Best Hot Dog St. Louis 2005 - Usinger's
Yes, we do love Woofies (1919 Woodson Road, Overland; 314-426-6291). We've composed frickin' paeans to Woofies. We're tempted to write a poem about Woofies, set it to music and force you to listen to it while you're on hold with our receptionist. But this year we're gonna sing a new tune, a DIY number we like to call "Boil Your Own Damn Wiener." Because if you're anything like us, sometimes you find yourself with the urge to eat frankfurters at home. When we're of a mind to partake, we stop in at the nearest Straub's, beeline for the meat counter and ask for a pound of Usinger's wieners. Okay, they're not technically a St. Louis product -- they've been made in Milwaukee for more than a hundred years and aren't about to move -- but Straub's has the good sense to carry them, so they're fair game. Plus, they're terrific. Usinger's was the official frankfurter of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and here's one big reason: Unlike your typical grocery-store dog, a Usinger's isn't skinless; it's stuffed in a natural casing, which betrays itself in the form of a zesty resistance that accompanies every bite. They come eight to the pound, for $4.99 a pound. (Don't bitch; it's worth it.) While you're waiting for the butcher to wrap 'em, if you harbor even the remotest doubt about the mustard situation back at the homestead, pick up a bottle of Gulden's Spicy Brown. Ditto beer. And buns (though we've been known to employ a simple slice of bread in a pinch). Here's how to cook frankfurters: Boil some water in a pot or pan. Add desired number of franks. Turn off stove, cover pot and let stand ten to fifteen minutes. Straub's tends to keep its Usinger's stock frozen, but that's OK. Just adjust the heating time nearer to the fifteen-minute mark, make ready with the mustard, sip your beer and wait.