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Hot Dog of the Week: Hot Dog Jamboree at Hobbs Coffee in Swarthmore, PA
The other weekend I made it to Hobbs, a coffee shop right outside of Philadelphia, for their one-night only Hot Dog Jamboree. Chef William Randall puts out some really impressive food from a tiny coffeehouse kitchen and recently became hot dog obsessed, whipping up eight different hot dog specials for the event, and even road-tripped into Jersey to source some of the country's best frankfurters.
The menu had a nice balance of classic and gourmet dogs. Even more impressive was the perfectly cooked Karl Ehmer and Kocher's dogs imported from Jersey. Shown above is the natural casing pork and beef Karl Ehmer Seitenwurst, gently pan-fried and served on a soft Liscio's hot dog roll with a side of slaw and yellow mustard. A delicious, snappy mild dog, comparable to Reiker's and up there with my all time favorites in terms of frankfurter brands.
I'm not a huge fan of Chicago Dogs outside of Chicago, and I was definitely wary of the thin-sliced (rather than chopped) raw onion and pickled jalapenos in place of sport peppers, but the ingredient ratios were spot on and it really worked. With my eyes closed I might not have known the difference, except for the awesome natural casing Kocher's frank, slightly milder than the standard all-beef Chicago dogs.
The Dirty South was another nice riff on a classic, plus bacon. Purple jicama slaw is a little fancy for my taste but the chili was fantastic. And the quasi-New-England-style split top hot dog rolls from Liscio's might be the final word in "Philadelphiafied" hot dog buns. You get the nice soft texture of a Philly cheesesteak roll without the "too much bread" problem found at almost every place in Philly that serves dogs on hoagie rolls.
Last but not least was The William, best described as a cross between a New Jersey style Italian dog and breakfast, that involved confit potatoes, mustard butter, tomato gravy and a fried egg. Messy but pretty delicious, and pretty amazing that they are cranking all of this out of a tiny coffeehouse kitchen.
Another dog that looked really good was the Bills BBQ, topped with pulled pork and corn salad. Also on the menu was a duck sausage, which sold out in about half an hour: a Japanese kewpie mayo topped dog, and the broccoli rabe, longhot relish and sharp provolone "Sout'" served on Sarcone's seeded Italian bread.
I'm hoping these guys do this again, and often, so I can come back and try everything I missed.
About the author: 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/.