Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hot Dog Alert #6

They say things are bigger in Texas. After consuming a good portion of the two-foot long Boomstick Hot Dog at Globe Life Park in Arlington, I believe it. But things are about to get weird as well.

In case you are glued to the tube on Saturdays and Sunday taking in football, you may have failed to notice that it is STILL baseball season and the MLB playoffs have begun. And if you are mesmerized by boys chasing the pigskin around and oblivious to other important life events (I am talking to you Oklahoma), you missed a great baseball comeback as the Texas Rangers clawed their way from third place to take the American League West Division.

So what are the Rangers going to do to celebrate and reward fans for coming out to root for the team? Introduce a new hot dog of course. This entry is a mixture of sweet and meaty. I know, sounds nasty, but I thought so too until I started testing some really strange dogs. They can be tasty if properly done.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce….The Cotton Candy Dog. It is a regular hot dog topped with cotton candy infused mustard and a tuft of either blue or pink cotton candy on top.

It doesn’t sound all that appealing, but I have learned not to judge a dog by its toppings. I’d love to try one, but alas, the Cotton Candy Dog will only be available during the playoffs. And I don’t have tickets. Want a full report on the dog? No problemo...just send me a playoff ticket and I am all over it. Talking to you Texas Rangers.  

If you do happen to have a ticket, get one ($10) and you can be a guest blogger and tell us all about this circus on a bun.

And allow me to repeat...IT IS STILL BASEBALL SEASON!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tales From the Dark Side

What a way to end the summer. With just two days left in the season of sun, I spent the waning days of the 2015 regular season where it started: in the rock pile cheap seats at Coors Field. If you remember, I began my quest this year by attending the Rockies’ opening day in April. It was also my first foray to the dark side.
For lovers of hot dogs and all things processed meat, the dark side is where the new age hippies live. Those freaks of nature that do not consume the flesh of animals…in other words: communists. But temptation and curiosity got the better of me. Having tried the regular dog at Coors Field in 2014 and the Taco Dog in 2015, I was left with one option: the veggie dog. That’s right, I went meatless at the ballpark. For a hot dog explorer it is sort of like showing up for work naked.
I don’t have a rating system for veggie dogs, but I have actually had a few here and there. They, just like meat dogs, run the full spectrum from pretty good to pretty awful. None come as close as being as tasty as a Hebrew National on a bun though.
The reasonably- priced veg dog comes on an oversized bun. It is sort of like the Dodger Dog in reverse. The Dodger Dog’s frank sticks way over each end of the bun, whereas the veggie dog frank at Coors Field has about an inch of bun extending past the roll of liquefied and congealed vegetables.
I’d like to say it tasted good, but frankly it didn’t taste at all. I mean it seemed to have no taste. It was like a tube of meat-colored nothing on a bun. What helped was the generous portion of condiments put on the dog by the staff. The frank was really just a filler. And it far from filled me up. I immediately chased it with a 24 ounce Coors and a bag of peanuts.

Did I hate it? Are you kidding me? No, it didn’t taste good, but I ate it sitting in the cheap seats at a Major League baseball park watching the home team put the big hurt on my hapless Padres. And despite it being meat-free, being tasteless, and witnessing my favorite team take a shellacking, I was at the ballpark with a dog in my hand. And it don’t get no better than that.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Monsters of the Major Leagues: Specialty Hot Dog Smackdown Winner

After logging nearly 23,000 miles behind the wheel, countless gym showers and nights sleeping in my car...and a few extra pounds...I have the information you have been waiting for. You may have noticed that I have been absent a few weeks. It had nothing to do with my move to New Mexico, it had everything to do with getting time allotted on NASA’s supercomputers to crunch the numbers of all of the data I accumulated. And now, on par with the moon landing, I can tell you without a doubt which Major League Baseball team has the best specialty hot dog. In fact, I am pretty certain this information will help mankind more than all of that gravel we brought back from the moon.

If you have been following my blog, you probably already know the answer. I have also included a chart for those that cannot read and Giants fans. If you know baseball and processed meat, you should find it no surprise that the team with the best specialty dog in the MLB is: THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS.

Milwaukee is the the encased meat capital of the world. Plus, if you have ever been to Miller Park you have seen the fans tailgating in the parking lot. No serious Brewer fan would ever show up to the ballpark without Milwaukee’s version of a holy shrine: the grill. Fans grill their own franks, sausages, kielbasa, and the occasional burger while waiting in anticipation for the gates to the Brew Crew show to open. If anyone knows hot dogs, it’s Brewers fans. And if you want to make fans that are experts in what a great dog should taste like you had better offer up something big and fabulous. That is exactly what the Brewers concessions team has done. The Down Wisconsin Avenue Dog now reigns supreme as the dog to down in baseball. It was the only entry to get a perfect score. They were able to pull it off by offering a ginormous dog made with quality toppings at a great price. It all comes together in Milwaukee, the baseball hot dog center of the universe. Congratulations Brewers fans.

The surprises. Well, you might be surprised but not me. Two of the most storied franchises in baseball history, the Red Sox and the Yankees, end up on the bottom of the scale. The Red Sox in particular need hot dog help. I’m available.

Also, I have to mention two minor league teams that rival the majors: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Akron Rubber Ducks. The two-foot meat bomb the IronPigs offer would crush most MLB entries. And the slaughterhouse on a bun called the Three Dog Night in Akron is a unique three-meat dog that makes any meat lover's knees weak. Well done.

So what is in the future for your Hot Dog Explorer? Firstly, lots of hiking and running to work off my newly acquired hot dog gut. It was actually the sedentary nature of eat, drive, sit at game, sleep, drive, repeat that caused that. FYI I can still see my shoes. Then there is the Arizona Fall League to explore now that I live in the southwest. Plus, as promised, I will be posting some of the non-baseball Hot Dog Hot Spots I visited on my trip. Lastly, I am working on the sequel to “Gone to the Dogs” that will chronicle my trip this summer entitled “Doggone Good.” You are buying my book aren’t you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Texas Rangers: The Boomstick

It’s the end of the road amigos. I made it to whatever they are calling the ballpark the Texas Rangers play in these days to down my 30th specialty dog. As of now, I have tested and digested the top dog offered at EVERY major league ballpark; and nearly 30 minor league parks as well.

I end my quest tackling the hot dog legends are made of. It is like hunting lizards and komodo dragons and then coming face-to-face with Godzilla. It is the colossus of colonary conundrums: the Boomstick. This is the dog that lit the baseball hot dog world on fire and prompted so many other MLB ballparks to offers a ginormous dose of heartburn on a bun. I have waited years to sample it, and on this day, I went toe to toe with the Boomstick.

It starts with a two-foot long, all-beef Nolan Ryan (yes, that Nolan Ryan) frank. It is one meat torpedo that looks daunting even on the grill. It sits on a potato bun and topped with chili, nacho cheese, jalapenos and caramelized onions. It clocks in at THREE POUNDS. There are dogs that weigh less.

Appeal-eating this hot dog is like seeing Tony Bennett in Concert. Even you are not a fan of his music, he is such a legend you feel compelled to hear him sing. 5

Ingredients-Nolan Ryan makes mighty fine beef, and I love the potato bun. All top of the line toppings. 5

Uniqueness-not the solo giant dog in the majors any longer, but it is the dog that started the trend. 5

Monstrosity Factory-it broke my monstrosity meter. 5

Value-it might seem pricey at $26, but it should feed four fans easily. 5

Overall Taste-nearly perfect, but I think it was the chili that was a little off putting. Close to top score. 4.5
My hungry helpers
With an overall score of 29.5 it lands solidly in sole possession of second place. I, of course, could not eat the entire thing. I found two hungry Rangers fans to help me, and then I still had to chuck about 20% of it in the trash. This is the one time I do not feel ashamed of not being able to down the entire dog.

The Rangers have a great ballpark, and combine it with a historic Boomstick hot dog and you have one Texas-sized adventure. My advice: take a friend, a hungry friend.

Now that my adventure has ended, and I can declare a winner (watch for that in a future blog), I feel a little lost. No ungodly distance to drive overnight in order to get to a ballpark by game time. No adoring fans to sign autographs for. Just about eight pounds of hot dog gut to lose. Ugh. Oh, and to get to work on my next book: “Doggone Good.” You are buying my next book aren’t you?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Houston Astros: Catalina Dog

More indoor baseball at Minute Maid Park, aka the Juicebox. With the heatwave that has inundated the south, no one was complaining. And no one could complain about the specialty dog that the Houston Astros offer up. No one except me of course. It was one of the most unique and tastiest dogs I have eaten after visiting 29 of 30 MLB ballparks. But it is a real chore to get one. It is only sold in the Five-Seven Grille. Harkening to the uniform numbers of Astros greats Jeff Bagwell (5) and Craig Biggio (7). I am a fan of both players, and would be a fan of their in-stadium restaurant if it didn’t take me 20 minutes to just place my order. Everyone else had the same issue. Once the severely understaffed joint did bring me a menu the choice was clear: the Catalina Dog. It is grilled jumbo frank wrapped in a tortilla with black beans, citrus slaw, roasted corn, guacamole, cumin-lime sour cream and queso fresco. It is like eating a healthy taco; except for that processed meat part.

Appeal-just the name sounds cool, and after reading about it you have to have one. 5

Ingredients-all top quality, good-tasting stuff on the inside.5

Uniqueness-no other dog like it in the MLB. Great job. 5

Monstrosity Factor-after reading the price (see below), I was stunned at how little it was. 3

Value-this taco-type dog cost a whopping $13.25. I could have eaten at least two, probably three. Sure, it’s served in some swanky confines and has some haughty toppings, but for that price I want to be filled up. 2

Overall Taste-absolutely delicious. I loved it. 5
The price and size drags this dog down to a 25. Which is a damn shame, I really wanted it to do well. I love the Astros and love this unique, great-tasting hot dog. But the scorecard does not lie. To make matters worse, it is not available to the average fan. They are not going to wait forty minutes to get an overpriced, new-age hot dog no matter how good it tastes. Advice to Houston: serve it in the restaurant AND at a kiosk on the main concourse. And lower the price by three bucks. Then you have a contender.