Jonathan is dropping by again for another guest post. Since I am a lazy butt and spent half of yesterday wandering around NY looking for my apartment keys... stupid story, no details necessary, so no haiku until later. For now, read some coherent writing for once! Mmm.. hot dogs... oh and Jonathan, if I induce hot dog cravings, you should just hope I never take pictures of cheesy poofs...
It just seems like I’ve been waiting in a lot of lines lately. As I sit here now on the floor of the AMC 21 waiting to watch The Dark Knight, whose tickets are harder to get than Mylie Cyrus tickets last year (not that I’d know), I keep thinking about the lines I’ve been in over the past few days. Not surprisingly, all the lines have revolved around food. First, there was the run to Hot Doug’s to fulfill the foodinmouth-induced hot dog craving; next, there was the chef frenzy of the Green City Market Chef’s Summer BBQ Festival.
Hot dog along with deep-dish pizza and Italian beefs are quintessential Chicago foods. Amongst the Chicago and New York food rivalries, hot dogs are certainly near the top of the list. The Chicago style dog itself consists of a hot dog in a poppy seed bun topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt; but never ketchup. There are also tons of "places-you-have-to-go" to understand the Chicago style hot dog (Superdawg and the Wiener Circle among them). For me, the best place may be Hot Doug’s, the self-described sausage superstore and encased meat emporium.
It was late last Saturday when I decided I needed to go to Hot Doug’s. It was 3pm, and the store was closing in an hour; so I was worried it might close before I got there. I pulled up to the corner with about 30 minutes before closing and the line curled around the sidewalk beside the building. The line was moving, but slowly. An impromptu concert started a few people in front of me in line (and by concert, I mean three people singing and playing a guitar, tambourine and a kazoo). The singing helped passed the time until I arrived inside to see the menu.
Hot Doug’s is unique in that you can get the classics or more exotic and original "specials," such as the Cognac and hazelnut pheasant sausage with black truffle sauce moutarde and foie gras mousse and sel gris (of note, Hot Doug’s was the first restaurant to be fined when Chicago had its brief but memorable foie gras ban). The hot dogs themselves are great. Hot Doug’s has the unique ability to serve the classics and new innovation side by side. But perhaps most amazing of all are the fries. On Fridays and Saturdays they serve French fries fried in duck fat. Fabulous.
I was once again lining up on Thursday night at the annual Green City Market Chef’s Summer BBQ Festival. For $50, over 50 Chicago chefs provide the BBQ. The event is great for 2 main reasons – food and chef spotting. The major themes in the food this year were pulled pork, cherries and hot dogs. Everyone from Blackbird’s Paul Kahan to Terry Crandall at the Peninsula were putting their spin on the Chicago hot dog. Oh and the chef spotting! Close to the entrance was what could be called the "Top Chef Table." Stephanie Izard (Season 4) was front and center with her braised pork with basil slaw, manzanilla olives and sweet and sour cherries. Dale Levitski (Season 3) was hanging around and Sara Nguyen (Season 3) was helping out. Just a few rows down, Rick Bayless (who is a fantastic dancer) was personally handing out his grilled pork loin with spicy snug haven salsa brava and three sister’s garden black beans. And many more down the line.
Addendum: Dark Knight was awesome. And Chicago makes a great Gotham City. Here’s a picture I took when I was watching them film part of the evacuation sequence (two blocks from my apartment).
3324 North California.
Chicago, IL 60618
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