Tri Tip and the Gospel according to Santa Maria

Greetings Carnivores,

Back in 1988, I graduated from University with my Bachelor’s Degree. As a graduation gift to myself, I jumped on my motorcycle and headed anywhere but here. My ultimate destination was California but how, and when I got there just didn’t matter. Turns out I was gone for over a year and a half.

After a number of months and many, many miles, I eventually found myself in the Central Coast region of California, and fell in love with a town called San Luis Obispo. The “Happiest City in America” sits roughly 200 miles north of Los Angeles and 200 miles south of San Francisco. This idyllic town of about 50 thousand souls sits smack dab in the middle of the Central Coast wine growing region and 10 minutes from the ocean.

Montana de Oro State park is minutes away. Millions upon millions of migrating Monarch Butterflies stop here to rest, on their way to Mexico for the winter. It’s a truly staggering, humbling sight.

monarch butterfly migration 12

MILLIONS of Monarch Butterflies resting in the trees at Montana de Oro State Park

Sit on the bluffs overlooking the vast Pacific and count the Grey whales as they pass by on their own love quest to the warm waters off Mexico.

20715014_BG2

You can count dozens of these behemoths every day during the migration

On the map, you’ll find the famous Pacific Coast Highway # 1 and California Interstate Highway 101 intersect here.

map3

You are here, … or at least, you SHOULD be !!

San Luis Obispo or SLO as it’s known, is home to California Polytechnic State University. Cal Poly is the Alma Mater for a couple of celebrities too. Weird Al Yankovic and, one of the best shortstops who ever played the game for the Cardinals in St Louis or anywhere in Major League Baseball for that matter, Ozzie Smith.

Oh ya … and the Iceman Chuck Liddell, Hall of famer from the UFC, also calls SLO home.

I loved this town for it’s laid back attitude, friendly people, great climate, relative proximity to the Pacific Ocean, awesome motorcycle friendly canyon roads AND … MARKET NIGHT !!!

Every Thursday night, the main drag in San Luis Obispo closes down to vehicle traffic and farmers and vendors set up on the street. The best thing about SLO and Higuera Street, every Thursday night: the HUGE BBQ’s that roll into town!!

You can smell it for blocks and blocks. All of your other senses go numb. They’ve been completely overridden by your Olfactory system. You have the true heart of a Carnivore and your nose drags you through the smoke toward it like a Siren song.  Powerless to fight the drool you stumble, Zombie-like down Higuera to the epicentre of the intoxicating smells. Cold beverage in hand, you pass fresh farm produce, baked goods and all manner of knickknacks.

Through the smoke you finally see it.

th (2)

You can almost smell it … oh my!

The Sirens are now Angels singing, you think you see St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and you give yourself willingly to the smoke.

Pork ribs, big Beef ribs, Sausage, Chicken, and Tri Tip sandwiches, sliced thin and piled high on a fresh bun. You sit on the ground or grab some curb and dive in.

Admit it … you’re drooling right now, aren’t you?

Ok so, I like many others have to admit something I was completely unaware of prior to arriving in SLO.  The regional “style” of BBQ around here is known quite simply as “Santa Maria BBQ”. The centrepiece of this BBQ “style” is the humble Beef bottom Sirloin, better known as Tri Tip.

th

The humble Bottom Sirloin Tri Tip

Historically, the Santa Maria ‘style’ dates back to the mid-19th century and is sooooo entrenched in this part of the country’s fabric that the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce actually copyrighted the preparation of the Tri Tip. The Tri Tip and the Santa Maria “style” BBQ is so famous, this California city can totally hold it’s own when mentioning other famous BBQ “styles” such as Memphis, Kansas City, Carolina, St. Louis, Chicago and even Texas.

What exactly IS a Santa Maria BBQ?

Quite simply, Bottom Sirloin Tri Tip seasoned with Salt, Pepper and Garlic then roasted whole, over California Red Oak hardwood, sliced thin across the grain, served with a side of regionally, equally famous Pink Pinquito beans, grilled Linguica Portuguese sausage, and a salad of some sort, and always fresh bread, usually buttered with garlic and grilled.

2525858337_f580a91a0d_z

Ahhhhh … the Holy Grail, Santa Maria BBQ

Ask anyone in the area and they’ll tell you, it’s the California Red Oak that makes this so special. Sounds simple enough I know but … that’s it. Pure, unadulterated BBQ magic.

I have to admit, being a Butcher for all these years I, (we in the North) never used the Bottom Sirloin like this. Tri tip sold up here is usually cut into stew or Kabobs but, I can tell you something else: for the past few years, ever since returning home to my native Canada, I have been preaching the gospel according to Santa Maria … one convert at a time. It’s been a daunting task but … I’m up to the challenge … 🙂

For more great Tri Tip recipes check out my friend Chef Jeff Parker

I hope you will try this cut and please come back and let me know what you think.

Until next time, thanks for reading and following. Please come back and comment, ‘like’ and ‘follow’ my posts through WordPress. I will do my very best to continue to bring you informative, educational and hopefully well written, witty dialogue.

I REALLY appreciate your support.

Stay hungry Carnivores

16 thoughts on “Tri Tip and the Gospel according to Santa Maria

  1. Doug you are killing me …. just the photos alone make my mouth water…… this is a great idea and I have smoked with other woods but not red oak… that I will take note of that as it easly found here! … intresting that BBQ in the south has a sauce and cal style dose not…
    Have been making pulled Pork for years with a dry rub/ sause mix so I know how well the meat is flavored with a good rub but never though of it being used alone… great info Jolynn

  2. Ah wow, excellent write up! I loved how you blended geography and meat! A journey for the stomach and soul. I also would love to get my hands on their grill they had in the picture there. That thing is slick!

    Must go get a tri-tip now. And yes, I drooled.

    Enjoyed this one, Kandee. Nice work!

    POTP

    • Thank you kind Sir. And yes … these ‘Q’s’ are spectacular … imagine an entire street of these Bad Boys, all belching out sweet smoke. If you ever get the chance to visit SLO … you MUST make sure your trip includes a Thursday night … YOU WILL DIE FOR THIS !!! A few years back I took my Spousal equivalent back there with me … to say she was impressed is an understatement 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you SO much ! … You know what ??? … I would LOVE to meet, chat and share all things related to our shared passion some day. The next time I’m in So Cal, I will send you a ‘heads up’.
      In the mean time … if you ever find yourself in the Toronto area, I would consider it my great honour if you and your significant other would let my wife and I show you the local scene … AND … I have a BIG house with PLENTY of room for you and yours to stay … let’s have a drink (or two) 🙂 CHEERS, Chef Jeff !! 🙂

      • Sounds great! I have never been to Toronto and I have always wanted to visit. Your offer is very kind and generous! Thank you! Perhaps next year when it warms — I’ve lived in Southern California most of my life and a bit averse to the cold 😉 Keep up the good work!! Cheers

  3. Pingback: A little love for the mighty Tri Tip AKA Beef Bottom Sirloin. | Carnivore Confidential

  4. I have several friends who went to Cal Poly but have never attended Market Night! I will definitely check it out when I back in the area. Thanks for the great post, as always!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s