hot dogs: the NYC tour, or, Eat-a-Thon 2009!
Once every 50 years comes a blog entry so huge, so monumental, and so belly-extending, that no one man can write the post. In this very special episode, Mike and Alex, and guest starring Sam and Ali, eat their way from Queens to Brooklyn to Manhattan. There was so much eating, limiting the post to hot dogs would be an injustice. But there are many hot dogs. First stop: Citi Field!
Labor Day weekend. Mets vs. Cubs. Mets lost. Mike is happy. It was a beautiful day. 1,000 degrees in the sun, so we had to move over a few sections. Mike and a Mets fan chatted about blind spots on the field. Is Citi Field constructed well? You decide. But everyone is happy with encased meats at a ballgame!
Next stop after Citi Field was Beer Table in Park Slope, Brooklyn. This place is like a wine bar, but for beer. They had about 3 drafts available that day, and a large menu of bottles. I seem to remember that one was made with fermented rice that was harvested by prisoners in Italy. I mean, I’ve heard about prison wine, but this seemed to be legit. I (Alex) got a bottle of ginger beer, since I hate beer. This was particularly awesome and tasted like fresh ginger and soda.
I (Mike) was a bit more adventuresome and tasted the prison beer. It was delicious, but at $18 a pour, I was beginning to wonder if we were subsidizing the Italian prison system. The beer menu was very impressive, with the majority of beers coming from Europe, and the server was willing to let us taste any of the four beers on tap (which I did). I’d love to come back here next time I visit the A’s but would need to bring more money to support my tastes.
From there, the group went to dinner at my favorite burger joint, Bonnie’s Grill, but unfortunately we have no pictures of of the spiced black angus sirloin burgers. These are pretty spectacular burgers, and the wings are quite wonderful as well. It’s a bit of a 50’s modern-retro looking place; we sat at the counter behind the one guy grilling up everything. Old punk, rock, soul, and rockabilly are usually played over the soundsystem.
After dinner we hit up Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ices. The best ices. Tons of flavors you would usually not associate with ices, like peanut butter chocolate chip, cannoli, creamsicle, root beer, etc. Mike and Sam are won over. (Sam keeps talking about opening an Uncle Louie G’s franchise in Boston) Thus ends Day 1.
Day 2 began as most weekends do in Brooklyn–late and with the participants a little hung over. After an easy morning spent lounging in our underwear, we split our party in twain as Mike & Alex decided it was a little late to begin with breakfast. These he-men of the hot dog world could only begin their day with one thing: encased pig meat.
Alex & I had a plan for that day that the women just couldn’t jive with: beer, hot dogs, beer, Vietnamese sandwiches, bourbon, then more hot dogs. Sounds like the perfect day, right? Hells yeah!
We started at Bark Hot Dogs, a short walk from Alex’s apartment and one of the newest hot dog stands in NYC; it could easily be considered an artisan hot dog stand, serving dogs cooked in lard & butter alongside craft beer. Figuring that it would be easier to start the day by fooling myself (and my stomach) into thinking that hot dogs can be considered breakfast food, I ordered a chorizo breakfast sandwich to go with my chili cheese hot dog and Sixpoint Craft Ales pale ale. Hey, it was something like 12:01, so there’s nothing wrong with beer for breakfast . . . .
The chorizo breakfast sandwich was my favorite, an egg atop a heaping of shredded lettuce, avocado and fried chorizo, served on an english muffin. The chorizo fat soaked into the english muffin, the perfect cure for a hangover. The hot dog itself was smoky and easily the best part of the combo; the toppings were just a little too fancy for me. I prefer on my chili dog chopped white, not red, onions and the chili was too heavily spiced with what I believe were chipotles. That said, I don’t think it was a bad dog, just a dog that reached a little too far, and I believe that the chorizo breakfast sandwich shows how good their creations are.
After Sam & Ali made their appearance, we again split into two groups. Since we had to digest breakfast before moving along to Vietnamese sammiches, Alex & I made a detour to another pub so we could sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we were having on Labor Day. While resting ourselves we got to speak with the bartender who was reading some book on how to enjoy sex–I figured that’s the kind of thing you don’t need a book to tell you to do, but hey, whatever. Maybe she was just trying to advertise . . . .
After discussing the finer points of love-making over pints of ale and cider, Alex and I took a long walk to Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches in Brooklyn. We’ve been trying to make time enough to go there, but the ladies are never interested enough to take a half-hour walk for the best Banh Mi in New York. Alex introduced me to these porky delights a few years ago on a previous trip, I believe that time we had stopped by a place near the Village but he might correct me on that. Either way, Vietnamese Sandwiches are freaking amazing and if you haven’t tried one, you absolutely need to. Imagine the most delicious french baguette with a beautifully crunch crust and light-as-air bread, and add to it a heavenly trio of pork–pork pate, Vietnamese ham, and roasted ground pork–sprigs of cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumber, slivers of jalapenos, and mayo. Just to make sure I don’t leave without finishing my mango juice, I add a healthy amount of Sriracha to my sandwich.
So you’d think we’d be full after all this, right? I mean, at that point it was only three in the afternoon and we were already a little tipsy off of pork and alcohol. Well, if you thought that you’d be wrong!
For one thing, we were no where near drunk enough. After taking the train into Manhattan we set off to find New York Hot Dog & Coffee, a stand in the West Village that Alex had heard about serving Korean food atop a hot dog. Who’s to argue with putting bulgogi and kimchi on a hot dog? Before we went for another round of pork, however, Alex and I had to steel ourselves with bourbon.
I think the draw for this stand is their cafeteria-like display of plastic hot dogs that draws you in off the street. I’ve never seen a green hot dog before, or at least an edible one, so when I saw that several of their fake hot dogs were green I’ll admit it piqued my interest. Unfortunately it was all a gigantic tease; their hot dogs were all the run-of-the-mill pink types (beef, I believe).
Now this may seem one of two ways to you guys, but I’ll admit that Alex and I shared a hot dog. It’s something I never intended to go when the day began, but our significant others had made the “we’re bored and you need to come home” phone call while Alex and I were tippling in the bar. We were making our way back to meet the ladies and walked past the hot dog stand. With tears in our eyes, Alex and I were ready to admit defeat and continue walking past. Liquid courage won over fear of womanly retribution at our intransigence, and we bravely marched in and ordered one bulgogi hot dog. Sitting down in their odd bubble room in the back, Alex gingerly sawed the dog in twain while I nervously glanced about, worried that our state of satiation–forcing us to split the dog–might be mistaken for a date. After the first bite of the bulgogi and kimchi hot dog, I had two regrets: first, that I would just be eating half of the dog; and second, that eating a whole one would result in its immediate regurgitation. Not knowing what to expect I was blown away by the dog: the bulgogi was sweet and spicy, the kimchi had a sour bite, the beef dog had a smoky flavour, and the bun was light and airy.
After drunkenly stumbling back to Chelsea and the hotel Sam & I were staying in, Alex and I parted ways. I don’t think it was because he had anywhere to be, really–it was, after all, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and the bon temps could have kept on roulez. My bet is that he couldn’t stand the idea of what Sam & I were going to do after they left: see, there’s this really great Thai place in Chelsea that I wanted to eat dinner at . . . .