POTSDAM Theres something about summertime that makes you want to have a hot dog.
As I was driving through Potsdam on a beautiful summerlike day last week, a shiny mobile hot dog cart with a big red-and-white umbrella caught my eye.
Rosies Hawg Dogs was parked on Maple Street between Martins Service Station and the building where Angelos Fresh Seafood used to be. It was 9:30 in the morning, so the proprietor and top dog, John Rose (aka Rosie), wasnt quite open for business yet.
But I strolled up to his pristine stainless steel weinermobile and struck up a conversation.
Rosie has the gift of gab. And he knows a lot about hot dogs. And food safety.
Maybe he thought I was from the health department, or maybe hes just proud of his product, but I got a complete tour of his portable eatery in less than 10 minutes.
He obviously has done a lot of market research, or taken some online courses at Hot Dog University, or both.
He offers two prestige brands of dogs, Nathans Famous Frankfurters from Coney Island in Brooklyn, and Glaziers distinctive red-skin frankfurters from nearby Malone. Both companies have been producing old world-style franks for nearly 100 years.
Both are made with quality ingredients: Nathans are Angus all-beef dogs, while the Glazier dogs are made with beef and pork.
Rosie has a separate compartment on his rig for each of the dogs where theyre held in water at a temperature of 165 degrees. Once theyre up to temp, he then steams them in another compartment before serving. Something magic about the boiling then steaming process, he said.
Other sections of his well-organized cart hold heated Michigan sauce, sauerkraut and nacho cheese sauce. Theres a container of relish and a container of freshly chopped onions, a large pump bottle of Frenchs yellow mustard and Heinz ketchup.
Small bags of chips are suspended from the umbrella upright. Cold Pepsi products are on ice in large picnic coolers. Theres a hand sink and liquid soap on the front of his cart along with two Rubbermaid containers for trash disposal.
Rosie makes his own Michigan sauce, a meaty tomato-based sauce that purportedly originated in Plattsburgh. Rosie says he got the recipe from a friend in Plattsburgh who makes the original sauce, but he adds a little something extra to make it his own.
He does not make his own sauerkraut, however. Its a tricky process that takes three or four months, so I just get mine from Price Chopper. It appeared that his rolls were standard supermarket variety as well.
I killed some time and returned around noon to pick up lunch for me and several friends. I ordered a Glazier dog and a Nathans frank in each designation: kraut dog, cheese dog, Michigan dog and plain ol dog.
Rosie put on his latex kitchen gloves and began assembling our lunch. Then he asked, Do you want relish, onions, mustard or ketchup on these? Since he was the expert at this, I told him wed take whatever he thought went best with each.
Each dog was individually assembled, wrapped in foil and placed in one of those paper hot dog holders. I got a bag of each of the chips that he offers: Lays Original Potato Chips, Fritos, Doritos and Cheetos, plus a small snack pack of Oreos.
Lunch time. We unfoiled our dogs, opened our chip bags and Oreos. Our frankfurter smorgasbord was underway.
The Glazier dogs were fatter than usual. Perhaps the boiling process had something to do with it. They seemed to have lost a little of their classic snap but still retained their signature garlicky spiciness.
Boiling the Nathan franks removed any trace of fattiness, although they are quite lean to begin with.
Rosie used just the right amount of condiments to enhance the dogs rather than smother them and create a soggy mess. The rolls were fresh and soft and warm from sitting near the heated compartments on the cart.
His homemade Michigan sauce didnt really stand out, but again, allowed the flavor of the tasty dogs to take center stage. The various combinations of condiments that Rosie used on each dog worked out fine.
Prices are quite reasonable. Hot dogs average $3 each, chips are $1 a bag, soft drinks or bottled water cost $1.25. You can get all three, a combo, for about $5.
Lunch for four cost $28.
Rosies Hawg Dogs operates on Maple Street every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., weather permitting. On Saturdays he sets up at the Potsdam Farmers Market downtown between Main and Water streets. Check his Facebook page for any cancellations.
Rosie also has a passion for motorcycle riding. Hes a Harley guy (thus the hawg reference), and if theres an important road rally, that may take precedence over serving hot dogs.
Look for the bright red-and-white umbrella and Rosies shiny cart. Theres no formal seating available, but you could just stand there chat with Rosie as he prepares lunch for you.
I had occasion to spend a long weekend New York City recently and discovered two very nice restaurants.
In the theater district, Mont Blanc www.montblancrestaurant.com is a gem. Its on West 48th Street between 8th and 9th, just away from all the hustle and bustle. Its relatively small and quiet and specializes in European cuisine.
The food is excellent and moderately priced by city standards. Veal dumplings a la Viennese in wild mushroom gravy was outstanding. Veal scallopini Marsala was excellent, as was the wiener schnitzel.
Its a favorite place of the guys in the on-stage big band of Chicago, playing in a theater just around the corner. If you happen to go there between a matinee and an evening performance, youll most likely find them there.
Bryant Park Grill, 25 West 40th, in tree-lined Bryant Park (behind the New York Public Library) www.arkrestaurants.com/bryant_park was a great after-dark find.
Floor-to-ceiling windows afford a spectacular view of the park at night with lights of the tall buildings in the background.
We enjoyed just cocktails at the friendly bar the evening we stopped by, but the food going past us looked spectacular: Moroccan lamb tacos, mussels in Thai coconut sauce, English pea risotto, grilled stacked mahi mahi, organic boneless spring chicken and more.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosies Hawg Dogs
A mobile hot dog cart open Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Maple Street and Saturday at the Potsdam Farmers Market.
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.