After our 1 hour, 42 minute wait for a souvlaki earlier this year at a similar event, I was understandably a little hesitant about last weekend’s Great Hot Dog Cookoff. Not only do New Yorkers notoriously flock to food happenings like that, but it was also supposed to be the second-hottest day of the year. Luckily, there were a few factors working in my favor:
1) Only 600 tickets were being sold.
2) There were 23 different hot dog concoctions to choose from.
3) It was the best-organized food function I’ve ever been to in NYC.
After showing our IDs to a first line of volunteers, we were then shown to a series of tables where we could check in by last name. We donned our wristbands, grabbed our souvenir cups, met up with our friends Eric and Christine, and went to town. The entire block was filled with tented tables, two kinds of hot dogs to a table, with the respective chefs doing all of the dirty work–from grilling to bunning to dressing–right there:
We picked a table at random to start, and wouldn’t you know it–it ended up being my second-favourite dog of the day: the Snap, Crackle, Dog!, which was mole poblano with “a super-special bun” that turned out to be a Rice Krispies treat! Of course the one that doubles as dessert would be tops for me:
Next to that was Crepes! Doggie Style that used a crepe instead of a bun:
The Early Riser, with cheese and bacon on a muffin:
Dr. Boyfriend clearly has no idea what to do with this thing, which is how we felt about most of the well-appointed dogs. But we weren’t complaining!:
The Conquistadog on Portuguese sweet bread with manchego and a cherry and port wine reduction:
The Cracker Jack Daniel’s Dog, with whiskey caramel peanuts on a pretzel bun:
The Hot Dog Experiment, a chili cheese dog with a side of melon juice:
The Panuchos Perros, with pickled onions wrapped in a tortilla with black beans and avocado:
The Frat Boy Dog, with potato chips, onions, jalapenos, and . . . Easy Cheese?:
The Soul Slider, with baked beans, collard greens, pulled pork, and a pickle:
The Fat Hog, with pulled pork, relish, and Fritos:
Corn Dog Mini Jack Muffins with Sweet Heat, with shredded jack and sweet/spicy mustard:
This is the one I actually voted for to win the whole shebang. The 8 Fat Fat 8 Lucky Dog, with garlic, ginger, onion, cilantro, hoisin, and daikon:
Perros Banditos, with cheesy Frito pie (although mine only had one Frito chunk):
There was also a table making Sodastream beverages on demand in ginger, hibiscus, cream soda, and lime. They saw a lot of me, but it was their fault for using the tiniest plastic cups instead of letting us fill the large cups we got with our wristbands at the entrance. It was also their fault for being delicious:
There were shockingly tiny samples of ice cream from SoCo Creamery (It was 100 degrees, SoCo! Give me at least a spoonful!):
and raffle prizes that these hopefuls didn’t even come close to winning:
Mostly, it was like a giant block party with way better food, and a DJ, and a totally-famous host we recognized but couldn’t name, and a sprinkler:
Since it was held at the Kelso of Brooklyn brewing company, unlimited beer was also included, and they were more than happy to fill our big plastic cups aaaaall the way full of pilsner or ale, yet there was so much to do that somehow, I never saw more than a handful of people waiting in line:
The line for the two portable toilets was always just as short, and at the end of the day, there were still plenty of hot dogs to be had (Except, of course for the one that ultimately won, the hot dog with lobster on top! Learn from our mistake and show up right when the event starts.):
See what a good time this young Ph.D. was having?
Overall, and despite the heat that made me just want to gobble up a bunch of dogs and leave, it was an awesome experience. I tried 13 different dogs, two kinds of beer, four kinds of soda, and one pitiful spoonful of ice cream and never had to wait for any of it. I had thought the $45 price tag might be a little steep at first, but just the sheer joy of being able to walk up to a tent and have a full tray of hot dogs waiting for me was well worth that. I’ll definitely be returning next year, and in fact, I wish there was another round this year!