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Survive Summer’s Dog Days With Haute Wieners at Huertas’ Hot Dog Window

Forget Greenmarket rarities — if you want to taste seasonality in action, eat a hot dog during summer. New Yorkers adore their frankfurters, whether plucked from vats of cloudy poaching water or graciously constructed with quality ingredients instead of the tornado of barnyard trimmings that standard tube steaks usually comprise. Starting with the meat cylinder–slinging immigrants of early-twentieth-century Coney Island, our city’s diverse, ever-expanding culinary identity has awarded its hungry denizens with all manner of hot dogs and toppings. This summer, chef Jonah Miller and manager Nate Adler of Huertas (107 First Avenue, 212-228-4490) have hedged their bets on a weekend to-go counter dealing in bun-bound sausages and frozen drinks.

Miller makes the chistorra links himself, something he’s done since Huertas opened in April 2014, serving them in bite-size pieces stuck with toothpicks as part of the restaurant’s menu of pintxos, or small, inexpensive nibbles. Before he and Adler did away with the back dining room’s $55 prix-fixe menu, he paired a lamb version with seared slices of lamb leg. But he didn’t start plunking the thin, garlic-and-paprika-packed sausages (made with pork now) into potato buns until the beginning of this year. And even then, they’ve remained a “secret” off-menu item. Now Adler and Miller have a cash register set up by one of the restaurant’s front windows to take advantage of the warmer weather. Sadly, it’s a limited operation, serving weekends only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The cheffy snack arrives layered with Basque-inspired condiments befitting the restaurant’s raison d’être. Generous squirts of garlicky aioli and sweet, relish-like piquillo pepper mostarda line the bun, and the whole thing bursts with spicy, porky unctuousness. Its flavors are clearly Spanish, yet the delightfully messy sandwich eats with an unmistakable American bravado. Consume it right there on the street with a cup of frozen horchata in hand, or take your bounty to a stoop nearby. Sure, an order of two sausages and a drink costs roughly three times as much as the recession special at Gray’s Papaya, but these puppies have serious bite backed by virtuous ingredients.

Sherry cobbler
Sherry cobbler

Huertas offers two kinds of slushes: one with alcohol and one without, both whirring away in their machines on top of the bar. Per Spanish tradition, the restaurant favors tiger nuts for its horchata, which give the drink a caramel color and toasted-almond flavor. Last week the nuts spoiled, so Adler switched to a peach creamsicle. Mixed deftly with prosecco for a frozen bellini, the frosty fruit beverage pulled its weight. The other machine held an icy sherry cobbler packing a boozy, fruity punch. And while all of the drinks go well with the frankfurters, you’ll have to stick to the virgin varieties if you plan on parading your meal around town. Both dogs and frozen drinks go for $6 each, or $10 for any combination of the two.

“We wanted to have some fun this summer,” Adler says. Mission accomplished.

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New Swedish-Style Hot Dogs at Aska in Williamsburg

You already know where to find the messiest hot dogs in New York, but one of the tastiest new dogs is hiding at Aska, a modern Scandinavian restaurant in Williamsburg, and the subject of this week’s review.

Fredrik Berselius, a young Swedish-born chef, runs Aska’s kitchen, serving refined $65 tasting menus by reservation in the back dining room (and a new $115 tasting on Friday and Saturday evenings), along with a number of more casual, unexpected cheap eats in the front — no reservation required.

The delicious “Swede Dog” ($5), for example, is served on a sheet of soft, house-made tunnbröd — a Swedish flatbread — with hot mashed potatoes, fried onions, brown mustard, and feathers of dill. Other dishes from the bar are in the $3-$14 range as well, and include excellent renditions of Swedish-inspired comfort food like potato dumplings stuffed with pork, potato soup with black radishes, and soft meatballs with lingonberries and mashed potatoes. My thoughts on this potato theme, and more of Aska’s eccentricities, are in the full review.

Aska, 90 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 718-388-2969

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NYC’s 7 Messiest Hot Dogs

Hoyt Dog: Your can barely get your lips around this baby

The Louisiana Purchase Exhibition of 1904 – more commonly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair – was supposedly the first time a hot dog was crammed into a bun. Before that time, hot dogs had been handed out with a pair of white gloves at such events as Chicago’s Columbia Exposition of 1893, so you could hold your weenie without greasing up your fingers.

Yes, the bun was invented to keep your hands clean, which is why it’s highly ironic that in the rush to make the humble hot dog a complete meal by piling on tons of gloppy ingredients, you can once again no longer eat a frank without making a gigantic mess.

Here are the worst culprits (or maybe we should say “best”), mess-wise, to be found in the city today.

7. Hoyt Dog at Mile End Sandwich (above) — It comes heaped with sauerkraut and a sticky pickled onion-mustard relish, so that you can’t even get your lips around this thing without spilling condiments in your lap. Must be eaten with a knife and fork. 53 Bond Street, 212-529-2990

6. Cheese Chili Dog at Papaya King — You may laugh at the assertion that this frank can’t be eaten with the hands, but remember the chili con carne and the “cheese” sauce are boilingly hot as they’re spooned on, and very liquid, too, so that the slightest tilt sends them shooting your way like lava out of a volcano. 179 East 86th Street, 212-369-0648

5. Hot Dog at Bark on the High Line — In good weather, the Brooklyn hot dog maven Bark — famous for brushing their wieners with smoked lard — mounts an outdoor operation, with a customizable frank that turns gloppy as the toppings multiply. Moreover, those toppings are irresistible (and free), so that any Bark frank purchased on the old railroad roadbed is going to be a giant mess.

4. Umami Dog at Japadog — Sneeze on this thing and bonito flakes fly all over the place. Tilt it and thick soy sauce and mayo drool out the ends. Put this on a flat surface, push back from the table, and eat it at a distance. 30 St. Marks Place, 646-476-2324

3. Amerro-Perro at Los Perros Locos — Believe it or not, this is the Colombian version of the American chili dog, featuring Fritos, chili con carne, and a mayo based sauce, and the only thing that keeps from it from ascending to number one, is that the chili is dry and not messy. You can almost eat this with your hands, except then you’ll be dusting greasy Frito fragments flecked with mayo off your lapels. 201 Allen Street, 212-473-1200

2. MegaDog at Hello Deli — Consider every aspect of this umkempt dog to be a threat: Onion, lettuce, bacon, french fry, even floppy yellow cheese can act as a missile to deliver a smear of ketchup or mustard to your outfit. This remarkably cheap construction is so messy, it was featured on the Letterman show. 213 West 53rd Street, 212-489-7832

1. Colombian Hot Dog at Los Chuzos y Algo Mas — The Colombian-style frank is the messiest hot dog in town, conventionally topped with crumbly white cheese, canned pineapple, potato sticks, and an ugodly trio of mustard, ketchup, and Russian dressing, squirted on in abundance. We challenge you to even just pick this contraption up without sending the toppings flying in all directions. Eat with a raincoat or wet suit on. 79-01 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens. 718-651-7709

Nothing better in the rain than a Colombian-style hot dog

Check out the My 5 Favorite archive

 

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Our 10 Best Restaurants Near Brookyn’s Barclays Center

The Velveeta double burger at No. 7 is perfect pre-sports fare.

One of the first impressions you’ll get of the Barclays Center is how stunning the exterior of the building is, and how proud you feel exiting the subway and seeking out the front doors. But once inside, you’ll find a cramped interior, nosebleed seats so close to each other you’ll be able to count your neighbor’s ear hairs, and a vending area that offers some beguiling choices, but few places to sit down and eat. (Believe us, it would be a dexterous and dangerous challenge to try to carry food to your seat.)

Accordingly, dine in the vicinity of the stadium in a relaxed atmosphere before entering the fray. Here are 10 commendable places to do so, some only a block away, some further, but all easily walkable.

10. No. 7 – This small restaurant with a charming bar up front has spawned a chain of nouvelle hero shops, but go to the source for some memorable Brooklyn farm-to-table cooking. Of course, there’s also the transgressive double-decker burger (top of the page): dense, gooey, and flavorful. From a choice of Swiss cheese or Velveeta, guess which we chose? 7 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-522-6370

9. Buffalo Boss – Want to buy into the Jay-Z mystique? Not only does he own a piece of the Barclays Center, he also owns this wing shop, and what could be better to fortify you for a sports event than wings? Not much seating, but who needs it? And you can get them just as hot as you want. 554 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718-624-BOSS

8. Not Ray’s Pizza – This old-timer resolutely resists “Famous Rays” and its ilk. No thick layer of polyethylene cheese, just a satisfying traditional plain cheese slice of the kind that’s harder and harder to find in this part of the borough. 690 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718-855-8206

7. Walter Foods – Branch of a respected gastropub in Williamsburg, Walter’s is closer to the stadium than you think, and you can dine there in a relatively relaxed fashion with views of Ft. Greene Park and the Prison Martyr’s Monument (look it up right now). Lots of agreeable bar snacks, including a version of L.A.’s famous roast beef French dip, with exemplary fries. 166 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-488-7800

6. Woodland – At newcomer and partial successor to the East Village’s Vandaag, there’s little Teutonic food to be had here, just nicely proportioned apps, mains, and bar munchies — which would make a pretty good meal by themselves, including fried baby artichokes, homemade bratwurst, and oysters raw or grilled. Show above: Riesling-braised rabbit with spatzle and lardons. 242 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-398-7700

5. Junior’s – What better place to unite the old and the new in Brooklyn than Junior’s and the Barclays Center? Of course, you must be careful what you order at this historic spot, which was founded in 1950 and looks it, with the snaking lunch counter and comfy, well-lit dining rooms. Any deli meats (including the darling pair of baby onion rolls with pastrami and corned beef, show above) are fab, or go with toasted cheese, burgers, or breakfasts. And then there’s the cheesecake. 386 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-852-5257

4. Pipitone’s – Longtime fave of Brooklyn Tech and Long Island University students, this Sicilian pizzeria offers the fairly rare “upside down” square Sicilian slice, in which the cheese is melted right next to the crust, and the slightly sweet tomato sauce poured over, with little shards of garlic and a sprinkle of parmesan. 100 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-858-4376

3. El Viejo Yayo – You don’t have to walk very far from the Barclays Center to visit this stately Dominican restaurant, which offers two competing dining rooms. One features a lunch counter and all the steam table stuff (roast pernil, paprika-dusted rotisserie chicken, hearty beef stew) that you dream of. The other is a white-tablecloth joint, where you can settle in and spend some time. 36 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-622-8922

2. Bark Hot Dogs – If you happen to be arriving on the IRT and decamping at Bergen, nothing could be more convenient than this hipster hot dog spot, where the proprietary weenies are brushed with smoked lard, and a whole passel of craft beers stand ready to be selected and quaffed, at much cheaper prices than inside the stadium, where the beer selection is generally abysmal. 474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, 718-789-1939

1. Chick P – The winner of this countdown is a meal that’s both serene and wholesome – perhaps standing in sharp contrast to the sports melee you’re about to witness. Chick P is a vegetarian Israeli spot that dishes up pungent salads, falafel, excellent hummus, and some egg dishes, as well. The prices are more than reasonable. And the $10 salad platter shown above is enough for two to share. Caution: limited seating. 490 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, 718-783-1525

 

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Like Frankfurters? Love Slayer? Groove to Tara Sinn’s Horror Dog II

California-born artist Tara Sinn — now a New Yorker — created this video involving a hot dog that never ends. The soundtrack is Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” Let the horror begin!

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Hot Dog Wrapped in a Fried Egg + a Whole Mess of Food From Crif Dogs, Dish #46

Welcome to 100 Dishes to Eat Now, the tasty countdown leading up to our “Best of 2012” issue. Tune in every day (weekends, too!) for a new dish from the Fork in the Road team.

Good Morning

Oh, the hot dog. Other than pizza, is there a better food to eat shamelessly? Crif Dogs, with its two respective locations in the East Village and Williamsburg, specializes in making you think it’s a good idea to take a bunch of crap, put it on a piece of meat, and shove it down your gullet. On a recent visit, I enjoyed the Good Morning, a treat that embraced the joys of breakfast food. Wrapped in bacon, cheese, and a fried egg, it’s definitely not a light meal. But pair that with a $3 PBR, some tater tots, and a beautiful date, and it’s a fun spot to throw all foodie-aspirations out the window, and just eat some good ol’ disgusting (but in the best way) American food.

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Gray’s Papaya Caves on Condiments, Expands Repertoire

Of the two condiments on this delicious hot dog, one is a recent addition to the roster.

Long-time Greenwich Village landmark Gray’s Papaya began life as a renegade branch of Papaya King in 1973. But though Papaya King, founded 1937, has evolved somewhat over the years in its menu, Gray’s always kept it more bare bones, offering only franks dressed with onions, kraut, ketchup, and mustard, or any combination thereof, offered in an expanse of chrome and yellow tile.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the blindingly bright interior beckons.

In the austerity of its offerings, Gray’s never failed to ignite a nostalgic spark in the frank eater. Imitators like Papaya Dog peddle hamburgers, fries, fish sandwiches, and corn dogs, but Gray’s remained true to its origins for nearly 40 years, like one of the great stately hot doggeries of New Jersey. (Boulevard Drinks of Jersey City springs to mind.)

But Gray’s — whose mainly Filipino staff is stately in the execution of their duties — has been updating lately. First, dollar slices of pizza appeared at a newly formed counter in the rear, displacing slightly the giant pump plastic jars of ketchup and mustard.

Just recently, the place expanded its list of condiments, adding three new ones to the original four: molten cheese-like substance, emphatically canned chili con carne, and — odd man out — green pickle relish. Not as green as the pickle relish on a Chicago Red Hot, but green nonetheless. And achingly sweet.

The new condiments sit athwart the griddle at Gray’s Papaya.

The new chili-cheese dog at Gray’s Papaya looks like any other chili-cheese dog in town.

Pickle relish is actually the condiment I’ve been craving, the one I’ve used with mustard since being a kid. So nice to have it now with the all-beef, natural-skin frank purveyed at Gray’s. The one that pops when you bite it.

I tried the other two new toppings, too. Nothing compelling, but just about average for a hot dog stand, where ramping up the fat content is a preoccupation with any meal.

Still sad to have an ancient institution cave in to commercial pressures to attract a new clientele, for whom a frankfurter without chili and cheese is unthinkable.

Gray’s Papaya
402 Sixth Avenue
212-260-3532

 

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Unhappy With the Shape of Your Hamburger? Or the Taste of Your Hot Dog?

If you want a hot dog, why don’t you just eat a hot dog?

See More Annals of Absurdity: Rats for Dinner: Don’t Worry, They’re Gourmet

Nobody, it seems, is happy with how things taste or what they look like anymore. Here are two cases in point. From Herr’s – the supposedly old-fashioned chipper founded in 1946 in Lancaster, PA, and famous for the retro taste of its products – a bag of potato chips that’s supposed to taste like hot dogs.

Like other manufacturers, they’ve gone off the deep end with their flavors lately, proving that in a mature market, you have to diversify to chase ever narrower purchaser demographics. As such, here are some of the newer flavors introduced over the last couple of years by Herr’s: Creamy Dill Pickle, Baby Back Ribs, Old Bay, Fireman’s BBQ Chicken, Cheddar Horseradish – in addition to Hot Dog flavor. While we can’t get our hands on a bag, you can only imagine what rancid and greasy flavor notes are used to produce this flawed result.

Apparently, Snyder’s of Hanover, 7-Eleven, and Shearer’s have already rolled out their own version of hot-dog flavored chips.

Are there folks who love hot dogs so much, that everything they eat has to remind them of frankfurters? Maybe so — take a peek at another product we ran across lately. As reported by Incredible Things [via Technabob], there’s a new kitchen gadget that shapes ground meat into hot dogs. Called the Ham Dogger, it’s apparently available from Amazon. Once you’ve shaped the “wiener” from the ground meat of your choice, you simple cook it on the griddle or in a fry pan and serve it in a bun with the usual condiments.

But the first thing your friends are going to ask when they bite into one, is “Where’s the skin?”

It can double as a mold for steak tartare.

Other discourses on potato chips in FiTR:

Battle of the Weird-Ass British Potato Chips

Marmite Potato Chips — Do They Suck or What?

Magic Masala: Lay’s Potato Chips From India

Tyrrell’s Salt Marsh Lamb & Mint Potato Chips

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Is This New York’s Most Expensive [Normal] Hot Dog?

Get this baby at Epicerie Boulud.

Google “New York’s Most Expensive Hot Dog,” and you will get hits for all sorts of absurdities: franks topped with truffles, gold flakes, caviar, and all sorts of luxe ingredients that nobody would want to waste on a dog, topping out at $1501. Even the $69 dog at Serendipity 3 is loaded down with truffle butter, truffle oil, foie gras, and heirloom tomato ketchup. Ridiculous! No, what Fork in the Road was looking for was the most expensive hot dog that still reads and tastes like a hot dog. We found it at Daniel Boulud’s Epicerie Boulud up near Lincoln Center.

Why would the city’s most famous French chef bother with a street snack? Well, it must have been something of a challenge, since his Epicerie Boulud specializes in charcuterie as a walk-in offshoot of adjacent Bar Boulud, a bistro famous for its cured meats.

And there at a counter of the open-air space is one of those contraptions you used to see in movie theaters, with sausages rolling between gleaming metal cylinders. And one of those is an outsize hot dog, which sells for $7.50 plus tax. Pricey, right? Especially since you could get from three to seven street dogs at the same price.

The thing comes on a bun of great character slicked with DBGB sauce (a species of flavored mayo), 299 Relish (pickled vegetables, some sweet, some sour), and sauteed onions. The volume of of the weenie is approximately twice what you get in a normal frank, and the taste is spectacular. Moreover, eat one and you’ll feel like you’ve had an entire meal. So, maybe Dog Boulud is worth it.

Epicerie Boulud
1900 Broadway
212-595-9606

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Introducing the Onion Crunch Dog

Egad! What’s that on my Shofar kosher frank?

[See More Flash in the Pan: Burger King’s Bacon Sundae Revealed]

You figure the formula used for street dogs has been the same for hundreds of years, right? An overboiled frank, squirt of grainy mustard, and steaming forkful of kraut or suspiciously mahogany (canned) onions. What could be added?

]

The phenomenon even has a website: onioncrunch.com

Well recently, a cart on the southwestern corner of Union Square started selling a so-called crunch dog — a wiener with nothing else on it but a heap of crisp fried onion chips, and no other condiments unless you demand them.

The onions are shaken from a jar in a rather generous portion, and the hot dog guy acts like he’s giving you something really special. The condiment seems to be distributed by the Sabrett people, who also make the “sauteed” (canned) onions, sauerkraut, and mustard that the guy’s using on the kosher Shofar franks (take a look, the hot in the picture is not a Sabrett).

Oh, and the cart is halal, in a stroke of genius ecumenicalism.

Would I get the frank prepared this way again? Probably not. The traditional condiments are just fine with me.

The cart that sells the crunch dog — there may be more!

Next: All is revealed in a rarely viewed Youtube of the phenomenon.

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