Gearing up for the Labor Day weekend means getting ready to barbecue. And in the Bay Area, barbecue means Fred’s Steaks from Schaubs. For those of you who aren’t clued in, Schaub’s is a high-end, old fashioned butcher shop that relocated at one point inexplicably to the tony Stanford Shopping Center. Yes, within steps of Bloomingdales are cleaver wielding guys cutting all manner of meat, poultry and game.
It’s an odd location and it’s a long haul down the Penninsula from San Francisco, but it’s worth it to get Fred’s Steaks. Which are really tri-tip marinated in a decades old secret recipe that is a hotly debated topic in the Bay Area. There has got to be teriyaki sauce in it because the marinade stains the tri-tip black. As for the rest of the ingredients, I heard that only one other was revealed. A woman begged Schaub’s to tell her if there were bread crumbs in the coating as her husband was severely allergic to wheat and would die if they let her feed it to him. (Of course, it was a ruse, but it did get an affirmative admission.) For the rest of the marinade, we’ll never know. Rumor is that Fred, who is no longer with us, took the recipe to the grave and only a few select Schaub’s employees know it. They’re not telling.
Well, whatever it is, it makes the tri-tips bear an uncanny resemblance to those diseased lungs they always used to show us in Health Class to discourage us from smoking. Nobody cares about the looks. Because when you’ve cooked a Fred’s Steak — and after three days in the marinade, you only cook it for about 30 minutes until rare to medium rare — you get to eat it. And the taste. The taste. You will never have red meat that tastes this good. And I’m someone who’s had Kobe Beef in Japan. I tell ya, nothin’ on old Fred’s tri-tip.
So a Tri-Tip Safari was called for and my friend Rob decided we needed to do it in style. In a strange style, but in a definite style. In his Chrysler Sebring. It’s used, it’s low mileage, but he got it for an astoundingly low price. Because, well, it’s a Chrysler. But Rob says he didn’t emigrate from England to drive a crappy foreign car. He always drives American. Vintage American. And he says the country would be in better shape if everyone did the same.
So flashing our Buy American cred, we put the top down and blasted south on Highway 101. Well, not really blasting. A Chrysler Sebring is a car that instantly puts 40 years on a man. And Rob is now ready for a pipe, slippers and a Bing Crosby golf cap. He’s become a Chrysler-driving old geezer. And he obsesses about his gas mileage like an old codger. So no more than 60 MPH for us. Even grannies in SUVs were passing, but we got over 30 miles per gallon all the way to Palo Alto.
Feeling smug, patriotic and gas savvy, we pulled into Schaub’s, secured our meat and headed back up to meet Rob’s wife, Susi, and The World’s Most Beautiful Baby for lunch. Since we’d safari-ed to the suburbs, we figured lunch had to fit the theme. So Chevy’s.
Hey, can’t beat those giant Margaritas.