A Hot Dog from Across The Border – Not to be Missed

What pops into your mind when you hear Mexican food?  Tacos? Nachos?  How about “hot dogs”?   Now the hot dogs that I am talking about are not like the ones you get at Nathan’s Famous or Pink’s.  Hot dogs from just across the border from Arizona are a new taste treat.
Over Spring Break earlier this year I decided to get some sunny, warm weather in Phoenix, Arizona. While there one of my goals was to attend a Cactus League baseball game in Phoenix, and eat a hot dog with the standard toppings.  I watched Seattle play Arizona, and had a fabulous time.  But, I had one other goal during my Arizona trip, and that was to try a “Sonoran Hot Dog”.  But for that adventure, I had to travel about 2 hours south of Phoenix to Tucson.  Some enterprising Mexicans brought their version of the hot dog to Tucson several years ago, where it has received rave reviews; check Yelp.  The restaurant, El Guero Canelo, who brought the hot dog to Tucson, was started by the Contreras family in 1993.  It is in a very unassuming building, and looks more like an outdoor concession stand that you would find at the PNE, except that it has a roof over the seating area.  People from all ages were lined up for their Sonoran Hotdog while I was there.  In fact a ladies baseball team just arrived after me, and they looked very hungry.
El Guero Canelo in Tucson

El Guero Canelo in Tucson

What makes this hot dog different from the one you can buy at a baseball game here in Vancouver, or elsewhere?  For El Guero Canelo there are 4 components: 1) they use a Mexican bolilo bun which is soft and has some sweetness to it, and makes a nice pocket for the hot dog and condiments, 2) the hot dog itself is wrapped in bacon then grilled or pan fried, 3) beans, mayonnaise and mustard are added by the cooks, to which you can add other condiments, and 4) it is accompanied by a grilled jalapeno pepper on the side.

The beans were boiled, but do not have any syrupy sauce as you may imagine from a can of pork and beans.  They are also not mashed or refried, but gives weight and texture to the hotdog.  The combination of the sweet bun, the crunch of the hotdog and bacon, the creaminess of the mayonnaise, and tartness of the mustard made a wonderful flavour combination and made me have to go back and order a second hot dog.  The jalapeno pepper, which you may think would be quite spicy was very delicately smoky flavoured, and not hot at all unless you decided to eat the seeds located at the stem of the pepper.
The Sonoran Hot Dog

The Sonoran Hot Dog

This Sonoran hot dog has inspired me to try making them this summer on my patio, introducing the South of the Border flavours to friends and family, and trying some condiments that I would not have thought of before, like beans and salsa.  I have not checked around Vancouver for bolilo buns, but I think Filipino Pan de Sal buns may work in a pinch, or use a regular hot dog bun.  Give these hotdogs a try.  It might be yours and your family’s new favourite summer treat.  Here is a recipe for Sonoran hotdogs from Food.com.  Enjoy!

IVSA New Products Salon – Wines of Note

Today was the Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) New Product Salon tasting to the wine Trade in Vancouver, BC. It was a very full event with at least 50 tables from what I could see through the crowds. And consider that at each table, they would be pouring at least 6 different NEW wines, there was at least 300 wines to sample today! Some of the wines are wines that are already in the store, but what is new is the vintage, e.g. a 2008 sauvignon blanc coming out.

I always enjoy attending the IVSA, in part to meet other Trade people, I tweet with, but also to find new and interesting wines. So for the rest of this week’s blog, I’d like to list a few white and red wines that I enjoyed. The wines come from all different price ranges.

Some nice whites:
Rudolf Muller Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2008 (Germany). This riesling had a light lime nose. Medium sweet but good acidity to balance it and a red apple flavour. $16.99
Sacred Hill Pinot Gris 2008 (Marlborough – New Zealand). Light lemon in colour, with lychee and pear aromas. Round mouthfeel. Off dry with lychee and apple flavours $19.99 (spec)
Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough – New Zealand). I was told that this winery is a joint venture with Antinori from Italy. The wine had a light herbal nose. Halepeno pepper and herbal flavours. Medium acidity. Restrained. Quite nice. $28.99 (spec)
Torresella Pinot Grigio Veneto IGT (Italy). This pinot grigio had light peach, apricot and mineral aromas. Light effervescense. Apricot and apple flavours. $14.99 (spec)
Miner Family Vineyards “Napa Valley” Chardonnay 2007 (California). Vanilla and pineapple on the nose. Toasty oak, pineapple and spice on the palate. Round mouthfeel. $39.95 (spec)

Some nice reds:
Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant. $27.99 (spec)
Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir (Burgundy – France). Light cherry and vanilla on the nose. Cherry flavour builds in your mouth with a bit of aeration. Also some flowers and apple flavours. $21.99 (spec)
Belle Gios Meiomi 2007 (California). This one is a pinot noir. Light garnet in colour. Light red currant and chocolate aromas. Nice cherry, raspberry and vanilla flavours, and balanced tannins. $33.99 (spec)
Row Eleven Santa Maria Pinot Noir 2005 (California). Medium garnet colour. Cherry and smoke on the nose. Cherry, vanilla and raspberry flavours. Dry tannins with a long finish. A premium wine! $46.99
Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Old Vine Zinfandel 2007 (California). Medium garnet in colour. Nice raspberry jammy nose. Lots of raspberry fruit flavour. Medium tannins. A deal. $19.49
Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Deep purple in the glass. Capsicum and cherry aromas. Tar and cherry on the palate, with firm tannins. $34.99
Farnese Vini Primitivo Puglia 2007 (Italy). Primitivo and Zinfandel are the same grape variety, if you didn’t know. This one had nice reddish purple colour in the glass. Light violet and red fruit on the nose. Full ripe red fruit flavours, with soft-medium tannins. Easy to drink and an exceptional price. $9.99 (spec)

An unexpected red wine was the L.A. Cetto Private Reserve Nebbiolo 2003 from the Baja part of California in Mexico! I never knew the Nebbiolo was grown in Mexico. This one had delicious ripe berry flavours, ripe but restrained, and firm tannins, but not to the extent that you would get from an Italian Nebbiolo. Drinkable right now. Sorry I didn’t get the price but I believe it is in the $20 range.