When we were contacted by The Travel Channel about doing a West Virginia Hot Dog segment for the "Pit Stops" portion of their New River Gorge feature, we were a bit concerned when they said we were going to film at a bakery. I was afraid that we would get there and find that they only sold this kind of hot dog. Luckily, the owners of Wild Flour Bakery are savvy WVHD aficionados and had the real deal. Very real.
I arrived a little early of the appointed time and Jennie, the production company's contact person with whom I had been communicating for the past month or so, told me to relax and she would find me when the time came for our interview. With time to kill in a bakery, it's hard not to really work up an appetite what with all of the gorgeous baked goods in the case and the lingering aroma of hot dog chili emanating from the kitchen. To make matter worse, Jennie brought out a lovely looking specimen of a WVHD and sat it in front of me and left it there for the fifteen minutes that it took the camera man and the gaffer/gopher to set up the shot. It was almost too much to stand and I am sure that I drooled a couple of times during the interview. I really hope they weren't shooting in hi-def.
So after the interview was complete I was allowed to finally taste the hot dog that I had driven all this way for and subsequently tortured with.
It was worth it. Worth the torture and worth the drive.
Now to be honest, the hot dog was room temperature by the time I got to eat it, but even tepid, this thing was great. The chili, as is usually the case with chili in Southern West Virginia, was not spicy but had a complexity to it that included a little bit of chili powder and the dark, rich taste that only a long-simmering pot of tomato and onion product can have. The onions were so finely chopped that they were almost invisible but tasty and fresh tasting. The bun was soft and the weenie was perfectly cooked. And then there is the slaw.
You know how some ice skating judges never give out a perfect score of 10 because they allow that there can always be something better to come along? That's how I am with slaw. I have used superlatives like "nearly perfect texture" or "nearly perfect flavor" to describe lots of slaws over the years; that changes today. This slaw is freakin' perfect! This might be "The One True Slaw" that I have been looking for for the better part of 7 years doing this hot dog blogging. It is PERFECT in texture (finely chopped and exactly the right amount of dressing), PERFECT in taste (sweet enough to make itself known as sweet, but not enough to cover the cabbage flavor) and PERFECTLY matched with the chili. And if that's not enough, they serve it in a very generous helping.
Without any fear of dispute, I proclaim this as a 5 Weenie WVHD worthy for consideration as one of the very best hot dogs in the Great State of West Virginia.
In a bakery. I know, right?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Salem has long been on the list of places that was in need of a visit to research any hot dog joints that it may home too. I had already made it a point to return there in order to check out a couple of places that had been mentioned to me. Unfortunately, the heavy rains and minor flooding that came through over this past week forced me to postpone my trip by a couple of days.
Posted by I'm Dad (and I said so!) at 12:15 AM
Thursday, March 01, 2012
I was stuck at the Huntington Mall the other day while my car was being repaired. Since it was around lunchtime, I strolled over to the food court for some Chick-fil-A or Big Loafer. Curiously enough, I noticed a new hot dog joint open in the former Dairy Queen location. I figured it was worth a review.
The toppings list was concerning. In clear defiance of WV hot dog culture, the toppings list included "ketchup" and exotic ingredients like "jalapeño," "kraut," and "mayo." While slaw was free, the sauce (called "chili" despite being in Cabell County) cost an extra $.25. Very confusing indeed.
After making my order, I stood at an angle where I could watch the preparation process. For some reason, they microwave the buns, leaving them somewhat rubbery. Next, the chef de weenie took a frank from a roller (beats a water bath) & then added the toppings (including sauce from a crockpot).
The end result was an enjoyable if flawed utilitarian WV hot dog experience.
First, the problems. The mouthfeel created by the inexplicably nuked bun was downright odd. It seemed like something one would do in a college dorm, not at a hot dog stand. The homemade sauce, while thoughtful, needed a bit more salt and some sort of heat.
Now, the good. The weenie was an Eckrich frank and the onions were just the right texture. The homemade slaw was sweet, creamy, and as good as any that can be found in Huntington.
Overall, this place gets a 3 weenie rating with lots of room for improvement. A few tweaks of the sauce and a better method of bun warming and this place is easily in the 4-4.5 range. I'll give them some time for the constructive criticism to soak in and will re-review in a couple of months.
Posted by Chris James at 8:57 AM