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Jul 3, 2007 01:31 PM

BBQ oak chips/chunks?

I'm grilling a Santa Maria-style tri-tip for the 4th and I'd really like to find someplace in the Bay Area (the closer to Berkeley the better) where I can get oak chips or chunks for smoking purposes. Everywhere I go seems to have hickory and mesquite and apple and that's it. I realize this is completely last minute but can anybody help? Post-4th posts would be welcome. (This is posted on the Home Cooking board as well - hope that's OK)

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  1. You might give Fessenden Firewood in Richmond a call.

    Fessenden Firewood
    686 S 30th St, Richmond, CA 94804

    1. I am not so familiar with the east bay, but BBQ Galore in San Rafael has a huge selection at full retail price. Also, the Lazzari Distributorship in Brisbane (just behind the Cow Palace) has a decent selection at wholesale prices:

      1. The traditional Santa Maria Style is flamed over walnut wood, then finish over slow, closed fire of pecan or fruitwood. Especially Tri Tip roast loves this and so will you. I am sure most of the place mentioned will carry these woods.. I grew up on SM Q.

        Don't forget the pinquito beans..have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lori SF

          Better double check the official Santa Maria BBQ site. We wouldn't be looking for Red Oak if not for the "official" explanation.

        2. Walmart carries (I assume most locations)

          Jack Daniels Oak chips
          Hickory and Mesquite Chunks
          Hickory, Mesquite, Apple and Cherry chips.

          I did some the other week searing on a gas grill with a hickory smoke finish and it was nice and mellow. Also, did some on a charcoal grill using some oak wine-barrel pieces. At first seemed a little acrid, but after I sliced the meat and it sat a little bit in the juices, the acridity mellowed out for a really nice smokiness.

          To Lori SF- Many of the recipes I have seen for Santa Maria say oak wood- perhaps there is some wiggle room?

          1. Instead of trying to buy "smoking wood", buy fireplace wood and cut it up.

            My local supermarket sells a box of oak for ~$10, IIRC it is 2.77 cubic feet and was $7.79 last winter (or was it two winters ago?).

            4 Replies
            1. re: Alan408

              P.Punko- always room for wiggle room but I wanted to point out the orginal proper way of the Santa Maria BBQ- which I heartly can say if I know anything I know this. It was a tradition in my family and friends growing up. I am from Santa Barbara and our other family shared home in Santa Maria early 70-80's. My family were BBQ masters and put the technique on the map. So yes other wood chips can be used. But I know the difference. Also, if it's tri-tip we are speaking of there are only two marinades.

              Why not get the right chips don't rush it and the difference is so much better.

              1. re: Lori SF

                No, I always want to hear how everybody does things differently- it does sound great. I wrote my comment above because of reading stuff like this:


              2. re: Alan408

                A word of caution here. Many boxes of fireplace wood contain other items in addition to oak, like pine. Please be sure to check the contents before going this route. Also, unless the OP has a woodchipper or at least a chainsaw, I'm not too sure this tactic would be worth the effort for wood chips.

                1. re: Civil Bear

                  Definitely agree on the chipping. I use Fessenden oak for our wood stove and often for grilling, and just splitting it is a major chore. They call it hardwood for a reason.