San Luis Obispo is quite honestly the perfect place to get all the best California has to offer.
I have been roaming the streets of San Luis Obispo for a good four years now, and my taste buds have consistently been satisfied with a variety of flavors.
If you are from inland, then the familiar taste of cattle from the fields is quite satisfying.
Yet, if you are from the coast, today’s fresh catch is the only thing that can bring a rumbling tummy to ease. If you are from glorious San Luis Obispo though, then the best of both worlds can be equally provided and served on a silver platter. What better way to celebrate the juxtaposition of land and sea than Feb. 29 — National Surf and Turf Day.
Before going much further, it is important to start out by defining just what surf and turf is.
Surf and turf is a meal in which both land and sea work together to create a lasting harmony from first to last bite. Not to mention, historically the meal was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Fancy Pants to remind everyone of their status. The surf portion of the meal is representative of the sea and is typically lobster, shrimp or scallops. The turf portion of the meal is representative of the land and is most often a pricey cut of beef, such as filet mignon. Served together, these make an extravagant and almost always extremely expensive meal.
As a college student, the rare times I can afford to eat out, I open up my restaurant menu, drool to my heart’s content over the possibility of splurging on a surf-and-turf dinner and reluctantly end up buying the cheapest fish and chips or chicken strip meal I can find. After my thoroughly fried meal, I sit back and dream of the day when my degree can afford me a taste of the good life.
I fortunately didn’t have to dream too long. I finally figured it out, we live in San Luis Obispo. The freshest and most delicious surf and turf can be easily made for an affordable price in our very own homes. With the ocean so close, fresh fish are not hard to come by at all, and on top of that, we have green rolling hills that are home to multiple cattle ranches — truly the best of both worlds right in the heart of our town.
Now we have the freshest ingredients right at our fingertips, but how do we keep it affordable? The key to this is realizing fresh, high quality ingredients go farther than you’d think. In order to stay in budget, you may need to set aside the American falsehood that “bigger is always better.” Instead, embrace a healthy portion and savor every bite.
First on our grocery list, the surf. For our budget, we are going to pass on the lobster, but splurge on buying jumbo shrimp. In a dinner for two, you will only need 4 to 6 jumbo shrimp, depending on how hungry you’re feeling. Next, the turf —although most people will automatically want to splurge on a big-name steak, there are some lesser known cuts that are hidden treasures waiting to be found.
I personally prefer the thin flank steak (slightly different from the flank steak), but other budget diners have also taken a keen liking to the boneless blade steak. Either way you choose, you are saving a bundle from the New York Prime Rib.
After getting the high quality headliners of the dinner, it is time to sit back and let simplicity take over. The rest of the meal need not be too complicated — a few fresh veggies, salt, pepper, some lemon, garlic and butter and voilà, a meal fit for a king. For the best flavors, marinate the meats up to a day in advance and finish it off by choosing your favorite cooking method (mine’s barbecue).
A leap year only happens every four years and is the perfect excuse to put on your rich britches and give old Mr. and Mrs. Fancy Pants a run for their money by making a decadent surf-and-turf dinner in the comfort of your own home — without breaking the bank.