Bic FlameDiskOver at, Larry Olmstead, author of an earlier feature story on Santa Maria Style Barbecue, turns the spotlight on a new invention that is sure to delight campers, tailgaters and other grillers on the go: the BIC FlameDisk.

Writes Olmstead, “The FlameDisk is a single use alternative to charcoal –  ready to cook pretty much as soon as you light it, which requires simply touching a match to it. No muss, no fuss, several pros and few cons.”

He adds, “One nice touch in addition to the convenience is that the cover is specifically designed so that dripping meat juices flare briefly and crate the same great smoky taste you get cooking over a wood fire but lose with some propane grills. This feature worked great. Cons? Not too many. It cooked just a tad slower than perfectly prepared charcoal, but then charcoal is constantly changing as it burns, whereas this flame was very constant throughout.”

This is pretty high praise coming from a BBQ aficionado like Mr. Olmstead, who describes his backyard as “a bit of a smoky fantasy: I have a Weber gas grill I love, a large smoker for doing authentic slow cooked barbecue, and a large homemade Argentinean parillada grill for traditional open wood fire cooking, as well as authentic Santa Maria-style barbecue.”

But while the BIC FlameDisk sounds great for grilling on the go, how can it be relevant to authentic Santa Maria BBQ, which requires red oak for fuel?

Well, there’s a little trick that you can use on gas grills and presumably the BIC FlameDisk that can give you a bit of true Santa Maria BBQ red oak flavor without actually burning wood…

The first step is to find some red oak chips (the Santa Maria Valley’s own Susie Q’s Brand is one source for affordable red oak chips). Next, you create pouch of heavy-duty foil and place a heaping of chips into the pouch. You then seal the pouch and pierce the foil with a fork to create little outlets for the smoke to escape. Place the pouch on the grill next to your food, close the cover and let ‘er smoke! Your meat is now going to get a bit of that classic Santa Maria Valley red oak flavor.

Red oak chips are even easier to use over charcoal. You just sprinkle the chips directly over the hot coals and they work their magic as they burn.

Try red oak chips at your next tailgate or campsite as an easy way to enjoy Santa Maria-style flavor on the go. Just be prepared for the aromas to attract a crowd!