While many Portlanders spent the July 4th weekend setting off fireworks and sweating through another couple of steamy days, Lori and I escaped the heat (sort of) under a large misting tent as part of a prestigious global culinary event..
Well, maybe that’s a stretch.
The 6th Annual International Hot Dog Competition went off without a hitch at the home of our daughter Simone and her wife, Kyndall.
It’s a backyard throwdown featuring some of the most creative hot dog toppings you’ve ever heard of. This year, 14 chefs brought their best, assembling homemade ingredients on four or five wieners each so they could be cut into bite-size pieces and shared with a crowd of appreciative eaters. After the samples are consumed, everyone votes for their favorites and and the top three vote-getters are awarded prizes so tacky they’re cool.
This year’s winners? The Raw Dog, featuring ahi tuna and yellowtail salad. The Cornholio, a deep-fried corn dog with a remoulade dipping sauce. The Kim Chee-Hua-Hua, slathered with Korean-style fermented cabbage and fresh, raw vegetables.
Other options included mac-and-cheese with potato chips; a pork sausage gravy (my entry); brisket, pickles and smoky barbecue sauce; a Philly cheese steak with sauteed peppers; and a haute dog made of freshly baked and seasoned dough wrapped around the wiener (Lori’s entry).
The event began in Pittsburgh, where Simone and Kyndall lived for two years, and has continued annually since their return to Portland. This year was the third for Lori and me and, in my estimation, the best event yet.
It’s hard to beat this combination of food, friends and fun.
Aside from the hot dogs, there were side salads, brownie squares and creamsicle-flavored jello shots.
People stayed cool under a misting tent (worthy of an award itself) or by dipping their feet in a child-size swimming pool.
Artists, musicians and DJs mingled with government and nonprofit workers, and at least one law clerk and paralegal. Several members of Simone and Kyndall’s all-women dragon boat rowing team were there as well.
Lori and I were the oldest ones in attendance but felt entirely at ease, having known many of S&K’s friends for years. The affection people have for one another — and freely demonstrate — is lovely to see. Kyndall and Simone are perfect hosts: welcoming and witty, irreverent and inclusive.
Oh, and did I mention the real dogs? There were six, I think, mostly small breeds and one mellow pit bull named Charles Barkley. They all got along great.
The star of the afternoon had to be Uni, the 9-year-old Yorkshire Terrier who gave her owners (our son Nathan and his girlfriend Sara) a heart attack when she ran away from home Friday night, only to be discovered the next day in the parking lot of a dive bar several miles away in an adjoining county.
Had she still been missing Sunday, Uni’s absence would have cast a pall on this year’s party. Thankfully, she turned up, evidently no worse for the wear and tear running all those miles. Little wonder she took more than one dip in the water to cool off her paws.
Next year will be the 7th annual. Hard to imagine this hot dog palooza getting even better, but I’m sure Simone and Kyndall will find a way.