Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hillbilly Hot Dogs Gets Immortalized in Print

Diners Drive-Ins, and Dives...The Book! Photo Credit: foodnetworkstore.comI recently received a copy of Guy Fieri's new book "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip...with Recipes!" Hillbilly Hot Dogs is now a part of literary history as they are included in the book among some of the best of the best featured on the show.

As you all probably remember, the Food Network show of the same name paid a visit to Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage in late 2007, with the episode airing in the spring of 2008. Included along with the recount of his visit, Guy also includes and adapted version of the "Rahall Red Hot Weenie" and the accompanying habanero sauce.

Throughout the book are whimsical reviews of his visits and great recipes from some of the more memorable episodes. This book is a great read for any fan of the show.

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Open Thread: At home favorites

When I make a WVHD at home, I usually use Cavalier franks, Heiner's Sunny Buns, Gunnoe's slaw, and homemade chili sauce.

How'd you do it en su casa?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Charleston HDJ Review - Sub Shop

I like to think I make a difference in the world. Call it vanity, but sometimes I think I do.

The Sub Shop on Quarrier Street didn't used to sell hot dogs; now they do. I think that after they were reviewed by another local food blog, they wanted to be reviewed by this blog. That is why I believe they started putting up a sandwich sign on the sidewalk advertising hot dogs. It was like they were saying, "Please Stanton, don't pass us by!". Again, call it vanity but I think that's exactly what happened.

And so I heeded their call and tried their new hot dogs.

This little place looks has always looked like it ought to sell hot dogs; cozy and bright with a few inside seats and a bustling carry out business. I'll leave it the other blog to fill you in on the menu, and I'll just tell you that an "everything" dog has mustard, KETCHUP, onions, chili and slaw. Obviously a bad start, but I figured they are new to the hot dog biz; they'll learn. I ordered two without red stuff and waited. And waited. And waited. I was one of two customers and it was after the lunch rush. I waited some more.

While I waited I got to see how they go about preparing hot dogs. They nuke the buns; this is a huge no-no; sure it makes them soft and hot, but when they start cooling off they get tough and chewy. I also noticed that the slaw was being dished out of a regular bowl, not some food service package; that was a good sign.
When I got my hot dogs I noticed immediately the small caliber weenies. I had seen a "Boar's Head" sign in the window and I figured they might have used the premium weenies that "Boar's Head" offers, but these were not those. This weenie was small and tough. Actually, there is a possibility that it was a premium weenie before the life had been cooked out of it and it shrank to the diameter of a large pencil. When I bit it it was nearly as hard to chew as said pencil.

I must say, though, that in spite of the bun and weenie, the toppings were pretty good. The slaw, although served sparingly, was tasty and the chili was dark, meaty and had a nice little spiciness to it. The onions were sweet and mild. If these toppings had been placed on a better weenie and in a bun that hadn't been blasted into submission by microwaves, it would have been pretty good. As it is, though, it only ranks 2.5 Weenies.

My advice, if you are listening Sub Shop owners, is to get a bun steamer and some better weenies; do that and you will be able to compete with the big dogs downtown.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Charleston HDJ Review - Sabatino Brothers

Sabatino Brothers is a nice little storefront operation in one of the accessory strip malls at the Southridge shopping center. They have offered Philly-style cheese steak sandwiches since they opened, but except for a kiddie menu concession there have never been hot dogs on the menu. I always thought they were missing an opportunity because there is no other HDJ in the vicinity of Southridge, which on any given day has sufficient population to qualify it as one of the larger cities in West Virginia. So I was not at all surprised when I drove by recently and saw a sign advertising a hot dog special - 2 hot dogs, drink and chips for $4.99 - except for being surprised that it took so long. Restaurant owner John Smallridge is a saavy businessman and he should have seen the same opportunity long before I did.

So anyway, I braved the crush of the lunchtime Christmas shopping crazies and made my way to Southridge one recent afternoon so I could sample the new dogs. When I first got inside the door I saw that the special advertised outside could have french fries added for a buck. I went all out and got the special even though I wasn't planning on eating many of the fries. I was told that "everything" included mustard, onions, chili and slaw; a good start.

The first thing I noticed was the GINORMOUS hunks of onions sitting on top of the otherwise normal looking dog. Seriously, "coarsely chopped" would be a huge undertatement. These things were onionbergs; they could have sunk a small ship. They looked as if the prep chef had torn apart the onion with his bare hands. And if the size wasn't enough, the taste of the onions was almost chemical! They were the hottest and most bitter tasting things I have ever, ever had on a hot dog. Luckily they were easy to remove so after the first bite I didn't have to suffer their wrath.

Once I got past the unfortunate onionbergs, I found some pretty good tasting slaw (a little heavy on mayo) and decent chili that was far meatier than most. The bun was soft, but the weenie was even softer! The consistency of this thing was similar to a Vienna Sausage. It had apparently been sititng in a pot of water for a very long time. Some people claim a weenie should "snap" when you bite it; this one squishes.

The whole hot dog experience at Sabatino's was less than expected from a place that has such a nice and diverse menu. They could keep the chili, dry up the slaw and then put that grill to use and grill the weenies to order and they would have a nice hot dog. But the onions have to go.

I like the atmosphere and friendliness of Sabatino Brothers. They have an interesting menu and a nice comfortable place to sit and eat. It's hard to give this place a poor weenie rank because they have so much potential to provide the dogless masses of Southridge with proper sustenance. But we don't grade on potential. 2 Weenies.