It’s been 15 years since the Moffats moved to Auburn from Chicago, and while I still really love my hometown, it’s firmly locked in my rearview mirror. There is one time of year that makes me misty, though. . .the first crack of the bat every April at my beloved Wrigley Field.
Now would be time for Giants fans to start with the “three-rings” tirade and taunts about the Cubs never making it to the big dance in October. Sorry, I can’t hear you. . .nah, nah, nah, nah. Actually, I’m over the Cubs after a lifetime of institutionalized disappointment, broken childhood dreams and a parade of heroes who all too often choked when it counted.
While Wrigley Field prevails in my mind as the pre-eminent shrine to small ball, the new owners have done the unimaginable: installed a Jumbotron above the left field bleachers, one of many “improvements” to the venerable ball yard being made in an effort to drive more revenue. With the aim of helping finance the fielding of a winning team, much of the building is being renovated and expanded. . .making purists like me cringe. It was inevitable, and I get it, but my interest in making another pilgrimage to the Friendly Confines has diminished significantly. . .
. . .but Carpe Vino’s annual tribute to Opening Day continues unabated with this week’s return of Chicago Hot Dogs, running Tuesday night through April 12, or for as along as our supply of 20 dozen tube steaks lasts. This is a significant increase in our order of raw dogs, resulting—we pray—in fewer irate customers this year. In 2014, Chi-town dogs were 86’d after just a couple of evenings, and, boy, did we hear about it.
For the uninitiated, here’s what distinguishes a Chicago Hot Dog (the best ones are served at little mom & pop stands near Wrigley; the ones in the park, not so much): It all starts with essential raw materials imported from the City of the Big Shoulders: S. Rosen poppy seed buns, steamed before serving; all-beef Vienna brand hot dogs; neon green relish; sport peppers; dill pickle spear; tomato, onion and yellow mustard (French’s is traditional). The secret ingredient is celery salt (plus Chef Alexander’s expertise); the poppy seed bun is essential. Ask for ketchup and you earn a Pete Rose-style lifetime ban from Carpe Vino.
Served with French fries, these puppies are priced at $8 each or two for $14 (absolutely worth it). Available in the bar only and at dinner only. First come, first served. Please do not request that we reserve dogs for you!
I can’t wait!
(BTW, despite the new fan mantra of “It’s Gonna Happen,” the Cubs dropped their home opener Sunday in a 3-0 loss against the St. Louis Cardinals. . .not exactly the fast track to ending Chicago’s 107-year World Series drought.)