Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Gallery of Stewart's Signage: Part 3

Why yes, I do happen to have beer, munchies, and wood.
Thanks for askin'!
Thought it might be time for another installment (Part 1 and Part 2) of my ongoing posts documenting the wonderful world of Stewart's Shops signage (mayhaps for a little levity to take your mind off the Snor-easter-icane-ocaust-ageddon). This time I even have a couple reader submitted offerings.

We already covered the Stewart's Pizza situation in depth, but here is the sign anyhow.

Is there anything that says Upstate New York more than a beer-case door display of Genesee and Mountain Brew? Also, why is the 'S' capitalized in Genesee?...

Nothing says, "I wanna get shitty drunk for under 11 bucks" like a case of Stewart's Mountain Brew Ice. By the way, Part 5 of my Piss Beers of Upstate New York series will be an exploration of this heady brew.

The word loaf is funny. There is no getting around this fact. Second loafs are even funnier.

This was emailed to me by Tom (thanks Tom!). It is a rack of individual hard boiled eggs in plastic bags (same apparatus that served up the individual bread slice samples) with a sign that says, "Why am I hanging here?" Beautiful, just beautiful.

Here is a link to a delightful, hand drawn, "bread sandwich" advert. from Rob-

May ye all fair well in the face of the coming storm. Best wishes to you from the Mr. Dave household. It won't be that bad. It is never really that bad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dallas Hot Wieners. There Is a New Sauced Dog in Albany.

I have been meaning to get over to Dallas Hot Wieners for quite a while and finally got around to it this afternoon. Dallas Hot Wieners is a Kingston/Saugerties institution from way back that has recently opened up shop in one of the store fronts at the Knick (Pepsi, Times Union, bah... whatever.).

Dallas Hot Wieners is sort of like the Hot Dog Charlie's of the Hudson Valley, i.e. a small, Greek-run hot dog chain offering wieners with meat sauce (obligatory top secret recipe), mustard, and onions (among many other things). As I fancy myself as something of a local hot dog-ologist, a close examination of this product could wait no longer.

I found the interior of the restaurant to be spic and span with bonus points for the counter/stool arrangement a la Famous Lunch. I was there at around half past noon and there was a brisk  (but sort of light...) business moving through.

I ordered a bunch of items to go as I had my two savage minions (children) in tow and I thought that unleashing them, sauced hot dogs in hand, on the unsuspecting patrons would not go over too well on the occasion of my first visit.

My order consisted of a couple of the "Dallas Hot Wieners," a couple plain dogs, a chicken patty sandwich (I have a weird penchant for foods that remind me of the grade school cafeteria), some fries, and a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder (for the wife, she is a red chowder fiend).

My order was prepared fairly quickly (maybe 5 minutes) and it came all snug and neatly packed in a box. I found the box of hot dogs to be strangely pleasing, almost zen like. I am pretty sure that my personal conception of heaven involves boxes of neatly wrapped hot dogs.

Each hot dog is skillfully wrapped in a piece of wax paper which is actually a pretty effective way of transporting a to-go wiener with meat sauce. Plus, it looks cool.

Here is a plain wiener that I got for my 3 year, 10 month old blond ball of fury (darling Giblet) who has decided that most condiments consist of radioactive demons blood or some other foul excreta of the whorey netherworld. She will accept a bit of Heinz, but only if she witnesses it leave the original container herself as she doesn't trust me not to slip something else in on her. Bless her heart.

Anyhow, the hot dogs are on the small side. Not nearly as small as my beloved 3" dinky dogs (like those from Famous or Charlie's) but not quite as big as a Stewart's deli dog. These particular wieners were sort of about the same size of the Rhode Island "New York System" wieners that I sampled at the Big E the other week. The bread delivery vehicle is a workaday hot dog bun that they keep in a steamer.

As far as the flavor of the actual sausage (I tasted a bit plain), the Dallas Hot wieners by themselves are very underwhelming. These are dirty water dogs (they are fished out of a big pot of hot water and hot dogs when you order) which is not my preferred cooking method for this sort of hot dog.

I prefer my Stewart's (skinless) deli dogs steamed (definitely not off of a hot dog roller, read all about that here), but for the sort of assertive natural casing frank usually used in this sort of application I prefer a flat top/roller cooked dog. The taste and smell of hot dog water is pretty strong on these bad boys. Aside from that, these wieners are almost bland. This is one of the first times that I have ever had a hot dog that I thought could have used a bit more salt. The casing is a bit flaccid as well, absolutely no snap or pop.

The actual "Dallas Hot Wiener" comes with their secret recipe meat sauce, brown deli mustard, and a bit of chopped onion. I was especially interested in seeing how the meat sauce stands up to our Capital Region style classics (Gus, Famous, Charlie's). I have heard a lot of good things about the stuff.

The sauce is fairly thin and the crumb of the beef is very fine, I bet they hit the stuff with an immersion blender. It is somehow less "meaty" than other meat sauces that I have had, i.e. more sauce and less meat. The spice mix is pretty interesting, I could have sworn that I tasted a bit of curry powder. This wouldn't actually surprise me too much as many North Country Michigan (a style I experimented with the other week) sauce recipes call for curry powder and this could be a related style. I would not bet my hat on the curry powder thing though, it could just be an aggressive amount of cumin, cinnamon, and chili powder. Also of note is the heat level of this stuff, it is pretty aggressively spicy for a hot dog meat sauce. There is definitely a cayenne pepper back.

You get a thin slather of brown deli mustard and a relatively small amount of chopped onion (much less than at Famous or Charlie's) under the sauce. Taken together you get a good mix of spice and heat from the sauce and a vinegar punch from the mustard. The onion is almost a non-factor in the overall flavor.

My verdict is that the Dallas Hot Wiener is definitely an interesting change of pace. I think that if they went native and started using some of the Helmbold's medium franks (or even contracted with Rolf's for a tailor made sausage) then the product would be improved exponentially.

While eating these wieners I kind of felt like I was cheating on Hot Dog Charlie's (my local hot dog vendor of choice since birth). Let us just say that I will not be changing my avowed hot dog loyalty based on the Dallas Hot Wiener experience. It was an interesting change in pace (and my family actually really enjoyed the other non-hot dog offerings) but we are blessed locally with our own superlative vendors of the hot dog/meat sauce/onion/mustard combination.

All this said, I wish Dallas Hot Wieners nothing but success. The staff was friendly, the dining area was immaculately clean, the service was quick, the menu is expansive for a hot dog joint, and the prices are pretty dirt cheap. I would recommend giving the place a whirl if you are so inclined, I don't think you will be disappointed. Also, it is always good to see how other regions take their meat sauce dogs.

My opinion is still that the small hot dogs served at Hot Dog Charlie's and Famous Lunch are the finest examples of this form in the entire world. It will be very hard to convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Cider Donut Burger (Cider Slider? Donut n 'Curd Burger? Bah, Can't Think of a Catchy Title...)

So I was over at Indian Ladder Farms (Altamont, NY) this afternoon enjoying some goat-watching and donut eating when a semi-original idea occurred to me. I am sure the Luther Burger is familiar to you. It is a stock item of the"outrageous" or "ridiculous" food genre that has swept across the world and has been beaten in the manner of a dead horse over the past few years (I was a willing an enthusiastic participant early in this blogs history. I regret nothing). 

The Cider Donut (link is to the Herr Fussenstein, who has much to say about the subject as it applies locally) is one of the few regional foods that us Upstate Americans can claim and truly be proud of. So why not slap some beef and cheese on one of those sugary little bad boys and claim a donut burger of our very own? No reason at all why not... Hence, the "Upstate NY Cider Donut Burger" was born. 

I started with a workaday Indian Ladder sugared cider donut. Indian ladder donuts are a bit on the small side which is perfect for a donut burger. If you are going to be eating a donut burger than it doesn't really need to be that over large, now does it? We don't meen to be piggish here...

I am a cheeseburger fan. I know that hamburger/donut burger purists may scoff at this, and frankly cheese on a donut is a bit of a difficult concept to wrap the mind around, but I decided to go with some cheese in the form of my patented fried cheese curd disc.

I took some Palatine Valley Dairy (Nelliston, NY) cheese curds and threw them into a hot and greasy skillet. Right as the curds are about to pool into a melty curd pile you gingerly remove them with a thin spatula.

Done correctly you end up with a delicious crispy/gooey disc of browned cheese curd.

For the meaty filling I used some Buckley Beef ground sirloin (Valley Falls, NY) and prepared a fairly crusty and thin patty. Finally I topped my creation with a generous spoon full of butter browned onions.

Finally done I realized that I had created a beautiful masterpiece. I stood staring at the unctuous n'greasy little bastard pinched between my sugary fingers and giggled like a kid. It just looked so good. I was a bit worried that appearances aside the Cider Donut Burger would taste a bit off.

 So I took a bit ol' bite and ruminated a bit...

Nope, not weird. Definitely good. Delicious in fact, I was wrong to ever have doubted my own unending power, genius, or majesty. I will say that my creation requires some manner of sauce/condiment with a bit of acid/tang/sour to set off the sweetness of the whole affair. Maybe a cider based chutney of some sort... I will have to think about that. Overall I deem the Cider Donut Burger a resounding success.

In fact, I nominate the Cider Donut Burger as the official Donut Burger choice of Upstate New York! Who is with me? Huzzah!

Also, I need a catchier title for the thing. "The Cider Slider" was the only witty sort of title that came to mind, but what I made isn't really a "slider." I don't really even think you could use a donut (or a munchkin...) in a slider because the steamy bun seems to me to be one of the defining characteristics (of a slider). The "Cider Donut Burger" is sort of an apt and minimalist description in any event so maybe it is for the best.

Anyhow, I encourage everyone out there to experiment with this concept. I could easily see this as being a seasonal/niche/whimsical item on the menu of any number of local restaurants. Heck, I would buy one if I saw it somewhere...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dispatches From Abroad, Part 3: The Big E (A Pictorial...)

This post begins with a giant, extra-phallic, corn dog. Just as it should.

So I went to the New England extravaganza that is the Big E on its closing day last weekend. I will have to admit that those crazy New Englanders know how do put on a fair. I had a splendid time and consumed a piggish amount of fair-cuisine. So much so that I had to run a half-marathon the next day (1:55:04, not bad as I haven't really been training all too much) in order to write off the smorgasbord as "carbo-loading."

In any event, I won't belabor you with an extensive post on the subject (read -- I am too lazy to write one) so here is a pictorial documenting my shame. Complete with captions! See I am not completely remiss in my blogging duties, I did captions...

Also, my iPhone camera was on the fritz so I had to use my wife's normal people camera. That explains the weird nature of the pictures.

Ham and cheese "Connecticut Pizza."
Sorry Connecticut, I tweren't impressed. 
Chocolate covered Slim-Jim. Not bad, not bad....

Apple pie without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze!
My friend enjoyed this, I did not have a slice.

Apple Cider Slush! Come on New York, why don't
we have this piece of genius?!? Are we Appleknockers or
aren't we?

The corral for the queue at the "Maine Potato" concession.
Apparently the Maine potato is a big deal, I was

Main Potato assembly. This lady yelled at me, I got scared...

Here she is folks, the Maine Potato with everything.
Hell, soak anything in butter, cheese, and bacon and I
am in!

The RI "New York System Hot Weiner." Check
my last post for more details. 

Meat wheel in the sky keep on turning... Don't know when
I will eat meat to-morr-ow-ow-ow! (This was a spinning meat wheel).

Arepas and some deep fried pork belly strips. I did not partake.

Butter sculpture.

Fried cheese curds with ranch dressing. I don't think you
really need the ranch dressing...

That's about it. I will go back to the Big E next year, it really isn't that far away even (about an hour and a half).

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