Monday, 5 July 2010

Buddha Dog in Picton

I feel a bit funny writing about Buddha Dog, since I'm not a restaurant reviewer. Still, Buddha Dog is in some ways more of a producer/marketer. They make hot dogs, and serve hot dogs, and not much else. There are actually 2 Buddha Dogs; the one we visited in Picton, and one in Collingwood. Oddly, I've never been to the one in Collingwood, which is only half an hour down the road from us. Mind you, Collingwood is not our favourite place. In fact, in this household we refer to it as "The Blight" and avoid it if possible.

Anyway, the Buddha Dog in Picton is in an old red brick building on the main street of Picton. The signage is fairly discreet; we drove right past it the first time, even though we were looking for it.

Inside, they wear their dedication to local food on their sleeve, or at least on the wall. A large map-chalkboard lists the locations of all kinds of local food producers. We arrived at 11:30 am, and the place was empty but for the staff. No sooner had we ordered though, than people began to arrive. It looks like a very popular place.

So the deal is, they sell hot dogs. These are made for them by a local butcher and they are served with a choice of local cheeses and locally made sauces. The chevre from Fifth Town Cheese was a no-brainer for us, but the sauce took more consideration. I settled on Tomato Pear Chutney which was excellent. I believe their other cheeses are from Black River Cheese.

I've read a lot of complaints that their hot dogs are small, and they are, although at $2.50 each I thought they were not badly priced. One is a good size for a kid; an adult will probably want 2 unless they also order a seasonal salad ($5) and even then might still want to have 2.

So, how were they? Well, they were hot dogs. I'm afraid that while I liked them and enjoyed them and even plan on checking out the Collingwood Buddha Dog, my praise for them will be couched in somewhat negative terms.

First, and most important, they did not make us sick. I have not eaten a hot dog in 5 years, apart from these. The second last time we ate hot dogs, I broke out in hives that lasted, on and off, for 10 days. The last time we ate hot dogs, Mr Ferdzy got food poisoning. These were both supposedly decent quality but American-made hot dogs from Costco. At that point, we agreed: no more hot dogs for us, ever. Only a high-quality, locally produced product like Buddha Dog could have induced us to change our minds.

They did NOT taste like most hot dogs in the sense that they lacked that strange, greasy unknown organ meat flavour of most hot dogs. ("Bologna" has it too.) I can hardly describe it, but it's the reason I hated hot dogs as a kid. I eventually learned to eat them because sometimes they were the only available choice, but to me they have always had a nasty background flavour and greasy mouth-feel that was just not appealling. The Buddha dogs completely lacked that flavour and texture, and that was a very good thing as far as I am concerned. On the other hand, I've had more wildly exciting sausages. These were hot dogs. Good hot dogs, but not my favourite food. The salad on the other hand was lovely, and consisted of local and seasonal lettuce, asparagus, snow peas, strawberries and more of the superb chevre, and a Reisling-Tarragon-Blueberry dressing. Yum.

So, if you are in Picton (or Collingwood) check out Buddha Dog. It's possible though, that the dogs in Collingwood are a little different. They are not made in Prince Edward County like the ones from Picton, but by a butcher in Collingwood.

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