We are excited to share that Visit California, our state’s tourism marketing arm, recently launched “California Dream Eater”—a new “eatertainment” television series hosted by Chase Ramsey, who “proudly, passionately and hilariously eats the best things in California on behalf of foodies everywhere.”
Surely, the Santa Maria Valley—“the West’s Best BBQ Town” (in the words of Sunset Magazine) and the hub of California’s most iconic regional fare—will be on Mr. Ramsey’s itinerary, right?
Well, not so fast—and that’s where you come in!
Indeed, we are hoping to rally fans of Santa Maria Style Barbecue from far and wide to help us make our case for the Santa Maria Valley and its restaurants to be included in the “California Dream Eater” spotlight.
So what can you do? We would love it if you would join us by doing one or both of the following:
- Submit a Santa Maria BBQ food photo from a favorite local restaurant (and make sure you use Santa Maria for the city name). Click here for the guidelines and submission form.
- Tag your photo on Instagram and other social media outlets @CaliforniaDreamEater and use #DreamEats. Please also include #SantaMariaBBQ and a tag for the restaurant.
Please tell a friend and spread the word, so that Santa Maria Style Barbecue can earn its rightful place on “California Dream Eater”!
New York City-based food writer Miki Kawasaki has turned the spotlight onto tri-tip in all of its incarnations in her recent article in Chowhound.com.
She, of course, leads off with Santa Maria Style Barbecue: “One cut of incredible beef that perennially flies under the radar: the tri-tip. Its biggest claim to fame is as the star of Santa Maria barbecue, a style from California’s central coast.”
She describes Santa Maria Style’s distinctive dry rub, red oak and traditional side dishes, and then goes on to define Argentine Grilled Tri-Tip; Harissa-Marinated Tri-Tip Roast; Hoisin-Marinated Tri-Tip Roast; Mediterranean Tri-Tip Steak; Crock Pot Shredded Beef Tacos; and Slow Cooked Rosemary Tri-Tip French Dip.
The down side of tri-tip? Says Kawasaki, “The main drawback to the tri-tip is its scarcity outside of California. . . “it’s pretty elusive when it comes to the meat case in your average supermarket . . . and it is sometimes sold under other names such as Newport steak, triangle roast or bottom sirloin butt.”
She doesn’t fail to mention what most tri-tip fans adore: the fact that the meat can be cooked like a steak and yet offers up the flavor and tenderness usually found in cuts prepared low and slow.
Chalk up another editorial victory for tri-tip, the Santa Maria Valley’s homegrown cut!
According to Texas Monthly, the magazine possesses “the only barbecue editor in the country, and the only full-time barbecue editor in American history.”
In other words, there’s a lot of barbecue stories to cover within the borders of the Lone Star state, which makes it all the more awesome that Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn chose to feature Santa Maria in an in-depth article this summer called, “California’s Native Barbecue: What they’re cooking in Santa Maria is unlike anything else.”
In the piece, Vaughn touches on the origins of Santa Maria Style Barbecue and then describes his visit to the Santa Maria Elks Lodge where he was lucky enough to be a guest at one of their member events.
“Santa Maria, a coastal town off of Highway 1, between the beaches of Los Angeles and the San Francisco fog, has a homegrown variation that few outside of its border (and fewer still outside of California) have tried or even heard of,” writes Vaughn. “Santa Maria-style barbecue has a rich, local history, one not too dissimilar from our own history of brisket and how it clambered to the top of Texas’s barbecue heap.”
He goes on to explain that the red oak used for barbecue in Santa Maria Valley is not the red oak that grows in Texas. Writes Vaughn: “There are a variety of species in the oak family, and one native to the Santa Maria area is coast live oak. It’s an evergreen with small leaves, and burns clean without creating too hot of a fire.”
The article does an impeccable job of accurately explaining what Santa Maria Style Barbecue is and is not. We thank you, Daniel Vaughn and Texas Monthly!
When it comes to Santa Maria’s longtime beef cattle and ranching heritage, the young and old alike are invited to learn a few tricks of the trade.
Indeed, on Sunday, August 30 from noon to 4 p.m., children and their families will learn how to rope cattle from two local experts. The adventure takes place as part of “R.H. Tesene Day at The Ranch” at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum located at 705 S. McClelland Street in downtown Santa Maria.
This 13,000-square-foot interactive children’s museum annually celebrates “R.H. Tesene Day at the Ranch,” which includes museum entry to the public free of charge. This year, Elks Rodeo volunteer Chuck Glines and Mike Lund, a retired Cal Poly equine science professor, will teach children about local ranching history and then lead a hands-on cattle roping demonstration. There will also be ranching-themed crafts and games.
R.H. Tesene was a well-known real estate investor and entrepreneur in the Santa Maria Valley. His generous donations made it possible for the museum to relocate to a much larger space, and he also donated a “Barbecue Hall of Fame” exhibit that to this day teaches children and parents alike about Santa Maria Style Barbecue, the Santa Maria Valley’s local culinary tradition.
The all-American classic Mac and Cheese dish has just been elevated to new heights thanks to Santa Maria Valley’s own Ca’Del Grevino Café and Wine Bar.
Here, Chef Nicolette Oliphant is currently serving her own creation, “Santa Maria Style BBQ Mac and Cheese,” which includes Santa Maria tri tip, house-made Linguica sausage and Seascape Cheddar . . . all topped with salsa.
And it all ties together with our famous local barbecue tradition, as Mac and Cheese was considered an early staple of the classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue menu!
Chef Nicolette developed the dish for her upcoming participation in the fourth annual Macaroni and Cheese Festival happening at the Avila Beach Resort in San Luis Obispo on August 15 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event features live music; beer, wine and spirits; and, of course, a myriad of exotic renditions of Mac and Cheese.
High-quality beef and “fresh and from scratch” is the focus at Ca Del Grevino Café and Wine Bar, which is located in Santa Maria’s Old Orcutt neighborhood. Oliphant is adamant about gathering ingredients from fresh and local sources such as the weekly Los Olivos Farmers Market as well as Deydey’s beef in Lompoc.
And, of course, with the Santa Maria Valley wine country in her backyard, the quality of her wines is a given.
The aromas of Santa Maria Style Barbecue are wafting far and wide as the Santa Maria Valley enjoys more media tributes to the local traditions, ingredients, people and culture of Santa Maria Style Barbecue.
The August issue of Westways magazine delves into “the smoky allure of Santa Maria-style barbecue” in its four-page article entitled, “Open Pit.” Here, author Sarah Tenaglia introduces readers to the origins of Santa Maria Style Barbecue and local barbecue icons such as Ike Simas of the Santa Maria Elks Lodge and Frank Ostini of The Hitching Post II. She also analyzes what makes this style distinctive, quoting Simas: “In other parts of the country, they put sauces or rubs on the meat because they don’t use choice cuts . . . our meat is of the highest quality, and we like to taste it and not disguise it with alternative flavors.” The article also highlights three favorite dining locations: the Far Western Tavern, Jocko’s and the Hitching Post II.
Meanwhile, recent issues of 805 Living magazine and USA Today also celebrate the local barbecue scene. In its article called “Barbecue Vaquero-Style,” 805 Living magazine showcases the “zesty flavors brought to Santa Maria by the Spanish cowboys of the 1800s.” Writer Jaime Lewis shines a light on the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters, Jocko’s Steak House, the Far Western Tavern and local seasonings such as Jocko’s Mix and Susie Q’s Brand Seasoning.
Digging further, USA Today uncovers “the secret fifth major style of American barbecue,” which is, of course, our very own Santa Maria Style Barbecue.
Word is definitely spreading thanks to articles like these. But if you really want to enjoy Santa Maria Style Barbecue at its finest, we invite you to come enjoy it right here in the Santa Maria Valley.
To this list you can now add a glass of local wine. Indeed, in a relatively short span (commercial winemaking in Santa Barbara County didn’t really get rolling until the 1970s), our local Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County and Central Coast wines have become renowned as some of the world’s finest, adding yet another delicious layer to the local dining experience.
On that note, the iconic Qupé Winery–a fine wine pioneer here in the Santa Maria Valley–understands the local love for Santa Maria Style Barbecue and the art of pairing the right wines with this hearty meal.
In a recent memo titled, “Wines to Fire Up Your BBQ This Summer,” Qupé recommends three wines with which to pair your summer barbecues: The 2012 Syrah Ibarra-Young Vineyard, which exhibits notes of sandalwood and cardamom ($35); the 2012 Viognier Ibarra-Young Vineyard that offers refreshing flashes of mineral, citrus, peach and honeysuckle ($30); and the 2011 Grenache Sawyer Linquist Vineyard with its spicy, cherry and black pepper character ($35).
The most interesting wine on this list is the Viognier, which dares you to pair a white wine with your barbecue. Give it a try and see what you think!