Boars Head Hot Dogs Review

Boars Head Franks ReviewIt’s “hot dog week” for me, here in the middle of “National Hot Dog Month,” and in advance of “National Hot Dog Day.”

Well, I don’t need an official designation to celebrate hot dogs, I love them and they are a part of my regular “diet.”

I’m especially fond of natural casing dogs, unfortunately, most of America isn’t, NC’s make up less than five percent of the hot dogs sold in the country.

Especially an all beef dog, with minimal additives and preservatives, that’s the ticket.

Today I’m having Boar’s Head weenies, a company that started in the early 1900s in Brooklyn, and is now a national manufacturer and distributor of real size, sell sausages, deli meat, cheese, and condiments.

The Boar’s Head dog ingredient list is short: beef, water, paprika, salts, flavorings in a sheep casing. Perfect.

Around here, they are about $7.50 a pound, or a buck a dog, and that seems to be the price point for most quality NC dogs.

Boar’s Head I can depend on and purchase almost anywhere in the country. When I’m in the Midwest, I like one from a brand called “Old Wisconsin,” and of course, the legendary Chicago manufacturer, Vienna Beef.

Have a dog or ten to celebrate the month and grillin’ season!  Boar’s Head are manufactured in their plant at Jarratt, VA, USDA establishment number M12612, pictured below.  Jarratt is on I-95, about 40 miles south of Richmond.

Boars Head Franks Review

Boar’s Head Virginia Plant






Boars Head Hot Dogs Review

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National Hot Dog Month

July is National Hot Dog Month, and we’re knee deep into the middle of the “hot dog season” in America.  The 4th holiday is one of our peak dog days. So here’s the poop on America’s favorite (and most portable) food!

Top Hot Dog Consuming Cities 2014

  • Los Angeles Hot Dog Consumption Statistics
  • New York
  • Atlanta
  • Philadelphia
  • Chicago
  • Birmingham
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Francisco

Los Angeles residents consume more hot dogs than any other city (more than 39 million), beating out New York and Atlanta.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport consumes SIX times more hot dogs, 725,000 more than Los Angeles International Airport and LaGuardia Airport combined.

On Independence Day, Americans will enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. more than five times.

During peak hot dog season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs. That’s 818 hot dogs consumed every second during that period.

Los Angeles Dodger fans are expected to consume a record 3,077,537 in 2014. Across the major leagues, fans are expected to eat 21.4 million hot dogs in 2014.

At the Grocery Store

According to data for the year 2014, nearly 1 billion packages of hot dogs were sold at retail stores. That number represents more than $2.5 billion in retail sales.

Baseball Games

According to the National Hot Dog Council’s (yes, there is one)  2014 survey of hot dog and sausage consumption at major league ballparks in the United States, ballparks are expected to sell 21,357,361 hot dogs this season.

The Season

Hot dog producers estimate that an average of 38 percent or $614 million of the total number of hot dogs are sold during the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Ten percent of annual retail hot dog sales occur during July,

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Duluth Huskies Baseball, Hot Dogs, and an Arco Coffee Can (1 pound)

Duluth Huskies(Pay attention here, cause I am going to veer wildly off topic!)

My brother went to a baseball game last night (along with 700 other hearty souls), the Duluth Huskies, a team in the summer collegiate league; the game was held at Wade Stadium in West Duluth, which seats 4200, and was built as a WPA project with over 300,000 bricks that another WPA project had produced by stripping brick paved streets in Duluth.  Relevant to nothing, it was 45 degrees during the game.

From the early 1930s through the 90s, Wade Stadium was home to various versions of the “Duluth Dukes,” a single A team at time affiliated with the Cardinals, Tigers, Cubs, or White Sox over the years.

Twelve players from the 1968 Detroit Tigers World Series championship team played for the Duluth-Superior Dukes of the 1960s, including Denny McLain, Bill Freehan, Willie Horton, and John Hiller.

McLain was playing for the ’66 Dukes, when my grandfather took  a bunch of us grand kids to a game on the night of July 3. Some of my siblings and cousins were in attendance, but I don’t remember my brother being there, of course at that time, he was old enough to be far too cool to do family stuff.

My grandfather, an immigrant, whose motto was “live every day until you die,” did. A snuff user, he used to have a 1 pound empty Arco coffee can on the dash or floor of his Oldsmobile, which served as a handy spittoon.  I don’t remember much about the game, or the night, except the next morning, learning that my grandfather had passed in his sleep.

The Huskies have local owners these days, including a gentleman named Mike Rosenzweig, a guy who I have a shared history with:  in seventh grade, he, I and two other guys suffered the humiliation of being dressed in leiderhosen and appearing as a German “Oom-pah-pah” band at the junior hight “talent show” at the insistence of a sadistic band instructor.  An experience I am sure we would all like to put behind us.

I can’t say what it’s like to own a summer collegiate baseball team, but if you ever get a chance to invest in an A, AA, or AAA team affiliated with one of the majors, grab it – it’s a fabulous revenue model, unequaled in any industry I know of.

But back on the  topic of this site.  My brother and his group enjoyed a bevy of traditional baseball treats at the game, at minor league prices – a hot dog ($3.25), bratwurst ($4.75), pretzel ($3.00), popcorn,  peanuts, cracker jacks, and Swedish Fish ?! ($3.00) — and a good time was had by all.  (Except I have no idea who would put ketchup on a bratwurst!).

And by the way?  Last night, the Huskies came from behind, and topped Thunder Bay, 4-3.

Duluth Huskies

Duluth Huskies

Duluth Huskies

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 at 4600 Freret uptown, and open every day at 11 AM, except Tuesday when they take a break.  December 2015 update, a 2nd location is now serving downtown at Girod and Rampart, open every day at 11 AM.

Full menu.


The Company Burger Review New Orleans

Onion Ring Stack


The Company Burger Review New Orleans

Classic Company Burger

The Company Burger on Urbanspoon
The Company Burger Review

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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

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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

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