After all, isn’t barbecue about the beef? Well, Santa Maria BBQ mostly about the beef, but it’s also about a culinary life here in the Santa Maria Valley, where the farm is rarely far from the table. Indeed, this is one of many things that set Santa Maria Style Barbecue apart from other regional American barbecue styles.
Consider the latest Santa Barbara County crop report published last week. The county’s strawberries–nearly all of them grown here in the valley–remain the top cash crop at $464 million (!) for 2013, followed by wine grapes. Countless other crops, such as broccoli, spinach, bell peppers and, yes, pinquito beans are grown locally as well.
So it’s no wonder that the Santa Maria BBQ menu is filled to the brim, not just with top-block sirloin or tri-tip, but also with an abundance of fresh foods and wines grown right here in the valley!
Santa Maria Style Barbecue is in the news once again as barbecue authority and author Steve Raichlen showcases the tri-tip beef cut in a feature story in the Huffington Post.
Titled “6 Things You Need to Know about Tri-Tip,” Raichlen offers insights and tips on the Santa Maria Valley’s signature cut.
In the piece, Raichlen says that tri-tip “might be the most popular cut of beef you’ve never heard of.”
He adds, “That’s changing, and fast. People across North America are discovering that tri-tip is a mouthwatering cross between a steak and a roast that’s perfect for grilling.”
He also provides cooking tips: “Like flank steak, this lean cut is best when cooked to medium-rare (130 to 135 degrees). However, its tapered shape means the tail will be more done and can satisfy people who prefer their meat that way. The thicker center and head will still be pinkish-red.”
Raichlen is right that tri-tip might be the most popular beef cut you’ve never heard of. Similarly, Santa Maria Style Barbecue tends to fly under the radar while being recognized by barbecue aficionados as one of the top regional American BBQ styles.
Let’s just call it our little secret, even though the secret is getting out!
P.S. Check out Raichlen’s own epic barbecue site at barbecuebible.com.
We are always delighted to discover other ambassadors of Santa Maria Style Barbecue who spread the tasty good news far and wide…
On that note, we are excited to share the words of one particularly passionate and eloquent enthusiast of Santa Maria BBQ–specifically Sivani at EverTheWayfarer.com, who wrote this magnificent reflection on the Santa Maria Valley’s signature barbecue style (as well as its succulent strawberries!).
Sivani resides in Texas but hails from Santa Maria, and as she concisely puts it: “There are two things that my hometown of Santa Maria, California does better than any place else: Strawberries and barbecue.”
Along the way, Sivani perfectly summarizes the beauty of our local red oak barbecue method: “What makes Santa Maria-style barbecue so delicious? The specialized barbecue pit probably doesn’t hurt, but at the end of the day, it’s not Santa Maria-style without the oak. It can’t be any oak either. Coast live oak is native to California, and while there are too many oak species for me to say that it is the only variety that will produce this flavor, I do know that there are plenty of varieties that don’t come close. This local red oak imparts a deep, velvety smokey flavor that is easily recognizable.”
She also takes note of Santa Maria’s underdog status in the world of American regional barbecue: “People often talk of the four regional barbecue styles – Carolinas, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas. There is a fifth, though, as the Houston Chronicle and others have pointed out in recent years: Santa Maria.”
The entire post–titled The California Trifecta: Earthquakes, Strawberries and Barbecue–is a delightful read, as is the rest of the site. Thanks, Sivani, for your memorable take on Santa Maria Barbecue!
We’ve written about Woody’s Butcher Block before, but sometimes the tastiest stuff is worth revisiting…
Indeed, Woody’s Butcher Block in Santa Maria is now the subject of a feature spotlight story in the Santa Maria Sun, showcasing yet again how the Santa Maria Valley is home to the West’s best barbecue experience.
As the Sun tells it, the Butcher Block is a dream come true for Tim “Woody” Woodbury: “He’d penciled out a plan for a butcher shop about 15 years prior, but never acted on it—until his wife and stepson started pushing the idea. The end result is the Butcher Block, which boasts an impressive list of specialty beef cuts, a lineup of house-made sausages, veal, elk, and an assortment of poultry, pork, lamb, and seafood selections. Woody’s also makes its own signature-brand beef jerky and various meat seasonings and has an in-house sandwich deli.”
In Woody’s words, “Our mantra is, ‘Quality, quality, quality, quality. We only sell the best quality products, from our beef all the way down to the napkins for our sandwiches.”
Now that’s Santa Maria Style!
In the story, Woody also has some excellent tips for cooking fine meats, so check it out here and get your Santa Maria BBQ cooking!
Indeed, that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, where interactive educational fun meets local flavor, particularly in the museum’s Bunkhouse and BBQ Hall of Fame exhibits.
In the words of the Discovery Museum, “The Rancho Pasquini barn and bunkhouse is home to the R.H. Tesene BBQ Hall of Fame, with displays of dozens of family brands and the history of Santa Maria-style barbecue. Kids can put on a pair of cowboy boots and a hat and wander through our working barn filled with saddle parts, bits, belt buckles and ranching tools. Cowboys and cowgirls can take a ‘ride’ on a rocking horse and a real John Deere tractor, and then sit around the campfire to brew some coffee or cook up stone soup at the chuck wagon. After a long day on the range, settle into the bunkhouse for a game of checkers.”
More local flavor can be enjoyed in the Planting Station exhibit: “The Santa Maria Valley is famous for its fertile soil, and Plantel Nurseries keeps the museum stocked with valley vegetable transplants through all the planting seasons. Broccoli, cauliflower, red lettuce, and celery are just a few of the cash crops nourishing our valley economy and the museum planting station. So grab some dirt and plant, water, and take home a seedling to start your own backyard garden.”
Other exhibits include Tar Pits, Pirate Ship, Mission to Mars and much more, all with an entertainingly educational twist.
And, of course, after working up an appetite at the Discovery Museum, you might as well take the entire family out for a meal at one of our local barbecue restaurants!
Barbecue is a matter of taste, which makes it ultimately subjective. Nevertheless, you’ll find no shortage of folks who will declare that Texas or Kansas City or (insert region here) is “the best barbecue!”
So it’s kind of nice to see a story from the Lone Star State that takes a less declarative stance, and that gives props to Santa Maria Style Barbecue along the way.
The story, published by the Houston Chronicle, is titled “The Disputed Champion of Barbecue.” In it, the author wisely states, “I’d like to say that Texas is the undisputed champion of barbecue, but that wouldn’t be quite right. In fact, there’s a fierce dispute about the best style of barbecue in America.”
Along the way, he adds, “Santa Maria-style barbecue is probably the least-known style of barbecue. It originates in the Santa Maria Valley in California, north of Santa Barbara. It is known for using the “tri-tip” cut of beef, simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, and grilled over an open flame.”
And that is true. Santa Maria BBQ is, indeed, the least-known of the major American regional barbecue styles. We like to say that it’s our own little secret here on California’s Central Coast, even though this blog is dedicated to spreading the word far and wide!
We wouldn’t go so far as to say Santa Maria BBQ is “the best” barbecue. We can, however, confidently say that Santa Maria Style Barbecue can hold its own against any other style. But in the end, it’s a matter of individual taste and so there’s no need to declare superiority.
All that said, however, we’re not going to argue with Sunset Magazine crowning Santa Maria as the “West’s Best BBQ Town!”
BestBeefEver.com…With a URL like that, you’d better be good!
We’re talking about Dey Dey’s — a ranching outfit located in Santa Maria Valley’s Lompoc community. Spanning more than 220 acres, Dey Dey’s (named for what owner John de Bruin’s granddaughter lovingly calls him) is committed to raising remarkable grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken and eggs in California. Their products include grass-fed top sirloin, which is perfect for preparing classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue!
Their animals are only fed rich nutrient-dense foods and they also receive superior researched supplements depending on animal type. Dey Dey’s California Lowline cattle enjoy an all-they-can-eat buffet of superior grasses, which impacts the taste and tenderness of the beef. The chickens are also pasture-raised on a diet full of bugs and grasses as well as an organic feed that contains the powerful properties of garlic, anise oil, horseradish and juniper berry.
Dey Dey’s says that their beef, chicken and eggs are low in saturated fats and high in protein and conjugated linoleic acid, an oil with antioxidants and anti-cancer properties. Products are also high in vitamins A, E, and D and there are no hormones, animal by-products or antibiotics used in their program. Their products may also be found at a number of Southern California farmer’s markets and at Pacific Health Foods in Carpinteria and at Goleta’s Gladden & Sons.
Check them out on BestBeefEver.com.