A London hot dog worth eating!

hot dog

I was skeptical at first. The hot dogs I’d eaten previously in the United Kingdom uniformly failed to impress. This wasn’t terribly surprising, of course: I’d never have pegged the country as a dog destination. So, when a friend suggested a spot in London, I took the recommendation while eating my (rather low) expectations.

I’m drawn to hot dogs. I’ve eaten them around the world, and I’m always on the lookout for something unique – which often matters more to me than the actual quality of the dog. The United States is obviously the top spot for hot dogs, though I have had good luck in Iceland, Sweden, South Korea and Canada. There’s no regional bias to cloud my judgment, and I walked to London’s Portobello Market with an open mind.

Despite my initial doubts about the recommendation I’d received, I was heartened by the name: Banger Bros. A hot doggery should carry a slightly pornographic appellation, lest it be accused of taking itself too seriously. Once inside, I surveyed the rather extensive menu (which includes burgers and even some baked goods) before placing the order on which I’d decided well before entering: two plain dogs that I’d enhance on my own with ketchup and mustard.

%Gallery-115889%The staff was good for a laugh, balking at my attempts to take pictures though giving fellow blogger Laurie DePrete a pass. I forgot about the folks behind the counter completely, though, when my dogs arrived.

They were big. Very effing big. Intimidating.

The fare, it seems, is susceptible to the same humor that could be applied to the establishment’s name, especially when you try to wrap your mouth around one. These hot dogs are big and thick, requiring an act of will for each bite. They are coked well, snapping when you bite into them, though the burst of flavor that comes with a dog from Crif Dog, Gray’s Papaya or even Popo’s is missing. Still, the hard work of Banger Bros. surpasses that of the other dog establishments I’ve visited in the United Kingdom.

Banger Bros. is a local chain, though the food and style are not reminiscent of the fast food joints in the United State If you’re curious, be patient: I hear that there are plans to bring the dog shop to tour side of the Atlantic.

[photos by Laurie DePrete]

New Vienna Beef iPhone app helps you find and make the best Chicago-style Hot Dog

Everyone knows a Chicago-style Hot Dog is the best dog in the world, right?

Well, fans of this culinary delight will be happy to learn that the iPhone can help them find the closest Vienna Beef hot dog location. The app itself is free, and is surprisingly well made.

Inside the app, there is a location finder, Vienna Beef history, a photo of the perfect way to make an authentic Chicago-style dog and links to the Vienna Beef website, Twitter page and Facebook page. But the most important feature is probably the ketchup violation button.

See, Vienna Beef is pretty strict about prohibiting the application of ketchup on their dogs (an exception is made for kids under 12). If you come across a violation, you can email the Vienna Beef ketchup police directly from your iPhone.

Our very own Tom Johansmeyer is a bit of a hot dog connoisseur, so check his past posts on hot dogs from around the world!

Vienna Beef iTunes app store link.


The Chicago dog joint worth traveling to — soon to open a new location

In May 1948, Maurie and Flaurie Berman opened Superdawg – a authentic drive-in hotdog stand at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Devon Avenue in Chicago.

That restaurant grew up to be one of the most popular in the city, and made it into the “1000 places to see before you die” list.

Yes – it is that cool. Maurie and Flaurie still run the joint along with their kids, and they still serve their original Superdawg (don’t call it a hot dog).

A Superdawg is something special – they are one of the only in the city to use their own dog recipe instead of the traditional Vienna Beef dog. An authentic Superdawg comes with all the Chicago style trimings packed inside a Superdawg box with crinkle cut fries and a green tomato.

Later this month, Supwerdawg will open their second drive-in location in Wheeling, IL (about 6 miles up the road from the original location). An airport location was opened at Midaway in 2003.

The new Wheeling store will be much larger than the (cramped) Chicago location, but everything has been kept as authentic as possible, down to the “control tower” style order picker room and of course, the Maurie and Flaurie dogs on the roof.

The book is right though – everyone needs to visit Superdawg at least once in their life. The Chicago location can be reached by bus, but there is not much room to eat indoors (they do have a small patio), so the best way to experience Superdawg is to rent yourself a car and hope you keep the seats clean!

Iceland Express will offer low-cost flights from Newark to Reykjavik

I’m kind of obsessed with Iceland. Ask me about the country and get ready to endure my lengthy soliloquy on why I love it so much. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and I’d feel pretty comfortable saying that even as I travel to more destinations, I’ll always consider it so.

Drive a few minutes away from Reykjavik and you’ll see mountains topped with snow, former lava fields covered in moss, volcanic ash beaches, and waterfalls in every shape and size. At Thingvellir National Park, the earth is shifting and dozens of little earthquakes happen every day. At the Blue Lagoon, people soak in steaming neon blue waters even as fat snowflakes land in their hair, and in random fields all over the country, horses will literally come running up to you to socialize. Horsies! Plus: Best. Hot dog. Ever.

Ever since I visited in March, I’ve been plotting my return. Trouble is, the tickets are just so expensive. Because Icelandair is the only carrier that goes from the US to Iceland, they can charge pretty much whatever they want. While they do have sales often, tickets from JFK to Reykjavik regularly range from $500 (in winter) to as much as $1200-$1500 during peak times.

But perhaps finding a cheaper fare may get easier. Iceland Express, a low-cost carrier that already operates flights from several European cities to Reykjavik (often for as low as $200 round trip) will begin flying from Newark to Reykjavik in June. Flights are available for purchase now and seem to be slightly cheaper than Icelandair. For dates I checked in August, flights on Iceland Express were $534 compared to $730 round trip on Icelandair.

Hawaii says “stay away” to the Wienermobile

Apple pie, Baseball and the Wienermobile – seriously, there is not much more American than the iconic Oscar Mayer hotdog on wheels.

People everywhere love seeing the Wienermobile, and contests are held yearly so people can get a chance to drive it themselves.

Unless of course you live in Hawaii. An archaic 1927 law bans all billboards on the Hawaiian islands, and a local organization claims the Wienermobile should be part of that ban. The group, Outdoor Circle, is pushing to keep the hotdog off the island forever.

The Wienermobile visited Hawaii for 3 weeks in July, and as far as Outdoor Circle is concerned, that is going to be its last visit.

According to the people behind the organization, “6 to 12 O’ahu residents complained”. A 2006 law banning all vehicles with the sole purpose of advertising was also cited in the complaint.

The Honolulu mayor welcomed the Wienermobile to his city, and it was honored with an official “Oscar Mayer Wiener Day”. The mayor is now looking into possible violations, but pointed out that no official complaints were received by them.

Sometimes you just wonder whether people are having such a hard time finding better things to do. Complaining about the Wienermobile violating a 1920’s law just seems like a huge waste of time.