Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019 - 26

FOOD & DRINK
From left: Nitsa Knoll
uses floral wire to turn
eucalyptus pods and
fern branches into a
table runner; bottles and
jars are open and ready
to share at a vineyard
picnic; toasting with
friends during a sunset
picnic at Jordan; below:
abalone poke is served
on shells for a natural,
elegant look.
Crafting a centerpiece
Once she's collected her materials, Nitsa begins
thinking about how to arrange them into a
unique table runner or centerpiece. She starts
by separating the greenery into individual piles,
then does the same with the flowers and other
plants. She trims the items in each stack into
uniform pieces, then layers them together to
highlight different textures and colors.
" Half of it is figuring out what looks right and
not getting too crazy, " she says. " You don't
want the florals to compete with the culinary
focal points of the meal. "
Nitsa uses green floral wire to secure each piece
as she goes, and tucks smaller bits and pieces into
the bundles to fill them in and camouflage the
wire. Her goal is to make them look pretty, but
natural. " I don't like to do an assembly line where
they're all exactly the same, but I do like them to
be fairly uniform, " she says.
For the fall coastal picnic, Nitsa created an
oblong arrangement to lay down the center of
the table as a fragrant runner, as seen on the
magazine's cover. A summer picnic, among
Jordan's hilltop petit verdot grapevines, called
for a simpler approach. Instead of a centerpiece,
Nitsa placed small terracotta vases filled
with fresh herbs for garnishing cheeses and
tomatoes-like basil, thyme and fennel-and
tucked a fresh sprig of rosemary and wild fennel
frond into each place setting.
Setting the table
Creating a picnic tablescape isn't about silver
candelabras and pricey stemware. It's about
making guests feel comfortable and enhancing
the natural beauty of the surroundings.
26
Nitsa prefers muted, neutral colors for outdoor
settings, and natural materials such as linen
and wood mixed with rustic metal elements.
Places are set with stemless wine glasses or short
tumblers, real flatware, ceramic dinner plates and
soft linen napkins. Hurricane lanterns and string
lights complete the tablescape for sunset picnics.
" If you enjoy what you're looking at, " she says,
" the food and wine taste even better. "
Elevating picnic fare
Food is an equally important consideration for
an inspired picnic-and that's where Nitsa's
husband, Todd, comes in.
Picnic fare may be as simple as laying out a
curated array of sublime cheeses and artisan
salumi, he says, or something a bit more
elaborate. Because Todd loves to incorporate
local foods into his dishes, he'll often include
delicacies such as forged wild mushrooms,
freshly caught Sonoma Dungeness crabs, and
rillettes and charcuterie made from Sonoma
heritage pork. " Make use of what's around you, "
he says. " Don't just go to the grocery store for
your ingredients. See if you can hit a nearby
farmer's market to pick up things like local
meats, fresh produce and olives. "
Ingredients such as nuts and olives can be
transformed in simple ways to create unique and
delicious snacks. " You can take something familiar
and put a new spin on it, " he says. " For nuts,
you can toss them in your own favorite spices or
buy something like a Yemeni spice blend, " Todd
says. " Then mix in some egg whites to adhere the
spices to the nuts and bake them. "

Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

Table of Contents
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