You know, when you drive by a car crash and, inevitably, you slow to a crawl, you look, and you get pulled in regardless of what you know might be there.
Well, that’s kind of how I feel about a hot dog, I know what’s in it, the supposed gruesome truth, but I can’t stop and I’ll still indulge all my senses. If you’re already eating the muscles of an animal what makes you think you’re above all the, well, leftovers? I like to think of hotdogs as the sustainable superhero: putting the blood, cartilage and guts to good use. I’m doing society a favour, right?
Give the hot dog some respect, or at least a break.
I can’t think of anything more quintessential to summer than a hot dog with crunchy bubbled skin and ketchup, other than maybe a hot dog followed by a Rocket Popsicle.
For those of you with a few qualms about processed mystery meat there is the small batch summer alternative, stationed in front of a bike shop at 2533 Agricola, called T Dogs.
Brothers Sam and Tony Rinaldo, and their business partner Patrick Lowe, have a hot dog cart that looks just like all the rest on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that counts and those are the Nova Scotia handmade dogs. It’s what’s inside the hot dog that’s important and, for the Rinaldo’s and Lowe, that’s locally sourced meat, from The Pork Shop in New Glasgow.
The menu is simple.
- T Dog: A dog without toppings, made with a blend of beef and pork. Choose your own adventure, with lots of homemade toppings to choose from, like sauerkraut, ketchup and corn relish.
- Shawarma: It’s just like the 2 am favorite, but instead of a pita it comes in a hotdog bun. The hotdog itself is made of chicken with shawarma spices mixed into the ground, and is topped with lettuce, tomato, pickled radish and a very mild creamy sauce.
- Texas Hot: Unlike the name suggests, it isn’t that hot, it’s a pork and beef hot dog topped with some meaty, mild American chilli. If you want to make it spicy load on the pickled jalapeños and Sriracha close by.
These hot dogs are also big, and reasonably priced (between $5 and $6.50) for the quality and the extras.
A gripe I often have with local, small batch hotdogs or sausages is the casing, which with some local meat markets and farms can be thick and chewy, and makes it a battle for a bite, but T Dogs had none of that. The casings were almost imperceivable, and delicate. The Rinaldo brothers, who both worked on the day of my visit, explained that their casings come from lamb, rather than pork, and although they are more difficult to handle they are thinner and less tough which makes for better eating. This seems like a key component to a good local dog.
The hotdogs were well seasoned, juicy, and crispy on the outside. The venue is convenient, but not hectic. Sitting on the stoop of Nauss Bicycle Shop, with the sun in my eyes and three hot dogs was a delicious treat.
The stand is open Tuesday to Saturday 12:00 to 7:00 pm, and it will also show up to some special events.
T Dogs is doing something simple just right; an inexpensive, handmade, no-nonsense meal, perfect for the commute home.