Wednesday, July 11, 2007

2007 Weenie Awards: Best Sauce (Huntington)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: in Huntington, it's all about the sauce. Sometimes its spicy, sometimes its beany, sometimes its under the dog. Whatever it is, the sauce is always the first and last thing I analyze during any given review.

Lots of places in Huntington have great sauce, by the way, but many have their hidden flaws. Farley's and Frostop have sauces that are beefy and chili powder-rific, but a tad bit too runny. Stewart's sauce is beloved by thousands, but tastes cheap and bland to me. M & M makes a great sauce that goes well with the hot dog's other components but, as a stand-alone sauce, isn't quite hall of fame caliber. A lot of thought and experiemntation has gone into Austin's chili sauce, but the presence of beans is a deal-breaker (in a bad way) for WVhotdogs.com

Really, we are left with only two truly deserving nominees: Sam's Hot Dog Stand's spicy variety and Hillbilly Hot Dogs. While both HBHD locations are owned and managed by the same folk, Sam's is a franchise, so those can be broken down even further and, of the Sam's, the Piedmont Road location gets the nod for adding a little more pepper flake to their spicy sauce than their cohorts on 8th St. and in Highlawn.

That leaves us with Hillbilly vs. Sam's of Piedmont Road.

Hillbilly's sauce contains larger chunks of beef with strong notes of chili powder and black pepper with a fair amount of liquid. The sauce really carries the dog, as the slaw is subpar at best and dreadful at worst. One could even add a few beans to it and serve it in a bowl.

Sam's, on the other hand, draws its inspiration from the spicy sauces of the north-central part of the state. Instead of relying on cheap heat, like Yann's and whatnot, there is a complexity in the spicy version of the sauce that is not found up yonder on I-79. The texture of the beef is finer (much like Skyline Chili) and there is less liquid, thereby allowing the sauce fill to every nook and cranny with spicy goodness.

While HBHD might produce a more soup-ready chili, the sauce sold by Sam's of Piedmont is about as perfect as a hot dog sauce can get. Ad some slaw (they need to add more to their dogs, by the way), and you've got a gourmet taste treat for under $2.

Congratulations, Sam's Hot Dog Stand of Piedmont Road, you are the 2007 Weenie Award winner for Huntington's best hot dog sauce.

2 comments:

The Film Geek said...

This is a shocker. I'd have put my last nickle on the Hillbilly. But great choice!

By the way: I'm staying in a hotel in Arizona, and on the room service menue grilled hotdogs is featured. What's on a hot dog here? Tomatoes, jalapenoes and several other things I can't spell without using the spellcheck feature. Yuck!

Chris James said...

Dude, it was close. I gained about 5 pounds tryng to make up my mind.

In terms of quality and thoughtfulness, it was pretty much a tie. In the end, however, Sam's spicy sauce proved to be better for topping hot dogs than HBHDs, as Hillbilly's sauce needs to be cooked about a half-hour longer to maximize flavor.

But yeah, this will probably end up being the toughest call of the four Hunt. awards. Calling HBHD sauce a "loser" here would make about as much sense as calling Shawshank Redemption a loser for not winning the Oscar.

As for Arizona dawgs, be open minded! Remember my hot dog mantra/ripped-off cliche: "When in Rome..."