I’m in Austin, Texas this week, which means that—while there’s no end to my barbecue and burger options—I’m missing out on the Week 9 hot dog at the Blue Rooster Food Co. Fortunately, fellow Portland food blogger Kate McCarty has all of the details on Mike Wiley’s (of Hugo’s fame) contribution here. It looks amazing.
Alas, with nary a hot dog in sight—ok, well that’s not exactly true… I did brave the traffic and near 100-degree heat to indulge in some goodies from T-Loc’s Sonora Hot Dogs)—I’ve been thinking about that which is to come. For instance, what might we see from Joe Ricchio, Andrew Taylor, Cheryl Lewis and Rob Evans in the final four weeks of the Chef Series?
But the mind games did not end there. With the Blue Rooster Chef Series an undeniable culinary success—and perhaps preoccupied with the notion of building many a fantasy football roster in the weeks to come—I found myself wondering, “What if they do this again next year? Who should participate?”
With that said, here are five (completely fictional, non-existent) hot dogs that I’d like to see the next time around:
- The Salvage BBQ Dog: As I spend a good chunk of my time in a town known for (or at least cleverly marketed as) the world’s best BBQ, I like to think that my smoked meat standards are pretty high. And so, it pleases me to say that the offerings at Salvage are remarkably good. Not just remarkably good for Maine, mind you. Salvage’s fare holds-up to some of the better ‘cue I’ve eaten in barbecue meccas like Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee. (Which is a good thing, because their prices are on par with those of Austin’s esteemed Franklin Barbecue.) So, what toppings would I like to see on the “Salvage Dog?” How about raw red onions, cole slaw, a heap of finely chopped brisket and pork, and a drizzle of their smoky barbecue sauce? I’ll take mine with a side of Zantac.
- The Bresca Dog: Bresca and the Honey Bee owner Krista Kern Desjarlais and her husband Erik (whose Choucroute Dog I wrote about here) are two of my favorite people on the planet. Though I’ve only met each of them once, they’ve both been incredibly kind to me and this blog with their supportive words and their time. Back in 2011, Krista spoke with me for the better part of an afternoon about the (at the time) soon-to-launch lunch service, called Bresca Day. (Desjarlais closed Bresca in 2013 to focus on new’ish venture Bresca and the Honey Bee.) It certainly doesn’t hurt that—in addition to being a genuinely nice human being—Krista is a remarkable chef. I’ve literally had dreams about the red wine braised beef cheeks she once served at Bresca. So, what would a hot dog designed by Krista look like, you ask? We don’t even have to imagine. I recently stumbled across this PPH review of Bresca and the Honey Bee, which features an image of an incredible-looking “Hot Dog Indochine,” topped with pickled carrot, radish, cilantro, basil, fresno chili, cucumber, citrus chili, mayo and hoisin. Wow. Just… wow. Rather than lift the image, I’ll let you see it for yourself by clicking here.
- The PFM/Blueberry Files Dog: Next week, we’ll get to sample blogger/bartender/local celebrity Joe Ricchio’s contribution to the Blue Rooster Chef Series. If, like me, you’re a fan of the quirky ode-to-excess that is his “Food Coma” blog, you’re probably anticipating a foot-long blood sausage topped with absinthe-infused M&M’s, a line of uncut Colombian cocaine and the tears of an 8 year-old Malaysian boy. But what if the Blue Rooster extended the opportunity to some other Portland food bloggers? My vote would be for a hot dog designed by Anestes Fotiades—the man behind Portland Food Map, which is pretty much the go-to blog for anything involving the Portland food scene—and the Blueberry Files’ Kate McCarty, whose book, “Portland Food: The Culinary Capital of Maine,” is now on sale. What would their joint-venture hot dog look like? I’m imagining a hot dog served with pork belly, Kate’s peach salsa and topped with a fried egg.
- The Chicago Dogs Portland Dog: Let’s extend our purview beyond Portland, shall we? As a former Midwesterner who visited Chicago countless times over a dozen years, one of my favorite non-Portland haunts is Scarborough-based Chicago Dogs. Owner Joe Palmieri (who also hosts a morning sports radio show on WJAB) offers more than a dozen different hot dogs on his menu (as well as various burgers, sausages and sides), but the only thing I ever order there is the namesake Chicago Dog. Although Scarborough is more than a thousand miles removed from Chicago, these things are about as authentic as they come, from the poppy seed bun to the bright green relish. But let’s pretend for a second that Chicago-style hot dogs aren’t the best thing on the planet and we were willing to accept some Portland-centric variation on the recipe. What could we anticipate? I would insist on keeping the Vienna frank, but maybe we can swap out the poppy-seed bun for a New England style bun, buttered and grilled. Let’s also nix the regular ol’ dill pickle in favor of a Morse’s Sour Garlic pickle spear, and replace the celery salt, raw onions, relish and tomato slices with caramelized onions and a cherry tomato relish. Lastly, let’s 86 the sport pepper and yellow mustard and opt instead for Raye’s Spicy Horseradish Mustard. Yum.
- The Rosemont Dog: Rosemont Market’s Brighton location is just a little over a mile away from my house, so I find myself there 2-3 times a week (at least when I’m in town). Sometimes it is just for a cup of coffee, a loaf of fresh-baked bread, a quick sandwich or a pint of homemade soup. Other times, I’ll plan an entire meal around a shopping excursion, seeking out something tasty at the meat/seafood counter and then supplementing it with whatever fresh veggies they have available (the days I find blue potatoes there are like hitting the lottery). The folks at Rosemont Market do so many things well, its hard to pin down just one approach for a hot dog, but lets start with their house-made rabbit hot dogs, topped with an apple, tomato and cucumber chutney. For a little extra kick, maybe smear the bun with a little bit of Rosemont’s “Secret Weapon” sauce (which I think is basically just mayo mixed with a bunch of other condiments).
So there you have it. Five “fantasy” dogs that I’d love to see if the Blue Rooster folks ever do a Version 2.0 of this thing. I hope you got a kick out of this. To my readers, I’d love to know what your Blue Rooster dream dog would look like, and who would build it?