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Karl Ehmer's hot dog cart and store

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Karl Ehmer's hot dog cart and store

John Fox | Jun 8, 2005 08:37 AM

I made it up to Karl Ehmer's this past Monday planning on buying some of their German frankfurters and brats to take home. Even though it wasn't a Saturday, they had the cart open in front of the store. The cart had a compartment for heating sausages (German franks, all beef franks, brats, weisswurt, and other sausages) in water, as well as a griddle and small grill. I had a German frank ($2.50) and an all beef frank ($2.75) fresh off the griddle. Both were about 6 to a lb in size. You have your choice of sausages and your choice of how you want them prepared. The woman working the cart prefers hers simmerred in water, but most of them are already on the griddle ready to eat. You have to request one to be put on the grill if you want it char grilled.

The German beef and pork dog is right up there with Thumann's. An excellent tasting dog in this style. I bought some from the store with the intention of comparing them in a taste test, which I did yesterday. I also bought some bratwurst and all beef dogs to take home. The store looks like a butcher shop, but the meats are not made on premise, but rather at their plant in Ridgewood, N.Y. Brats, German franks, and other sausages are sold loose or by the pound. Beef franks were sold by the pound only. They are rather expensive. $6.99 a lb for franks and $6.49 for brats. I didn't ask about the other sausages.

The all beef dog was also very good. Spicy like a New York/New Jersey/Chicago dog. German style beef and pork dogs are the style preferred by these butcher shops. Some also include veal in the mix. All use their own unique recipe. The ones that make a beef dog usually make it milder than a typical all beef dog. Not so here. This dog was spicy and good. I bought a pack of them and will be comparing them to some other beef dogs I have at home when I get my shipment of Usinger's this week.

For me, I like to compare different brands side by side, prepared the same way at home. Yesterday I sampled a Thumann's, Karl Ehmer's German frank, and a Union Pork Store German frank, all simmerred in water and finished off on my griddle. All were excellent. Similar in taste, although Thumann's and Karl Ehmer's were closest. Just slightly more flavor and complexity than the Union Pork Store dog. But all equal in terms of overall quality. I would make my decision on which of these to buy based on convenience and price, since they are all in the same league. These 3 dogs, as well as Liehs and Steigerwald (from Syracuse and only available at their location or mail order) are my favorite German style dogs.

As I said, the differences in the 3 dogs sampled are small. The Union Pork store dog has a little tougher casing and slightly milder flavor than the other 2. Thumann's and Karl Ehmer's are very close in taste. In fact, this dog is the closest in taste to Thumann's. Thumann's is a little more tender and juicy. The dog from Liehs and Steigerwald that I sampled last summer is very juicy with a different spicing; containing veal and mace as an additional spice.

I also sampled the bratwurst from Karl Ehmer's. It was good, but ordinary. The brat from the Union Pork Store, which I had next to Ehmer's, was much better.

I'll have to check, but I think the cart may be open Mon. through Sat. For a grilled beef and pork frank, this place is at the top of my list. As good as you'll find in Jersey. It's a shame that it's very hard to find a place that serves a grilled Thumann's. All of the north Jersey places serve the deep fry dog. Falls View serves a griller, but it is specially made for them by Thumann's without the smoke. In my opinion, it isn't as good. There was a place in Hackensack called the Dog House Grill that I went to once 3 or 4 years ago that served the Thumann's griller. It was undercooked. At the Karl Ehmer's cart you can get your dog cooked in water, on the griddle or grill. It's prepared fresh and spends enough time on the grill or griddle. And you have a choice of German style, all beef, brat, or other sausage. Definitely one of my favorite places.

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