Hot Dog! We Have a Wiener! (PEC, #smugcouplestravel)

6 Aug

My HoM* speaks and he loves “tube steaks”:

Hot dogs, or “tube steaks” in the parlance of my grandmother, are a guilty pleasure of mine.  I love them on the street or cooked over a campfire. Whenever I make chili, I try to make a little bit extra so that I can have chili dogs the next day (on top sliced buns with chopped red onions, yellow mustard, and old cheddar). On a recent trip to PEC with my Clementine, I was too excited to learn that there was a restaurant that served JUST HOT DOGS around the corner from our B&B. (Clementine: I can attest to HOM’s glee! He was SO excited we visited twice!!)

Buddha Dog, located at 172 Main St W in Picton, is a unique hot dog experience. Patrons choose toppings more adventurous than the standard ketchup, mustard, and relish.  Those who are feeling particularly daring (as Clementine was) can opt for a “flight” of three dogs: one sweet, one savoury, one spicy. The toppings are curated by the staff.  What sets Buddha Dog apart from the average street corner hot dog cart is the artisan quality ingredients that are all locally sourced.

gourmet doggies!

gourmet doggies!

The buns:

In hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, and pitas, the bread component plays a vital and, I think, under-appreciated role.  It is seldom the star of the show, but a poor choice of bread can RUIN the dish.  It should be sturdy enough to hold the works together without being too tough and chewy. Buddha Dog buns (which came from Pastry House down the street) were like mini fresh baked loaves of bread!

The dogs:

These were not the spongy, pink, processed meat of traditional hot dogs.  These hot dogs were dense and beefy, almost like pepperettes in texture.  Although I have admitted my fondness for traditional hot dogs, Buddha Dogs were, dare I say, deluxe. 

IMG-20130724-00555

The cheeses:

You can choose from old cheddar, hot pepper mozzarella, and pepper jack.  They were savoury, creamy, and in the case of the latter two, a little bit spicy.  Sometimes, as if you needed more decisions to make, Buddha Dog features an off-menu cheese.  On our second visit, it was something with dill (I cannot abide by dill. I avoided it like the plague).  The cheeses were the perfect accompaniment for what I consider to be the star of the show…the sauces!

The sauces:

One of my favourite things about hot dogs is that they are infinitely customizable; they are a blank canvas which can carry a wide variety of interesting flavour combinations.  Buddha Dog takes advantage of this by offering a mind-blowing array of sauces to top their dogs.  To help the customer choose, they are helpfully displayed on their menu on a spectrum ranging from sweetest to spiciest.  There are old favourites like beef chili, twists on classics like cherry ketchup and also unique toppings such as Indian butter sauce or spicy jerk.  The sweeter sauces were complex rather than cloying while the spicy sauces were flavourful without being nuclear hot.  Each one struck the just the right note.

Buddha Dog was a winner on virtually every level.  Even the presentation, with a flight of dogs arranged on a long platter to resemble a wine tasting flight, was clever. Along with the quality of ingredients, Buddha Dog is also distinguished by its “less is more” approach to food, a rarity in our Supersize Me age.  TV shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Man vs. Food, and You Gotta Eat Here have fetishized hamburgers and hot dogs smothered in toppings and out-of-control, mammoth portion sizes.  Taking a cue from the teachings of its namesake, Buddha Dog adopts a minimalist approach.  Rather than being laden with toppings, each dog has a mere two slices of cheese and a squiggle of sauce as a garnish.  This meant that you could actually taste each of the individual ingredients.  The people at Buddha Dog went out of their way to utilize excellent ingredients, so why not let each of them shine through? The hot dogs themselves were only 4 inches long. This smaller size  allows you to try several different hot dogs without being stuffed.  After 3 hot dogs each, Clementine and I had had enough energy for an afternoon of biking, wine tastings, and a stroll through the lavender farm. Arduous, I know. Clementine and I are going back to PEC. Buddha Dog is near the top of our list for a three-peat visit!

*Editor’s note: HoM (Hunk of Man) is what Clementine endearingly calls her boyfriend. If I didn’t like them both so much I’d think it was absolutely over the top. I prefer to call him by his first name, but here she calls the shots on this. -Cherry

Buddha Dog on Urbanspoon

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