A contractor friend was giving me some advice on a kitchen renovation. Our conversation eventually turned to cheap eats in the area, as it often does. We both enthused about the dumplings at Vanessa’s Dumpling House, then went on to the joys of the fried fish buns at Chinese bakeries. “You know that bakery on Grand just across Allen?” he asked. “The one with the hot dog wrap thing?” I replied. “Yeah, with the egg in it? For like, two dollars? That’s a pretty good breakfast!”
What we were talking about was the hot dog “sandwich” at New Great Bakery, which has become my favorite neighborhood junk food indulgence. You can find a hot dog bun anywhere in the neighborhood, but this is a step beyond.
Instead of being baked into a bun, a split hot dog is wrapped in what I can best describe as a pancake – it’s flat and slightly sweet, with mysterious green marbling. But the hot dog is not alone in there. It’s got some chopped iceberg lettuce, scrambled egg, mayo and ketchup (thankfully very little) to keep it company. The result is a fairly substantial amount of food for $1.25. (I’m not kidding – that’s what this thing costs.) Yes, it is odd. It is also delicious, and far more interesting than a dirty water dog. The slight sweetness of the pancake/wrap, along the inclusion of egg makes it seem to me like a reasonable breakfast item. But I’ve had it for lunch as well. Either way it’s a remarkably inexpensive indulgence.
My friend Micah describes me as a food “anti-snob.” I take this at face value as a compliment, even though I know his intent is more nuanced. This sandwich is emblematic of what I think he means: unabashedly lowbrow, yet interesting, exotic and delicious. Also, crazy inexpensive and off the radar of so-called “foodies.” So if you want to get your “anti-snob” on I recommend a trip to New Great Bakery to give this “sandwich” a try. If it sounds a little too intimidating for you I can also vouch for their fried fish buns ($1.50).
JP Bowersock is a professional musician and music producer who has toured the world repeatedly, eating at top restaurants and hole-in-the-wall joints. He is a serious home cook with over two decades’ experience cooking for family, friends and fellow rock and rollers. Mr Bowersock keeps a toe in the wine business as well, consulting for the wine lists of several neighborhood establishments, including Clandestino, 35 Canal St. When not on tour or in the recording studio he’s scouring the neighborhood for frugal food finds.
Growing up in the 1980’s kind of ruined me for Chardonnay. Most bottles labeled “Chardonnay” contained wine that was buttery, oaked to oblivion and too high in residual sugar for my tastes. And they were everywhere. To the best of my knowledge at the time Chablis was a kind of jug wine.
It would take over a decade for me to try a real Chablis, finally understanding that the Chardonnay grape was capable of making wines with steely minerality, austere fruit and floral overtones. I’m still not big on Chardonnay, but I know which style I like.
Maison Louis Latour, Mâcon Lugny, Les Genievers, 2009 ($15 at Seward Park Liquors) is in the right direction. The fruit is yellow peaches – it’s full, but not overbearing. The wine is un-oaked, has a pleasing minerality and a whiff of wildflowers on the long finish. In the mouth it’s slightly creamy, but not heavy. While the Mâconnais is part of Burgundy the style of this wine reminds me a little of Chablis. It’s very nice for the price. 2009 was a good vintage in the Mâconnais, so enjoy this wine while it lasts. It’s meant to be drunk young.