Chef Victor Panichkul explains the menu at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity, Oregon, on June 13, 2015.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
Janie Brooks Heuck applauds at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity, Oregon, on June 13, 2015.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
The last course, an Oregon Cherry Clafouti with Galangal Whipped Cream, at the wine pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity, Oregon, on June 13, 2015.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
The third course of Roasted Rockfish with Fermented Black Beans, Shiitake, Ginger and Mirin Sauce at the Wine pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity on Tuesday.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
The Pork and Hominy Pozole with Tomatillo and Roasted Peppers Stewed in Gilgamesh Brewing Mamba.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
Brooks winemaker Chris Williams explains the wine and food pairings at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity on Tuesday.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
The first course, Curried Dungeness Crab Cakes, at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity on Tuesday.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
Wine pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity on Tuesday.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
Dandy Wren and Lindsay Lott Wine wave from the balcony at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity, Oregon, on June 13, 2015.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
Menus and recipe cards decorate the tables at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity, Oregon, on June 13, 2015.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
Chef and Statesman Journal columnist Victor Panichkul explains the dinner menu at the wine-pairing dinner at Brooks Winery in Amity, Oregon, on June 13, 2015.DANN MILLER / Statesman Journal
It was nearly six months in the making, but last week, Brooks Wines had their inaugural wine-pairing dinner at their year-old tasting room near Amity and I was honored to be a part of it.
People had asked me why I decided to approach Brooks to host our first wine-pairing dinner. So I opened the remarks at dinner with the story about how I had moved here from Baltimore nearly 12 years ago and had tasted a Brooks riesling shortly after arriving. But I really didn't know much about the wine or the winemaker. It was years later that someone told me the story and I was struck by it.
I had never before encountered a wine that took me to a place of introspection, until I drank a Brooks riesling after hearing the story.
I was in my early 40s at the time. I really hadn't given much thought until then about whether I was living my life in such a way that had really mattered, that would leave a lasting impression on others, much less leave a mark on the world.
The story that brought the bottle of Brooks wine to me was the story of Jimi Brooks. It's a story about a passionate man who lived a life in a way that made a difference and left a lasting impression on others. I had never met Brooks before his sudden death from an aortic aneurism in 2004, just as the grapes were about ready to harvest. Friends, colleagues and those who knew him at wineries around the Willamette Valley felt so moved by his life, that in his sudden passing, they wanted to honor him and the young son he left behind, Pascal, by making what would be Jimi Brooks' last vintage. They donated their time, harvesting, pressing, making and bottling that 2004 vintage.
And his sister, Janie Brooks Heuck, would volunteer to keep handle the business side and keep the dream going for the sake of her nephew as well as herself.
"I made the decision in the spring of 2005 to keep the brand going. And I did it for me more than anyone else. To stay connected to Jimi and my family's name. I always made it clear that it would be here for Pascal should he want to be involved, but no pressure," Janie told me a few years ago.
Chris Williams, who had worked for Jimi at WillaKenzie and Maysara and was the closest to understanding how Jimi made wine, would become winemaker for Brooks.
I've often said that wines are like relationships to me. I fall in love with the story behind a wine as much as the wine itself. And the story behind Brooks is one that stays with you long after that first glass.
So about six months ago, I told Janie that as part of my job at the Statesman Journal, I would be doing large events to promote our brand and I was thinking of doing a wine-pairing dinner. And I wanted to do the first one at Brooks. Her eyes lit up and she didn't hesitate.
We planned a tentative date and I went about creating a menu that would highlight Brooks' wines and underscore Jimi's belief that riesling was a food-friendly wine as well as my passion for pairing wines with unconventional foods. About two months before the event last weekend, I cooked the menu for Jess Pierce, sommelier and wine educator at Brooks and Chris, the winemaker, and they made the final pairing selections for the four-course dinner.
When it came time for the event, Janie welcomed guests and I told the story of how I had become familiar with Brooks and told the sell-out crowd of 38 guests that my passion for cooking came from my mother, who was seated at one of the tables. I have grown up as an only child helping her in the kitchen, learning from her and creating memories around meals as I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, Singapore and around the U.S. And with her now struggling with Altzheimer's Disease, I had made a point to learn all of me favorite childhood dishes from her so that long after she's gone, I'll be able to cherish those memories of her. Mom is where my passion for cooking came from. My partner, Charles, as taught me to be creative in the kitchen and to experiment with using Asian techniques and applying them to local ingredients. He was seated at the dinner next to mom.
With the clear-blue skies over the distant Cascade Mountains in view of the beautifully set dinner tables, I was silently hoping as I retreated to the kitchen, that there would be memories made of that inaugural dinner and those memories would be savored by the wonderful wines and delicious food coming to the table.
Victor Panichkul is food, wine and beer columnist for the Statesman Journal. He is the author of TheTasteofOregon.com, a food blog that was named one of the five best regional cuisine blogs by Saveur Magazine in 2010. Reach him at (503) 399-6704, Vpanichkul@StatesmanJournal.com, follow at Facebook.com/WillametteValleyFoodWine and on Twitter @TasteofOregon.
Red Curry Dungeness Crab Cakes with Sriracha Aoli
Paired with 2013 Bois Joli Riesling
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
2 tablespoons finely minced kaffir lime
leaves, stems removed (available at Asian
Pinch of celery salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
Pinch of Kosher salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2 tablespoons red curry paste
5 ounces of Dungeness crab meat
2 cups canola oil
In a bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, chopped red bell peppers, kaffir lime leaves, celery salt,
ground black pepper, salt, egg, heavy cream, dry sherry, shallots and red curry paste. Mix well.
Add crab meat and combine thoroughly. Form into five patties with your hand and refrigerate for
Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet, and fry the crab cakes until golden.
Serve with Sriracha aoli.
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 or more tablespoons Sriracha sauce
In a mini food processor, combine all ingredients and process until thoroughly blended.
Pork And Hominy Pozole With Tomatillo And Roasted Peppers Stewed In Gilgamesh Brewing Mamba
Serves 10 as a course
Paired with 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé
4 large poblano peppers
2 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of chopped red onions
3 to 4 pounds boneless country ribs or pork butt
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
8 large raw tomatillos
6 to 8 large cloves garlic
1 large cup fresh cilantro, stems and leaves
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
12-ounces of Gilgamesh Brewing Mamba
Two 15-ounce cans hominy, drained
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the poblano and bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until they
blister, about 15 to 20 minutes, using tongs to turn them halfway through. Transfer the roasted
peppers to a heat-safe bowl, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam
for 7 to 10 minutes, then remove them and slip off the skins. Cut out the stems, then remove and
discard the seeds.
Finely chop the roasted red peppers and set them aside in a separate bowl.
Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-duty pasta pot over medium. Add the olive oil and the onions.
Saute for about 10 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.
Season the pork with salt, pepper and the cumin. Add pork to the pot with the onions, and brown
on all sides.
Meanwhile, peel the tomatillos and cut into quarters. In a blender, combine the tomatillos, garlic,
cilantro, lime juice, poblanos and 1 teaspoon of salt. Puree for a few minutes or until liquefied.
This may take a few tries, and you may need to stir the contents of the blender a few times to make
the tomatillos and cilantro blend together. Set aside.
Once the pork is browned, add the chicken stock and the beer. Stir well, then add the reserved red
peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
Add tomatillo mixture and stew for another 30 minutes. Stir in the hominy and stew another 30
minutes, or until the pork breaks into pieces easily and the liquid has reduced by about a fifth.
Roasted Rockfish With Fermented Black Beans, Shiitake, Ginger and Mirin Sauce
Paired with 2012 Ara Riesling
2 8-ounce rockfish fillets, each sliced in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fermented black beans (available in Asian stores)
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons peanut or other cooking oil
1/4 cup ginger, peeled and julienned
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons sweet dark soy sauce
Salt for seasoning fish
Rinse and pat dry fish fillets. Place them in a dish, coat them with olive oil, season with a little salt
and set aside
In a small bowl, combine black beans, mirin, hot water and let soak for 10 minutes.
In a small sauce pan, heat peanut oil or cooking oil over low heat, and sweat the garlic and ginger
Add the black beans and the liquid they've been soaking in. Add dark soy sauce and stir to
thoroughly incorporate. Cook a couple of minutes, turn off the heat and set aside.
Put the fish skin-side down on a roasting pan that's been coated with a little oil and roast in an
oven 4 or 5 inches under broiler on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes until fish is cooked. The amount
of time will depend on how thick the fish fillets are.
When fish is done, place on serving platter, spoon sauce on top and serve.
Cherry Clafouti With Galangal Whipped Cream
Paired with 2012 Brooks Tethys Riesling
11/4 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries pitted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a blender, combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend.
Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish, and pour a 1/4-inch layer of the blended mixture over the
bottom. Set remaining batter aside.
Place dish into the oven for about 7 to10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the
mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don't turn the oven off, yet).
Distribute the pitted cherries over the set batter in the pan, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
Pour the remaining batter over the cherries and sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a
toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Slice and serve topped with galangal whipped cream.
Galangal whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 pound galangal root, sliced and beaten to a pulp with a pestle
Soak galangal in the heavy cream in a bowl overnight in the refrigerator to infuse. Remove
Freeze the bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Add cream and sugar to the
bowl and whisk on high speed until medium peaks form, usually about a minute.
If you go
Brooks is open to visitors from Tuesday through Sunday and no appointment is necessary.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 21101 SE Cherry Blossom Lane, Amity
Phone: (503) 435-1278
Coming this fall
The Statesman Journal and I will be partnering with Brooks again this fall for a second wine-pairing dinner. Look for information about the upcoming dinner in the Statesman Journal and at StatesmanJournal.com.