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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

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Milwaukee's big win of summer 2001--
The Giant Ballpark Frank Tasting

On a sweltering Saturday in July, fans of the frankfurter gathered at the Farmer's Museum, in the hometown of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY, to taste and rate the best ballpark sausages and hot dogs. Humid and hot dogs, the Slow Food volunteers at Farmers Museum, photo by Lucy Saunders


As a benefit for the local chapter of the Slow Food, a group dedicated to preserving old-fashioned food traditions, the hot dog seemed an unlikely candidate, at least to me.


After all, most people gobble hot dogs right out of their hands, fuhgeddabouta fork. There's even a contest for how fast you can down hot dogs at Nathan's on Coney Island.

But Patrick Martins, president of the Slow Food USA, set me straight. "Small hog farmers and butchers are at risk of losing their meat-making businesses to large corporations," Martins said. "Specialty sausage makers of meat products need to be recognized for their artisanal techniques of slow fermentation, curing and smoking, all of which takes considerable time, effort and talent." True enough. So, savoring my sausage slowly, I made my rounds of the specialties showcased at the event.

Local sausage makers such as Thumann's, Christine Harbauer, photo by Lucy SaundersBeckmann's Old World Sausage & Jerky Kitchen, Schaller's Best, and Meister Meat of Albany, NY offered samples for attendees.

CAPTION: Christine Harbauer grills Schaller's Best Sausages, basted with Belgian ale, at the Slow Food Giant Ballpark Frank Tasting in Cooperstown.




Beside the big tent at the Farmer's Museum, a team of hard-working volunteers grilled and served the dozens of dogs sent in by the participating ball parks and a few independent sausage-makers. Ballpark franks got their own grillmeister; photo by Lucy Saunders

John Horne of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Barry Levenson of the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum lectured on the links betweeen hot dogs, baseball and mustard.

Meanwhile the judges from USA Today, Real Beer, Northeast Public Radio and other friends of Slow Food pondered the blind tastings. Milwaukee swept the field for best hot dog (Usinger's Angus all-beef frank) and bratwurst (Klement's precooked bratwurst). Don Feinberg and a few of the judges, upon hearing that Milwaukee swept the contest, photo by Lucy Saunders

"Debates over preferences were lively, as one would expect when baseball teams and regional identities are involved," Wendy Littlefield of Brewery Ommegang said in announcing the results.

"But really, all the dogs came out looking like wieners---I mean, winners."

Co-sponsors with the brewery, the Farmer's Museum and the Baseball Hall of Fame, helped in hosting the event for more than 500 people.

Call me jaded - I live in the best of Wurst Places, USA -- Milwaukee. But my personal favorites of the many fine locally made hot dogs and sausages I sampled were: Beckmann's jerky made with Ommegang ale, Thumann's hot dog, and a white veal bratwurst from Meister Meats of Albany. Meister's brat was coarse ground with a nice snap, juicy texture and just the right spice.

Support your local sausage-maker!

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