The Sierra Foothills

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Sierra Foothills: Entertaining

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.

Recreate the Region

The Menu

Starts off with some charcuterie and cheeses and then mostly involves grilling munchables such as one of Melanie’s grilled pizzettas. Lately Melly has been making her own krauts as well. The last batch was krauts of beet ginger, cabbage and fresh fennel stalk.

The Décor

Spring/summer/fall is outdoors and airy. Winter meals usually start and end in the kitchen with the middle portion spent around a dinner table decorated with Melanie’s hand-crafted décor, usually sticks, branches and leaves put together in a fashionable display.

The Playlist

Evening entertaining generally moves back and forth between trip-hop, groove and electronica and also a mix of ‘80s music like Joy Division, The Smiths and The Cure peppered with smart stuff like Yo La Tengo. Some nights it’s old-school punk. Daytime entertaining focuses on guitar-oriented southern rock from bands like Lucero and some JJ Grey & Mofro.

The Drinks

Daytime and evening parties generally start with high-acidity whites and rosé wines with very low alcohol like Vinho Verdes and Txakolis. For dinner, selections typically move on to light- to medium-bodied reds like Pinots and Grenaches, or beyond to cool-climate Syrahs such as Hermitage and Côtes du Rhône. Often they’ll do cocktails; Scott’s a brown American whiskey fan and leans towards Bourbon and rye.

Grilled Pizzetta

7½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sliced fresh mint leaves
1½ tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons minced shallot
1 pound fresh pizza dough
5 tablespoons pomegranate-cumin dressing,
1 cup coarsely grated Fontina cheese
Fresh arugula
2 sausages, grilled and sliced into 1⁄3 inch thick rounds
6 fresh figs, quartered
2 thin red onion slices, rings separated
1 cup goat cheese

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Prepare the pomegranate sauce by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mint, pomegranate molasses, cumin and shallot.

Split the dough in half, and roll out into two 10-inch rounds. Brush the rounds with some of the pomegranate sauce.

Grill the pizzettas, seasoned side down, until golden on bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the pizzettas over, and top with Fontina, arugula, sausages, figs and onions. Drizzle with more pomegranate sauce.

Cover and grill until the Fontina melts and the pizzettas are cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Top with goat cheese, and grill until cheese softens, about 1 minute. Top with fresh arugula. Serves 6.

Pair with a Newsome-Harlow Big John Zinfandel (Calaveras County). 

Virginie Boone

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