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The Prodigal Hot Dog Blogger Returns

March 7, 2014
by

So I’m sure all of you guys have been like “where’s Mike and why isn’t he showing me any pictures of wieners?”

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The Great Michael Kupperman strikes again!

Oh yes, I’ll take it there.

So I’ve been busy.  Yes, busy.  What’s it to you?  I’ve actually taken a turn away from hot dogs over the summer (egads!) and have honed my skills at smoking BBQ.  Two years ago, when it was a nice day out, I’d pile the dog into the car and head out to god-knows-where in search of a great hot dog.  This past year found me grabbing a rack of ribs and some hickory chunks instead . . . .

Well, perhaps I’m being a little disingenuous. I have been going to some great dog joints this past year and I’ll highlight a few for you in what hopefully shouldn’t be an over-long post.  But first, allow me to introduce you to our newest contributor.  Luddies and gennemen, this blogger’s gonna be a father . . . .IMG_2779

And now that you know why I’ll be incommunicado for another six months, let’s get down to bidniz!

Archie’s on a Roll in Marlborough is one of the great hot dog wagons operating in Massachusetts, imho, and I’ve regrettably only been able to visit just the once.  It’s got everything you could hope for in a hot dog truck: a kind, knowledgeable owner who loves talking about dogs; excellent regional hot dogs; and a loyal clientele.

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Archie (or so I’m assuming, since I didn’t ask the owner’s name) told me a great story of growing up as a young man in Toronto and having the amazing coney-style hot dogs that have made their way up from Michigan (and maybe Indiana).  He calls it a chili dog but I think that’s just for the sake of his Massachusetts customers who typically aren’t familiar with coneys.  He specializes in these delectable treats, which have a sweet and savory meat sauce topping combined with yellow mustard and raw white onions.  Honestly, I was in heaven because I haven’t had a coney this good since leaving home in Indiana.  Absolute perfection in his execution where the sauce played a significant part but didn’t get in the way of the pork flavor of the hot dog.

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With the two coneys I opted for a slaw dog, which had a spicy cayenne kick topping them.  Think deviled egg and a hot dog making love in your mouth and that’s the amazing experience you get.  Absolutely worth a trip to Marlborough, even if you live in the Boston area like I do.

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The next hot dog stop was for the very zeitgeist-y (in the world of hot dogs, at least) Sonoran dog.  Lately the Boston-area has been deluged by restaurants offering their take on the southwestern specialty but there’s one joint that’s been excelling at it.

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John S. (who, with Alex, has been picking up my slack on the blog this past year) sent me an email in the Spring of last year saying he had heard of a place in East Boston that specialized in Sonoran dogs.  Being the hot dog gladiator that he is, when I suggested a group outing he drove from over an hour away and, with his trusty comapanion Boy, joined forces with me take on this amazing hot dog.

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The Sonoran dog at Que Padre was the first I’ve had and I’m nearly positive is the best I’ll taste in the Boston area.  The restaurant specializes in Bolivian and Mexican food in addition to the Sonoran dog and was the hole-in-the-wall kind of place that’s constantly hopping not only because they’re popular but because they’ve only got space enough for fifteen people seated cheek-to-jowl.

So the hot dog: while four guys were waiting for their dogs to be cooked, the staff kept constantly apologizing for how long it was taking–but that wasn’t more than 10 minutes or so.  I’m guessing that they’re met with people who don’t understand that it takes a bacon-wrapped hot dog, properly cooked so you don’t end up with a limp length of bacon fat hugging a lukewarm dog, longer than 30 seconds to come out of the kitchen.

The sweet bun that the crispy bacon-wrapped dog nestled in was topped with a plethora (Jefe, what is a plethora?) of pinto beans, diced onions and tomatoes, jalapeno sauce, mustard, mayo, and (yes,  believe it) ketchup.  Eat your hearts out, suckas.

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Later in the year my wife Samantha and I found ourselves out on a California adventure, taking in the sights and sounds of San Francisco and hiking in Yosemite.  While there I took the opportunity to visit what’s been billed as the original craft beer bar, Toronado, which is paired with the amazing Rosamunde Sausage Grill.

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Walking in to Rosamunde, it was like paying a visit to a scaled-down version of my favorite German sausage kitchen, Karl’s.  The case shows their daily offerings which are thrown on to the grill according to your heart’s desire.

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When I was ordering I quickly realized I was surrounded by craft beer fans who had migrated over from the bar next door, Toronado.  This is one of those great restaurants that not only benefits from having superior offerings but also from the symbiotic relationship it shares with the bar next door–you order your food and walk into Toronado, ready to soak up some alcohol with superior sausage.

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On the menu was duck sausage and I never pass on duck.  You’d be smart not to as well when visiting Rosamunde because this was the perfect blend of the fattiness that duck is so well known for with its robust game flavor.  When the cook asked me what toppings I wanted I deferred to his suggestion and–since he mentioned the duck was his favorite sausage as well–I got what may very well be the best sausage at Rosamunde.  A duck sausage topped with a sweet and incredibly spicy concoction of onions, carrots, and hot peppers.  Pair with a few pints of Pliny the Elder at Toronado and you’ve discovered my version of eternal bliss.

Now let’s take a moment to appreciate yours truly, Michael.  Yes, this was left for me (or one of the million other Michaels that live in the world) at my workplace.  I’d say it hits all the right notes.

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So, our next significant stop, and the last, in hot dog land took us to Vermont.  Honestly, it wasn’t hot dogs that took us to the great white north, but rather the delicious brew billed as Heady Topper.

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While visiting the Burlington area last month with our most excellent friends Hank and Ashley, we stumbled upon Handy’s Lunch, which had a huge banner in the window advertising Texas Hot Dogs.  Texas Hot Dogs in the snowy kingdom of Vermont?  Well, I had to try some . . . .

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Walking in, I noticed that the diner was filled but an absolute hush permeated the space.  For a moment I felt like Dusty Bottoms entering a Mexican cantina until I realized everyone was listening to the United States getting a red ass beat-down by Finland to take fourth place in Olympic hockey.

Regardless of what was going on in the hockey world, the patrons, the owner and the staff were quick to peel themselves away from the train wreck happening on the radio and talk dogs.  These guys were very proud of their sausages and rightly so.  Unlike a coney sauce, their Texas sauce was very dry, beefy and had a spiciness that snuck up on you at the end.  As you can see from the hot dog cross-section below, they split the dogs and cook them on the griddle top, making plenty of space for the Texas sauce to nestle in.  Along with the dog and sauce was a small amount of yellow mustard and red onion, just enough to make its presence known but not dominant.

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Sam and Ashley (Hank’s wife) always joke that Hank and I are sweet on each other.  I think this picture proves them wrong.

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And to end the post, a shot of Sam & I enduring the extremely cold wind blowing off Lake Champlain in Burlington.  This is the last time you’ll see us alone, after May you’ll get to meet our new contributor.  Happy New Year everyone, it’s great to be back!

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. John Fox permalink
    March 7, 2014 10:58 pm

    It would be nice if you could give the brand/source of the frank served, if it has a casing, if it’s all beef or beef/pork and how it is prepared. To the true hot dog connoiseur, these things are more important than toppings, cute nicknames, etc.

    • March 7, 2014 11:30 pm

      oh sweet jesus, everyone’s a critic. thanks for the welcome back john! i see that this is a popular gripe you make across the internet. if you took a moment and looked at my past posts (in addition to all of the contributors’ past posts) you’ll find that we’re quite passionate about hot dogs–and most times we detail the type of dog and how it is prepared. tell you what: come back and respond to this when you’ve written in an interesting manner at length about at least twenty different hot dog stands. even after you do that i’ll still tell you to chill out because a hot dog taken to the height of pretension is the most ridiculous thing in the world. i hope you have other things that make you happy beyond trolling websites that discuss hot dogs.

      • John Fox permalink
        March 8, 2014 8:35 pm

        Maybe you’re passionate, but you’re lacking in detailing what is important. Your March 7th post gave no info on the dog’s source, what it’s made of, how it’s prepared, casing, etc. Don’t you consider yourself a critic? Well you’re not very critical. I’ve reviewed over 100 hot dog stands for the Star Ledger in Jersey alone. Not to mention those in other states. I’ve been on several television shows, mentioned in 3 books on hot dogs, and have been the subject of a feature article in the New York Times as well as other newspapers. I also have a Facebook page and run a popular hot dog tour. As far as taking a hot dog to the ” height of pretension”, I would say that it’s people like you who put the emphasis on trendy toppings and cute nicknames that make a simple unpretentious food appear to be pretentious. If you are so thin skinned that you can’t take a little constructive criticism, then maybe you shouldn’t voice your opinions or have a blog.

        • March 9, 2014 7:38 am

          Ah, I think I see the problem–you think I take this seriously. I’d ask you to consider that people may have different intentions than you. I’m doing this because I have fun visiting HDJs, eating, and writing about hot dogs and because other people seem to enjoy reading about hot dogs. I’m not trying to raise myself to a level of hot dog sommelier, just writing some observations about what I consider to be a quintessential American food.

          • John Fox permalink
            March 9, 2014 9:03 am

            That’s all good Mike. I don’t think I take it too seriously although some might disagree. I’ve been asked to get more involved as far as critiquing hot dogs such as writing a column or doing an internet series which would involve some work. I’ve declined because it would take the fun out of what I consider a hobby. I travel to places and post when the mood hits me. I just don’t understand why most who take the time to visit, review, and post pictures of hot dog joints neglect to mention basic information like the cooking method, whether the dog is a spicy kosher style beef frank or a mild German style beef and pork dog. Especially when they are not afraid to go into detail about other secondary things. Why not do both? I see it as straining out a gnat but swallowing a camel. This is a criticism I have of most who write about hot dogs. If I’m hearing about or visiting a place for the first time I’d like to know first and foremost what type of dog they serve. The brand and cooking method ( as well as casing) go a long way in telling me what I can expect to experience. I wasn’t looking to start a fight. I enjoy reading your reviews and invite you to share them and post on our Facebook page Hot Dog Nation.

  2. March 8, 2014 8:25 am

    Congratulations, Mike and to Sam as well. Now we know what you have been keeping busy doing. If your new addition is a little boy, you should consider naming him Yank. Or, if it’s a little girl you could always name her Yank. Well there you go, you have an idea for each alternative.
    Congrats to your parents (the new grandparents) as well. Life will get even better for them.

    All the best,
    Yank

    • March 10, 2014 7:03 pm

      Yank, it’s a boy and I was thinking “Gorgeous George” instead–would that be just as good? Yank just wouldn’t work with my last name!

  3. John S permalink*
    March 10, 2014 8:49 am

    Daddy Mike, kudos on the new arrival! Hugs and kisses to Sam as well! Boy and I still talk about that dog at Que Padre…even if I have no idea what brand it was. (Although he has balked on grabbing one at a taqueria in Stoughton because “the beans did a number on [him].”) That was also Boy’s first introduction to the wonder of the authentic taco. A very good day. Looking forward to the start of spring, when the hot dog trucks are in bloom, and getting back to writing about HDJs…while probably leaving out vital life-or-death information. 🙂

    • March 10, 2014 7:06 pm

      Thanks John! I’m hoping we’ll be able to do some HDJ outings with the kid this summer–Alex got out there pretty quickly with his daughter so I’d be ashamed if I didn’t make the rounds with my progeny. As for neglecting writing about the essentials, I’m sure most of us would be able to make due with your cute witticisms instead.

  4. March 11, 2014 5:10 pm

    Congrats Mike and Mrs. Mike. Cooking up some beans and franks right now. I was going to impress you with my knowledge of their stats but I’ve decided against that because the only real benchmark for a parent is whether the kid eats it or not. To Mr. John Fox, you sir are a pretentious weiner…with a natural casing.

    • March 12, 2014 4:21 pm

      Thanks milkbone, I’m hoping my kid will love wieners too. Oh wait, I didn’t mean it like that . . . .

  5. John Fox permalink
    March 11, 2014 7:15 pm

    Hello milkbone. Yes, a natural casing as opposed to you, a skinless ( or thin skinned ) weenie. Please, tell me where you disagree with any of my comments. I know it’s easier to name call.

  6. John S permalink*
    March 11, 2014 10:09 pm

    All right, girls, let’s put our weenies away and agree to disagree, because there are few things more pathetic than hot dog bloggers arguing over who’s doing it “right.” Mr Fox, you clearly take all this far more seriously than the rest of us, and your achievements in the world of snout scraps in tubes is lovely. Good for you. You’ve worked to be the “authority.” Looks good on a resume. However, it doesn’t necessarily give you the imprimatur to come into another blogger’s house and tell him he’s doing it wrong. Have you stopped by other blogs and lambasted them for not adhering to your personal in-house style guide? If not, you may have a long and busy road ahead of you, so you may want to get started. Carry on with your way of writing about dogs, my sausagey friend, and leave us to ours. Who knows? We may even eventually come around to being as informational and particular as you choose to be. I wish you continued success in the highly lucrative hot dog blogging world.

    • March 12, 2014 4:29 pm

      Hey John, when you mention the lucrative hot dog blog world that got me to thinking–should I be declaring all of these free hot dogs I get on my taxes? I’m worried that all the benefits and privileges of being a hot dog authority will push me into the 1%.

  7. John Fox permalink
    March 11, 2014 11:07 pm

    Thank you. It is not my intent to tell anyone how to run their blog. Sorry if it came off that way. I realize that tasye is subjective and that my opinion is worth no more or less than anyone else’s. There is no right or wrong. Most of the forums, sites, blogs, etc. are opinion oriented and I state mine. While I place the emphasis on the frank, it’s cooking method, spicing, casing, and meat mixture, others emphasize or ptefer to focus on toppings. While I wouldn’t use the word lambaste, I have stated my opinions on other blogs and especially in the feedback to reviews that I think a revieww is missing or lacking something if the type of frank (all beef, beef/ pork etc) along with cooking method and casing is not mentioned. I don’t think this is lambasting or telling someone how to do their job as a food critic or how to run their blog. I visit blogs, sites and whatever I can on the internet related to hpt dogs. My family tells me to get a life, but I’m doing what I enjoy and what gives me pleasure. Despite my criticism I enjoy this blog and have posted a link to it on my Facebook page Hot Dog Nation. I invite everyone here to join and become a member. You will find all kinds of info and opinions about hot dogs including from people who are in the business and own hot dog restaurants.

  8. brooklynalex permalink*
    March 16, 2014 4:29 pm

    For what it’s worth, this blog started out as a way for mike and I to show each other what we were eating, and where we were finding these things to eat as a way to nurture our budding bromance. Neither of us thought ourselves experts, but we’ve definitely picked up some knowledge along the way. And then we picked up a lot of people who also wanted to have fun with us. Hot dogs are not my favorite food, but they can be pretty damn perfect. And my fun in doing this is finding the place and seeing what there is to offer. I still don’t know a lot of what I probably should, and I definitely have no journalistic integrity. And I’m just not going to include a lot of details. I know this argument appears to be over, but you should start a blog John Fox. There’s serious lack of anything going on in the hotdogblogosphere, and adding your stuff to the mix would give us some more stuff to read, and places to check out. You could even give it a cute name.

    • John Fox permalink
      March 16, 2014 8:23 pm

      Thank you. I really don’t have the time or desire to devote to a blog. And I’m not really a good writer. You and Mike are a lot better at writing then I am. I happen to know a lot about hot dog joints and what the various places use and are doing. Plus I am opinionated. I do have a Facebook page (Hot Dog Nation) that has a lot of members. I invite you to join. Also I will be a part of a comprehensive review of New Jersey hot dog joints that will be published in a N.J. magazine soon.

    • March 20, 2014 4:10 pm

      See, this is why we should be living closer to each other, because then I’d know your ring size and could do a proper marriage proposal.

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