What approach do you take to creating grill/BBQ recipes?
Smoke everything! When it comes to the cook I like to think of the grill as just another ingredient, trying to not make smoke the dominant flavor. We have a catering company called Ember and Vine that works primarily with wineries, and because we’re usually pairing the food we cook with wine, our goal is to make food that pairs well with wine. This is all achieved with balance. Heavily sauced or overly rubbed proteins overpower most wines, so our approach is to season the food (but not too heavily) and cook it in a way where you can taste the protein first, the smoke flavor second, and the seasonings and/or sauces third.
When people think of BBQ, they often think of beer or bourbon. What do you want people to know about pairing wine and BBQ?
Pairing wine and BBQ is no different than pairing any other style of food with wine. People always assume big and bold when it comes to BBQ, but that’s not always the case. It’s not always about just ribs and brisket. If you think of the smoke as just one of the many ingredients in the dish, you open yourself up to a wide variety of wine pairings.
- Take salmon or pork tenderloin (which is great smoked btw). Those both pair fantastically with local Oregon Pinot Noir.
- White fish, vegetables, poultry, those all open themselves up fantastically to white wines, especially fuller bodied white wines like Chardonnay or Viognier.
- Rosé wines are among my favorite for chicken and brisket (yes, brisket!!).
- You want to stick to those ribs or steaks? That’s where I turn to a peppery Syrah or Zinfandel.
I believe smoke is a condiment to the overall dish, not the defining flavor of the meal. It should be balanced, just like a good wine.
Do you have any BBQ tips or secrets that you’d be willing to share?
Invest in a good thermometer! I also think many folk are intimidated to ask questions. One big tip – ask – a lot – of questions! While there will always be the secret hoarders, most people love sharing their cooking experiences to help us all get better. Another tip – quality meat matters. I know budget plays a big part for many of us, but garbage in is garbage out. Consider finding a quality meat provider when cooking low and slow because it matters. It really does! We’re lucky where we live and have access to fantastic quality local meat and ingredients, farmer’s markets, and lots of great butchers as well.
What’s next for Vindulge and Ember and Vine?
Vindulge was just nominated for an IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Award for Best Recipe-Based Blog, which is so exciting for me!!! To be included in the caliber of culinary professionals is such an honor! Plus we now have a regular spot on our local morning lifestyle TV show to do cooking demos, which is always incredibly exciting for us. Getting to share our food on live TV is a ridiculous amount of fun.
As far as Ember and Vine, we want to put more focus this summer into BBQ Competitions, and possibly start selling some products. And someday (someday!!) my goal is to write a book on our style of Pacific Northwest BBQ and wine pairings.