The end of fall, and some lunch

What a difference a few weeks make. I feel like I just broke out my boots and tights for fall. And then nature goes and dumps a few hours worth of snow on us. It was wet and gloomy and miserable. I've been out of commission with strep throat for a few days. Tuesday I took a nap around noon and woke to a white winter wasteland out my window. I did not regret that final sick day.

I bought a new camera recently, the Nikon D7000. I'm thrilled with the purchase so far but haven't gotten around doing much shooting. The camera's low light capabilities really helped me make my choice. I've gotten to shoot with it at one concert so far and the high iso options were great (also helpful for some recent burger photos.) So I'm going to try and do some regular Bloomington lunch posts just to keep in the groove of writing about and shooting my food.

I eat out for lunch quite a bit. On a good day I have Katy for company. This is a typical lunch at uber popular Village Deli. It's right across the street from work so, while the food is good (not great,) it's convenient enough to be a regular spot for us. Plus you can order from the breakfast or lunch menu and I'm all about the options.

My typical order is the Spinach Scramble, sans onion. It's a simple egg scramble with bacon, swiss cheese, and spinach. Deep fried home fries on the side. Add a few glugs of cholula hot sauce and you've got a nice meal for a rainy day.

If you follow the blog by RSS feed, last week you may have seen a little preview of a post I'm finishing up, pickled serrano peppers. I accidentally hit publish instead of save, oops! But it's coming, long overdue I know. Summer already feels so far away.


Chicago - Hot Dougs Redux

I love Hot Doug's. This was only my second visit despite multiple trips to Chicago in the last few years, mostly due to the long lines and general inconvenience. But I'd been planning this trip out to Avondale for months. It didn't take much to convince Carly to come with, her two year experiment as a vegetarian was foiled by a too-tempting hot dog. Last minute we coerced my parents into tagging along (aka, do the driving) and they sure were glad they did. Carly and I were especially happy to avoid the ~hour commute by public transit. Despite the hour and a half wait everyone loved their hot dogs, it was by far the most memorable meal of our vacation.

While we were waiting an ice cream truck pulled up and I thought "genius idea, this dude is going to do great with all people waiting patiently in line." But nope, it seemed most of the queue was saving their appetites for gourmet sausage. Carly was one of the few to give in to the icy temptation. She chose a bomb pop even though there were dozens of other more interesting treats on the menu.

Ribeye Steak Sausage with Chimichurri, Ardagh Wine Cheese and Crispy Fried Onions
The four of us each picked a sausage plus a few extras and passed them around. This was Carly's main sausage. The encased meat was beefy and substantial with a tangy chimichurri and delicately crisp fried onions. And so pretty with the mottled pink and cream wine cheese.

Swedish Potato Sausage with Dill Mustard and Horseradish Havarti Cheese
This was mom's pick and it was delicious. The potato sausage was particularly tender, more give, less snap to the casing. Quite a bit better than the potato sausage I had at Ann Sather. The horseradish cheese added a nice kick to the mild sausage.

Burgundy and Orange Pork Sausage with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Cheese-Stuffed Hot Peppers
Definitely our least favorite sausage of the day. The gring on the meat was pretty coarse, leaving the sausage unpleasantly tough and chunky. Unfortunately the orange just seemed to intensify the gamey-ness of the pork. The aioli was quite good and so were the cheesy hot peppers, but the elements just didn't work together.

Cheddar Cheese Pork Sausage with Coca-Cola BBQ Sauce and Vintage Farmhouse Cheese
We had no complaints, this one was super tasty. One change I noticed from my visit in 2009, the cheese on the dogs seems to be cubed a bit smaller and there seems to be less of it. I definitely approve, the sausages are easier to eat and the cheese rarely overpowers the meat.

The Dog
Classic, awesome. Great snap on the hot dog! And so cheap, just $2. It was Carly's favorite of the day. It's a classic for a reason, and Hot Doug's does it especially well. You choose how the dog is cooked - steamed, grilled, deep fried, etc. Ours was grilled, the casing taut and charred, giving way to the salty, juicy innards.

Smoked Portuguese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Olive Manchego Cheese
My chosen encased meat, the sausage was fantastic, spicy and fatty with tons of snap. The rouille was spicy without being hot, French's mustard yellow, but with so much more flavor. This is the sausage I keep thinking about, wishing I could have another.

Duck Fat Fries
And, of course, the Duck Fat Fries. If you visit on Friday or Saturday, and you should, don't bother with the regular fries, duck fat all the way. Deep fried to a perfect caramel-y brown, the fries are surprisingly light yet satisfyingly crisp. Great on their own, yummy with ketchup, but now I wonder if you could order a side of, say, roasted garlic aioli or that amazing saffron rouille to dip? Perhaps next time I will dare to ask.

I've still not tried the Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage, perhaps the most famous Hot Doug hot dog. Bourdain raved about it on No Reservations and it's ever popular on flickr. Someday I will try it, someday! As usual Doug was behind the counter taking orders. And just like last time, when Dad tried to order a large soda he recommended a small instead as refills are unlimited. Go to Hot Doug's, it's worth the wait. And don't forget your cash!

Hot Doug's
3324 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 279-9550
Menu including daily specials!
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