Chances are this Canada Day long weekend, you'll be tempted to tuck into a hot dog, whether it's at a ballpark, beach, fairground or campsite. These days the hot dog is downright trendy.
Like hamburgers before them, hot dogs have climbed from lowly concession-stand fare to haute cuisine. Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud introduced a $9 version when he opened his casual DBGB Kitchen and Bar in New York in 2009.
Richard Blais, winner of television's Top Chef All-Stars, is opening a gourmet hot dog restaurant in Atlanta this summer called HD for "Haute Doggery."And according to the trade publication Nation's Restaurant News, hot dogs are poised to be one of the top trends of the year.
As with hamburgers, the ways to load up a hot dog are infinite. But there are still a few distinct features that make a hot dog a hot dog, and not just any sausage on a bun. Hot dogs are traditionally frankfurters or wieners, which are made with a finely emulsified meat mixture and precooked.
They've come a long way since hot dogs were sold as a new food item at Coney Island in 1916.We asked hot dog sellers across Canada to describe their top dog.
Jalapeno tequila jelly dog from Buddha Dog in Picton, Ont., $2.50
Since it opened in 2005, Buddha Dog has been showcasing regional ingredients on a mini artisanal bun. Everything that goes into its dogs comes from local farmers, butchers, dairies and bakers, starting with the buns from The Pastry House down the street, to the handcrafted cheeses, like hot pepper mozzarella from the Black River Cheese Company.
Sherm's Ultimate Gripper, from Tubby Dog, Calgary, $10
Tubby Dog is known for its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to toppings, including one with peanut butter, jelly and Cap'n Crunch cereal. But the alpha dog is the Sherm's Ultimate Gripper, a tribute to a friend of owner Jon Truch, which has been on its menu since day one , six years ago.
Super dog, at Skinner's Restaurant, Lockport, Man., $11.20
Skinner's calls itself "Home of the world famous hot dog" and claims it's Canada's oldest hot dog outlet in continuous operation, founded in 1929, by Jim Skinner Sr. The toppings on the Skinner's Super dog aren't exactly haute, but measuring at a full foot in length, this dog, especially when fully loaded, is quite a beast.
Terimayo from Japa Dog, Vancouver, $5.25
The Japanese hot dog hybrid may one day rival poutine as Canada's most famous food creation - celebrities from Anthony Bourdain to Steven Seagal have given the wasabi-, edamame- and bonito flake-topped frankfurters the thumbs up. Since the first cart launched in 2006, Japa Dog now has a small restaurant and grand expansion plans.
Montreal-style all-dressed steamie from The Little Dog, Toronto, $1.99
"We're like the old, simple, classy, little, hot dog diner place," says owner Sam Santino. He says there's only one way to prepare a proper dog. "I believe in steaming the hot dogs because it holds its flavour and it holds its juices. When you grill them or barbecue them, what you're doing is burning them and getting rid of all the juice."