The inimitable Bob Senn, proprietor of our favorite wine shop, the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium (nestled between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria on California's stunning Central Coast), reports that the legendary Hitching Post restaurant in Buellton, Calif., will be featured on Wolfgang Puck's Food Network show Dec. 5. Owner Frank Ostini will demonstrate Santa Maria-style tri-tip barbecue. Tri-tip is a sirloin cut available mainly in the West that's slow-cooked over an open spit (or on a Weber kettle, for the backyard barbecue crowd), marinated or seasoned with a rub. It's my favorite variety of beef (and one that I try my hand at on occasion). From a boy who grew up in the midst of the warring regions of North Carolina barbecue, discovering tri-tip was an epiphany, though it'll always finish second to a mess of Eastern N.C. pork. With hush puppies.
Lola and I have pigged out (as it were) at both Hitching Posts, Buellton and Casmalia (thanks, Bob!) and can say without hesitation that we've never had better beef. If you're within a day's drive of either location, plan to visit. And while the original Casmalia location is really off the beaten path, it's our favorite. Another reason to go to the Casmalia Hitching Post: Bob put together the wine list.