Posts filed under ‘Santa Maria Style BBQ’
But a new book published by a valley native celebrates another local bovine industry: dairy cows.
The Purple Cow: A Dairy Daughter’s Heritage is a compilation of family stories gathered and retold by Laura Lee Tognazzini Dias, a direct descendent of one of the region’s earliest dairy pioneers and the daughter of a Guadalupe dairyman. Published by Janaway Publishing, Inc., the book’s 244-pages tell the story of the local industry’s historic course, as well as lighthearted anecdotes related to more than 80 dairies and creameries that were once located in Guadalupe, Lompoc, Los Alamos, Santa Maria, Sisquoc, Oso Flaco and Nipomo. It also includes a scrapbook-style collection of dairy photographs, recipes, songs and more.
The book’s foreward, written by Santa Maria Valley historian Shirley Contreras, sets the table for the story, explaining that many of the early Central Coast dairymen were young Europeans who came to California in the mid-1800s seeking new opportunities. While the majority of them were Italian-Swiss dairymen from the Canton Ticino region in Switzerland, the book also tells the stories of American, Portuguese, English and Danish dairymen who played a part in the industry. Most of the descendants of these pioneers eventually quit the business by 1986 because the cost of transporting milk to production plants had become cost prohibitive. The DeBernardi Brothers, the last dairy family in Santa Maria Valley, closed shop in 2005.
The Purple Cow: A Dairy Daughter’s Heritage is available in soft cover only for $38 (includes shipping). It is available exclusively through the Santa Maria Historical Society Museum, which may be contacted via phone: (805) 922-3130.
In recent years Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters, makers of grills and accessories for Santa Maria Style Barbecue, has enjoyed booming sales and, in turn, expanded its showroom, production facility and number of employees. We checked in with these local “Q experts” for a refresher on their philosophy and latest news:
For the layperson, what is a ‘Santa Maria Grill’ and what makes it different than traditional backyard barbecues?
A: “With our adjustable grills, you can always have the intensity of heat that you want. You can adjust the distance of the grate from the heat source with an installed hand crank. This enables you to sear the meat and seal in the flavorful juices of the top sirloin or tri-tip at higher heat, then cook the meat at a lower heat, depending on your preferences.”
What else is different or key to Santa Maria Style Barbecue?
A: “Hands down, it’s the use of red oak. There’s nothing like that flavor.”
Do you have any new products or news you’d like to share?
A: “We have two new exciting products that are doing really well. The first is the Golf Club Meat Hook, which offers an extra-long handle, complete with leather grip, so that you can hook your meat and flip it more easily. The golf club shape is decorative, of course, and makes a great Father’s Day gift! The other items are Meat Skewers crafted from stainless steel cables. They feature a helpful point and flexibility.”
The Golf Club Meat Hooks retail for $89.99, while the Meat Skewers sell for $14.99 (24-inch) and $19.99 (36-inch). The new Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters sales office and showroom is located at 2936 Industrial Parkway in Santa Maria.
We’re always delighted when our hometown barbecue style pops up in the most unlikely places.
The latest is Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Kevin Tibbs, proprietor of Tibbs Brewing Company, recently hosted a Santa Maria Style BBQ dinner as part of the local Kalamazoo Beer Week festivities.
Said Tibbs, “Having a seated event is something new for us so that’s exciting in of itself. Then you add on the fact that we will be pairing our beer with, truthfully, some of the best barbecue I’ve ever eaten and that really gets me pumped for this event.”
We won’t argue with him about it being the best barbecue!
Other recent out-of-area Santa Maria Barbecue sightings include a new barbecue restaurant in Palm Springs that is including Santa Maria BBQ as part of a larger focus on regional American barbecue styles, as well as a new restaurant in Los Angeles called Odys + Penelope that is serving Santa Maria tri-tip.
Says Odys + Penelope proprietor Karen Hatfield: “It’s one of California’s very few regional foods,” she says. “It’s fun to put a spin on that.”
Sunset Magazine recently called Santa Maria “the West’s Best BBQ Town,” and it appears that Santa Maria BBQ is becoming one of the fastest growing regional barbecue styles along the way!
One of the biggest testaments to Santa Maria Style Barbecue is that several legendary local barbecue restaurants–such as the Hitching Post, Far Western Tavern and Shaw’s Steakhouse–have all been going strong since the 1950s. And to that list, you can also add Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria, a local institution since 1959.
Long known for its Santa Maria Style oak-pit tri-tip sandwiches, Ranch Bowl is now a more delicious experience than ever under the direction of new Executive Chef Brenda Vasquez, a Santa Maria native who attended the Culinary Institute of Arizona.
As noted in this story by Hayley Thomas of the Santa Maria Sun, Vasquez’s menu is “a blend of mid-century diner comfort and modern culinary creation.” It appears to be a hit, as food sales have tripled!
Another attraction is the inimitable ambiance of Rancho Bowl. As Thomas puts it, “The old-school, Santa Maria-style barbecue and banquet room where local folks routinely wed up and party down, the retro-chic bar adorned in black-and-white photos, and the family-owned-and-operated feel keep the spirit of the late owners alive and well.”
Yet while the vibe is authentically old school, the bowling experience is remarkably modern, with 32 remodeled lanes, couches and coffee tables, LCD touch screen consoles with integrated cameras, and flat-screen televisions, not to mention interactive bowling games with Facebook connect.
Rancho Bowl is operated by Victoria Murray, daughter of founder Mili Acquistapace. One hallmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue is that it is always moving forward, but never abandons its roots–and Rancho Bowl is yet the latest example!
A few years ago, we reported about a Santa Maria BBQ joint in Palm Desert called Warehouse BBQ.
Now comes word of another Santa Maria BBQ outpost called Twisted Tips BBQ Fusion in Tehachapi, on the mountainous border of the Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley approximately 150 miles due east of Santa Maria.
Twisted Tips BBQ Fusion is owned and operated by Mark Hitt. As the story goes: “Mark was born and raised in Santa Maria and grew up with a passion for perfecting Santa Maria-style tri-tip. In 2004, Mark hitched up his BBQ pit and relocated with his family to the beautiful mountain town of Tehachapi. After years of sharing his traditional Santa Maria-style tri-tip BBQ as well as Asian and Mexican-influenced BBQ dishes with close family and friends, he took their advice and decided to share it with the Tehachapi community.”
And so Twisted Tips was born this fall, bringing Santa Maria Style Barbecue to the hungry denizens of Tehachapi!
We have written about Santa Maria BBQ purveyors from Hawaii to New York and in between, but it sounds like something special is really cooking in the southeast of California. It’s just the latest evidence that while Santa Maria BBQ is a local culinary tradition here on the Central Coast, it continues to cultivate good taste across the nation and beyond!
In the pantheon of regional American barbecue, Santa Maria Style Barbecue tends to fly under the radar compared to other styles such as Texas, Memphis and Kansas City barbecue.
Why is this? A lot of it has to do with the size of the other regions, either geographically or in terms of population. Kansas City and Memphis are both large metropolitan areas, and Texas is the largest state in the lower 48.
By comparison, the City of Santa Maria’s population is barely more than 100,000, and the city resides in the heart of a rural valley, surrounded by ranches, vineyards, open space and shoreline.
Simply put, no matter how much we scream and shout, we’ll never be able to make as much noise as Texas or Kansas City!
But those in the know recognize Santa Maria BBQ as a culinary equal of the larger regional styles, and the latest example comes from restaurateur Rob Serritella, who just opened a new barbecue joint in Santa Monica called Holy Cow (is that an awesome name or what!?).
At Holy Cow, Serritella aims to bend the best of many regional styles, including Santa Maria tri-tip. In this article in the Santa Monica Mirror, he states: “We tried to take the best things from places that do BBQ best like Texas, Memphis, Georgia, and the Carolina’s – not necessarily stick with one particular method, just what we felt people would enjoy the best. I’ve been a tri-tip guy ever since my first trip to Santa Maria…It works stand alone, in a sandwich, or on a salad.”
Serritella says he likes to slow cook his tri-tip, making his preparation more of a hybrid compared to true open-coal Santa Maria BBQ cooking, but it sounds like that’s what his place is all about: mashing up the nation’s best styles, including Santa Maria!
Santa Maria Style Barbecue is the culinary hub of the Santa Maria Valley, but that hub has many spokes as local chefs and food purveyors add creative twists to our regional food traditions.
One example is Monkey Spit, a purveyor of spices and sauces based in the valley’s rural Tepusquet area. Founded by Santa Maria Valley native Paul Smith, Monkey Spit’s offerings are as creative as its brand name, and now find themselves in the spotlight in this recent feature story in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Smith started Monkey Spit in 2008, and brought on longtime friend Rudy Stowell as a business partner. Smith’s family roots in Tepusquet date back to the early 1900s.
One Monkey Spit standout is the new Wimpy Chimp seasoning. As story author Katy Budge notes, “Using his family’s longtime recipe for Santa Maria-style seasoning, he developed a slightly different twist on the dry rub, calling it a ‘Nipomo-style’ seasoning named Wimpy Chimp.”
Of course, Nipomo refers to the small town north of Santa Maria, which has its share of Santa Maria BBQ heritage. As Budge notes, Monkey Mop “proved to be such a winner that it brought home competitive awards from such venerable barbecue cities as Kansas City and Mobile, Ala.
Meanwhile, Smith’s sauces barbecue sauces such as Monkey Mop and Atomic Mop represent a departure from the local barbecue style, as Santa Maria Style BBQ is renowned for its sauce-free, dry-rub style. As Budge notes, Monkey Mop “proved to be such a winner that it brought home competitive awards from such venerable barbecue cities as Kansas City and Mobile, Ala.”
A company from Santa Maria winning awards in such saucy barbecue cities as Kansas City and Mobile? Now that’s what you might call monkey business of the highest order!