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Get Your Smoke On!

Take your outdoor cooking to the next level with your very own, limited edition, Mark West smoker. From now until Tuesday April 25th, stop by your neighborhood Oliver’s Market and enter to win a Mark West smoker. Imagine concocting your own signature smoke blend and creating your own house-made dishes with the perfect amount of smoky flavor!

Smoke is a funny thing. Light as air, it floats up in a hazy plume and then drifts away, bestowing the sultry taste of wood in its wake. The subtle hint of woodsy smoke can be one of the best flavors in a dish – be it vegetable or meat based.

Here we’ll explore the diverse types of wood that you can use, that will add an extra dimension of flavor to your summertime favorites.


There are a wide variety of woods that you can use, each one offering its own unique flavor characteristics. The following are just a few of the many types of wood you can use to smoke.

Alder – this wood has a light and naturally sweet flavor, which makes it great for pairing with fish, poultry and any other white meat.

Apple – this wood has a fruity and sweet smoke that pairs wonderfully with pork, fish, poultry and especially ham.

Hickory – this wood has a strong and distinct flavor that is ideal for red meats, especially beef, ribs and game meats. It can also work well with pork and poultry.

Pecan – this wood gives your meat something of a fruity flavor and burns cooler than most other barbecue woods. It’s similar to hickory and is best used on large cuts like brisket and pork roast. However, it can also be used to compliment pork chops, fish and poultry.

Maple – this wood has a sweet and delicate taste and tends to darken whatever meat you’re smoking. It goes well when combined with alder, oak or apple and is typically used for poultry and ham. It also works with small game birds, pork roast and vegetables.

Mesquite – this wood is undoubtedly the most pungent and powerful wood you can smoke with, and it can completely overpower your meat if used improperly. Avoid using mesquite with larger cuts that require longer cooking time, or simply use it with other woods.

Oak – this wood is great for big cuts of meat that take a long time to cook. It has a subtle flavor that will emerge more the longer the meat is in the smoker. Very versatile, you can use this with almost anything.

Cherry – this wood’s light and sweet flavor is well suited for almost any kind of meat, especially chicken, pork and beef. It also pairs well with alder, hickory and oak.

With so many methods of smoking (hey, not that kind!) that exist, it would be impossible to explain them all here. However, a simple search on the internet will yield thousands upon thousands of pages dedicated to the art of smoking foods.        


About the Author: Matt Rice

Matt Rice

Matt Rice is Oliver's intrepid blogger on all topics related to wine, beer, cider, spirits, and other gourmet products.


Where "Local" Means Sonoma County

To us Local means Sonoma County -- period. Not Marin, not Napa, and definitely not the state of California, as some of our competitors define it.

From the day we opened our doors in 1988, we’ve built our business on the simple premise that the best food and wine in the world are produced here, in Sonoma County. We didn’t feel like we were pioneers at the time, but as people have come to understand and embrace the value of locally grown and made food and the value of shopping locally, we realize we were part of the early days of the movement.

As a Sonoma County business, we’ve built enduring relationships with local growers, makers, and manufacturers, because they make the foods and wines we love. Many of them were getting started when we were. Now they are nationally known, but for us, they are still old friends who often delivered products to our Cotati store in their cars back in the late 1980s.

Along with local products being excellent choices for taste and quality reasons, buying locally also improves our local economy. The dollars you spend at local retailers buying local products support other local businesses and our tax base, too!

Tasting Notes

Matt Rice

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