Hitching Post II Magic Dust has been in use at the restaurant to season their grilled food and sold to fans for over 15 years, but Ostini recently learned that the name and trademark belongs to another famous BBQ restaurant, the 17th St. Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, Indiana, who has been selling their own Magic Dust for over 20 years. Three time winners of the Memphis in May’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Ostini and his brother Bob met the owners at a benefit in Denver, and again at the National Barbeque Association convention in Mobile, Alabama. The Ostinis became fast friends with 17th St.’s Mike and Amy Mills and feel a duty to honor the 17th St. Bar and Grill by changing the Hitching Post’s Magic Dust name in order to give credit where credit is due.
The Magic Dust “SweepSteaks” invites the public to enter their suggestions for a new name for the special seasoning which will launch on their Facebook page, here, April 1 and run until April 14, 2014. A panel of judges will select the winners who will be announced at the Hitching Post II Open House on April 21, 2013 in celebration of the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Festival Weekend. 1st Place Winner will receive a $200 Gift Certificate with six more prizes available. Details for the contest are on the Hitching Post II Facebook page. The Open House, which will run from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., will be an opportunity to sample current releases and taste a vertical of HP Pinot Noir Perfect Set 2007 to 2011. Guests will also attend the “Wake” to bury the last of Magic Dust and take part in the christening of the newly-named Hitching Post II BBQ Spice as the winners are announced. Appetizers from the famous Hitching Post Oakwood BBQ will be served and guests will receive collector bottle gifts of the soon-to-be-retired old Magic Dust and a jar of the newly named spice blend. Cost for the Open House is $25 per guest and reservations are required. Contestants are not required to be present to win.
Hitching Post has used the traditional BBQ seasonings of salt, garlic, and black pepper since 1952. The blend that became Hitching Post Magic Dust was inspired by a trip to New Orleans by Frank and Jami Ostini in 1990. Frank and Jami were impressed with the Cajun blend of spices that always included three kinds of pepper. Jamie Shannon, the late chef of Commander’s Palace, explained the use of cayenne could replace some of the salt in a blend, as it stimulates the same taste buds as salt. They returned to Buellton and began experimenting with one blend for all seasoning ingredients in one shaker. The proprietary blend combined salt, garlic, onion, cayenne, white, and black pepper.
In July 1991 Frank Ostini attended the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon, cooking high quality meals for 500 guests. His featured dish was an oak grilled filet mignon, cooked over the wood that he had hauled up from Santa Barbara. When Michael Wild, owner of the Bay Wolf, in Oakland, California was looking around the kitchen for salt to season up a dish in the madness just before serving the sizable group, he turned to Frank, asking, “Hey, where’s your, your, your… Magic Dust?” The name stuck and has been in use ever since. Packaging of the seasoning for public sale began in 1996. It’s now sold at the Hitching Post II and on their website, and has found its way to homes across the United States and as far as Europe where fans abound.
The original Hitching Post was purchased by Frank and Natalie Ostini in Casmalia, California in 1952, specializing in “Santa Maria Style Barbeque,” a California ritual stemming from the culture of the Spanish Rancheros who cooked over the heat of a fragrant red oak wood-fire. Son Frank Ostini Jr. is the owner of The Hitching Post II, opened in Buellton, California in 1986. Ostini, renowned as both a nationally respected chef and winemaker, showcases the tradition of the highest quality Santa Maria Barbeque paired with the enjoyment of the region’s best Pinot Noir wines. The Hitching Post II became internationally recognized with the 2004 Academy Award-winning film Sideways and has been earning praise for its food and wines for 27 years. Hitching Post Wines are available throughout the United States at a select group of retailers and fine dining restaurants. The wines may be purchased at the Hitching Post II restaurant in Buellton, California, or on the internet (shipping to some states excluded) here.
The Hitching Post II Restaurant and Winery has a devoted audience among both food and wine aficionados and has been favorably reviewed in Wine Spectator, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, and the New York Times.