Monday, April 30, 2012

Big things in Springville

Many months ago James Grigsby posted a reply on one of my posts saying how he had discovered the Hot Dog Tour and have enjoyed the read. He went on to say; "I would like to invite you to my place in Springville, Al. We're 13 miles up I-59 from Trussvile. My place is called The Shack Burgers & BBQ. Although we're not "Dog" stand we serve what we think is one of the best around!"

It took a while but I finally got around to visiting the Shack. He says 13 miles, but it's more like 30 miles from where Robert and I work out in Shelby County. The occasion for the visit was a short trip that the lovely Caroline and I were making to Chattanooga this past week. When we left it was getting close to lunchtime so we planned on getting something on the road. Our default stopping place is all too often "Chick Away" as one grandson once called it. I was able to convince her that we needed to find The Shack in Springville, so here we went. Caroline is a colon cancer survivor so her tastes in food are not quite as adventurous as mine, but she indulges me. It turned out that finding The Shack wasn't as easy as I thought. It turns out they have recently moved and the sign giving the new location might communicate to locals but not me. I had no idea where the old "Big Bolton's" had been. With a little assistance I found the new location up a side road very close to the I-59 interchange at highway 174.

Now for The Shack; this place is worth the time it might take you to get there. Their web presence is Here.
They have just moved into a much bigger building that they reportedly have already filled up on occasion. The Shack is run by James and Chauntelle Grigsby. James is the cook and really knows what he is doing. It clearly isn't just a hot dog stand and never was; but they fit very well on our agenda since they very clearly take pride in the hot dogs they serve.

The sign on their old location bills them as "The Shack, Burgers and Bar B Q". They also include south Louisiana Cajun food on their menu. This is an area they hope to emphasize as they grow in the new location. I just hope they keep their old products including the dogs.

I wasn't real hungry and knew that I would have a big dinner with a desert that night so I only ordered one chili cheese dog with a side of potato salad. It's good I only ordered one dog because it was giant when it came. This has to be a quarter pound hot dog topped with a very generous portion of hearty chili. Just take a look. There is no way to pick up this hot dog and eat it with any sense of decorum. I didn't even try but resorted to a fork and knife.

How was it? Outstanding! This is another unique product that the owner has clearly placed his mark on. I love it when I find the unexpected or unusual hot dogs,and this is clearly one of those. Then it gets even better! I had asked the waitress to tell James that the "guy from the hot dog blog" was there since he had invited us, so he came out to talk a little. As we talked he told me; "I want you to try our shack sauce,this doesn't come on the hot dog unless you ask for it." The Shack sauce is a Southern Louisiana style bar B Q sauce that is very sweet and spicy. I have never had a sauce quite like it, but it was sure good added to that chili cheese dog. Caroline had a chicken salad sandwich with a side of slaw which she reported as very good. (It's hard to get away from that chicken sometime).

Here are James and Chauntelle Grigsby the owners.
I wish them great success.

It is clearly worth a trip to Springville for one of these dogs; but I can hardley wait to go back some evening for a cajun dinner. Cajun food is another favorite of mine.

My advice to the reader is; "Go to Springville and try this place!" James knows what he is doing in the kitchen. They have made a big move and we should all want to make sure that this place makes a go of it and is around for years to come.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Picabu Dog

OK, what's a Picabu dog?

I didn't know either; but I recently got an email from Robert giving a report on his hot dog adventure in Orlando. The post below is entirely his.

I went to Orlando for a business conference.  It was one of those conferences where all the meals are provided, but I  arrived at the Disney Dolphin hotel before lunch and the conference did not begin until late afternoon.  So, there was an opportunity to explore the culinary options for lunch.  The just inside the door from the walkway to the Swan was crowded, so I went around the corner to the Picabu Buffeteria.

The last thing on my mind when dining on an expense account was a hot dog, but as I was about to place my order for loaded nachos, they served up a delicious-looking hot dog to the person ahead of me in line.  The plate appeal, coupled with the realization that Karl was in the height of his busiest season at work, so there would not be another entry on hot dog blog this week, made my decision a no-brainier. 

The tube  steak looked like it weighed a pound, although it probably approximated half a pound.  It was served hot on a fresh bun with one's choice of toppings.  They don't offer the type of hot dog sauce one finds on a dog in Birmingham, so I simply got onions and kraut, then added mustard from plastic packets.

When you consider the ambiance, it really wouldn't matter if e hot dog were mediocre for one to enjoy the experience.  But, I am glad that I can report that the hot dog was excellent.  It was served hot, and on a fresh bun with the onions and kraut heaped atop the massive dog.  I say massive, as it hung out both ends of the bun by at least an inch and a half at each end.  The plate was heaped with lots of crispy and hot french fries as well.  The flavor of the dog was much like that of a polish sausage dog, bursting with flavor.  Its size made it difficult to take a bite without getting mustard and kraut all over my face, and I must admit, I went through several napkins during this meal.  The kraut was hot and flavorful, witha minimum of sourness.  By the time I had eaten half the hot dog, I was mostly full, and only ate the rest of the dog and most of the fries because they were so tasty and the fries had the perfect degree of crispness.  I think Picabu's chef has room to be proud of the product served-up from his galley.

After enjoying my lunch, I launched off on a walk around the property with two goals in mind.  One was to enjoy the sights and sounds of the property and the other was to try and work off some of the weight I had no-doubt added during my visit to the Picabu Buffeteria.  When dinner was served for our conference, it was in the form of heavy hors d'oeuvres during a meet & greet and vendor fair.  The few hors d'oeuvres I ate were very tasty, but I had little appetite due to my filling lunch.  The best was a large scallop with bacon bits around the edge, but I only had room for one.  I think the only thing I ate was one of those, a little two-inch taco looking thing with a small amount of buffalo chicken nugget in it and one very small bun with fresh prime rib of beef on it. 

So, if you go to the Disney Dolphin or any of the neighboring resorts (Swan, Beach Club and Yacht Club), you might not be thinking about a hot dog, but if you are, you can get a good one at the Picabu. At $6.50, it is one of the best bargains on the property.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two great links

Last week a friend who knows of my interest in hot dogs sent me a link that I want to share. This stuff just looks so good that it gives me lots of ideas. These are definitely not the usual kids dog with mustard and ketchup. Just have a look at some of these pictures.

Take a look HERE.

I keep thinking I've done enough on Chicago dogs and then I see something like this. It does prove that contrary to what some would tell you, there is not just one way to have a Chicago dog.

And as long as I'm passing on links, I posted this link from the Food Network last July. The site is still there and is still worth looking at for anyone wanting some adventure in their hot dog recipes. Here are a couple of their pictures below. Then if you are interested follow the link.

Take a look HERE.

Now a look ahead. Last Spring near the end of school I did a hot dog day for a third grade class taught by a son-in-law. If you didn't see that post take a look HERE. The time is getting close again. I talked with Aaron about possible dates and am looking forward to doing it again, probably in late May. It was definitely a fun event. I'll try to get more pictures this year. If any readers want to join us let me know because it takes extra hands to pull this off.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

G-Dogs - The New Guy In Town

There’s a new hot dog stand in Hoover. G-Dogs has just recently opened in the Plaza at Riverchase shopping center, at 1837 Highway 31 south. They are located at the Data Drive end of the strip shopping center where Hobby Lobby is located. The abundant parking and easy access seems to make this a good area for eating establishments as there are several others close by.

Robert had spotted G-Dogs and realized that it was a new place. It didn’t take long before we went for a lunchtime visit since it is fairly close to our offices. We arrived to find a clean and brightly decorated little place with lots of windows. Located on the end of the shopping center the building has not only the usual windows facing the front but also on the side. This side of the cafĂ© looks out on a covered area containing a couple of outside tables. This looks like it would be a pleasant place to eat, especially on the mild days we have been having. The thought had entered my mind to eat out there but we ran into a friend of Robert’s and ended up eating with him inside.

It turns out that there is another G-Dogs located in Pinson that until now had totally escaped our attention. The new Hoover location is a joint venture of Charles Matsos, of the Golden Rule Bar BQ chain and Paul Curcio, owner of the Golden Rule in Pelham. On the day we were there, Paul was working behind the counter.

So how was the food? It was very good! The name, G-Dogs, is short for Good Dogs and is not misnamed. Like all of the other Birmingham hot dog sellers they use a hot dog sauce made from their own recipe. These sauces are all similar, yet unique. The G-Dogs sauce is one of the best that I have had.

We both started with a special consisting of two dogs, fries and a drink. We each chose a hot dog and a chili cheese dog, both all the way. The menu has some other tempting items; but we stuck to our usual plan of trying a hot dog and a chili dog on a first visit. Two of the other dogs we noticed were a bacon dog and an Irondale Dog. It turns out that the Irondale dog is a hot dog with slaw and topped with Golden Rule Bar BQ. This is only the second time we have encountered a hot dog with Bar BQ added as a topping so we had to try one. After we had finished our first dogs we ordered just one Irondale dog which we cut in half so we could give it a try. This Irondale is totally different from the Q-Dog we had previously loved, but was good. We both agreed that even though it was good it needs a little Bar BQ sauce to top it off. Robert suggested this addition to Paul before we left; so we are hopeful that the next Irondale dogs we have will include Bar BQ sauce.

A day later I ran into a friend who started telling me about how he had eaten a foot long hot dog at G-Dogs in Hoover. I guess word is getting around about this place. I suspect that there will be more G-Dogs locations opening in the future. According to the Birmingham News, they have their eyes on several locations around the area as well as downtown. I also suspect that I will be having more good dogs from G-Dogs in the future.