big win of summer 2001--
Giant Ballpark Frank Tasting
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
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.
all, most people gobble hot dogs right out of their hands, fuhgeddabouta
even a contest for how fast you can down hot dogs at Nathan's on Coney
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.
sausage makers such as Thumann's, Beckmann's
Old World Sausage & Jerky Kitchen, Schaller's Best, and Meister
Meat of Albany, NY offered samples for attendees.
Christine Harbauer grills Schaller's Best Sausages, basted with Belgian
ale, at the Slow Food Giant Ballpark Frank Tasting in Cooperstown.
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.
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.
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).
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.
really, all the dogs came out looking like wieners---I mean, winners."
with the brewery, the Farmer's Museum and the Baseball Hall of Fame,
helped in hosting the event for more than 500 people.
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.
your local sausage-maker!