A Hot Dog For Everyone!

Sure, you can indulge in hot dogs any time of year, but for some reason munching on these babies just feels right in the summer. From the beloved dirty-water dogs to gourmet frankfurters, hot dogs are everywhere, and tomorrow, they get showcased at the 7th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff in Brooklyn. This instance, it’s not just amateur cooks competing; for the first time the competition features professional chefs from Gramercy Tavern, Mile End, Marlow and Daughters, and The Meat Hook. Of course, the pedestrian dogs are fun, too, and come with whimsical names like The Dogfather, You Had Me at Swine, and the 99 Percent Dog. There are 25 total entries, and guests can wash down the hot dogs with KelSo Beer Company’s Belgian Pale Ale and Pilsner while bopping to DJ Rabbi Darkside. Proceeds go to the Food Bank for New York City and the amateur chefs have procured their organic beef dogs courtesy of Applegate Farms.

Can’t make the cook-off? Well there are plenty of other ways to get your hot dog on. One of my favorite joints is Crif Dogs, which has locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the East Village (famously the doorway to PDT), and serves a bacon-wrapped hot dog with avocado and sour cream that’s to die for. Bark Hot Dogs in Park Slope, Brooklyn is another good option for you sausage lovers who can get down with a classic sweet-relish-topped hot dog. Also in the neighborhood is Dogmatic, which features “good for you” dogs with additive-free meat. Plus, they offer the vegetarian-friendly asparagus “hot dog” that you can get topped with truffle Gruyere cheese sauce. But, if you gourmet hot dogs aren’t your thing, I suggest passing up the hot dog cart and instead heading to one the many Gray’s Papaya and Papaya Kings, where the frankfurters there have a following. And, at under $3, you really can’t go wrong.

Moishe’s Movers Looks to Lure Lebron to the Garden

There are certain companies so interwoven into the fabric of New York that they can get away with just about anything. Gray’s Papaya, for example, routinely endorses hot dog-friendly candidates for public office, and they’ve never been boycotted by political rivals. Snapple lost none of its cred when it partnered with The Celebrity Apprentice to create two new tea flavors. And now Moishe’s is tossing its yarmulke into the ring in a unique ploy to bring superstar free agent Lebron James to the long-suffering Knicks. Starting today, the ubiquitous New York moving company is bringing a portable storage container to the parking lot across from Madison Square Garden, and it’s inviting Knicks fans to fill it with signs, cards, New York-centered gifts, and more than a few prayers. Moishe’s will then deliver the container to the superstar’s Cleveland home in a bid to entice the 6′ 8″ savant to drop the heroes and get with the zeroes.

It’s a desperate move, but with a title drought of nearly four decades and an unholy sense of entitlement, Knickerbocker fans know that desperate measures are called for to restore balance to the basketball universe. With scandals in the front office (Isiah) and petulance on the court (Starbury et al.), the former contenders have become a punchline in the NBA. Frankly, that just doesn’t square with New Yorkers: if we can’t build winners, we’re supposed to buy them. That’s how it works, right? There have been just enough hopeful signs through the lean years to keep people from losing interest. For 15 seasons, big man Patrick Ewing did everything he could to get the city a title, but never had the supporting cast to finish. And every true Knicks fan remembers where they were for Allan Houston’s 1999 shot heard ’round the world, an ugly three-cushion floater in a heated playoff series that devastated Miami and gave rise to the term “Knick bounce.” Still, a championship would elude them.

So Moishe Mana and his adopted city have decided that it’s time for a new savior, and they’re doing what they can to bring Lebron into the fold. It remains to be seen if a container full of Knicks towels, bobblehead dolls, and more than a few phone numbers will entice the uncrowned king to play in the garden. But if it’s accompanied by a container full of money? Well, now we’re speaking the same language.

Where Celebs Go Out: Hugh Jackman, Parker Posey, Reshma Shetty

At the premiere of City Island:

● ANDY GARCIA – “In New York there are so many great restaurants. There’s an old one I’ve gone here for many years that I like to visit, just out of nostalgia. It’s a very good restaurant. It’s called Il Vagabondo. It has a bocce court in it. It’s just a very picturesque place; very, good food. Cipriani’s. There’s a new one called Nino’s. Scalinatella — a lot of Italian restaurants, you can tell. I always pop my head into Victor’s Cafe. And then, I’ve got to have a Gray’s Papaya hot dog here.” Any plans to visit Cuba? “Oh, I dream about visiting Cuba every day. But some people have to leave there first.” ● HUGH JACKMAN – “I’m a real junkie for Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I love his cooking. I just went to his place up in The Mark, and I was lucky enough to go to his new restaurant down at ABC Carpet and Home — all organic, every ingredient’s within an 100-mile radius. The food is just unbelievable there, so … Any special dish? Chicken. He told me his secret: brine. You got to brine your chicken.” ● VERA WANG –“I like Morimoto, and I like Bar Masa, and I love the new Mark Hotel, and Sant Ambroeus, uptown and downtown, Mr. Chow’s. I go out to eat a lot — you can tell.”

● SANDRA BERNHARD – “I love Cookshop, which is downtown. I love BLT Fish, one of my favorite restaurants. Babbo. Of course, I love 2nd Avenue Deli. I’m very into trying to eat locally, sustainably grown food. I’m doing more and more cooking at home because of my daughter. And I’ve always eaten very balanced and healthy, but, to me, it’s about really preserving the environment, as well.” ● ZOE KRAVITZ –Five Leaves in Brooklyn, in Greenpoint. Delicious.” ● PARKER POSEY – “I’m trying to give a good recommendation for something. Mary’s Fish Camp.” ● DOMINIK GARCIA-LORIDO – “Oh, wow! I’m, like, so not a club person anymore. I’m pretty much a homebody. I live in L.A., so … I like more dive bars and chill spots where you can hear good music. I don’t like really sceney places. I don’t like where you have to dress up. I’m more, have a beer and chill; watch a game. I have to give a shout-out to the guy I work for, as a waitress. I still work there. It’s a lounge in Studio City, California, called Next Door Tapas. It’s attached to an Italian restaurant, La Loggia. It’s a really chill, tapas bar in the Valley. It’s got good drinks and good food.” ● STEVEN STRAIT –The Smile on Bond Street — really, really cool place; a little coffee shop that’s got great food, great coffee; really relaxed, cool place. I grew up here, but I don’t live here anymore. I love staying at the Chelsea Hotel. It’s got so much character; really, amazing history; inspiring place. It’s really kept to its roots. The city’s expanded around it. It’s really held firm. I appreciate that.” ● RESHMA SHETTY – “My favorite restaurant, at the moment, is Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar. I love that place. Bar-wise, the Russian Vodka Room does a mean apple martini. And they have a fabulous happy hour: $5, 4-6.” ● GRAHAM PHILLIPS – “One thing that’s been fun is that I’ve noticed is that all the best pizzerias are in Brooklyn, and I used to never really go to Brooklyn, but now that the show [The Good Wife] films in Brooklyn, I’ve been going to all these pizzerias. I have a list on my phone. Someone sent it to me. I’ve just been trying to check ’em all off my list. Joe’s Pizza, Bleecker and Carmine, unbelievable! Di Fara, Brooklyn, Avenue J — I tried that. That was unbelievable! I also tried Grimaldi’s. And they were all unbelievable. They’re all in the same genre of this authentic New York pizza, but they all have their little twist to it.”

Roadfood vs. BlackBook

imageRoadfood is fairly self-explanatory. It’s an online hub for reviews about food on the road. The content is mostly geared towards one-off roadside stands and local mom n’ pop style eateries. It’s best for that road trip across America that you always wanted to take. However, they’ve managed to creep in some reviews of places that are located inside big cities, and coincidentally, they’ve covered a few spots that are on our list. I’d like to do a little side by side comparison to see who really manages to nail the vibe of the place:

A Salt & Battery (West Village) We said: “Perfect fish ‘n’ chips wrapped in London newspaper spotted with grease.” They said: “A British favorite, done right, in NYC.” Winner: BlackBook. Reference to greasy newspapers always win.

Crif Dogs (East Village) We said: “Dingy little dog shack with authentic East Village ‘tude and that bar you’re not supposed to tell anyone about in back.” They said: “If you’ve got the munchies, Crif can probably satisfy your craving. ” Winner: Tie. BlackBook clearly has the advantage with the bar reference, but Roadfood manages to slip in a maryjane call, so it’s a tough one.

Dessert Truck (Greenwich Village) We said: “Tasty treats truck. No, seriously, that’s it.” They said: “Warm, gooey, bittersweet, crunchy, lush, and impossible to stop eating: pure heaven!” Winner: Roadfood. Though a bit overzealous with the descriptions, I’ll give them points for making me want to try it out.

Economy Candy (Lower East Side) We said: “This is why we have so many goddamn cavities.” They said: “A Lower East Side institution.” Winner: BlackBook. Clearly, cavities win.

Gray’s Papaya (Greenwich Village): We said: “Bring your allowance to worship at this dog dais, where four bills and change covers a drink and a double wiener bounty.” They said: “One with kraut and one naked.” Winner: BlackBook, by an inch. They said naked, but we said wiener.

I’m biased, but I think BlackBook emerges as the clear victor here. Roadfood does, however, have an advantage with all the food porn shots on their site, but to that I say — where’s your iPhone app? Huh?