Sta Rita Hills' Wine and Fire Festival Showcases the Best of Wood Fired Cooking

Sta Rita Hills' Wine and Fire Festival Showcases the Best of Wood Fired Cooking

By Courtney Walsh, West Coast Editor

At last weekend's Wine and Fire festival, hosted in Santa Barbara's acclaimed Sta. Rita Hills, local chefs and winemakers gathered to highlight the best of the area's wood fired culinary scene. Already world renowned for the area's Santa Maria style BBQ, the festival also demonstrated the region's wide range in styles and cooking techniques that incorporate an open flame. Sta. Rita Hills winemakers were also present to discuss the variety of local wine pairings that would complement the regional cuisine, demonstrating the principle of what grows together, goes together.  

Hitching Post - Santa Maria Style BBQ at its Finest

Local legend Frank Ostini of Santa Ynez Valley's Hitching Post had perhaps the highest pedigree of the attendees. Taking over for his father at the family's restaurant, the Hitching Post, in 1977, Ostini has been in the kitchen ever since. In 1986, Ostini opened the second Hitching Post location in Buellton, known locally as Hitching Post II, which won over locals with the restaurant's vast array of grilled meats, ranging from beef to poultry to wild game. 

With the restaurant's prominent feature in the wine film Sideways, the Hitching Post became much more than a culinary destination but a tourist one as well. Yet despite the changes over time, Ostini's cooking has remained consistent, serving up classic Santa Maria style BBQ cooked over red oak in a glassed-in pit located right in the restaurant's dining room.

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