As we fire up our grills for Memorial Day, a few thoughts about food are in order.
I got a chance to sample Fenway’s new kosher hot dog on Sunday. The Globe gets the process about right with its write-up this week. “When a customer puts in his or her money, it triggers a chain of events that carries the hot dog to an oven, where it cooks and rotates for 28 seconds. At the same time, a bun is carried into a bun warming oven. Then the hot dog is dropped into the bun, together they slide into a cardboard sleeve, and you open the door and pull them out. Mustard and relish are released from a separate door. Digital prompts tell the customer what is happening, as in, ‘Your hot dog is grilling,’ and ‘Please take your condiments.’ ”
You can also try a potato knish. I didn’t get a chance on Sunday. I’d give the dog a B grade. The problem lies not so much in the taste of the dog, but in the method of preparation. There’s a limit to how good an automated dog can taste.
For those who favor all beef hot dogs, but don’t keep kosher, Boston’s best weekday option is Hot Speed’s cart in Newmarket. I stopped by on the way home from downtown this week. As always, it was outstanding. Speed, a former track star, gives you a giant hot dog, bigger than what we typically think of as a knockwurst. It’s slathered with special sauce; you can get it loaded with onions and chili too. Speed, who’s now in his 80s, wasn’t there the day I showed up.
Last year, I met a guy in the schvitz in Norwood who purported to have given Speed his start in the business. He told me that Pearl began making these giant dogs especially for Speed. He recalled that at that early stage Speed even took his wagon to country fairs in Vermont. At first, he met trepidation. But as soon as he gave out one free dog, word spread. He always sold out.
You can read more about Speed here.
Finally, what is Memorial Day without ice cream. If you live in the Southwest part of the city or Canton, Milton or Norwood, you have to try Ron’s Ice Cream. Ron’s been quietly producing the area’s best ice cream since the advent of Steve’s and is finally getting noticed for it. His main location is on Hyde Park Avenue, which also is home to a bowling alley, in Hyde Park. He’s got an another place in Dedham Square.
Few can believe how good Ron’s ice cream is. I get it for my out-of-town guests and served it at my son’s 1-year birthday party. National Geographic listed it as one of the top ten ice cream parlors in the world. I once asked for documentation. The staff reached behind the counter to hand me “The Ten Best of Everything, The Ultimate Guide for Travelers” to the world. It listed Ron’s above a gelateria in Rome as well as a number of stellar ice cream places worldwide.
I asked Ron about how he got into the business. He told me how an interested representative from Hood Ice Cream encouraged him to start making his own. This was again at a time when homemade ice cream was something novel. Ron’s primary interest, back then, was changing the character of the bowling alley, which at that time was getting seedy.
He did all that and more. Good Morning America has named Ron’s one of the top four ice cream shops in America.
Viewers are welcome to vote for their preference. Vote for Ron’s here.