Gourmet. Upscale. Hot Dogs?

Hot Dog by Roy Lichtenstein
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Fancy hot dogs have arrived.

It sounds like a contradiction in terms.
But it doesn’t have to be.

The so-called haute dogs don’t interest me.
These are the gimmicky, stunt dogs that are beloved by restaurant publicists; the can-you-top-this Kobe beef and foie gras concoctions that attract media attention for their outrageous pretensions and price tags, but that nobody really orders.

What does interest me are hot dogs that are elevated by virtue of careful preparation and quality ingredients; that bring freshness to the genre while hanging on to an essential hotdogginess.

  • At Kansas City’s Dog Nuvo, the pickles and mustard are made from scratch, and the ultra-modern sous-vide cooked sauerkraut comes in flavors like blueberry-tarragon and mango with red curry.
  • New York’s Asia Dog tops its dogs with Asia-inspired condiments like kimchi apples, barbecued pork belly, and pickled daikon.
  • There’s a Calvados duck dog with green apple mustard and foie gras butter, and a game dog made from elk, venison, buffalo, and caribou and topped with pomegranate-mustard cream and gorgonzola dolce at Chicago’s Hot Doug’s.

The same conditions that brought us the current burger rennaissance are working in the hot dog’s favor. We’ve dialed it back in a tough economy choosing value-priced treats over all-out luxury. We’ll pay a premium price for the new dogs, but it’s still a far cry from steak.

You can pick up an armload of street cart Sabretts for the price of one of the upscale hot dog renditions, but there can be value.

The meat is often organic, grass-fed, or both. Naturally occurring preservatives like the juice or seed extracts of celery, spinach, beets, and cabbage are used rather than the traditional curing with salts containing sodium nitrite. Condiments and toppings may be house-made in small batches from local, seasonal ingredients—ketchup from flavorful heirloom tomato varieties, and mustard flecked with fresh herbs.

You have to respect the hot dog.
The best of the new renditions are ever mindful of the traditions.
They preserve the hot dogs’ timelessness as they reinvent them for contemporary sensibilities. In a sign of the times, even the iconic Oscar Meyer Weinermobile has downsized to a Mini Cooper.

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3 Responses to Gourmet. Upscale. Hot Dogs?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Gourmet. Upscale. Hot Dogs? | Gigabiting -- Topsy.com

  2. Janice says:

    Love the Hebrew Nationals. I did a post about them and the popularity of kosher foods a little while back: Chew the Right Thing http://gigabiting.com/?p=3023/

  3. G Martin says:

    Interesting post. I’ve not seen the “haute” dogs at my favorite supermarket, but I will pay a little more for the Hebrew National brand, since their ingredients are more pure.

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