The Cannibal: Part Deux

Have you ever been in one of those moods? You know, one of those moods where you have some time to kill before a Broadway show after work and want to get on a Citi Bike and ride really fast to this hot dog place that you wrote about two years ago and crowned as the King of NYC? No? Weird, because, I mean, it was crazy… I was in one of those moods last night!

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Behold! The Jan Ulrich. Slightly over two years ago, I discovered the Cannibal. Known for their outlandish selection of meats at their main restaurant in Chelsea, no man leaves unhappy, unsatisfied, or feeling any better about their beer gut. When I visited their Hell’s Kitchen outpost in Gotham West Market back then, there were many different varieties of hot dogs – enough to take up a section of the menu. Now, they have only two hot dog options, one of which has their homemade wieners serving as the sausage base, and the other has the familiar Brooklyn Hot Dog Co. weenies. I usually don’t like to review the same place twice. As proof I’ve even been to the main restaurant and had their dogs before (shout-out to the Feastie Boys), but since these are completely different, utilizing a different sausage base that I already know and love, I feel compelled. I mean, you’d write a new movie review of The Shining if Eddie Murphy replaced Jack Nicholson right?

Is the Cannibal still king? Well, let’s start with the topic of bacon jam. Sweet Lord have mercy on my soul. This is a creation of a millennium. Sweet, yet fatty and rich, it is the perfect sausage icing. On top of this, we have some lightly flavored bbq chip bits to add a nice crunch. They’re like croutons on a salad or seat belts in cars – not completely necessary, but really nice to have. Next, glazed on the top of this magnificent sandwich (yes, a hot dog is a sandwich), is a delectable spicy mayo. It’s much spicier than you expect and that’s how it should be. If you’re going to sit down and eat a Jan Ulrich, you’re not a pansy, you’re a giant can of testosterone from Sweden ready to devour all the other pansies in the world. Eat up Jan, you deserve it. Is the Cannibal still king? Of course it is. The best weenie in the city hasn’t changed yet, my friends. Go to this establishment ASAP.

4.6 weenies

The Cannibal

Above is the first review I wrote. Below are some useless links to social media stuff.

Cheers

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Corner of Vermont

I always thought that Vermont was a place for hippies and mountain folk, like a northern version of “Deliverance.” Then, I went there for the first time and found it to be quite beautiful and filled with decent people, like a northern version of “The Notebook.” Then, I went to the restaurant called the Corner of Vermont and found it to be truly inventive, unique, and mind-boggingly delicious, kind of like a northern version of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” I felt like Augustus Gloop in this place, eating maple weenies like it was my day job. If I wasn’t careful, I’d drown in the maple mustard just like he did in chocolate. I had to travel all the way to Park Slope Brooklyn for these wonderful Vermont weenies, and I didn’t even have a golden ticket. What a great decision.

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Notice how the sun kisses the wiener’s toppings as if it were Apollo’s own lips. There’s a reason for this: these sausages are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

On the left, we have a classic chili cheese dog done right. The chili is made in house, is outstanding, and has the perfect amount of spice. The cheese? Oh, the cheese, is 1 year old Grafton cheddar. Al Gore may! (Get it? Gourmet?)

On the right, we have “The Vermonter”, which was my favorite, mainly due to the surprise I had when I realized how good it was, and the creativity that went into it. Adorning the weenie are maple mustard, maple caramelized onions, and a sprinkle of maple sugar. True to the name, and phenomenal.

Now, the sausages. They are composed of pork, beef, and… BACON. That’s right, there is ground up bacon in the sausage. On top of that, they are huge and meaty, and have that oh so necessary snap. The grey color is at first a little off-putting, but you get over it really quick. You’ll think the exact same thing when you see the shirt I am wearing in the picture below.

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Yes indeed! I couldn’t be happier to find this place. It was a perfect start to the day, and a great discovery that I will be returning to. The owner and staff were incredibly friendly, and they do everything all natural – no nitrates, straight from the farm in Vermont. This is a real Vermont establishment, putting out genuinely awesome food and beverage. We even got to try their homemade lemonade and tea. Without too many more words, I hereby declare this hot dog the King of Brooklyn. That’s right, this is the best hot dog I have eaten in Brooklyn. The Cannibal is still #1 in NYC, but this is for sure top 5, and #1 in the biggest borough of NYC. Well done, Corner of Vermont.

4.4802 weenies

Do the numbers matter anymore? (802 is Vermont’s only area code. Tribute. Here’s another to make your mouth water.)

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Cheers

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Planet Earth: Hot Dogs of Asia

A few weeks ago I traveled to Asia. Luckily, Asia isn’t the void, hot dog barren continent I thought it would be. Instead, it is a fairly westernized, hot dog imitating continent that falls far short of being worthy of the title “hot dog continent”. There can only one hot dog continent and that is America. There can only be one ‘Murica. Regardless, in total I had three hot dogs, and one was particularly epic. It was part of a 25 course tasting menu at the #1 rated restaurant in Asia… three years in a row. Let’s not save the best for last, because I don’t save and I don’t like being last.

Gaggan: Bangkok, Thailand

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What we have here are little lamb kebab dogs on little buns with little onions, little carrots, and a little sauce. The menu we see during our 3 hour long experience of utmost gluttony is only emojis. There is one emoji per course, and this one was obviously the hot dog. We had to guess what the emojis were going to be – sometimes even after the course came out and we couldn’t tell what it was. To be honest, I don’t know what the sauces were because I was so happy and immersed in the experience. I had just enjoyed an old-fashioned that was infused with Cohiba cigar smoke underneath a glass dome in front of me. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Incredible. No words. “…”

Stand Underneath the Ferris Wheel: Hong Kong

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Touristy areas have hot dogs, it’s a way of life. So did the Ferris Wheel in Hong Kong. My options were Original, Spicy, BBQ, or Cheese. I went with original, and I love how that meant, ketchup, YELLOW mustard, and relish. This was true American influence. The bun was OK, the sauces were applied with gusto, but unfortunately the sausage itself tasted like dirty brown water trash. For what it’s worth, the Ferris Wheel was pretty awesome?

Random Convenience Store Bacon-Wrapped Wiener: Phuket, Thailand

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Given this title, I’m sure you were expecting greatness. So was I. It was really disheartening to see how under-cooked the bacon was and how flavorless the hot dog was. Such a fine establishment should have done better. Welp, someone had to do it. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone… ever.

P.S. Below is a picture of the Asia boys, AKA “JUBS” getting to meet the man behind the magic at Gaggan – Gaggan Anand himself. Check him out on Netflix’s Chef’s Table if you’re interested. Also, go to Thailand if you can.

Cheers

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Pittsburgh: Essie’s Original Hot Dog Shop

Pittsburgh is known for many things. Pittsburgh is a sports town, an old steel town, a Wiz Khalifa stomping ground, and a black and yellow breeding ground. It’s a bridge town, an incline town, where Gene Kelly used to clown, and a fatty food mecca world renowned… Poetry and rhyming aside, some friendly local folks wanted to take me out for a dog, and of course I was down. I was lucky enough to go to “The Dirty O”, or more officially, The Original Hot Dog Shop, on a cold day after Thanksgiving when, like the Grinch, my stomach grew three sizes that day. I certainly couldn’t frown.

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Yep, this place is old school. The name does not lie. The first thing I noticed is that the actual restaurant is pretty run-down and old. Nothing has changed since the 80’s, but it’s a good thing. They sell weird old beers that nobody has seen in a few fortnights, and the guy selling you those beers hasn’t been able to see in a few decades. It’s like when you put on that really old, stained, torn up sweatshirt you love. You love that it’s nasty. It’s comfortable and it feels amazing. The dogs, though, are not old, stained, and torn up. They are flat out stellar.

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These weenies are such good sports. I made fun of them for hours, and they just played along. It’s amazing how thick their skin is. OHHH, Pun City! Honestly though, this is some thick skin. If you know NY Weenies, you know what skin brings: the snap. The Dirty O’s dogs possess a fat snap unlike any that New York has never seen. My favorite kind of snap resembles the moment when you pop a loosely filled water balloon. It’s a quick release followed by an avalanche of flavor. The kind of snap I experienced on this day in Pittsburgh was like puncturing a football with a butter knife. It took a lot of effort, but it was still a lot of fun, and the flavor exploded out of there like cuckoo from a cuckoo clock. The taste of the weenie was incredible, rich and smoky, and the buns lightly toasted nicely. The best part about the Original, though, is the selection of toppings they have. I didn’t see anything you couldn’t order. So, I ordered dog 1: chili, mustard, and slaw. This is the quintessential Virginia classic. I was raised on this combo. Dog 2: yellow mustard, obviously. The other dog pictured was not for me (a loyal NY Weenian would know this, as it has been said that you can’t put ketchup on a dog unless you’re under 12 years old), but the pictures looks better with 3 dogs. Maybe I should eat 3 every review?

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I loved this place and I highly recommend it to anyone travelling to Pittsburgh. Essie must have been a great woman if the owner, Syd, decided to name this wonderful place after her. Here’s to you, Essie.

4 weenies

P.S. If you’re reading this and you are Syd and Essie’s child, please let me know. I’d like to meet you. You must be an incredible human being if you have any of the same DNA that those two had. The chosen one. Neo. Anakin. The baby from “Look Who’s Talkin'”. Whatever. Need you in my life.

Cheers

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Emmett’s

The Cubs won the World Series a little while ago and it inspired me. No, I wasn’t inspired by the come from behind victory, the history of the ball club, or the life-long fans of Chicago. I was rooting for Cleveland. When they lost, I was sad, and in need of a hot dog. The Cubs victory made me think of Chicago, which made me think of a windy mid-western city, Derrick Rose/Dwayne Wade, violence in the hood, and most importantly, it made me think of the Chicago-style hot dog. This weenie is an absolute classic in the hot dog world and I feel like I’ve ignored it. Thank you, Chicago Cubs, for indirectly inspiring me to write about a hot dog with a pickle on top of it.

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First – let us be sure that the readers fully understand the makings of a Chicago style dog. Toppings must include: tomatoes, pickle/pickles/relish, onions, yellow mustard, and a little pepper on top. I’ll let the presentation of the pickles vary in the definition, but I’ll be damned if I see a Chicago dog without a little pepper on top. That’s like an Old Fashioned without an orange peel, a sundae without a fake cherry, or even worse, Flava Flav without a clock. The Chicago dog has never been atop my list of regional dog styles simply because there’s too much going on. I don’t need a garden on top of my weenie. It may take a village to raise a child, but it certainly does not take a garden to enjoy a weenie. I will always respect, however, that the Chicago dog always has strictly yellow mustard. None of that spicy brown garbage get’s the Chicago seal of approval, and that makes this hot dog blogger a happy man.

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Enter Emmett’s, a Chicago themed bar and restaurant in Soho serving up deep dish pizza and other assorted vittles. This place is a very cool, popular spot where it seems many native Chicago-ans hang out. Pictured in the headline photo is their description of the featured Chicago dog. The most notable part of this weenie is the poppy seed bun. My next “never have I ever” will most certainly be the fact that I’ve never had a poppy seed bun before. It was OK. The folks at Emmett’s put a lot of effort into this dog and it payed off. The frank itself was definitely of quality, and although adorned with a garden, I could still taste some smoke in it. In a bite, one could experience a minor snap, followed by a warm, smoky weenie, quickly followed by an avalanche of garden vegetables and yellow mustard. This is very tasty, however, as I mentioned before, overbearing. I appreciate the authenticity Emmett’s offered by using a whole pickle and whole tomatoes, and I’ll say that this is the best Chicago dog I’ve ever had. However, it is still a Chicago dog, and they aren’t my favorite.

3.25 weenies

Cheers

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Ditch Plains

At one point in our lives we were all children. At that same point in our lives we all loved Macaroni and Cheese. Well, I am still at that point in my life, and let me tell you… I’ve got the blues. Kraft Mac-a-roni and Cheeeese. I love Mac n’ Cheese! If you don’t, I question your existence as a human being. The only excuse you may have is lactose intolerance. Even then, fight through and attack the mac. Squeeze the cheese. Put your nose in the elbows. Feel the steam from the cream. Be daft with the Kraft. Eat yo’ Mac n’ Cheese, y’all. It’s pretty simple. Even better, put it on a hot dog. Luckily, the folks at Ditch Plains accomplished just that.

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Yes, that is real. The Ditch Dog at Ditch Plains. This is a great spot. Located in the West Village, it has a very chill vibe, plenty of good beers on tap, and some great menu options that are pretty affordable. They also have a nice selection of hot dogs, which is obviously what I got excited about. Without much hesitation, the bartender referred me to the Ditch Dog because that is what “put them on the map.” This dude was right on the money. When it came out to the bar, the image in front of me was something that could rival a Picasso. However, I must warn, if for any reason you don’t like Mac n’ Cheese (as previously stated you would be a moron if this was true), steer clear of this dog. Also, if the frank were plain, I’m not sure how great it would have been. The hot dog itself is a little scrawny and without snap. That is my only criticism. The mac is so creamy and delicious, and almost everything you taste in every bite is the Mac.  It’s honestly just a very creative way to serve Macaroni and Cheese, and I’m completely OK with that. Two great things should be paired with each other to make even greater things. It’s a fact of life. For example: Sonny and Cher, Penn and Teller, Shaq and Kobe, or even reading the newspaper and sitting on the toilet. Why have one when you can have both? Mac n’ Cheese and hot dogs.

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Go eat it now. I had to leave another picture to remind you. It’s just too good to leave out. I highly recommend this dog, and was close to giving it the highest rating so far, but I think I was getting emotional or something. I was thinking about Matilda, and my childhood, and the happiness that came with it. Must. Use. Logic. Epic weenie.

4 weenies.

P.S. My thoughts about this recent “meat causes cancer” crap: what doesn’t cause cancer?! Phones, cardboard, satellites, carcinogens, plastic, air, deodorant, and now processed meat?! Give me a break. Apparently processed meat increases your chance of getting cancer by 17%. Most illogical, media guzzling Americans see that number and assume their chance of getting cancer is immediately 17% after they eat one piece of beef. Knock, knock, pudding heads, that 17% means that the 3 or 4 percent chance you already had of getting cancer is now 3.2 or 4.2 percent. Not a big deal. Eat your meat. Science is OK with it. I promise. If you’re going to get cancer it is probably from something else, such as living in this already cancer-prone world. Carcinogens might cause cancer too, a recent study suggested. Long live the meats.

P.P.S. “Load the grill with fatty meats. Put ’em on a bun, and eat eat eat.” – Sinbad

ditch plains

Cheers

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Gray’s Papaya

Hot Dogs at Night – A NY Weenies original. (Sung to the tune of Downtown by Petula Clark)

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always eat… hot dogs
It’s 3 AM, you are tipsy and hungry
Seems to help, I know… hot dogs

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the sausages look pretty
Gray’s doesn’t close?
Nothing else is open there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares

So eat hot dogs
Things will be great with some hot dogs
Go with a friend for sure, hot dogs
A whole lot of wieners for yoooouuuuu!

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I really enjoyed writing that song. I also really enjoyed reviewing this hot dog. This was my first “NY Weenies @ Night” review, because it was really late, after a night at the bar. I also ate 3 hot dogs. Good lord. Gray’s Papaya is another “papaya” joint, and is the upper west side rival of the upper east side, recently highly reviewed 4.5 weenie Papaya King. All of these places are similar. There is a lot of yellow, they also serve smoothies and fries, but really everybody goes there for the cheap, quick, and artfully simple weenies. They are also open 24 hours a day. Gray’s was founded in 1974 by a former partner of Papaya King, once had three bustling locations, now has one, and only has half of it’s sign lit. Obviously I am not bothered by this at all, because all that matters is the dog.

Very openly and humbly I approached the counter and asked the two gentleman for their best hot dog. After some hesitation and overcoming a language boundary, below is what they came up with.

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What the hell is that?! The frank looks good, the bun looks good, but whatever they put on top of it is a tremendous mistake. Blasphemy! It’s some sort of onion, ketchup, sweet and sour sauce, urine combination that should never be on a hot dog. Bye Felicia. Very poor start. I guess that’s what you get from the late night staff. I could, however, tell that there was a quality weenie underneath that toxic sludge that they call a topping. (Of course I ate it anyway.) So, I approached the counter after receiving some advice from my personal hot dog adviser Mike and decided to take matters into my own hands. Per the rules, published in the Who Am I? page of this site, I got a classic with mustard. But, just like Papaya King, there is no yellow mustard. Come on, man. I understand this is a New York thing, and try to keep an open mind. I am very pleased with this one, but the bun could have been a little more toasty, and the dog a little bit thicker. It has the snap, and it is a good temperature, color, etc., but it seems a little small. When I place my index finger and thumb on either side of the bun, the frank disappears quicker than a frightened turtle. It must be better than this. Gray’s is legendary, there must be a better hot dog. So, I order a third weenie.

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That’s the ticket. A little bit of chili goes a long way. This was the best of the three, and totally out of protocol, but you only live once as they say (YOLO), and I’m so glad I got this one. Chili, relish, and mustard. Like Bosh, Wade, and LeBron, the three combine to win championships. You can’t lose. Gray’s delivers a high quality hot dog for an incredibly affordable price, but it doesn’t quite match its upper east side rival.

4 weenies

In conclusion, if you want to lose your inhibitions and go to Gray’s to devour 3 hot dogs, bring some Tums and enjoy. I highly recommend it.

Cheers

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The U.S. Open

If you’ve never been to the US Open, start planning right now to go next year. It is worth taking off work for, it is worth getting in a really serious fight with your significant other for, and it is worth lying on your resume for. It is totally 1%, yet not pretentious. It is quiet and relaxing, yet entertaining and engaging. I honestly don’t know how they make this event work so well, but it’s real. Food and drink is at every turn in all sorts of different varieties, there is high potential for celebrity sightings, and most importantly, there are weenies. In fact, a whole portion of the food area is dedicated to hot dogs. “Franks and Fries” was one of the most alluring hot dog options I have ever been around, simply because of the environment. However, I must lose any bias based on the event, temper my actions with wisdom, and review the frankfurter only… and stop thinking about Roger Federer’s calves.

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It’s a foot long chili dog. The “Coney Island Footlong Frank”. Y’all know I love my chili dogs, and y’all know I like ’em big and fat, and y’all know I was excited for this bad boy. Y’all know. For the record, this is the biggest hot dog I think I’ve ever eaten. There’s something about stadium dogs. If you remember my Yankee Stadium review, it was massive too, but this one was bigger. I applied the mustard myself and it was yellow (y’all know). The first bite was great – very beefy, a whole mess, and incredibly aggressive. For any WWE fans out there, this hot dog reminded me of Ryback. It’s just an over-the-top experience. Or, maybe I’m speaking of the WWE in general. Regardless, there’s a whole lot of hot dog here and if you have any doubt that you can handle it, step away immediately. But, if you can, feed me more.

To get technical, the bun is toasted quite well, and the chili a little mild, but true hot dog chili, that compliments the whole package with grace. My only gripe was that the weenie might have been boiled. You’d think that after so many years of devouring wieners that I would have a refined pallet and be able to identify these things – like a weenie sommelier. I do think I’m pretty refined, but this one was a complete brain buster. Something was off with the way it was cooked, and it felt a little too mass produced for my liking. There wasn’t a whole lot of soul in the sausage. My great grandma was a big proponent of putting soul in sausages, so that’s a pretty significant demerit to this one. Overall, a very good hot dog, but nothing to sell your soul for. Y’all know.

3 weenies.

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P.S. The fact that Roger Federer lost is deeply saddening. He is truly the greatest tennis player of all time and it would have been awesome to see him win the Open this late in his career. Novak Djokovic is sponsored by Uni Qlo. Enough said. RF 4 lyfe.

Cheers

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Special Edition: Labor Day

It’s Labor Day. This means that on Monday we don’t go to work. Let’s be honest, nobody else knows anything more about Labor Day except for your 10th Grade History teacher. Not even your 4th Grade History teacher knows why we have it (sorry, Mrs. Howard). Anyways, without work, what do we, as Americans, do? That’s right! We act as American as possible. What is being as American as possible, oh NY Weenie man? Here are some words to describe what every person should be doing on a Monday get-out-of-work-for-free-American-holiday: outside, sun, beer, family, sports, anthems, red, white, blue, hot dogs, chili, baseball, Washington DC, Nationals game.  So, I spent my Labor Day watching cricket over some tea. NAY! I went to the Nats game, in DC, with my folks, and ate one of the most famous hot dogs of all time from Ben’s Chili Bowl. God Bless America.

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Usually I first write about the place, the experience, etc. This time I want to get right on in to the part about the hot dog. Ben’s Chili Bowl was visited by Obama in 2009. Bill Cosby, although he may not be so popular anymore, has been known to frequent Ben’s, and has outwardly stated that it is his favorite place to eat. Ben’s has a rep, and is one of those places you’ll see on the travel channel one day. It has become so popular that it has a location inside Nationals Park. While obviously I’d rather visit the original, it’s pretty far away and I had a train to catch. Plus, it’s pretty awesome eating a hot dog at a baseball field. Plus, I didn’t want my family to risk running into Bill Cosby…

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I got the half-smoke. What is a half-smoke? It’s a big ass hot dog blended with a little pork sausage, essentially. There is definitely some different flavor to it, but it isn’t enough to take it out of the hot dog category for me. This bad boy is plump. Covered in chili, mustard, and onions, it is a mouthful and a hot mess. The first bite was super juicy, spicy, and delicious. There was chili everywhere. I looked like Ralphie’s little brother Randy from a Christmas Story. Now, I’ve always been a huge proponent of the chili dog. Raised to love the chili dog, this moment brought it all full circle for me, because I even got to enjoy it with the very person who raised me this way. Remember back when I reviewed the Yankee Stadium dog? I said I wanted to hand down the weenie throne and educate a young boy about the sausage. This was that moment, y’all. The plateau of hot dog education was occurring. Today, I earned my PhD in the weenie.

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Look at the focus on those ol’ boys.

I don’t want to go too far and give this dog a serious rating because I don’t want to lose sight of my mission. This hot dog is not served in New York, so please know that it will not be considered in the race for the golden weenie. I will, however, say that it deserves 4 weenies. Get it. It is worth going out of your way for if you are in DC.

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So, what else happened at the game? The Nats lost a crucial game to the Mets, 8-5, but I saw a grand slam, got some discounted Heinekens, went to the bathroom three times, and even got my picture taken with William H. Taft, the 27th President of the United States. Why did I pick Taft? Well, he was also a Chief Justice, the inventor of the seventh inning stretch, rocked a sweet moustache, and more importantly, got stuck in a bathtub one time. My hat goes off to you Mr. Taft; I can only hope to one day be as gracefully gluttonous as you.

Hardcore weenie reviewing resumes next week. Stay tuned.

Cheers

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