Saturday, July 30, 2011

WV Hot Dog Festival happened...again.

Well, today marked another WV Hot Dog Festival at Pullman Square in downtown Huntington.

This year, I couldn't be bothered.

Let's look at who wasn't there, according to the Herald-Dispatch:

Ok, so my four favorites in town won't be there? Am I going to sweat a gallon to get some C-list hot dogs and watch some weenie dog races?

No thanks, maybe next year.

Or maybe not.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

According to Google...

And to the Charleston Gazette, West Virginians search for the term "hot dog" on Google more than residents of any other state, according to Jenna Wandres of Google.

We're not surprised. And I'd bet if you could somehow track all those expatriate West Virginians (for those of you in Fairmont, that means they were from West Virginia and now live somewhere else) it would double the number.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catching up from the lazy days of Summer

I know this is not a good excuse for low output during National Hot Dog Month, but with the heat we've been experiencing this month I just haven't been in much of a hot dog mood; writing about them, that is. I'm always in the mood to eat them.

A recent trip to Baltimore brought me an opportunity to see how the northern Chesapeake Bay eats their dogs. I went into a HDJ in Fell's Point that sold a good variety including one with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. You know what they called it?

The North Carolina Dog!!!!

Once again, for the record: It was our recipe first. If not for the mass exodus of West Virginians to the greener economic pastures of Charlotte during the 60' and 70's, they would have never heard of putting slaw on a hot dog (just like the rest of the country!).

Now I was going to complain but then I saw that this place's newest offering was - and I am not making this up - a Crab, Macaroni and Cheese Dog. After I saw that I figured that they were beyond reason.

Anyway, I have some reviews banked up that I'll start posting soon. A Weenie Wonk's work, it seems, is never done; although you couldn't tell that by the work output of Frank, Chris and Big Daddy, whose collective writing over these past few months make me look like a workaholic.

Just kidding guys. But seriously, write something OK?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Test Results - Fairmont meets Marmet

As I wrote earlier today, a Fourth of July cookout gave me the opportunity to test out my theory that if you add a cool, creamy coleslaw to the top of a spicy Fairmont style hot dog it would make a great West Virginia Hot Dog. Here is my report on the test:

 As much grief as I like to give Fairmont people for their stubborn resistance to slaw on hot dogs, I have to give them credit for some of the most interesting chili sauce to be found anywhere. Marion County does a few things right: Pepperoni Rolls and Spicy Hot Dog Chili Sauce would be two of those things. Yann's is the most famous of these, and most definitely the hottest. My recipe for a Yann's tastealike took all day to cook but was worth it. The sauce was not quite as spicy as Yann's but had perhaps more complexity and reminded me of other Marion County HDJs like Woody's or Lupos.

My Marmet Yellow Slaw recipe produced a slightly more vinegary slaw than I have had at the classic yellow slaw HDJs like Mr. C's or the newcomer, Chums. In spite of the extra vinegar flavor, the slaw had a wonderful texture and a sweet complexity that is hard to match with a mayonnaise based slaw.

My plan was to put these diverse elements together on top of grilled Nathan's Famous weenies and let my guests decide the success or failure of the combination.

The result? Everyone liked the chili sauce - even those from eastern Kanawha County where spicy chili is rare. Everyone liked the slaw, although the praise it received was somewhat muted compared to that given to the chili. The two together? The opinions were unanimous: There was synergy here. The spicy chili was cooled down nicely by the sweet slaw and the whole was was greater than the sum of its parts.

As a personal test, I loaded up a test dog with chili sauce, mustard and onions and then applied slaw to only one end. I started on the "Fairmont" end and ate my way to the "Marmet" end. No doubt that the dog's taste got markedly better halfway through.

My only regret is that I didn't go ahead and make some mayo based slaw to offer my guests to see which they preferred. Perhaps that will be a Labor Day project.

Now I would love to try this test again for some open-minded Fairmont people, but in my experience there are no open minded Fairmont people when it comes to hot dogs. Alas.

4th of July WVHotDogs,com Test Kitchen - Marmet meets Fairmont

Followers of this blog know that I prefer to have my hot dogs made by the professionals, but today I'm taking matters into my own hands. As I write this a pot of Fairmont style chili sauce is simmering on my stoevetop and a large bowl of Marmet Yellow Slaw is chilling in the fridge. Company coming over at 5:00 for an indepence day hot dog feast and I'll report the reviews later today.

Now, I have to give credit for my decision to try this today to Mike over at the other hot dog blog - - who tried this combination recently. When I reported it on Facebook it caused a minor war of words between Fairmont folks an some others. I'm hoping that giving a true West Virginia perspective might carry more weight with the Fairmont faithful. I'm not holding my breath.

Also, it should be noted that earlier today Joey Chestnut waddled away with his fifth straight Mustard Belt at today's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island by eating a mere 62 hot dogs. Of course, none of them had chili or slaw so people in West Virginia barely noticed.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Skeenies Slipping??

Everyone has a bad day now and then. I hope that explains my experience at Skeenies yesterday.

For those who don't know, Skeenies is the real deal when it comes to West Virginia Hot Dogs. Iconic in every way, this place has been serving amazing hot dogs since the 1950s in the same location; a location which happens to be less than a quarter of a mile from the birthplace of West Virginia Hot Dogs. Skeenies has been the standard that other HDJs in the area aspire to for decades. I've never had a bad hot dog from Skeenies.

Yesterday came mighty close, though. Too close for comfort.

First, let me say that my dining companion and I ordered five hot dogs. Two were as good as always, but three of them were unsatisfying. Chili and slaw were very sparsely applied and the buns were kind of stale. There seemed to be no acceptable explanation for the mediocrity: the staff was the same as always (mother and son), it was lunchtime and they weren't particularly busy.

I really hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come. I don't know what I would do without Skeenies; it is a shining beacon of hot dog excellence in a world of indifference. At least it was.