The Best BBQ in Oregon

Quick: name states renowned for their barbecue. Missouri. North and South Carolina. Georgia. Florida. Oregon. Wait. Oregon? Yes! The Beaver State is an up-and-coming BBQ dynamo. Just visit Cindy Lou’s, and you’ll see (and, better yet, taste) why.

Rainstorm wines explains where you can find the best BBQ in Oregon.

This Salem gem is quickly gaining traction as a local hotspot for amazing barbecue. Think pulled pork, brisket, hand chopped slaw….paired with a delicious Rainstorm pinot noir, this is a meal you’ll be thinking about for days afterward.

The story behind Cindy Lou’s is as juicy as its baby back ribs. Named after owner Christopher Sarff’s mother, Sarff got his start not as a chef, but as a construction worker. After a few years building houses, Sarff decided to make a career change and began delivering bread overnight in the Portland area. He also launched a food truck, selling hamburgers and other lunchtime favorites. He quickly became a hit with the locals.

But Sarff had his sights set on BBQ. Destiny intervened when Sarff entered a contest to win a brand new food truck. After being drawn as a finalist, he put his skills to the test in a cook-off against four other worthy contestants, winning the top prize and taking home the truck.

Cindy Lou’s was born. The truck was parked in Happy Valley, where lines of customers formed every day to get a taste of Sarff’s homemade barbecue favorites. Many of his top treats are based on his mother’s recipes. Everything in Sarff’s mobile kitchen is made from scratch, and he loads his specials up with local ingredients. All the rubs, sauces, and side dishes are created daily with care.

Last spring, Sarff decided it was a time for a change, though. Not to his incredible recipes, thankfully, but to his location. Sarff wanted to be back in his hometown of Salem. And he wanted Cindy Lou’s to become Salem’s premier BBQ joint.

With his barbecue selling out every day, it’s safe to say he’s done just that.

If you want to get a taste of Cindy Lou’s BBQ, you can find it Monday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, at Beehive Station in Salem. Our advice? Get your order to go so you can take it home and enjoy with your choice of Rainstorm wines – a truly winning combination!  

Duck Breast with Pomegranate-Citrus Glaze and Pinot Noir

Finding the perfect food and wine pairings can be intimidating — especially if you’ve got guests coming in a few hours and still have to select the right bottle! When in doubt, though, go with pinot noir. This smooth operator is a dynamo with food; its acidity infuses it with incredible versatility, so it pairs with everything from lamb to Chinese pizza. Try this delectable duck breast with pomegranate-citrus glaze; it’s guaranteed to delight your taste buds.

Oregon Wine | Rainstorm Pinot Noir

Fine and Fowl

Rainstorm Pinot Noir blends the earthy, complexity characteristic of the Willamette Valley with the bright, fruitiness of the hotter, drier Umpqua Valley. The result is a harmonious, yet layered, wine with the fresh acidity to complement the the richness of the glazed duck. For this recipe from the Kitchn.com you will need:

  • 2 duck breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp white vermouth
  • 1 large orange, juiced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • ⅛ tsp cardamom

To make:

  1. Heat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Place the breasts fat side up and use a knife to crosshatch the skin. Don’t pierce the meat itself.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the breasts fat side down in a large skillet.
  5. On low, cook the breasts for about 10 to 15 minutes. The fat will render out without cooking the breasts too much. You don’t want it to spit or flare, so keep it very low.
  6. As the fat renders, mix the pomegranate molasses, vermouth, OJ, honey, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom in a saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes or until 210F. Turn off heat and set aside.
  7. By this time, the skin on the breasts should look crisp. Turn off the heat and remove them from the skillet.
  8. Pour the liquid fat into a bowl and refrigerate. You can also use it to saute vegetables to have with dinner.
  9. Put the breasts back into the skillet, fat side up, and brush with the pomegranate mixture.
  10. Pop it in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes (or about 130F for medium rare or 160F for a hint of pink in the middle).
  11. Remove the breasts from the oven and put them on your cutting board. Tent them with foil for a few minutes.
  12. Brush them with more glaze.
  13. Slice thin and serve over wilted greens or sauteed root vegetables.
  14. If you have leftovers, serve the duck over a salad of fresh greens with a little mustard.

Oregon wine is a reflection of the area’s unique geography and climate. Rainstorm Pinot Noir blends the best of the Willamette and Umpqua Valleys to deliver a delightful, fresh, and vibrant partner for any number of dishes. Bon Appetite!

Go Blackberry Picking in Willamette Valley

Stop whatever you’re doing, and head over to gorgeous Willamette Valley. August is berry-picking time, and this 150-mile stretch of Oregon is popping with flavor.

Willamette Valley Wines | Rainstorm Pinot Noir

While Willamette Valley wines are world-renowned and vineyards dot the landscape, the area also boasts acres of farms. These growers and producers help fuel Oregon’s appetite for hyper-local foods. If you are in the mood for blackberries bursting with sweet juice with the slightest hint of sass, go to the nearest U-Pick location (find one here!).

Sure, you can buy berries at farmers’ markets, but there’s just something about picking your own. You get to select the plumpest, blackest berries on the bush and start imagining all the wonderful preserves, desserts, and dishes you will enjoy as the result of your harvest.

Try a spinach, feta, and blackberry salad with a balsamic dressing or whip up a to-die-for blackberry and pinot noir steak sauce. You’ll need:

  • ½ cup Rainstorm Pinot Noir
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ⅔ cup beef stock
  • ¼ cup fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp blackberry preserves
  • 1 tbsp butter, cold
  • 2 steaks
  • Fresh rosemary

Sear two steaks with a sprig of rosemary. While those are resting on a plate tented with tinfoil, make up the sauce. Using the same pan, cook shallots and thyme on medium heat until soft (about 2 minutes). Add the wine, and turn the heat up. Scrape browned bits from the steaks — wonderful flavor!

Reduce the wine by half, which takes about 3 minutes. Add the beef stock, berries, and berry preserves. Mash the whole berries with the back of your spoon. Simmer until the sauce coats the back of your spoon. Remove from heat and add the cold butter. Salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle the sauce over your steak and enjoy.

The possibilities are endless — and delicious. Of course, the berries may be too irresistible to make it all the way home! In that case, get your fruity fix from your favorite Willamette Valley wines.