Posts filed under ‘Santa Maria Style BBQ’
We recently wrote about how the local Filipino community has become an integral part of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue experience.
So when this community stepped up to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines last month, it’s no surprise that they decided to fire up the red oak and raise funds by holding a benefit barbecue on December 15 at the Filipino Community Center in Santa Maria.
The Filipino-American Association of Santa Maria Valley, the Filipino Seniors of Santa Maria Valley and the Filipino Community of Santa Maria Valley are all working together to organize the event. Proceeds from the barbecue will be donated to several locations in the Philippines. The Filipino-American Association will also host a charitable golf tournament at the Monarch Dunes Golf Club in Nipomo.
“Some of us have some members that have families there that were directly hit by the typhoon,” said Vice President of the Filipino-American Association of Santa Maria Valley Rose Sagisi.
It’s just another example of how the Santa Maria Valley’s community spirit and legendary barbecue often have a wide reach!
Contrary to a few myths and legends out there, the Christmas trees in Santa Maria Valley are not made of red oak!
In fact, a gaggle of very green Christmas trees has overtaken the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, an interactive museum touting the extraordinary ecology and history of the Santa Maria Valley’s 22,000-acre Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex, which unfolds with awe-inspiring mountains of shifting sands that are teeming with biological diversity.
“Trees of the Season” is the Dunes Center’s annual fundraiser where area residents donate artfully decorated Christmas trees and wreaths to be raffled off. The public is invited to view the trees now through December 6; buy raffle tickets; and designate however many tickets they want to the trees or wreaths of their choice.
The drawings are held at a public reception at the Dunes Center on December 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Here, around 80 to 100 attendees enjoy food, wine and the excitement of the season. Monies raised support the Dunes Center’s education programs, which offer quality nature experiences to nearly 7,000 students annually.
But while we know how to decorate a traditional tree here in the Santa Maria Valley, we often break with tradition when it comes to holiday meals. That’s when the red oak comes out and we fire up the grill to cook tri-tip and top sirloin with pinquito beans and offer guests Santa Maria Style BBQ, a mean that never goes out of season!
It was a big “thank you” delivered with Santa Maria style!
Indeed, on Veterans Day earlier this week, the community rallied around local veterans with a Santa Maria Style Barbecue that attracted long lines and delivered a supportive message. In fact, the lines went around the block and the crowd ultimately numbered more than 2,000 people.
This event was attorney Michael B. Clayton’s 13th annual barbecue luncheon honoring veterans at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Santa Maria. It was the biggest turnout ever. Veterans and their families were served a complimentary BBQ lunch (all others paid just $5). Clayton is known locally as the “champion of veterans.”
“They served us. Now, we are serving them,” Clayton said. “They need to know they are not forgotten.”
It’s just another example of how Santa Maria Style Barbecue so often helps bring people together in moments of festivity, fellowship and support. Around here, it’s not just food, it’s a way of life and a galvanizing force in the community.
Indeed, the top-rated morning television show in Australia, Sunrise, filmed in the Santa Maria Valley at legendary local barbecue landmark The Hitching Post on October 30. In a visit coordinated by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB), the show’s crew enjoyed dinner and an interview courtesy of Chef Phil Meza of The Hitching Post.
The Aussies are in the states to film a five-part series called “The Original Road Trip.” Sunrise producers are modeling this series after a similar show they filmed in Australia, where the reporter rides a motorcycle through various destinations and reports on the people and places along the way. The piece will air later this year on Australia’s Channel 7 network, which reports a segment audience of 300,000.
“The crew just loved the food and the authenticity of our barbecue culture, wine region and ranching heritage,” said Gina Keough, manager of the VCB. “We made sure they tried our local wines along with Santa Maria Style Barbecue.”
And how did the crew respond to the Santa Maria Style eats? A resounding “brilliant” was heard loud and clear!
When it comes to the Santa Maria Style Barbecue menu, seasoned tri-tip and local pinquito beans tend to take the spotlight.
However, there are a few lesser-known yet equally traditional components to the official menu, including Santa Maria salsa.
For this reason, when Sunset Magazine recently published its epic spread on Santa Maria Style Barbecue, food editor Margo True included a salsa recipe. And it’s not just any recipe, but one provided by local barbecue royalty. Indeed, this recipe was a favorite of the late Irene Simas, wife of legendary local barbecue master Ike Simas, and is still served today at the local Elks Lodge.
Click here to check out the recipe and learn how to make true Santa Maria salsa. It’s simple yet flavorful, and exemplary of Santa Maria style!
Here in California’s BBQ Country, you don’t mess with an iconic barbecue pit…
That’s the lesson today as a beloved Santa Maria Style Barbecue pit was recently returned to its rightful spot at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.
The pit was built in 1978 by legendary Santa Maria BBQ master Ike Simas and his brother Vern. Back in the day, it was used for their catering business all over the western U.S.
Then one day last week, this custom pit on wheels vanished into the hands of thieves. According to reports, “As the word got out, family, friends and neighbors immediately did what all good Santa Marians do — offer their assistance to try to track it down.”
And sure enough, the pit was spotted by police being towed by a truck, and Ike’s pit is now back in business! Another happy ending in barbecue country.
Indeed, the traditional menu calls for fresh salsa, grilled French bread dipped in sweet melted butter, tossed green salad and slow-cooked pinquito beans. Macaroni and cheese is also considered an early staple of the menu, and local wine is now a favored accompaniment, too.
Perhaps the most distinctive part of the menu is the pinquito bean, which is a small pink been that originated in the Santa Maria Valley, and which remains a commercial crop exclusive to the region.
And now that fall has arrived, so has the local pinquito bean harvest. The beans are planted every May, and by late September and early October, they are ready to be harvested.
The origins of the pinquito bean remain cloudy. They’ve been grown locally at least since the 1930s, and have since become synonymous with our local barbecue. Some have suggested that they came from Mexico, but that is unconfirmed. So it’s a mystery that remains to be solved and, for now, savored!
The Wall Street Journal recently summed pinquitos up perfectly in a story about classic American Foods: “Pinquitos are small pink beans with a tender skin but a rich, slightly firm texture even when completely cooked; they have a faintly herbaceous flavor with an earthy overlay, like a more refined version of pinto beans. They don’t seem to grow anywhere other than around the Santa Maria Valley on California’s Central Coast. Pinquitos are delicious and unusual beans, and make a good side dish even if you’re not grilling.”
So raise a toast to the piquito harvest, and put some beans on the stove for a distinctive taste of the Santa Maria Valley!
In the Santa Maria Valley, the Hitching Post is a household name and a longtime local landmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue.
Indeed, for more than 60 years, the Ostini family’s Hitching Post restaurant in rural Casmalia has specialized in our local barbecue tradition, and has gained a widespread following along the way. A second Hitching Post (known has Hitching Post II) later opened down the road in Buellton, and now USA Today has featured the Hitching Post II and Santa Maria Style Barbecue in a recent piece by food writer Larry Olmstead.
In the piece, Olmstead writes, “Most importantly for food lovers, California’s Santa Barbara County is home to the nation’s most hyper-specialized form of barbecue. While fans know the four major regional barbecue styles, Memphis, Carolinas, Texas and Kansas City, the fifth, Santa Maria barbecue, is the best kept secret in wood-fired cooking, and found only here.”
Perfectly stated, Mr. Olmstead!
He also has some high praise for the Hitching Post II: “Worth a special trip for carnivores, truly exceptional steaks and grilled meats.”
The good news of Santa Maria BBQ just keeps spreading. Last month, it was Sunset Magazine. Now it’s USA Today. Pretty soon, we won’t be able to call it the best kept secret in barbecue!
While Santa Maria Style Barbecue is staunchly rooted in local tradition, it is not inflexible.
Indeed, while you can find plenty of tried-and-true Santa Maria BBQ around these parts, there are plenty of culinary riffs and offshoots, too—such as Santa Maria tri-tip sandwiches and non-traditional cuts cooked over red oak.
Local cultural communities—such as Filipino, Mexican and Swiss-Italian—have all brought their own twists to the table as well.
One shining example is the Filipino Community Center Food Truck, a weekend mainstay at the Smart & Final parking lot on South Broadway in Santa Maria.
As spotlighted recently in the Santa Maria Sun (as well as in Sunset magazine’s epic feature on Santa Maria BBQ), the truck operates as a fundraiser for the community center’s building fund and scholarship programs.
The experts at the Filipino Community Center Truck serve classic Santa Maria tri-tip with a twist—a secret soy-based marinade instead of the traditional local dry rub.
The truck specializes in Phillipine fare such as adobo, but they say “Of course we have to sneak in some tri-tip!”
It’s just another tasty example of how Santa Maria Style Barbecue is not only a truly traditional cuisine, but also a departure point for creative cooks and chefs.
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.