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Archive for the ‘Hot Dogs’ Category

Prima Della Pastrami Review (Wal Mart’s House Brand)

Prima Della Pastrami ReviewI’ve looked at several pastrami (and corned beef) brands recently, including the grocery store version of NYC’s  Carnegie Deli, Vienna Beef, from Chicago, and Dietz & Watson.

Today I picked up a pound of “Prima Della,” ($9.99) which is the Wal Mart deli counter’s in-house brand.

According to the USDA plant number on the package, the pastrami is manufactured by Best Provision, LLC, out of Newark, New Jersey.  According to their website, Best is a family owned and operated concern, more than six decades old, and they focus on private label manufacturing of cooked beef products.  For most of their products, they offer a choice of three different grades, “Certified Angus,” “USDA choice,”  and “ungraded.”

No idea which ilk of meat Wal Mart chooses for their selections.

Wal Mart deli meats are priced at 15-25% less than the ‘national brands,” and for some deli counter products, this might be OK.

While the Prima Della pastrami looks and smells like a quality product,  it’s one of those prepared meat products which really falls down on texture or “chewability.”  So many deli meats (and roasts, chickens, and pork roasts) today have that same texture, and it’s really started to bug me.  I have no idea what happens in the manufacturing process to cause this malady, but I suspect it has to do with that phrase one often sees emblazoned on packages (“injected with a XX% solution of XXXX”), which I generally believe is used to soften (and/or flavor) meat muscle and is most like a salt-derivative product, but it’s also a way for manufacturers to add 10% or more weight to their product at little or no cost.

I don’t like it.  In an effort to please the masses, food manufacturers are making products as  ‘palatable’  (and tender) as possible.  Hence, these products no longer taste or chew like animal flesh.  Think of brine injected meats as the Fox News of the meat manufacturing world.

For my money, I’ll keep spending the extra 20% or so to get whole muscle, no additive, deli meats.  While they are still being made.

Best Provisions LLC is located on Avon Avenue, right behind Millie’s Restaurant, which offers Spanish cuisine from 6 AM seven days a week, and free delivery, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Prima Della Pastrami Review

Best Provision Factory

Prima Della Pastrami Review

Aerial, Best Provision Factory

Prima Della Pastrami Review

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

I love homemade condiments of any kind;  I make killer mustard and mayos, and sauerkraut when I dig up some patience.  Traditionally, kraut in my house was simple but time consuming.  Spread layers of thinly sliced cabbage and kosher salt in non-reactive container, let sit for six weeks.  It’s always worked, so I was doubtful when a friend told me a shortcut.  Oh, excuse me, they are all “life hacks” now, aren’t they?


1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon crushed toasted caraway seeds
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Mix in non-reactive bowl, cover, microwave five minutes, let set 15 minutes and you’re good to go.  Will keep covered in frig for a week or more. My first batch I skipped the caraway.

You may also skip the apple cider without harming the resulting product.

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe




Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

Cozy Dog Review, Springfield, IL

Cozy Dog ReviewSherman, set the wayback machine for the early 1940s, Springfield, Illinois, Land O’ Lincoln, the horseshoe sandwich, and purported by many to be the birthplace of the deep fried corn dog.  Others claim the honor should be awarded to other concerns, like the Pronto Pup Company of Portland, Oregon.  The U.S. Patent office has a completely different version of the origin.  No matter.  If you like them, you’ll pick them up most anywhere;  the late Mrs BurgerDogBoy was a big fan, but it was probably due more to the size and shape than the taste and texture.

Me?  I can take them or leave them, but I’ll nearly always stop at a restaurant on old Route 66, and Cozy Dog has that distinction.

Feeling a might peckish, I stopped in for a burger and fries, with a pork tenderloin on the side.  If you’re not familiar with tenderloins, they are pretty much the exclusive territory of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, and are made up of a boneless pork chop, smashed into a flattened, oversized ‘patty,’, breaded and deep fried.

From time to time,  one runs into restaurants that vie for having the largest tenderloin compared to bun ratio.

The tenderloin was adequate, tho most likely not made in-house, the fresh ground burger was great, and the fries tasty.  I like any place that has a condiment bar, and the Cozy’s was dandy.

Finished the grub, and hit the road again, southbound on I-55 for another adventure.  The Cozy Dog was a perfect place to stop, as today was “National Something on a Stick Day.”  No fooling.

Bonus?  It’s on old Route 66 and chock-a-block full of memorabilia to amuse you.


Cozy Dog Review

Burger and fries


Cozy Dog Review

Mr & Mrs Cozy Dog





Cozy Dog’s full menu.
Cozy Dog Drive In on Urbanspoon
Cozy Dog Review

Sobelmans Pub and Grill Review – Milwaukee, WI

Soblemans Milwaukee ReviewI was prepared for three things – to  wait awhile for a table, to have to pay more than I wanted to, and for lousy service due to the crowds.  None of the three happened.  We were seated immediately, despite nearly a full house, the prices were unbelievably reasonable, and the service was prompt, continuous, and affable.  So I over tipped.

“Over the top” bloody mary cocktails has become a “thing” latey, and Sobelman’s has it down to an art, offering a half dozen varieties.  My order was pretty near the low end of the scale, and didn’t take all that long to get served, despite the crowds.

Sobelmans has their own version of an ‘amuse bouche,’ as the waitress handed us short glasses of beer (4 ounces?) the moment we sat at the table. She was back quickly to take the order, and for the table, we had the “Masterpiece,”  and one that I missed the name of that featured chunks of buffalo flavored chicken on a skewer, along with the other accompaniments.  My Masterpiece had a slider, sausage, jumbor shrimp, olive, cheese, pickle, mushroom, celery stalk, pickled green bean, and one lonely Brussel sprout.

The waitress had an absolutely perfect answer for my question on whether or not it was a single shot of vodka; she replied “they free pour.”

Bloody mary mix is very good, medium spice, medium tomato juice “thickness” and is supplied by a local company called Jimmy Luv’s. At the extreme end of the bloody mary menu is one with all the kind of stuff previously mentioned, and an ENTIRE WHOLE FRIED CHICKEN.  That one goes for $50.  They have special bacon-themed ones, as well.

We also had an order of fries, and “bacon cheese crack,”  deep fried cheese fritters laced with bits of bacon.  Oh my.

Now depending on whom you ask, these special bloodys are only served on Saturday and Sunday, or just Sunday.  I couldn’t resolve that.

What’s funniest of all?   Sobelman’s always gets voted “best burger in Milwaukee,” and I went there to have one, and didn’t!

Take a gander at the burger menu before heading over.  Lots of appys, sandwiches, and the proverbial Wisconsin Friday nite fish fry.

This is a great experience.  Top quality ingredients, creative flair, extremely fair pricing, and good service.Oh, and a good assortment of table top condiments at the reach. Do it.

Soblemans Milwaukee Review

Bloody Mary $10


Soblemans Milwaukee Review

Bacon Cheese “Crack”

Sobelmans Pub and Grill Review

The Company Burger Review – New Orleans

When the owners of The Company Burger were choosing suppliers, they spared no effort to find the best, and ended up with Creekstone Farms from Kansas for the beef, and Wisconsin’s Nueske’s for the hot dogs.   They make some condiments in-house, and the meticulous preparation shows.

Company set out to offer the consummate American cheeseburger, and succeeds on every count.  The classic comes with American cheese, house made bread and butter pickles, and red onions.  Note to Company?  Add a dill option.  Thank you.

The onion ring stack was superb, but I’d like a larger order.

The beef blend that the owners devised with the Creekstone is absolutely perfect, very flavorful, probably a brisket, chuck, short rib blend, with just the righ amount of fat.

They have tots, sweet potato fries and pork rinds, with a large compliment of local craft beers along side some national brands and cocktails.

Switch it up if you’re in the mood with a lamb or turkey patty;  eschew meat?  Try the grilled cheese.

The Company Burger is located uptown, and open every day at 11 AM, except Tuesday when they take a break.

Full menu.


Company Burger New Orleans Review

Onion Ring Stack


Company Burger New Orleans Review

Classic Company Burger




The Company Burger on Urbanspoon
The Company Burger Review

Tru Burger Review – New Orleans

Tru Burger New Orleans ReviewYou can walk down a few block street of Oak Street in New Orleans and find almost any type of cuisine your little heart desires.  But if you pass by Tru Burger, you’re missing a great experience.

With fresh ground in house quality beef, a choice of meat or veggie patties plus occasional special offerings and Zweigle Beef Hot Dogs, Tru Burger has a lot going for it in a city (now) rich in quality burger offerings.  Until this raft of new burger places openings, locals favored a pitiful outlet on the east border of the Quarter, whose real claim to fame was serving an oversized baked potato (WTF?) with their burgers.  Never impressive, IMHO.

I went to Tru in search of a Zweigle, as I have had them at the source.  (They are from Rochester, New York).  I lived with a vegetarian woman in Paris, and we visited her home town in upstate New York, and she insisted on having mom get and prepare the local favorite Zweigle White Hot, a white hot dog in a natural casing.  They were also available at a local joint where I lived in Portland, Oregon, and Zweigles makes a high quality dog.

Alas, the only dog option at Tru Burger was a skinless, and I’m a natural casing snob, so I ordered a burger.   It took awhile to cook, but that’s OK. Burgers are served with “Tru Sauce”, pickles and raw onion.

When I am trying a new place (to me), I go with “as plain as possible” to get a true feeling for the individual ingredients.  At Tru, you can add American, Swiss or Cheddar for 50 cents  (I wish pimento cheese, a local favorite, was an option), as well as other condiments.  The pickles are bread and butter, and I’m not really a fan, (preferring dill), but I know folks in the south like B&B pickles for the sweet factor.

Additional options include a fried egg, sausage patty, bacon, avocado and chili.  Rest of the menu is over here ….. not there, here.

Tru is one of several places in New Orleans buying burger meat from Creekstone Farms, a Kansas beef purveyor, who I think now makes the finest burger meat in all the land.

New Orleans has a number of great burger places now, and Tru deserves a spot on that list.  If you’re a visitor to the Crescent City, take the St Charles street car from the Quarter to Oak Street, and walk a few steps towards the river to hit the Tru.  Check out their menu here.

Tru Burger New Orleans Review

Tru Burger New Orleans Review


Truburger on Urbanspoon
Tru Burger Review

Cincinnati, OH – Senate Pub Review

Senate Cincinnati Review

Bar Tables

(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 Cincinnati

Clockwise from left: The Lindsay Lohan, Truffle Fries, Duck Fat Fries, The Mexico City, The Trailer Park:


Senate Cincinnati

Pretzel Beignets w/Caramel Marscapone:

Senate on Urbanspoon


Senate Pub Review

DeLish Hot Dog Puffs

DeLish Hot Dog Puffs(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.

deLish hot dog pubbsInstructions 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



deLish Hot Dog Puffs

Out of the Oven – 32 Minutes













DeLish Hot Dog Puffs

The Varsity Reviews – Atlanta, GA

The Varsity AtlantaAlthough I had heard about it for years, in all the times I have been to , I had never made time to visit the Varsity. I was there last week, and oh, so many years wasted.

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.

The Varsity on Urbanspoon


varsity atlanta reviews

Nathans Frozen Onion Rings

Nathans Frozen Onion Rings ReviewI 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 Ring Review


Nathans Frozen Onion Ring Review

Baked and Plated










Nathans Frozen Onion Rings



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