Hot Dog of the Week: Rolf's Pork Store in Albany, NY
"Everything here is cooked, stuffed, cured, smoked and dried in-house."
I first heard of Rolf's—an amazing German deli, butcher, and sausage shop in Albany, New York—while reading up on the history of mini hot dogs in nearby Troy, and made sure to stop by the next time I was in the hood. Just last week dmcavanagh also mentioned that Rolf's makes a fine Ring Bologna which got me thinking—it was about time to start drawing weisswurst and cartoon pigs.
The hand-made mini frankfurters and ring bologna are just the tip of the iceberg. Rolf's does all sorts of wursts, hams, sausages, kielbasa, anything you can imagine and more—things I've never heard of like Schinkenspeck and Bauernschinken that could roughly be described as German prosciutto.
Rolf's is a tiny shop tucked away in a slightly run-down residential neighborhood that was once teeming with German immigrants. Along with meat products there's all sorts of German and European groceries, everything from imported mustards, curry ketchup and pickles to German magazines.
Everything here is cooked, stuffed, cured, smoked and dried in-house. There's frankfurters of various sizes (some spiked with jalapenos and cheddar), bockwurst, bratwurst, fresh garlic sausage, and kielbasa (both fresh and dried). Delicious house-cured bacon, deli meats, and all sorts of fresh meat ranging from ground beef to rabbit.
I left with a few pounds each of weisswurst (white veal sausages, slightly bigger than a hot dog), frankfurters, bacon and handfuls of dried lanjager and kielbasa. The dried kielbasa was instantly devoured in the car, full of super intense deep smoke flavor that reminded me more of Pennsylvania Dutch smoked sausage than any commercial "kielbasa" I've ever had.
The frankfurters (mild, beef and pork with natural casing) were cooked up later in an iron skillet and delicious in a bun with German mustard. The hot dogs were decent, not life-changing but up there with some of the best. But don't go to Rolf's just for the hot dogs—this is encased and smoked meat heaven. My only regret is not buying more to stash in the freezer.
Rolf's Pork Store
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.