Archive for the ‘Hot Dogs’ Category
(Dateline: Cincinnati, Byline: Mike Clark, Texas Bureau Chief)
This is a story about Cincinnati, Ohio, but there are hot dogs in it. Good ones.
Way back in the 19th Century, downtown Cincinnati was bisected east-to-west by the Miami and Erie Canal. Thousands of immigrant Germans took up residence north of the canal, prompting everyone else in the city to nickname the canal after that majestic German river, the Rhine. And the neighborhood where all the Germans lived was called “Over the Rhine.” Today, the locals shorten that to “OTR.”
The canal is long gone, filled in and paved over with eight lanes of concrete known as the Central Expressway. OTR itself, full of Italianate architecture, a classic example of a 19th Century urban neighborhood, gradually fell into decay. Actually, “decay” is being polite.
Fast forward to the late 20th Century, when OTR is declared a national historic landmark, and forward again to the 21st Century, when significant resources are marshaled to renovate the blight and recover the neighborhood. As little as five years ago, OTR was a place where genteel folk would not dare set foot; but today, it is Cincinnati’s vibrant new district for the arts, entertainment, recreation, and food.
One of the gentrification pioneers in the food category is Senate Pub, self-described as “lo-fi pushers of beer, wine & gourmet street food.” Senate took up residence on Vine Street just a block and a half north of the Rhine. Roughly one-third of the menu at Senate is taken up with hot dogs – or to be more clear, quarter-pound all-beef dogs with eclectic gourmet dressings. Witness:
The Trailer Park — bacon wrapped, american cheese, coleslaw, crushed grippos (local, flavored tater chips);
The Chicago — tomato, mustard, onion, neon relish, sport peppers, pickle & celery salt; and,
The Lindsay Lohan — goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, balsamic & tons of drama…
…to name a few. If for some reason you’re dogged out, the other two thirds of the menu at Senate are just as eclectic, including their version of the Canadian staple Poutine, and some to-die-for Pretzel Dough Beignets served warm in a brown paper bag (the better to shake the sugar coating), accompanied by a caramel mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) spread so rich it should be illegal. All this combines to make Senate one very popular place.
You’ll see from Senate’s web site that their success has generated a little ego baggage – Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) showed up with his camera crew last year, and if you’re willing to shell out $39.99 plus tax, you can have your very own Senate Cookbook – but a little hard-earned ego does not diminish the quality of the eats even one bit.
Senate occupies a single storefront, so seating is limited to the bar, a single row of tables opposite, and a few more in the back. The wait for a table can sometimes exceed an hour. Go early or go late, or if the place is full, get your name on the list and then go browse some of the boutique shops that continue to spring up in the ancient storefronts Over the Rhine. Senate will call your cell when your table is ready.
And while you’re in OTR, listen for the ghosts of 19th Century Germans. They wail mournfully for Senate to start serving Bratwurst & Kraut.
Senate Pub Review
(Good &) deLish is one of Walgreen’s food brands, along with Nice! and a couple others. They have a lot of heat and eat foods in their coolers these days, including burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and appetizers. I’ve tried the burgers and the pizza.
These hot dog puffs come in a pack of 8 for $2.50 6.4 ounces), on the shelf next to them were boneless wings and spanakopita. The selling points on the package here are “no preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup.”
They are further advertised as “uncured beef mini franks wrapped in a flaky butter puff pastry.”
Ingredient list: Puff Pastry , (Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour , (Wheat Flour , Malted Barley Flour , Niacin , Reduced Iron , Thiamin Mononitrate , Riboflavin , Folic Acid) , Butter (Pasteurized Cream) , (Beef , Beef , water , Contains Less Than 2% of the Following , Contains Less Than 2% of the Following) , (Allspice , Celery Juice Powder , Evaporated Cane Syrup , Garlic Powder , Ginger , Honey , Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not from dairy) , Mustard , Nutmeg , Onion Powder , Paprika , Pepper , Sea Salt).
Celery juice is the “new MSG” doncha know? Wish they didn’t have cane syrup and honey in them, but oh well.
Instructions call for 18-20 minutes in a pre-heated 375 oven. After 18 minutes, they were only at the soggy dough factor. (Left). So I tried for another ten minutes (28 total). Then another five minutes. I’ve heard of “your results may vary,” but this seems a little extreme! After 32 minutes they had (sort of) crisped up and were showing signs of their advertised “flaky pastry.” But they certainly don’t look like the ones on the package but that’a a curse of our society in general, things are just not like they are advertised (including people). *Yes, my $7000 oven is calibrated).
Fortunately I had made a couple of gallons of chicken and dumplings today, so I wasn’t going to starve.
I waited a few minutes before sampling to see if that mattered. It didn’t. The franks have good flavor, but the ‘blankets’ never got crispy. So I’ve tried ‘em, won’t buy them again.
BTW, you know a frozen pasty that really rocks? Try Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants. Really.
According to the USDA establishment number on the package ( 31924), these babies are made for Walgreens by Pegasus Foods of Los Angeles. Pegasus says they make premium ethnic, Mediterranean, and gourmet food of different ilks. They apparently do a large contract manufacturing business, in addition to Walgreens, they work for Cinnabon and Melrose Kitchen.
They started in 1998 as a contract manufacturer specializing in filo dough products.
And now you now “the rest of the story.”
DeLish Hot Dog Puffs
For the unwashed, the Varsity is the world’s largest hot dog stand. Covering two acres in downtown , with parking for 600 cars, and seating for 800, the Varsity has been dishing up dogs, burgers, fries, rings, and their famous “Frosted Orange” beverage since 1928 under the watchful eye of Frank Gordy and his descendants.
Initially operating under the name “The Yellow Jacket” Gordy served hot dogs and bottled Coca-Cola (what else in ?) to Georgia Tech students. Not wishing to limit his clientele to one particular school, the name change came shortly thereafter, along with the move to the present location.
When you sidle up to the counter, and hear the famous cry from the clerks: “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?” it helps to know the proper retort. There’s much more, but this will get you past the basics of ordering:
- Hot Dog: Hot dog with chili and mustard
- Heavy weight: Same as hot dog but with extra chili
- Naked Dog: Plain hot dog in a bun
- MK Dog: Hot dog with mustard and ketchup
- Regular C Dog: Hot dog with chili, mustard and ketchup
- Red Dog: Ketchup only
- Yellow Dog: Mustard only
- Yankee Dog: Same as a yellow dog
- Walk a Dog (or Steak): Hot dog to go
- Steak: Hamburger with mustard, ketchup, and pickle
- Chili Steak: Hamburger with Varsity chili
- Glorified Steak: Hamburger with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato
There are 5 locations these days . But the original is the place for the complete Varsity experience. Bring the kids, but not much money. A meal at the Varsity is well under five bucks. Unless you order like I do.
varsity atlanta reviews
I have expressed my concerns here about the infiltration of restaurant brands into the grocery aisles on many occasions. While I realize these companies (or their licensees) are trying to extend their brand names and develop new sources of revenues, very rarely is the product anywhere near the taste / texture of what you will find at the restaurant. Usually a disappointment with very few exceptions.
Unless you live in a cave, you know about Nathan’s Hot Dog stand at Coney Island in New York City. If for no other reason than they are the sponsor of the annual 4th of July hot dog eating contest – the one hour of the year I can bear to watch ESPN.
They are the fifth largest seller of packaged weenies in US grocery stores, and over the past couple of years, they have extended their brand by manufacturing and distributing snack foods to grocery stores. The line includes pickles, condiments, salty snacks, and a couple of frozen items, fries and rings. I’ve tried a few of these types of products from other brands, including the Steak N Shake and Fatburger frozen burgers, and Red Robin’s fries.
So tonight it’s Nathan’s frozen rings, there are about 30 in a bag (six servings, it says), and the ingredients are: Onions, Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Beer (Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast, Salt), Corn Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Salt, Dextrose, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Whey (Milk), Guar Gum, Spice and Coloring, Natural Flavors, Spices, Sorbitol. Contains: Wheat, Milk.
The directions call for placing them on a cookie sheet, sprayed with pam, baking the frozen rings at 400 for 14-16 minutes, turning once.
I don’t know how these compare to the rings at the restaurants, I’ve never had them. How’s this product? It had the potential to be great. The breading crisped up nicely, which surprised me, and the slices of onions were generous. However, over all, I thought they were awful. They had a distinctively odd taste, which for me, went back and forth between being reminiscent of freezer burn or being fried in old oil.
Just not appealing.
(Update, 3 weeks later). I had a half bag left and tried again. Ignoring the baking instructions, I had them in the oven with something else at 450 for 22 minutes. The results were much more satisfactory this way.
Fast food generally does a miserable job with onion rings, and Burger King leads the pack of bad rings. Are there any good ones? I think so. I think the Arby’s steakhouse rings are pretty good, if they are made when you order them.
Find a store near you that carries Nathan’s products, or buy them online here.
Nathans Frozen Onion Rings
In my previous posts about Kwik Trip, I reminisced about their roots, when I used to do some business with them and they only had a couple stores in LaCrosse, WI. Today, there are over 400 stores, and 12,000 employees. If you live in the Upper Midwest, there’s a store near you. What makes Kwik Trip unique and a master of its segment is that it has developed its own brand names over the years, and thus is able to assure quality and keep prices low. It’s a business maneuver 7-Eleven has started to copy recently with their own in-house brands.
KwikTrip was also one of the first to include healthy options in their take away food choices (also now being copied by 7-Eleven), and their ‘morning bar’ for variety of coffee and pastries is unequaled in the industry.
One thing new I noticed on my recent trip was the installation of a counter dedicated to fresh, vacuum packed meats – there is a small selection of roasts, steaks, dinner sausages and hot dogs, some from some of Wisconsin’s leading brands, like Klement’s, and some with a Kwik Trip label. For instance, they had a package of eight natural casing wieners for $2.99, and that’s about 40% less than other brands in grocery stores. Kwik Trip (packaged) wieners are make by Bakalars Sausage in LaCrosse (plant picture below); the reason I distinguished the description with “packaged” is because their hot sausage/dog roller grill feature products from Johnsonville, Ball Park, and others.
I understand the company treats employees well, too. Great products, prices, and management. Kwik Trip gets my c-store dollar when I’m in the area.
(THIS BUSINESS IS NOW CLOSED).
I love story tellers. I like to tell stories, too. I’m not so good at it. but I know someone who is.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of my likes and dislikes are words used in cuisine reviews these days – like “fusion”, or “mash-up”. and this prejudice probably comes (as I date myself) from the days when I first started experiencing “nouveau” or “California cuisine,” which were code words for “little tiny portions that we are gonna make you really pay through the nose for.”
But when I raise the topic of words I don’t like to use in my writing, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy gently prods me and sez “But, BurgerDogBoy,” those are words and phrases that people have come to expect when you are talking about something new!” And I reply (grumble, grumble), and continue to look for new ways to describe food innovation.
But proper, descriptive words and phrases escape me when it comes to trying to define one of the newer efforts in Portland’s food cart scene – the tale of Budd and Grae Lewis with their “Domo Dogs.” I first encountered them, but didn’t have a chance to try their product, when they started selling their innovative ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicles” (that’s what franks are called in the trades these days), in front of the Asian hypermart, “H-Mart” (Open 365 day! their banner proclaims!) on 99w, in Tigard.
The Domo Dog people have since journeyed to a number of other locations, seeking out their own slice of food-cart nirvana. That having eluded them for now, you’ll catch them at various special events and neighborhood festivals. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I caught up with them last nite at “Last Thursday” in the Alberta Street neighborhood.
What does this have to do with me loving story-tellers? Simple. Budd Lewis is one story-teller extraordinaire. As you are waiting for your order, one can easily nudge Budd into a tale from his most extraordinary life – whether that yarn is one from his days of working for film icons Roger Corman or James Cameron, shooting beloved national television commericals, or weaving a tale of of audio suspense, like this one, his recent saga of a Halloween night in his home town of New Orleans, .
Budd, with a gravely, passionate, accented voice, straight out of the heart of Acadiana, weaves a story with the same panache and finesse he puts into creating his very special treats, Domo Dogs, which he has named “Japanese Fusion Hot Dogs.”
What exactly does that mean? In all cases, it means he starts with a quality, hefty, sake-steamed sausage, finished off on a grill, before placing it in a high-quality toasted bun.
In the case of the “Major Domo”, the sausage is topped with teriyakai marinaded onions, ponzu-mayo, sweet chili sauce, and flaked seaweed and sesame seeds. You know the joy of biting into a great hot dog on the 4th of July, with all your favorite toppings, crisp and fresh? Compared to that, the Major Domo is like biting into Cirque du Soleil, and having astonishing performers dance around your taste “budds” such as you couldn’t even having imagined before your first bite! In the case of the Domo Yaki, starting with the same steamed sausage and bun, but topped with daikon sprouts, coconut cream peanut sauce, and teri-mayo, it’s like sitting in same said performance, experiencing all the joys and wonders in front of your eyes, and having a parade of concessionaires selling sweet desserts, dump their trays accidentally onto your face; you, slowly, deliberately, licking their wares of your face until you just can’t eat any more. Order your dog “half and half” and experience “dinner” at the Major end, turn it around, and get your “dessert” with the Yaki end, at least that’s how Grae Lewis first described it to me, and I can’t take exception to her own description. In the European tradition, these opposites would come from the ‘sweet or savory’ selections of edibles.
As interested as the Lewis’ were in my reaction, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy was watching me intently as I took my first tentative bites. She knows I’m not much for food innovation, and she would describe me as a food purist and/or snob. (OK, yes, you’re right, she thinks I am a snob about a lot of things!) (But loves me in spite of that, so pfffffffffffffffffffffft). (Further update – actually along the way, we discovered she never loved me!).
loves me the most when I flash a smile that goes from ear -to-ear, and that’s what she saw on me last night, with each bite of my dog.
So what’s with the title of my post? Domo Dogs are worth beating a path to Budd and Grae’s door, wherever they set up (and you can find out where they will be on their FB page), but while you are waiting for the circus in your mouth to launch, get Budd to weave you a tale of wonder and awe from his most astonishing life; or a story that starts with you asking a traditional Southern Louisiana question, “how’s your mama and them?”
You’ll be spellbound, literally, as your ears feast on his wonderful stories, and your mouth screams with excitement as you bite into a Domo Dog.
These fine people deserve all the accolades and success that Portlandians bestow on the real winners of our creative food cart culture. And when their success, dogs, and special sauces are everywhere across our great land, you’ll be able to tell your children that you stood in line for a Domo Dog, ‘back in the day’, and when Budd himself was weaving tales, and tending the grill. And you heard it here first: hot dogs will be the next national ‘craze’, pushing “gourmet burgers’ to an also-ran category. Trust me on this.
(Postscript) Occasionally, Mrs. BDB reads one of these and points out things I miss. That’s her job. She reminded me last night that ‘less adventurous’ diners should note that Domo Dogs also serves some “American Style” dogs as well! They have a bona-fide chili dog, for example, and also offer an all beef dog with your choice of condiments! My apologies to all for not remembering to include these important facts – the Domo Dogs has something for everyone!
Portland Food Carts
A few weeks ago, I made frankfurters at home, I usually do this once or twice a year. The recipe is rather simple beef and pork on a 2/1 ratio, paprika, black pepper, celery seeds, garlic powder, dry milk powder, ground mustard, white pepper,coriander, and salt. You process this all, adding ice cubes slowly until you get a slurry of meat product which can easily slide into the casings, natural or not, your choice; my preference is always natural. You can refrigerate them to consume in the next week, freeze them, or smoke them and then freeze.
Well, I was a little ambitious on the meat, and had a lot left over that I froze in one pound packs, and have been using for various things. Wednesday is my hamburger day, and I didn’t feel like going out, and had no pure ground beef in the house, so I used a pound of the weenie mixture and shaped it into three patties.
Because of the content, the patties carmelized a little in the pan, and the distinctive color is a result of the spices. You’ll note from the pic of the sliced burger, that this is beyond a fine grind, and so the patty tends to be chewier, lacking the air pockets you find in most ground meats.
But for me, flavor was excellent, and I dressed them with dijon/mayo mixture and dill slices. I’ll make them again, and maybe not only when I have left over frankfurter meat!
“Polish” Sausage is the Americanization of a smoked beef / pork sausage from Poland that is commonly called kielbasa. The American version is generally milder than the original, depending on the manufacturer. Many Chicago companies call their polish sausage “Maxwell Street” (style), as an homage to a sandwich that was commonly sold to the immigrant settlers in one of Chicago’s oldest neighborhoods, Maxwell Street, a major east-west thoroughfare; a lot of that area now is home to the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois.
Back in the day, Maxwell Street was home to a large open air market, where one could buy nearly anything, legal, or illegal, and the Maxwell Street sandwich was common fare in the market – a grilled split sausage, with grilled onions and yellow mustard, served on a bun, sport peppers on request. Today’s “New” Maxwell Street market is a very vibrant giant flea market, held on Sunday’s year round, with a decidedly international flair.
Bobak’s, a Chicago area sausage maker, has been around for more than fifty years, and makes all manner of smoked and fresh sausages and deli meats, as well as operating a large grocery with their own products and imported European groceries. The grocery, pictured below, is at 5275 S. Archer Ave.
(Got a craving for Chicago foods? Get hot dogs, pizzas, and more delivered to your home!)
Bobak’s appears to share a production facility with another Chicago brand, located on the West Side. Based on the low double digit number assigned to the plant by the USDA, this plant, in some form, has been around a very long time, and probably dates back to stockyard days.
The Bobak Polish come in to different lengths, 8″ for buns, 12″ to heat and eat as a dinner sausage. It has a very mild flavor, and the bun length ones have a great ‘snap’ and a nice smoke. Ingredients are: Pork, Beef, Water, Corn Syrup, Potassium Lactate, Sat, Natural Flavors, Sodium Phosphates, Dextrose, Sugar, Sodium Diacetate, Garlic, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.
The bun length ones are five to a 14 ounce package, I paid around $4.00, which is a good value, but that was a sale price. I prefer my Polish on a bun with kraut and yellow mustard. When I used to travel to Poland on business, the local employees would treat me to a sausage soup, which was absolutely terrific. (Polish soup recipes).
Bobak Polish Sausage Review
(Update: This location now closed)
Ran into this place, hiding in the out lot of a strip mill, in Indian Trail, North Carolina.
This is a brand new building, but I didn’t inquire if they were at another location previously, or why the hot dogs were famous.
They have a wide variety of ‘specialties’, which are D-Moe’s take on the various regional dogs of the US, like the “Arizona”, (bacon wrapped, pintos, jalapenos, mayo, onions, tomato, mustard and cheese), the “Carolina”, chili, mustard, onions, and slaw, the “Chicago”, and you know what that’s all about, and the “Coney”, which is mustard, beef chili, and diced onions. I chose the Coney, and chased it down with a local soda pop, “Cheerwine.”
I wasn’t too moved by D-Moe’s chili, so I peeled out the dog to try it all by its lonesome. It’s a good quality all-beef dog, and it was a-ok.
“Moe’s Original” seems to be the big daddy of the lot, a bacon-wrapped dog, D-Moe’s mustard sauce, Texas Pete, onion, jalapeno, and D-Moe’s blue cheese slaw. I maybe should have gone for that.
As I was just “tasting”, I didn’t try the sides, fries, sweet tater fries, rings, mac and cheese, a couple of slaws.
D-Moe’s also has a pretty fair-sized burger menu, and a couple of sandwiches, and damn, looking at the menu just now, I spotted fried bologna, wish I would have seen that on the spot, that would have been my choice for sure.
As for “Cheerwine”, the only thing it did for me was make me whine that it didn’t make me cheery. Think of red 7-Up.
I’m a big support of local businesses, no matter where I am, and you should be too. So when you’re in this part of the world, hit up D-Moe’s for at least one meal.
Complete menu here.
d moes indian trail d moes indian trail
One of the problems with being a “legend” and lasting 50 or more years, is……you’ve lasted 50 or more years, and you’re damned tired, it’s easy to rest on your reputation, and who can blame you for wanting to squeeze a few more bucks out of your place for your golden years?
But I do like it when there are “two legends”, across town, or down the street, and locals are passionate about one or the other being the best.
Such is the case in my home town with “Deluxe Coney Island“, and “Original Coney Island.” (No question, Deluxe rules!). Such is the case in El Reno, OK, the “birthplace of the onion burger.” In fact, if you find yourself on Route 66, in the spring of any year, El Reno is the place to be in May for Fried Onion Burger Day. I swear. A giant onion burger is cooked and served up to the curious, tourists, and locals alike.
So what is a fried onion burger? Well, at Robert’s Grill, around since before grills were invented, the cook takes a handful of fresh ground beef, slaps it on the flattop, and smashes it once with a spatula. Sprinkle a mess of raw white onions on top, and smash the shit out of it, so it’s a thin patty, awash with onions, sizzling at a high temp, so that the edges are going to get crispy. And I like that. Let it cook for quite awhile, or at least until the blood is coming thru the topside. Flip it once, so the onions are ‘neath it, and place the bun on top to warm. Flip again, slab o’cheese-food. Counterman turns, asks “mayo or mustard.” “Mustard,” sez I.” “Pickle?” sez he. “Aye” sez I. I splurged and ordered a side of tots.
I paid (“make it an even $5,” sez he,) and retired to my usual preferred dining spot on these outings, the trunk of my car. Small problem. Oklahoma, whether it’s truly OK or not, has a serious fly problem. Has anyone pointed this out? There are hordes of flies everywhere I stopped (no, they were not following me), so al fresco dining (who’s he?) was out of the question for the Robert’s parking lot. I would have sped out of town, but I was on “E”, so I packed my hamburg sandwich and tots and moved a block away to the gas station, planning to dine and gas, but the card readers on the pumps were taped over, so I had to go into the station twice. Gassed, but not yet gassy, I drove across the street to the parking lot of Johnnie’s, another place in El Reno that was built by the Egyptians, soon after they finished the pyramids.
I intended to do a side-by-side comparison, after polishing off the Robert’s onion burger, which pretty much tasted like a giant White Castle, but grilled, instead of steamed. I will admit tho, for being grocery store beef and buns, I did like Robert’s version of the o-burger.
Walking into Johnnie’s, the only midday customer, I spied the menu board and out slipped, “two coneys to go, please.” My eyes wandered right. $6.50 for two? WTF? Are you making the weenies in-house here?
They were ready in a sec, of course, the chili was meaty and sweet, like a bbq sauce, and the tiny diced onions were awash in a mustard/vinegar concoction. It was a sweet and sour dog, and I quickly soured on it. I thought that maybe the frank itself would have given the sandwiches some redemption, but scraping off the good, picking out the dog, and taking a bite, revealed nothing more than a standard 10/lb, “mixed meat” hot dog. Could have even been a poultry one. No knack, no flavor. The upside was I was happy I didn’t order the burger, which no doubt would have been a frozen puck from Sam’s Club.
Oh, I know. I didn’t hit the “popular place”, but then I rarely do.
El Reno Onion Burger