Posts filed under ‘Local Flavors’
Indeed, when getting set to attend the next barbecue soiree, what better way to adorn oneself than with Santa Maria-made Ammo Wear bullet casing jewelry! Creators Byron and Patricia Bartlett have been handcrafting this unique line since 2011, and just this month launched a Kickstarter Project, which is a “crowd funding” platform that invites backers to support small startups.
All Ammo Wear is made by hand from spent casings. Primer cups are removed and the casings and primer cups are then thoroughly cleaned. The bottom of the casings are cut off, sanded and all sharp edges are removed before assembly. Any leftover scraps are recycled or repurposed into jewelry.
“My first earrings were made from .45 automatic Colt pistol casings that I saved after shooting my grandfather’s Colt Model 1917 revolver that he used in France during WWI,” Byron says. “I still shoot that old revolver from time to time, but can’t shoot nearly enough ammo to supply all of the casings that we need. So, now we purchase spent casings to meet demand and offer a more varied selection.”
Byron adds that they just love customer feedback. “Our favorite comment so far is, ‘If you don’t buy it, you’ll want to shoot yourself.’”
Once upon a time in the 1870s, the young little town of Santa Maria was called “Central City” because of its location halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The name was eventually changed to “Santa Maria,” because the mail was often mistakenly sent to Central City, Colorado.
In honor of this tidbit of history, an increasingly popular bistro in downtown Santa Maria sports the name Central City Market. Specializing in comforting classics that are innovatively prepared, Central City Market is inspired by the farming, ranching and vineyards of the Santa Maria Valley. It has a wine and beer list that is fun to peruse as well.
Perhaps this is why the bistro has introduced “Wine Down Wednesdays,” when patrons may enjoy 50 percent off bottles of wine from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Delectable appetizer specials also abound during these hours. And, of course, the bistro has not forgotten Santa Maria’s famed barbecue.
The traditional Santa Maria BBQ is featured as “The Daily Hot Plate” dish each Thursday. This $14 meal consists of sliced tri-tip, pinquito beans, mac ‘n cheese, salsa and a garlic roll.
Founded on the Central Coast in 2008, Santa Maria’s Monkey Spit Hot Sauce is the result of accidental genius. It all went down when starving musician Paul Smith decided to make soup out of a pile of peppers that his parents had given him. When the soup turned out too spicy, Smith began experimenting, and, voila, five years later Monkey Spit has grown into a burgeoning line including the Original hot sauce; the fresh and sweet Red Jal; the hot and thick Gorilla; and the “stupid hot” Atomic Monk. Monkey Spit takes pride in keeping things simple, natural and likes to “baby” the sauce to maintain the utmost in flavor and taste.
And in a nod to the homeland of Santa Maria Style Barbecue, the company launched its “Monkey Mop” BBQ sauce last December, stating: “The Central Coast is home to some of the best BBQ in the country. In fact, tri-tip cut beef was born on the Central Coast, where us monkeys like to call home. In honor of the Santa Maria Steak and Sunday afternoon BBQs at the park, Monkey Spit Hot Sauce is proud to announce our new BBQ sauce: Monkey Mop BBQ.”
Monkey Mop quickly went on to win a silver medal at the National Barbecue Association Awards last spring.
Today, Monkey Spit can be found in a variety of Central Coast markets including Old Town Market (its first customer); Kay’s Country Kitchen; and Jack’s Restaurant. The Monkey has even made it to the shelves of Pooki’s Cookies in Pahoa, Hawaii.
The Santa Maria Valley may be famous for its homegrown dry-rub barbecue, but if you want to change things up, you now know who to monkey around with!
When it comes to local flavors, you might say that the Santa Maria Valley is famed for both its savory and its sweet offerings. Yep. Some regions have all the luck.
Indeed, Santa Maria Valley’s reputation for mouthwatering barbecue shares the spotlight with its top crop: strawberries.
According to a new report, strawberries remain the top moneymaking crop in Santa Barbara County, with the vast majority of the strawberry acreage being in the Santa Maria Valley.
The latest Santa Barbara County Crop Report shows strawberries valued at $441.4 million in 2012—three times the value of broccoli, which occupies second place. Officials say that strawberries are in greater demand on a global scale, and that new varieties and better shipping methods are making it easier to meet the demand.
Perhaps the best news is that strawberries pair beautifully with barbecue, and strawberry pie continues to be the dessert of choice for a classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue meal.
Be sure to visit one of Santa Maria Valley’s popular roadside strawberry stands, or check out the annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival, which happens each April. And don’t forget that many interesting strawberry facts may be found at the www.santamaria.com under “Visitor Information.” Sweet!
The Santa Maria Valley is home to Santa Barbara County’s new “foodie mecca” according to a new feature story in the Santa Barbara Independent, which turns the spotlight on the hamlet of Old Town Orcutt just south of the city of Santa Maria.
Story author Matt Kettman writes, “From wine tasting rooms and gourmet kitchens to pizza, pasta, pies, and pubs — not to mention rumors of a sushi joint and tapas bar on the horizon — Old Town Orcutt is steadily evolving into a genuine foodie mecca.”
The feature takes note of several tasty destinations, including Old Tow Market (click here for our earlier interview with the market’s owner Mark Steller), Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab, the Far Western Tavern (specializing in Santa Maria BBQ) and others.
It’s all yet another reason to make California’s BBQ Capital an essential stop during your next visit to the Central Coast!
Deals on dining are always a good thing, especially when you’re in California’s Barbecue Capital…
On that note, he Santa Maria Valley Visitor & Convention Bureau has just announced that locals and visitors alike are invited to savor and save as participating restaurants and wineries in the Santa Maria Valley offer special discounts from January 13 – 20, 2013 under the banner of “DineOut: Santa Maria Style.”
During this period, eight Santa Maria Valley restaurant and winery establishments will offer everything from two-for-one tastings to 15 percent off a meal (restaurant discounts exclude tax, gratuity and alcohol). The public is encouraged to mention the “DineOut: Santa Maria Style” promotion when wine tasting, dining or making a reservation.
The event dates were chosen to coincide with California Restaurant Month, a successful statewide promotion that benefits food and wine establishments during the winter season. Participating restaurants are The Garden Room Restaurant at the Historic Santa Maria Inn; The Vintner’s Bar & Grill at the Radisson Hotel Santa Maria; Rooney’s Irish Pub; and Straw Hat Pizza. Participating wineries include Foxen Winery and Vineyard; Cambria Winery; Riverbench Winery; and Byron Winery.
Click here for more information. Bon appetit!
Santa Maria Valley barbecue country is home to a number of iconic landmarks steeped in local lore and beloved by the ranchers and farmers who’ve put the region on the map. The Historic Santa Maria Inn is one such establishment. Since 1917 the inn has proven a welcome respite to motorists traveling along Highway 101 and to tourists seeking to experience the charms of the Central Coast.
This year, the inn has all kinds of news. With renovated dining areas in place along with a state-of-the-art kitchen, the inn has unveiled a complete revision of its menus, beverages and customer service standards within its food and beverage department. The weekly Sunday Grand Buffet has been replaced with a modernized a la carte brunch that features creative entrees such as Prime Rib Hash, Chilaquiles, Cuban French Toast with Plantains and Crema; Southern Crispy Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles; and the Santa Maria Barbecue Panini offering grilled tri-tip and linguica sausage on a garlic bread French roll with smoked Gouda cheese, caramelized onions and pico de gallo. This format is ideal for those who appreciate smaller portions and want to spend less. There’s good news, too, for those who pine for the old days as the classic buffet-style brunch is resurrected for a number of major holidays throughout the year including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day. Of course the inn’s famous “bottomless mimosas” will continue to be offered for both styles of brunch.
In other news the inn’s Garden Room Restaurant is also sporting a new menu featuring entrees such as Santa Maria Mix Grill, Soy Rum Braised Pork Shoulder, Cedar Plank Salmon and Red Chili Hanger Steak. The property’s Olde English Tap Room has also undergone an interior redesign to emphasize its cozy, friendly European pub-style atmosphere. Meanwhile guests enjoy an intimate corner at the Wine Cellar & Martini Bar. The cellar offers an extensive selection of Central Coast wines as well as signature martinis and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Coffee lovers are also in luck as the inn’s 801 Café brews up Starbuck’s specialty drinks and Italian Sodas, as well as snacks and desserts. To top it all off, the inn’s new piano lounge invites guests to soak up the melodies of a player baby grand while they relax with appetizers and beverages.
The historic Santa Maria Inn, like Santa Maria BBQ, proves that good taste never goes out of style!
R.H. Tesene was not only legendary for his Santa Maria Style Barbecue skills, but also his generous spirit and community involvement. Today, his legend lives on at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, where he donated a “Barbecue Hall of Fame” exhibit that teaches children and parents alike about our local culinary tradition.
As noted in a recent feature in the Santa Maria Sun, “The BBQ Hall of Fame” exhibit was donated by Tesene, who originally showcased them proudly at The Beacon Outpost Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, a joint he built, owned, and opened in June of 1949. The brands you see in the exhibit have a fun story, too. Back when The Beacon Outpost was booming, Tesene noticed that his Sunday nights were slow so he decided to invite guest barbecuers (who were Santa Maria’s finest) who would by nature spread the word and invite their friends, who then invited their friends, and thus a thriving Sunday night was born from then on out. It was tradition for any guest barbecuer to “bring their own branding irons, heat them in the barbecue pit, and burn their brands in the block.”…These historical brands now hang in the Discovery Museum, and always will, as all Tesene wanted was a worthy and lifelong home for his treasured memories.”
Mr. Tesene was also the author of the book Santa Maria Style Barbecue, which is recognized as the authoritative guide to the history and methods of Santa Maria BBQ.
The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is Santa Barbara County’s only children’s museum, and it features numerous exhibits that delve into our local wonders, such as agriculture (pictured here), barbecue, aerospace and nature. One new attraction is the second phase of the “Belly of The Whale” exhibit, which includes a new kiosk that houses a highly interactive educational video that teaches about whale species, their habitats and migratory patterns.
Another exciting development this fall is the October 1 arrival of the highly anticipated Mobile Oil Field Learning Unit (MOLU), a $1.2 million traveling exhibit that teaches children about how energy is created through oil exploration, natural gas and geology. The installation makes its California debut at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum before touring through Southern California schools and other museums in November.
A local dining landmark is now serving its legendary Sunday brunches with a modern twist (and a touch of Santa Maria BBQ!) as the Historic Santa Maria Inn has updated its brunch menu.
In a feature piece in the Santa Maria Sun, food and wine writer Wendy Thies Sell reports, “The long-standing, award-winning, and popular Sunday Grand Buffet will be replaced by a modernized brunch format, with many newly designed entrées and personalized table service.”
So what does that mean? It means a tantalizing array of culinary delights prepared by chefs Ryan Gromfin and Alex Araizaga: “The new à la carte menu includes Cuban French Toast with Plantains and Crema; Southern Crispy Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles; a Mexican favorite, Chilaquiles; Prime Rib Hash (two poached eggs, tender pieces of prime rib, caramelized with potatoes, onions, and peppers, topped with Hollandaise sauce); and the Santa Maria Barbecue Panini of grilled tri-tip and linguica sausage on a garlic bread French roll with smoked Gouda cheese, caramelized onions, and pico de gallo—a creation Gromfin predicts will become a signature dish at the inn.”
“The patron has the opportunity to select menu items depending on their appetite and how adventurous they are feeling,” says General Manager John J. Reinacher. “This format will allow people to order smaller portions without spending as much as they would on the buffet. Or to go crazy and try three or four dishes off the new menu.”
With menu selections like these, we’ll opt to go crazy! Bravo to the Historic Santa Maria Inn for taking its Sunday brunch to a delicious next level.
Where there’s smoke, there’s barbecue! Such is the case with the Santa Maria Valley’s Old Town Market. Located in the hamlet of Orcutt, Old Town Market makes Santa Maria tri-tip an integral part of its weekly offerings. Here, proprietor Mark Steller and his crew captivate both visitors and locals alike with the aromas and flavors of the market’s all-day Saturday barbecues. Located along a popular route for road cyclists, the market also caters to many long-distance travelers, some of whom are trying Santa Maria tri-tip for the first time.
Do you get a lot of people asking about Santa Maria Style Barbecue and what it is?
“We get people cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles and even from Anchorage to Mexico City,” Mark says. “They smell the smoke and that’s how they learn about it.”
In addition to its extensive deli and fresh meats and produce, Old Town Market features a world-class wine department with hundreds of varietal selections from more than 70 local wineries, including tough-to-find boutique winery offerings.
Which wines in your store do you recommend pairing with Santa Maria Style Barbecue?
“Two wines that pair nicely with Santa Maria Style Barbecue are Rancho Sisquoc’s River Red, and also a Syrah by Golden Bear, a small winery,” Mark says.
More about wine and barbecue pairing can be explored at the market’s Saturday evening wine tastings, which feature a different local winery each week. Old Town Market is also renowned for its on-site antique shop, Gift Show happening on May 12 and Antique Sale with more than 30 antique vendors slated for July 21.
Do well-informed locals also frequent your market and events?
“Oh, that’s the majority of our traffic,” Mark says. “People who don’t have the time to cook enjoy grabbing their meal here, especially as our $6 tri-tip sandwich is a good value. Our team member, Josh, handles the barbecue here. He learned the art from his dad and takes great pride in it.”
Thank you, Mark! For more information on Old Town Market, visit www.oldtownmarket.net