Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 12:04 PM

click to enlarge Meat pile at Wild Oaks. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Meat pile at Wild Oaks.
I only ever see the plumes of smoke shooting up from the behemoth of a barbecue stand at the Eureka Veterans Hall when I've already eaten. So when we drove by last week on the way to lunch, I hollered at my colleague to pull over, which she did, Transporter style. Bracing.  

click to enlarge Belly up for pork belly. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Belly up for pork belly.

There are no sandwiches, no sides and no scales. What the Wild Oaks Grill does have is tri-tip, bacon, ribs, pork belly, brisket, yard bird (chicken) and pig ass (pulled pork). Proprietor Rob Dunn reaches through the black clouds puffing out of the Santa Maria-style grill and pulls out a foil-wrapped hunk of pork belly that's been smoked for five hours with salt, pepper, garlic and a little brown sugar. He slices off a trembling plank for us to sample — meltingly juicy meat striped with glistening fat that's caramelized at the edges. He squints at the cut, roughly the size of a hardcover airport novel, and says $20. Sold. My wheel-woman gets a hunk of tri-tip and a half chicken for $35. (Psst: The chicken steals the show.)

click to enlarge Yard bird hot from the grill. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Yard bird hot from the grill.

Dunn hauls his converted 1960s boat trailer to Hoby's Market in Scotia on Tuesdays, the Veterans Hall in Eureka on Wednesdays, the 76 station at 2698 Central Avenue in McKinlyeville on Thursdays and the Country Club Market in Eureka on Fridays. And judging from the pack tucked in the bib of his overalls, when he's not standing over a billowing stack of meat and a burning pile of split black oak, he's smoking a cigar. 

click to enlarge Keeping score on the back of the rig. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Keeping score on the back of the rig.



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