Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Texas Smoked Hot - Tony Luke's

Been doing some exhaustive local hot dog research lately... After months of painting & writing about hot dogs from other cities I realized there's a lot I haven't eaten right here in Philadelphia, and as long as the Phillies are going strong I want to continue featuring Philly dogs for my Serious Eats column.

Headed down to South Philly this morning in search of some new & exciting variations. Never even really considered ordering a hot dog at Tony Luke's before... I looked over the crazy menu and my jaw dropped for a second when I saw the listing for the "Texas Smoked Hot" with onions and special sauce.

The Texas Smoked Hot is an extra long split & grilled smoked dog... covered in onions and Texas-Weiner style chili sauce, with a really strong cinnamon taste, stronger than most I've had in Philly, all on a long steak roll. Sort of a cross between a Texas Weiner and a Half-Smoke. Awesome. I'm a huge fan of the "split and grilled" style, especially when there's a good char on there.

So the Texas Hot was a little close to stuff I've done before to make it as hot dog of the week but it's still a fantastic hot dog. Tony Luke's menu has all kinds of wild items I've never noticed before, like the "Papa Luke" steak sandwich with sliced tomatoes and cream cheese and "hot dog fries". I don't love their steaks as much as some (standing by my current favorites - Philip's on 24th & passyunk and George's on 9th street) but this was a killer hot dog. I've heard that their veal cutlet & chicken cutlet sandwiches are also pretty amazing.

Tony Luke's
Front & Oregon
South Philly

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pine State Biscuits

I've never been a big breakfast person, and for most of my life I've totally ignored the whole breakfast is the most important meal of the day thing. The only times that I make an exception to my no food before noon rule is when I'm on vacation, and oftentimes I end up kicking myself for not venturing into the world of breakfast foods more often.

On my last day in Portland I found myself awake pretty early in order to make a flight and have one last meal with the friends that I was visiting. We made our sleepy way over to Pine State Biscuits for an obscenely early breakfast that was one of the best that I've ever had. Their signature sandwich, the Reggie, sounds like a prime candidate for This Is Why You're Fat but it tastes like a dream come true. A giant flakey biscuit topped with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, and the best country gravy I've ever had. The biscuit is tinged yellow from all of the great butter that goes into it, the bacon is cooked perfectly, treading that fine line between chewy and overdone, and the gravy has enough coarsely ground black pepper to make it borderline spicy. This sandwich would have been great even if the chicken wasn't, but the chicken itself was amazing. It was a boneless breast which tends to dry out easily, but this one was a triumph. Moist, crisp, and perfectly seasoned with hints of vinegary hot sauce and the tang of a possible buttermilk soak.

It's been a week since my last Reggie and I have to say that there hasn't been a morning that I haven't woken up and craved it. Next time I'm in Portland I'll have to go for the Reggie Deluxe that tops the whole thing with an over easy egg.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brauhaus Schmitz

Initially I wrote this place off as another college sports bar with a fake theme, expecting something like a Bavarian Fado. The 45 flat screen TV's and dudes banging on the table and chugging car bombs sort of confirmed this. But I arrived half drunk myself after a long week of drawing hot dogs and was ready to give it a go.

The food surprised me - pretty much the real thing. The Schlachtplatte (butcher's plate) was as good as any choucroute I've had anywhere. A heaping pile of saurkraut with a pork chop and 3 different serious German sausages (a few of which they make in house) including blood pudding.

Turns out the chef earned his chops at a German Club near Reading, PA and picked up some old school craft from the kitchen elders. Also a million different German beers on tap and well-informed waitresses decked out in Bavarian rennaissance-faire attire. Awesome.

Brauhaus Schmitz
718 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Skyline Chili

My friend Tim just brought back some Skyline Chili in a can from Ohio.
Cooked it up with some spaghetti, shredded cheese and raw onions in the real deal Cincinnati style. Apparently you're supposed to eat it with oyster crackers but I was all out. How something popular in New England made it onto Ohio chili blows my mind.

Anyway the taste is kind of insane but really good. It was similar in flavor to the "Greek Sauce" I've had at Texas Weiner style hot dog joints in PA and New Jersey, but much stronger. It's really hard to tell what's in there but I would guess cloves, cinnamon, maybe even chocolate? This kind of Chili has nothing to do with mexico but it sort of reminds me of mole sauce. I always thought chili on spaghetti sounded disgusting but guess what it's great.

Washed it down with some Philadelphia Brewing Company Coffee Porter.. talk about pairing food with beer. I still have 2 cans of chili left, next step is putting that stuff on some hot dogs.

Perfect timing because I just featured the Detroit Coney for Hot Dog Of The Week, which uses a very similar chili traditionally made with beef hearts & kidneys but almost never served with cheese.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Otto & Crif Dogs

So I've heard a lot of mixed reviews on the pizza at Mario Batali's Otto in NYC. Didn't exactly blow me away but it was decent. I would say Tacconelli's and even Osteria here in Philly are a notch above.

But what they don't have is probably the best salted caramel gelato I've ever had, pretty ballsy it's more salty than sweet and tastes like something you might rub on a rack of ribs. Awesome.

We also don't have Crif Dogs open for pork-roll wrapped hot dogs at 3am. And the best tater tots in the world, I don't know if they make them by hand or fry them in peanut oil or what but they're always perfect.

New Prints

4 brand new Hot Dog prints available! From my Hot Dog Of The Week series for Serious Eats.
Pick them up at my website, $27 bucks a pop.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Asian Market Report

Every time I go the asian market I can't help but pick up some exotic items to try out. Also I feel sort of guilty going up to the register with my gringo coconut milk and sriracha. So I always grab a can of fried wheat gluten in fermented sauce or whatever. A few weeks ago I decided I was going to eat healthier and picked up these vegetarian meatballs for $1.50.

The label proudly says "No Borax" and I cooked them in some broth with noodles.. the broth was great but these meatballs literally smelled like canned dog food and tasted even worse. The texture was like chewing on a rubber ball and they messed up my stomach for three days. Anyway if you want to make Pho broth at home they have these bags of mixed Pho spices for 75 cents full of cinnamon, star anise and crazy ass hunks of tree bark.

Fortunately these $2 Durian popsicles were awesome. Highly recommended if you aren't ready for the real thing, you still get the durian funk taste but not so much of the weird ammonia aftertaste. I haven't actually had straight durian fruit yet but they've got em and it's only a matter of time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Seattle Cream Cheese Hot Dog

Latest "Hot Dog Of The Week" illustration and article on Serious Eats.

This week it's Seattle's Cream Cheese Hot Dog, which apparently started about 10 years ago at vendors outside the Mariners stadium. They take a split & grilled hot dog, smear a toasted roll with cream cheese and add on a pile of grilled onions. Other toppings include everything from grilled cabbage to jalepenos and BBQ sauce, depending on what vendor you go to.Recently it's become a late night thing with makeshift hot dog stands setting up outside of bars on weekends.

The article got a nod from the Seattle Stranger's blog and is generating lots of hot dog controversy. It blows my mind that there was / is almost no coverage of the Cream Cheese Dog by the local alt-weeklies or food blogs. The most I found was a short list of favorite stands from Seattle Magazine.

Anyway many thanks to Garrett Morlan for tipping me off to the Seattle Dog and sending some great photos. Check out his awesome illustration work at Garrettmorlan.com