Hot Dogs, Get Your Hot Dogs Here!

Of course you need to say this with a Bostonian accent to get the real flavor of what’s so great about the hot dog. Although we think of hot dogs as a summer food, even in the winter I enjoy a good hot dog. Although I associate beer, more so than wine, as the beverage of choice when consuming a hot dog I’m sure we can come up with a few wines that will suffice. But first let’s talk famous hot dogs, not just your ordinary run of the mill packaged hot dog, but by some of the more notable hot dog establishments. Let’s see how many of them you have been to. I’ve been to a few but wish I could get to ’em all someday.

First, let’s talk ballparks for the great hot dog experience. I’ve heard of three places where you need to go to enjoy a ball park frank. One is Dodger Stadium – I’ve been told these are some if not the best ball park franks. I couldn’t tell you as I have not been there but the results come from reliable people I know. Next is the hot dog at Wrigley Field. If it’s anything like the Chicago style hot dog we’re onto something. And lastly, the Fenway Frank. Now this I can attest that they are the best ballpark franks. I have tried hot dogs from Fenway, the old Jacobs Field in Cleveland and Yankee Stadium. So, my repertoire of ballpark franks is limited, many have commented that the Fenway Frank is the best. Though I am a Yankee fan my hats off to the Fenway Frank. What’s your best ballpark frank?

Now, famous hot dog eateries around the country.

First up is Pink’s in Hollywood. I’ve been by it but never stopped in. When my son lived there for eight years he did frequent it a couple of times. He said it was an okay hot dog but that they did have a plethora of ways to eat the hot dog. You can check out their menu at www.pinkshollywood.com and take a look see at their menu.

Next we take you to Atlanta. What’ll Ya Have? What’ll Ya Have? Those are the famous words spoken at the Varsity as you enter the eatery (I haven’t been here yet, but this is what I saw on the Food Channel). They also have the world’s largest drive-in. They have the naked dog, the chili dog, the heavy dog, the cheese dog, the slaw dog, the chili slaw dog, the chili cheese dog, and the chili cheese slaw dog. Now that’s a mouthful! And they serve a gazillion people a year. Some of their employees have worked there for over fifty years. Wow! Next time I’m in Atlanta I’ll have to stop by. Check them out at www.thevarsity.com

Next is Nathan’s Coney Island. Home of the hot dog eating contest. Their hot dogs come with toppings of chili, cheese, chili and cheese, sauerkraut, red onions, and salsa. I’ve never been here but must try this one as I am fairly close. They boast the best corn dog in the country. Go to www.nathansfamous.com

Next is a novel place to see. Although I have not eaten here I did drive by it coming back from New Mexico. It’s the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand in Bailey, Colorado. It’s shaped like a hot dog in a bun. You can view a picture of it at the following website. www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/1532

In Denver, Mustard’s Last Stand you can get a real good hot dog. Yes, I have been here and I can attest to the greatness of their hot dogs. They have a whole bunch (remember my definition of bunch?) like the Chicago style, the Mork, the Reuben, the Discovery, the Yankee dog, the Boston Dawg, the Spudtacular, the Meathead, and the Cowboy to name a few. What did I get – the Yankee dog of course along with the Chicago style hot dog. You can’t just have one. You can view their locations/menu at www.mustardsinc.com

Jimmy Buff’s in New Jersey is unique in that they serve Italian style sausages in an Italian style bread loaded with delectable looking food. This sounds like a road trip to me. Check out their website at www.jimmybuff.com

For a healthy style dog look at Franktitude in Miami. You can get a salmon, turkey or veggie hot dog with a multitude of toppings. I think I’d like to at least try this place. Another road trip perhaps? see their food choices at www.franktitude.com

Now Chicago, I have found, is the hot dog capital of the world. Three notable spots are Superdawgs, Hot Doug’s, and Portillos. I’ve been to the last two.

First Superdawgs. They don’t call it a hot dog but a Superdawg. They only show the Superdawg with all the trimmings but will make you the Superdawg any way you want it except they won’t put ketchup on it, they’ll give you a packet of ketchup but they won’t put it on the Superdawg. go to www.superdawg.com

Next is Portillos. I got the chili dog and the jumbo hot dog. They were scrumptious. And good for ya too! See them at www.portillos.com

My favorite hot dog place is Hot Doug’s, the Encased Meats Emporium and Sausage Superstore. You have to go to their website at www.hotdougs.com to view their fare. I had the Dog with all the trimmings and the Frankie “Five Angels” Pentangeli. I think I’m hot dogged out. Can’t wait to go back. What are your favorite hod dog eateries?

Okay, here are some wines that “might” go with a hot dog – you decide.

Campo de Borja 2008 Vina Borgia. Made from the grenache grapes and bottled by Bodegas Borsao S.A. Floral aromas preceded black raspberry and cassis flavors with a sweeter boysenberry finish, more like boysenberry jelly than boysenberry jam. Know what I mean? I’ve had this with a hot dog and it was pretty good. $5.99, 85 rating.

Ravenswood 2002 Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel. A few of us were around the supper table and opened this. We found tobacco, clove, and pepper on the nose. Others found it to be earthy with mineral undertones. Black cherry, spice, and pepper flavors followed the aromas and it portrayed a slight mocha finish. My wife says it “stinks” (I think she is referring to the earthy tones – like dirt) and it tastes like “cough drops” but I like it. Thank goodness for pure and simple wine critiques. $16.99, 89 rating.

Beringer 2001 Clear Lake Zinfandel. Bing cherry, clove, tobacco, and bacon aromas aroused the nose while black cherry and clove flavors danced on the palate. A fruity smooth finish rounded out this wine. $11.99, 85 rating.

What could be better than enjoying these wines with the great American hot dog?

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

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The Mark Of Zorro

No, this is not a movie review…

Okay, white wine drinkers, give us red wine drinkers, lovers, and winos our due. Yours will be in an upcoming post. Before we get started on Spanish wines I had two aunts from our Northern Neighbors come to visit recently and one of them brought up the time she was blamed for writing “Zorro” countless times on the bedroom walls with bold colored crayons. Seems that on a particular weekend my aunt, at the time was 19 and was babysitting for me while the parents went out to paint the town. Well, the story goes that my father went in to work that next Monday and told his co-workers that his sister-in-law (my great Aunt D) wrote a plethora of “Zorro’ s” on my bedroom wall. His co-workers thought this was odd as well, I mean, what 19 year old would be so inconsiderate of someone’s home? Come to find out (not sure if my father ever found this out or not) but at the age of 7 or 8, Zorro was my childhood hero. Hmm, did my aunt take the fall for me? Just think all this happened before my crush on Hayley Mills and the British Invasion from whence we discovered The Beatles et al.

Okay, here are some Spanish wines in memory of the legend of Zorro. Yeah, I know it’s a Mexican folklore, but it’s as close as I could muster as I do not know anything of Mexican wines.

Fuga 2008 Ribeira Sacra Mencia. This wine was made from the Mencia grape located in the Ribeira Sacra region of Spain where the climate is cool and dry and upon opening this wine it portrays a medium body with a ruby red color. Plums, raisins, earthy herbal notes with a hint of pepper hit the nose in harmony where one aroma does not overpower another, a very good balance. Raspberry and strawberry flavors gently caress the palate leaving a delicate finish with very faint nuances of blueberry and grated European chocolate. This reminds me an awful lot like a Cabernet Franc. I paired this with an onion thin crust pizza and was mildly surprised as I have only found Zinfandel’s seem to go with pizza. Goes to show ‘ya that you can learn something new everyday. I also had this the next day and enjoyed this more as a stand alone wine hence I bumped this up 1 rating point. $9.99, 88 rating.

I’m really starting to like Spanish wines, what about you??

Fuego 2008 Old Vines Granacha. Aromas of sweet plums and a hint of cherry lead into tart raspberry and mocha flavors with a peppery finish, probably white pepper more so than black pepper. I had this as a stand alone wine and the $8.99 price tag yielded an 88 rating.

Okay, two Spanish wines delectably exhibiting raspberry and mocha nuances (goodness, are there any better flavors?) at an 88 rating all under $10. Cousin Carl, does this fall into your low priced red wine category? My only regret is that it has taken me sooooooooo long to discover Spanish wines.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….

‘Twas The Night Before…

I purchased another case of wine to experiment on for the next couple of weeks. Yes, six bottles were the Camille Cayran Secret de Campane as I said I would buy up all the wine merchant had. Well, I was going to when someone was looking for a decent wine that wasn’t too expensive so I relented and let them know of this wine (I must be getting soft in my old age). Although I could not find The Flying Winemaker Tempranillo I was able to locate their Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m curious to see if it compares well to the Tempranillo.  Anyway, let’s get back to the wine reviews to see if we get tricked or treated with the following wine reviews. Seeing as Halloween has just passed, you may be surprised that chocolate goes well with just about any type of wine. But, I think you knew that already. So, get your pillowcase ready for all those treats. And this post has nothing to do with Christmas so don’t be looking for any gifts just yet.

Trapiche 2008 Oak Cask Malbec found plum, raisin, and blueberry aromas while cassis and pepper dominated the flavor. This wine finished with blueberry and clove nuances. With a $9.99 price tag and a 79 rating, so this wine falls in the Cousin Carl’s low priced reds category. Just a quick note that anything I rate over 75 I would more than likely stock this in my personal wine cellar. I didn’t pair this with any food but would surmise a guess that it will go well with grilled meats, lasagna, other pasta dishes and any other dish you may challenge yourself to create.

Fabla 2008 Calatayud Garnacha. A deep red-purple color yielded blackberry fruits with a hint of clove and mint julep. Wild, tart strawberry flavor with chocolate mousse nuances left a subtle finish with hints of chilled, tart blueberries. Pair this with chicken roll-ups (which is a combination of boneless chicken breast, provolone cheese, and prosciutto di parma). The chicken roll-ups were attended harmoniously by fresh green beans, mushroom risotto, and fresh tomato topped with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. Italian star bread rounded out the starches for this meal. I also had this wine afterward as a stand-alone wine and it was as good as it was with the meal, maybe even a little better. $7.99 yielded an 88 rating. A definite keeper for the wine cellar. And yes, this falls into Cousin Carl’s low priced reds category. What would we do without Cousin Carl? Should we dedicate a post to Cousin Carl’s low priced reds? You’re the voting public, tell me what you think.

I suppose we must get a white wine in for those that prefer this as opposed to us red wine lovers. Here goes…

Estancia 2007 Monterey County Pinnacles Ranches Chardonnay. This wine was gold in color which produced a pear/apple aroma with a hint of melon. The palate generated tropical fruits and delectable citrus flavors. A creamy toasted oak finish completed this wine. This was a stand alone wine but I’m convinced it will pair well with an array of food dishes you consider as favorite meals. $14.99 with an 87 rating would fit nicely into anyone’s wine cellar.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….