

Chicken Parmesan Pairing: 

Terredora 2011 Loggia Della Serra (Greco di Tufo) Pro: Ted Xenohristos, co-founder, Cava Grill, Washington, DC

“With chicken parmesan, I love drinking a 2011 Terredora Loggia Della Serra Greco di Tufo because it goes great with the breaded chicken, but can still handle the cheese and red sauce. Grown in the Campania wine region in southern Italy, it is a full-bodied white with excellent acidity. It is Greco, a variety that is believed to have been introduced to Campania by the Pelasgians, an ancient people from Thessaly in Greece.” 

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Pairing:

Acústic Celler 2011 Acústic Blanc (Montsant) Pro: Peter Vestinos, beverage director, The Betty, Chicago

“Caesar salad hits on straightforward profiles of creamy, acidic, crunchy and salty, but often there is not much depth of flavor, so this calls for a wine with a bit more going on. My choice is Acústic Celler’s Blanc, a blend of Grenache Blanc and Macabeo from Spain, to step in and pair with the classic Caesar. The slightly full-bodied wine will hold up to the creamy dressing, the honeyed notes will pair with the salty quality of the salad and the wine has enough acid to keep the palate fresh and clean through each bite.” 


Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Shrimp Scampi Pairing: 

Giampaolo Venica 2013 Pinot Grigio (Collio)Pro: Bobby Stuckey, MS, beverage director/partner, Frasca, Boulder, Colorado

“Traditional American shrimp scampi includes a delicious amount of garlic and butter. A great pairing for this dish would be from my good friend, Giampaolo Venica. His 2013 Pinot Grigio is full of crisp minerality, but still has enough body to tackle the assertiveness of the garlic in the dish. It has great acidity to it, a wine that always reminds me how great Pinot Grigio can be. Depending on [which] recipe you follow, I’d recommend using the wine in the dish preparation as well.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Pork Chops & Applesauce Pairing:

Trimbach 2009 Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling (Alsace)  Pro: Michaël Peltier, head sommelier, Hunky Dory and Bernardine’s, Houston

“When I prepare pork chops with applesauce, I pair it with a Riesling from Alsace, France: Trimbach’s Cuvée Frédéric Emile. This dry and powerful Riesling is underlined by fruity, floral and mineral notes and is coupled with a firm, ripe acidity that complements the sweetness of the applesauce. The dryness of the wine breaks through the rich qualities of this tasty meal.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks 

Salade Niçoise Pairing: 

Château de la Chaize 2011 Vieilles Vignes (Brouilly) Pro: Andy Myers, MS, wine director, José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Washington, DC

“With Salade Niçoise, I love the Château de la Chaize Vieilles Vignes from the Beaujolais Cru of Brouilly, made entirely of Gamay. The high-toned, dried wild-berry fruit is a zingy complement to the tuna. The bright and lifting acidity adores the vinegar in the dressing, and the quintessentially rustic, black-rock minerality found in the Brouilly Cru plays nicely with the dark notes of the olives. If all that isn’t enough, I love that the moderate (and I might add well-balanced) alcohol keeps both wine and salad feeling refreshing and lovely.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Grilled Chicken Caesar SaladPairing:

Roasted Chicken Pairing: 

Domaine Philippe Alliet 2013 Chinon Pro: Yannick Benjamin, head sommelier, University Club, New York City

“One of my favorite dishes growing up with a French mother was her legendary but simple roasted chicken. One of my favorite pairings is Cabernet Franc, specifically from Chinon in the Loire Valley. Domaine Philippe Alliet Chinon 2013 is such a gracious pairing for roast chicken. It has a delicate aroma of freshly picked red fruit and dried tobacco. Secondary flavors of violets and rosemary jump out of the glass, and if you plan on adding some rosemary and herbs to your roast chicken, it will only make this pairing that much better.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Gringo Tacos Pairing: 

Melville 2013 Block M Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills)Pro: Paul Ozbirn, beverage director, Parkside Projects, Austin, Texas

“Whenever we’d do ‘Taco Tuesday’ growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, it was a pretty straightforward affair: ground beef, taco seasoning, hard corn tortillas right out of the box, diced tomato and onion, some shredded lettuce and cheddar, and chunky salsa. These days, I’d pair this with a 2013 Melville Block M Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. Cherry-cola notes are nostalgic to the iced soda of childhood. Mixed red and dark fruit flavors combine with the cumin and cayenne of the taco seasoning, creating a balance on the palate between sweet and spicy.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Macaroni & CheesePairing: 

Castello Banfi 2012 Rosso di Montalcino  Pro: Michael McGeath, proprietor, Brooklyn Girl Eatery, San Diego

“When I make macaroni & cheese, it is more of the Italian variety. Using several cheeses such as provolone, Gorgonzola, fontina and a little parmigiana adds depth of flavor as opposed to the classic American with just cheddar cheese. The ideal match with this hearty dish is one of my favorite red wines from Tuscany, Castello Banfi’s Rosso di Montalcino. It has a full-on flavor of blackberries and rich, full mouthfeel, and the strong acidity balances out the fattiness of the cheese. This is my idea of a perfect combo for a perfect dinner at home.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

October 2015 Issue 

How to Pair American Comfort Foods with Wine

Prop Stylist 

Athena Nicole Grey

Photographer 

Noah Fecks

Burgers Pairing: 

Château du Trignon 2012 Côtes du Rhône Pro: Josh Jenkins, beverage manager, The Dandelion Pub, Philadelphia

For a burger, a balanced, medium-bodied red that is slightly smoky and with a moderately tannic structure would be my recommended pairing. We make our burger with smoked bacon, pickles and cheese, and we pour a 2012 Côtes du Rhône from Château du Trignon, which is a medium-bodied Rhône made fromGrenacheSyrah and Mourvèdre. You get some smoke from the Syrah, which pairs great with the smoked bacon, and some spice from the Mourvèdre that goes well with the peppercorns in the brined pickles. Plus, Grenache is a low-tannic grape variety that helps keep it balanced.”


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