Woodworking again: Letter from a close personal friend

By Dave Wood
Posted 3/9/23

Just now I'm feeling rather flattered having just received a letter from Todd Simon, a scion of the family that has offered us Omaha Steaks for five generations. Simon must be a friend because he …

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Woodworking again: Letter from a close personal friend


Just now I'm feeling rather flattered having just received a letter from Todd Simon, a scion of the family that has offered us Omaha Steaks for five generations. Simon must be a friend because he addressed me as “Dear Friend” and implored me to try out his famous “Steak Flight,” an amazing free offer deal for only $99. Maybe you're getting a letter, as well, but if not, Omaha Steaks advertises heavily in Sunday supplements of daily newspapers and weekly magazines. And even if you're not a “friend,” the package is still just $99 for “the best steaks  of your life.”

Before I was Todd Simon's friend, I answered such an advertisement and here's what I received: Two 6-ounce filet mignons, two 6-ounce top sirloins. Three 6-ounce boneless pork chops two 5-ounce boneless chicken breasts, four 6-ounce Omaha steak burgers, four 3-ounce jumbo franks. And as a newcomer to the company, Todd generously threw in FOUR MORE STEAK BURGERS FREE!

Whatta deal! In case you're a little dim on weights and measures, I've figured it out for you. For 99 smackers, you get a whopping 106 ounces of meat, which translates to 6 pounds, 10 ounces of meat, which translates to $15.50 per pound. BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! On top of that Todd sent me 7 ounces of frozen scalloped potatoes, 8.4 ounces of chocolate molten lava cakes, 8 ounces of caramel apple tartlets and a 3.1-ounce jar of special steak seasoning.

Imagine the tremors I felt as I opened the huge Styrofoam mailing carton! I grabbed the first “filet mignon” package seasoned with the special seasoning and sautéed them in a cast-iron frying pan. After tossing away the seasoning (we prefer Montreal), we cut into these morsels with our sharpened steak knives. Lucky they were sharpened, because the meat was tough enough to have been cut out of the center of a giant Brahma bull tenderloin (which ain't no filet mignon), Ferdinand’s trimmings then made into those jumbo franks. 

And how about the top sirloin? Tough, tough, sans fat, sans flavor. So we froze some of the sirloins, sliced them paper thin and served them with Parmesan and olive oil as carpaccio. If my mother had had to deal with those sirloins, she would have grabbed dad's ball peen hammer and beat the Bejesus out of them. I did wallop some of the strips, dipped them in flour and fried them in lard, and I ground most of it into Boeuf de Tartare, known as “Cannibal Meat” or “Tiger Meat” in the low rent saloons where I hang out. None of that is like cutting your way into a juicy sirloin, but all options give your jaws a nice break and your palate a bit of a tingle.

Old friend Todd said in his letter that his steaks are carved by “master butchers with a total of 900+ years of experience.'' Perhaps they deserve to be called “masters” for being able to carve a faux filet out of an old bull's tenderloin. Todd also boasts that his products feature an “absolute consistency.” He’s right about that. Every product we've tried from Omaha has been consistently disappointing—in spite of the truth that they’re “flash frozen” to “deliver better quality over fresh [meat].

Here, finally, is my point. When you shop locally, you will more likely be offered fresh steaks at a cheaper price, so why send your money to Nebraska? Last week, after I received Todd's  letter, I checked the grocery ads in this newspaper and several local inserts from Dick's Market, Family Fresh , Ptacek's, Aldi's and Nilssen's. I was happy to see prices plummeting and found out they truly were cheaper in terms of every cut, from the filet mignon to hamburger patties. For instance, last week I read that local stores were offering 80/20 ground beef for between $2.99 and $1.47, whereas the steakburger cost more, and the infamous “filet,” the one carved out of the bull, figured out to $15.50, while a local big old bull tenderloin was only $10. And FRESH. Admittedly Omaha says it will refund your money if you're not satisfied. Have you ever tried to mail a Styrofoam cooler? And name a local butcher who wouldn't refund your money immediately if you were displeased.

So shop locally is my message, and if your neighbor or relative gifts you a Styrofoam cooler from Omaha, known not only for its steaks but for another Nebraska delicacy, deep-fried carp sandwiches, tell them to choose only the caramel apple tartlets, which are really tasty, then save the Styrofoam cooler; it's great for keeping beer cold when you go on a picnic, where you can also barbecue a pound of franks for $1.99 or Weber a whole pork butt roast for $1.79 a pound if you pay attention to your local groceries.  

Dave would like to hear from you: 715-426-9554.

Woodworking again, Dave Wood, Omaha Steaks, opinion