Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hot Dogs for Breakfast (Chicago, IL)

Dear Mouse,

So there I was. A beautiful, autumnal Monday morning in Chicago, at I'm gonna say, 10AM (which was 11 for me, still on NYC time, but still - !), attempting to answer this question:

"So how would you feel about hot dogs for breakfast?"


The speaker was my host and companion Vitamin A, who my friend Dave likes to call "Abe Froman" (as in, Ferris Bueller's "Sausage King of Chicago"). I was pondering the irony of this when I realized A was waiting for an answer. He couldn't possibly be serious, so I just laughed ... and then, in the pause that followed, heard the unmistakable sound of a carefully-crafted itinerary crashing onto a hardwood floor. Hastily, I scooped up the shards and plastered them back together into something that sounded like:

"I mean, why not? That sounds great!"

and then, weakly,

"But I think maybe we should do EITHER hot dogs OR pizza "(which I knew was coming at dinnertime), "not both."

Here was breakfast:

"Chicago-style hot dog, with Everything" (pickle slice, onions, tomatoes, relish, mustard)

Marsala and Roasted Garlic Wild Boar Sausage. What.

and, as I'm sure will not surprise anyone, here was dinner:

Deep dish w/pepperoni, green olives, mushrooms, and fresh garlic.

There was a long walk in between; that's gotta count for something.

Vitamin A is one of those entirely suspect people who a) claims he rarely eats, b) eats, c) has out-consumed me every time we've eaten, and d) shows absolutely no evidence of this on his physical frame, du tout. You would never know, for example, that this was by no means his first time eating both "Hot Doug's" and Pequod's Pizza in the same day. Live and learn...

...and, when in Chicago, eat these things:

For Breakfast ...
Allow me to suggest a rich, cake-y, big ol' slice of banana bread with an umistakable cardamom streak and the crunch of sugar crystals throughout. Fabulous coffee. Natch.

For Alternative Breakfast... HOT DOUG's
This "Encased Meat Emporium" boasts a menu that includes Alligator, Wild Boar, Chicken, 'Bacon Sausage', Bratwurst, Andouille, and His Eminence the "The Dog", as seen above.

For Rainy Afternoon "Tea"...THE GAGE outside the Art Institute (where you should go for, you know, Art).
OK: Poutine is french fries doused in gravy and covered in melty cheese curds. I know, it totally sounded gross to me too. It's awesome. At this joint, it's fancified, involving "Elk Ragout" and bits of meat in the sauce. Also on the menu are brussel sprouts w/melted brie & bacon and if you don't order that you are Wrong. If, like me, you are not a beer drinker but are somehow seduced by the list of craft beers you can get a glass of beautifully autumnal Southern Tier "Pum-King" Pumpkin Ale. Pumpkin pie spice "on the nose", is what I'd say if I talked like that, and a flavor aptly described by our server as "roasted pumpkin". I loved it. If like A, you are an actual beer drinker, you probably will not. Order something more like Bell's Best Brown Ale, which is deep and nutty and I still can't drink more than half a glass of that kind of thing. It helps if it is a grey and blustery day outside. It does not help if you leave your umbrella there. Just FYI.

For Just-Off-The-Plane Kinda Fancy Dinner... West Town Tavern
"Contemporary Comfort Food". Yep. Pesto Gnocchi, Duck Confit, Trout, Apple Crisp. Done. Vitamin A claims that whenever I taste something delicious for the first time, my eyes inadvertently close, and this may be why I can't remember what the trout looked like.

For Last-Night-in-Town Flourish, We-had-Hot-Dogs-For-Breakfast Dinner...
Oh the honor and the glory. Chicago Deep Dish, I bow before you. As a New Yorker, I am obligated to balk at calling this "pizza", but can embrace it as just plain Joy on a Fork. Fresh garlic is IT; totally 'makes' the whole pizza and it is best to be sharing it with someone who is also eating it as they are not kidding about the garlic and it will seep out of your pores for the whole night (worth it). I carried a leftover slice in my purse all the way to NYC on the plane. Better the next day.

So long Chicago. I'll be back soon - you're a Hard Habit To Break. An Inspiration. (Couldn't resist!)

By the way, did you know that there really is an Abe Froman? I didn't.

The Boo


The Mouse said...

Wait--is that brie on the wild boar sausage??? I want it.

The Boo said...

I think it might be.

Anonymous said...

...so, the first time I went with Barry to Chicago, there weren't enough hours in the day/night to eat all the food I was (forced?) asked to eat. His Mom said to me....'instead of taking you to see the beautiful architecture that Chicago is known for, my son takes you to all the junk food spots' (or something like that). I've been to Hot Dougs....and totally agree about the pizza (that's not pizza!). We'll talk more! xoxo

Anonymous said...

there are times when only a Sabrett hot dog with sauerkraut, relish, mustard and ketchup on that anemic roll they put it on from the carts on the nyc streets is the only thing that can satisfy the momentary need to do something one is not suppose to do - but I must say it never occurred to me to do so for breakfast... revolutionary my dear! party on.....

Bob Saietta said...

Wait, you went to Hot Doug's and DIDN'T get the foie gras hot dog? You and I have issues. For serious...

The Boo said...

me no like foie gras. let the shouting begin. Also, let me remind you that it was BREAKFAST TIME.