Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Left My Heart In Santa Maria

Literally – it exploded from all the barbecued beef I ate, and had to be replaced. Michele and I just got back from an incredible weekend in the Santa Maria Valley. The weather was hot, but beautiful. The food was amazing, and the people we met could not have been nicer.

I'm only back in San Francisco for one day before heading down to LA for my big shoot with the creative geniuses at Brand New Entertainment. I don't have time to post them yet, but I filmed three great recipes, and took tons of pictures I can't wait to share!

We stayed at the Historic Santa Maria Inn where I filmed Chef Alex Araizaga making a very unique salmon recipe featuring a sauce using the area's famous strawberries.

We also had the great pleasure of watching Paul and Susan Righetti make a traditional Santa Maria Barbecued tri tip meal, complete with pinquito beans, grilled garlic bread, and a wonderful salsa.

Susan's family runs the venerable Far Western Tavern, one of the best known Santa Maria-style barbecue restaurants in the area, and she also sells a complete line of local artisan products on her website, Susie Q’s Brand.

Not only did we get treated to an amazing lunch, but she let me film her making the beans and salsa, and Paul will be starring in a video recipe showing the "real" way to do a Santa Maria tri tip.

It was an amazing afternoon! As if that wasn't enough, later in the evening we were able to dine at the Far Western Tavern. We had such a wonderful meal, including an unforgettable plate of barbecued sweetbreads served with cocktail sauce.

We also got to have dinner at the world famous Hitching Post, where Michele and I enjoyed one of the best steak dinners of our lives. I had a 15-oz top sirloin that was so juicy, so flavorful, and so uniquely flavored by the intoxicating scent of the red oak fire that it defies description.

I'd like to offer a very special thank you to Christopher Weir who set the trip up, and was a perfect host. Christopher works with the Santa Maria Visitors Bureau and they could not have had a better representative. When we arrived at the Santa Maria Inn there was a gift basket with local wine, fresh strawberries, and a welcome letter from the Mayor!

Like I said, when I get back from LA, I will post the videos and more photos/info from this very special trip to California's beautiful central coast. Stay tuned!

This content in it's entirety has been brought to you by Chef John from FoodWishes.

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