You have two reasons to treat yourself to a hot dog this week: It’s National Hot Dog Day on Wednesday and opening day of the 2020 baseball season is Friday. And everyone knows hot dogs — and sausages — are the MVPs at concession stands in Major League ballparks.
Even though those stadiums won’t be filling with fans as in the past — and we won’t get to hear the familiar cry of “Hot dogs here!” from hawkers — you can still watch America’s favorite pastime on television, with hot dogs on your menu. And you can reminisce.
Like Karrie Williams, who owns Colonel Mustard’s Sandwich Emporium on the west side with her husband, Mark Jakusovszky. They offer a couple of sausage options on their menu year-round.
Williams has fond memories of classic hot dogs on opening days in the past.
“My dad was in the Air Force, and we moved a lot — 17 moves and I went to 11 schools,” she said. “But, I can still remember going with him to Dodger Stadium on opening day and having a hot dog with bright yellow mustard. I loved it. My dad and I always loved baseball for years and years and years.”
She also recalls the way the wiener sellers served the dogs.
“The vendors would pitch the foil-wrapped hot dogs to us, and we’d have to catch them,” Williams said. “Then they’d reach into an apron pocket for a tube of mustard and toss that to us.”
Her husband shares her passion for the baseball.
“On our first date 13 years ago, we spent time going through my baseball card collection,” Jakusovszky said. “Being from New York, I was a Mets fan. Back in the ’70s, when I was a teenager, I knew the Yankee players like the back of my hand.”
Not surprising, he waxes nostalgic about frankfurters too. But he likes his a little more dressed up.
“I like them with mustard, with some onions, a little pickle relish and a cold beer,” he said. “I’m a hot dog snob. I like Hebew National.”
For this year’s opening day, Williams will be cooking Boar’s Head brats to sell at their sandwich shop.
“We’ll have World’s Best Wurst on our cafe menu,” she said. “It’s chicken bratwurst topped with tomato, pepperoncini, sweet onion and The Colonel’s Special Sauce on a baguette.”
They’ll have a new addition to their menu too, a Stadium Hot Dog, thanks to the shop’s chef, Dorothy Bosché, who hails from New York’s Long Island.
“It’s from a Long Island deli and sold at stadiums,” Williams said. “It’s sliced Italian sweet sausage cooked with peppers and served on a hoagie bun. It has to be a hoagie bun so it can be squeezed together and hold the sausage and sauce.”
The difference between hot dogs and brats is that franks are fully cooked and brats are uncooked.
Mike Boyle, host of The Restaurant Show on 710 KNUS News-Talk radio, is also a huge baseball fan and has fond memories of the game and how he likes his stadium treats.
“Baseball to me, anytime, opening day or a meaningless game in September, is hot dogs, salted peanuts and cold Coors Light. Nothing healthy” he said. “That’s very important. Hot dogs get mustard, maybe some raw onions. Ketchup is never, repeat NEVER, to be put on a hot dog. And people who defile their dog by putting both, maybe relish? I have no use for them.”
So, there! And when it comes to preparing the sausage, he fires up the grill.
“Being an old SoCal boy, raised on Dodger baseball and grilled Dodger dogs, mine need to be grilled, not boiled,” he said. “Grill marks and inserted in a warm, soft, fresh bun. Occasionally I might get a grilled brat, same way, grilled with grill marks, mustard and raw onions. Should be noted, brats usually have more appeal after I have had a few beers.”
If you’re planning a small get-together to celebrate National Hot Dog Day and/or the return of baseball, consider hosting a hot dog bar with an assortment of sausages and toppings. For brat inspiration, check out the fresh meat counter at Whole Foods Market. They make dozens of varieties daily. And Mollica’s Italian Market and Deli sells great homemade sweet and spicy Italian sausage.
Contact the writer: 636-0271.