Friday, May 29, 2009
While certainly a minority in the WVHD world, our discussion of hot dog classes can't overlook the hoity-toitiest of the species. These hot dogs are the blue bloods, the aristocracy, the upper crust; or at least that's what they want to be.
I call this class "Artisan Dogs" even though many restaurants (notice I didn't say "Hot Dog Joints" - it just isn't fitting) call this kind of hot dog "gourmet" I refrain from labeling them that way because the word "gourmet" is a word most often used to communicate exceptional quality and these dogs often do not deliver in that regard.
Artisan Dogs, for the most part, bear no resemblance to what most purists think of when they have a craving for a WVHD. Instead of making something great of cheap ingredients, Artisan Dogs take expensive ingredients and try to make something novel. Once in a while it works, but more often it is just an expensive disappointment: ADs are often priced at more than $3 a pop vs. the typical $1.25 for a UD and maybe $1.50 for a GD.
First, an Artisan Dog must have a bun that is different from the norm: Hoagie buns dusted with corn meal are at the low-end with handcrafted artisan rolls (thus the name for this class) at the high end. The weenie is usually large caliber, grilled or flame broiled and sometimes tastes more like sausage than frankfurter. Yellow mustard is rarely found on an Artisan Dog; Brown mustard or even Dijon are commonly used. Then, some kind of chili is applied (usually) and if there is slaw (not a given in this class) it is usually more coarse and more colorful than typical WVHD slaw. Toppings are usually piled so high as to be overflowing the bun.
Now on the surface it might seem a fine line that exists between "Genteel Dogs" and "Artisan Dogs" but not so: GDs are intended to be eaten, while ADs seem to want to be only looked at and admired. Sometimes the large bun, weenie and copious amounts of toppings make the things difficult to eat like a regular hot dog unless your mouth is roughly the size and shape of a Pit Bull's.
A few examples of good tasting Artisan Dogs from the archives of WVHotDogs.com are Tamarack and The Blossom in Charleston. Two others that deserve mention despite their lack of resemblance to a real WVHD are Barnyard in Buckhannon and Delish (now a distant memory because of a fire several years ago) in Charleston. All of these hot dogs were tasty and satisfying, but most of the others we've tried have been lackluster. Some were so disappointing that the reviews were never posted lest we lead our readers to them by mistake.
So, there you have it, three classes of WVHDs that are distinctly different and easily identifiable. In a future post I will crunch the data and make some comparative observations that are interesting to me and hopefully will be to you.