We are excited to share that Santa Maria Style Barbecue plays a starring role in the new Great Outdoors Cookbook published by Sunset Magazine, and edited by Margo True and Elaine Johnson with an introduction from Michael Chiarello.
Subtitled “Adventures in Cooking Under The Open Sky,” the book includes an entire chapter on Santa Maria Style Barbecue, spanning six colorful pages with recipes, photos and a brief history of our local barbecue style. It also includes a sidebar with barbecuing tips from the famed Santa Maria Elks Lodge, a longtime cultural hub of Santa Maria BBQ.
As the book puts it, “In and around Santa Maria, in central California, succulent oak-grilled meat is a way of life.” Recipes include Santa Maria-Style Top Block, Irene’s Santa Maria Salsa and Pinquito Beans. The book also recommends enjoying Santa Maria BBQ with “an earthy, meaty, cool-weather Syrah from the Santa Maria Valley itself.”
The Great Outdoors Cookbook also touches on a few other regional outdoor cooking styles, and features a section of inspired recipes for Campfires and another for Home Fires.
Simply put, this book is a must-have for any outdoor-cooking enthusiast, and a definitive taste of the Western dining experience, from the rustic to the gourmet.
The Great Outdoors Cookbook will be released next week, but you can pre-order it on Amazon now.
They say that “savory and sweet go hand in hand,” and that is definitely true here in the Santa Maria Valley.
Besides local cattle ranches and the myriad of eateries offering our famed Santa Maria Style Barbecue, Santa Maria Valley is also known worldwide for its delicious homegrown strawberries.
This year, our region celebrates the beginning of the strawberry harvest (and the region’s top moneymaking crop!) with the 27th Annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival happening Friday, April 25 through Sunday, April 27 at the Santa Maria Fairpark.
This family friendly berry bash features strawberry varietal sampling, strawberry desserts, educational exhibits, a farmers market, cooking demonstrations, agricultural displays, wine tasting, live music, old-fashioned carnival entertainment, and, of course, barbecue.
This year’s theme is “Taste the Fun.” Come on out and experience how the Santa Maria Valley’s uniquely moderate coastal climate is a perfect match for many crops, especially strawberries!
As the official online destination for Santa Maria Style Barbecue, we always take notice of new mentions of Santa Maria BBQ in the media. Which is how we came across this article about an “American BBQ restaurant” and its signature retail sauces, including “Kansas City or Santa Maria BBQ sauces to take home to enhance your chicken or beef dishes.”
Wait a second…Santa Maria BBQ sauce?
Well, we don’t mean to pick on the author or the restaurant in question, but when it comes to Santa Maria Style Barbecue, it’s all about the sauce-free preparation!
Indeed, unlike other regional barbecue styles, one of the definitive and distinguishing characteristics of Santa Maria BBQ is that it doesn’t require you to bathe the meat in barbecue sauce.
Instead, Santa Maria BBQ is all about seasoning the meat with a homegrown dry rub that is rooted in local culinary traditions. According to the official menu copyrighted by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, this seasoning is a mixture one tablespoon of salt with a ½ teaspoon of black pepper and a ½ teaspoon of garlic salt. Of course, some people play with the proportions and even add accents such as parsley, but the base rub remains the same as it has for decades.
When served Santa Maria Style Barbecue, people never ask “Where’s the beef?” But they do sometimes ask, “Where’s the sauce?”Well, that’s just one more thing that makes Santa Maria Style Barbecue so different–and so delicious!
So it’s only natural that our own Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery would host a “Cook Your Own” event on April 12 at their beautiful property.
Cottonwood Canyon Winery invites attendees to bring along their favorite entrée to cook on the winery’s oak-wood barbecue pit. They also encourage one and all to bring a potluck-style side dish to share. The creator of the tastiest side dish will receive a magnum of Cottonwood’s famed Pinot Noir!
Meanwhile, the winery is providing live entertainment and, of course, great wine to pair with your meal.
This free “only in Santa Maria BBQ country” event is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Cottonwood requests an RSVP total so that they can plan for seating. All ages are welcome at this family affair!
The Moxie Café, a new Santa Maria eatery opening in April on West McCoy Lane, is aiming to do just that. Their motto: “Eat Well…Be Well.”
Owned by Hardy Diagnostics, a local company known for its medical supply success story, Moxie has taken health to an expanded level by offering a café menu based on fresh, quality fare. Believing that nutritious food should taste good, The Moxie offers tempting rotisserie chicken; tri-tip; soups; salads; sandwiches; gelato and more . . . all without unnecessary, empty calories. In the words of Moxie: “We pledge to never tempt you with excessive fat and sugar laden meals.” That means no fryers, no sodas, and no junk. Just wholesome good food.
The Moxie “scene” is pretty hip, too. Outfitted with WiFi, charging stations, television screens, a fireplace, patio and private conference rooms, the restaurant encourages customers to hang out and work, or to socialize with a group. Meeting spaces are fully equipped with whiteboards, conference telephones, screens and projectors.
A big Santa Maria welcome to The Moxie Café!
It just figures that Santa Maria barbecue country would inspire a top-shelf meat market. Welcome to Woody’s Butcher Block, a neighborhood market and deli providing premium high-end meats and cheeses.
Proprietor Tim Woodbury brings with him 28 years of experience in the food service industry and a love for quality. He says he would rather be out of stock than provide an inferior product. Woody’s carries only meats selected from the top 20 percent best of the product.
In addition to endless cuts of meat (including tri-tip of course!), artisan cheeses and specialty deli sandwiches, Woody’s offers a range of yummy provisions, including locally made spices and sauces by Cowboy Flavor and Monkey Spit.
“Life happens around the kitchen table,” says Woody, and he wants his customers to make the most of it. Woody’s is located at 700 E. Main Street, Suite 104 in downtown Santa Maria.
The most famous ingredients of the classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue menu are tri-tip beef, native red oak, locally perfected seasoning and homegrown pinquito beans. All of these items originate from right here in the Santa Maria Valley.
But there’s another lesser-known item on the official menu that deserves some recognition: tossed-green salad.
Now, how did salad sneak onto a barbecue menu?
Well, the answer is evident in the rich agricultural landscape of the Santa Maria Valley, which is one of California’s premier farming regions.
In the most recent crop report for Santa Barbara County, lettuce alone accounted for more than 13,000 planted acres. Bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery and spinach are among the other vegetables that are plentiful in the valley.
So it only makes sense that the ranchers and farmers who popularized Santa Maria Style Barbecue also found a way to include local greens as a tried-and-true component of the official menu.
So when firing up the red oak, don’t forget the greens!
Add a locally grown wine and a fresh Santa Maria strawberry dessert and, well, you have one of the world’s most distinctively local dining experiences. Now that’s Santa Maria style.