The food blog muse has not been visiting me often as of late. But today I found inspiration in a small plastic container of pudding. So out of hack-blog pseudo-retirement I come, like a lizard slithering from under a rock.
One of the best parts of fatherhood is passing down to your spawn a curated selection of the traditions that you enjoyed in your youth. Pursuant to this I have been taking my 3 year old son (Mr. Dave IV) to Hot Dog Charlie's for lunch on a semi-weekly basis. We journey across the river to the Rensselaer location and have a grand old time feasting on our region's beloved small hot dogs.
I've been trying to ease my young progeny into the wonders of "6 with the works" but he is still firmly in "4 with just ketchup" country and I guess that is just fine with me (for now). Here was our lunch order of this afternoon.
I actually pulled a wild card today and got meat sauce w/cheese. I do this instead of works about 1 out of every 10 times I eat at Hot Dog Charlie's. Don't ask me why. My default order and most favored combination is the holy trinity of onion/mustard/meat sauce and it is what I will discuss below.
This brings me to the point of this story. Have you ever tried Hot Dog Charlie's rice pudding? If not you are missing out and I will tell you why.
The distinctive flavor sensation of a Charlie's dinky dog with the works is its bitterness. The chopped onion, mustard, and raw-spice quality of the meat sauce come together in a pleasing note of bitterness. And you know what tastes delicious after gorging on 6 or 12 of those charming bitter little bastards?
Rice pudding, that's what.
The cool, cloying and soothing sweetness of the rice pudding is the perfect foil for the warm, spicy, and stimulating bitterness of the hot dog w/works. Before first experiencing the delight of rice pudding post hot dogs I always used to smirk at seeing it on Charlie's menu. Now I know that this is genius (calculated or not). Even the large sprinkling of cinnamon on the pudding recalls the cinnamon in the hot dog sauce. It is brilliant.
So go ahead and try it. See if I'm wrong. Life has precious few true pleasures (the rain on your face, your toes in a creek, the squeeze of your child's hand in your own, the taste of rice pudding after a dinky dog with the works... ) and you must grab all of them by their short n' curlies and hold on while the going is good.
Well, there she goes boys. Perhaps I have my seasonal surge of energy that leads to untold numbers of verbose blog posts concerning hot dogs. Part of my charm.