Thursday, June 2, 2011

Robert in New York

This is a "guest post" from my brother Robert who recently found himself in Manhattan with a group of young boys (bless his heart).

On a recent Scout Trip, we dared take 20 Boy Scouts into Manhattan for a day. The tour included the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square and other sights. Our tour-guide assured us that his friend Hameed, who is a street vendor in the Times Square area serves the best hot dogs in New York City. How could I pass on the best hot dog in New York City?

We parked the bus on West 45th Street in front of the Schoenfeld Theater, and and walked up the block to Broadway. Hameed’s cart was one of the first things we encountered, there at the corner of 45th and Broadway, in front of the Marriott Marquis. In addition to hot dogs, he sells pretzels, smoked sausage and a wide variety of drinks. He obviously takes pride in what he does, and he keeps his cart clean and neat.

Because we had just come from South Street Seaport and Pier 17 (where there is a very serious food court), I didn’t have enough appetite to handle more than one dog from Hameed. To insure I got his best dog, and since my appetite did not allow me to try any variations, I asked him to prepare it the way he liked them. He quickly built a hot dog with ketchup (yes, ketchup), mustard, kraut, onions, sweet relish, and his own hot dog sauce. The bun was warm and moist, the hot dog, a certified Hebrew National dog, was hot and came from a steam-table insert in his cart. The sauce was also kept hot in the steam table. Once the dog was built, I paid him for it. The dog and a Coke together set me back a total of $4.00. I stepped away from the cart and enjoyed my New York dog and Coke, then went back to Hameed’s cart and told him about the Great Birmingham Hot Dog Tour. I had my picture made with him as he was preparing a dog for another Scout dad.

He wanted to know how I liked the dog and I told him it ranked high. I ranked it high because it was prepared quickly, served hot and was very tasty. The one thing that was not necessarily to my liking was the fact that the overall taste of the hot dog was sweet. A little sweetness is to be expected when a seller puts sweet relish on a dog, but in this case, the sauce was sweet as well. It somewhat resembled the hot dog sauce you might get at Jimmy’s or Sam’s Super Samwich shop, but was sweet. Because flavor is a personal preference, I won’t downgrade Hameed’s dog for being sweet, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

I didn’t see Oliver Wendell Douglass or his wife, Lisa. . . but I wouldn’t expect to have seen Lisa anyway. I feel certain that even if she were visiting from her new home in Hooterville, she would not have been dining upon a dog from a street vendor. (With my broad-brimmed camo hat, I looked more like I belonged in Hooterville than New York.) I thought perhaps Lisa might have been seen making her way to one of the 202 restaurants in the immediate vicinity, but it was not to be. One thing is for sure. . . if Lisa or anyone else were going to eat at one of those 202 restaurants, they would pay more and would not enjoy their food any more than I enjoyed my hot dog from Hameed’s cart.

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