While watching a tv show that was all about hot dogs, there was a particular segment that caught my attention. In that segment, a Colombian-born baseball player demonstrated how to put together a Colombian hot dog. Needless to say, the ingredients were a surprising choice and ever since then, I've wanted to try one, but couldn't find any place that made them. Thanks to Jonathan Gold, it turns out that they sell them at Tutti Frutti in Pasadena. I bet you're really curious now as to what exactly is a Colombian hot dog.
Simply, it's a Hebrew National hot dog tucked with ham and mozzarella cheese into a bun with raw onion, spackled with crushed pineapple, sprinkled with crushed potato chips and finished with a three-squeeze-bottle lattice of catsup, mustard and mayonnaise. You're either cringing or entranced right about now. According to Jonathan Gold, "It is impossible to eat the thing without smearing condiments on your nose, but it isn't bad - the pineapple serves the same basic sweet-sour function as pickle relish, and even the crushed potato chips make a certain kind of textural sense."
Once I knew where to go, I headed off to Tutti Frutti with my iron stomach and even brought a couple of friends with me. Walking into Tutti Frutti, it was more of a fruit salad, yogurt and smoothie place rather than a harbinger of this extreme hot dog, but there it was on the menu. Before ordering the hot dog, I got side tracked by something else, the Tutti Frutti Fruit Salad and decided to start with that instead. Who says you can't have dessert first?
What was interesting about the Tutti Frutti were its ingredients which were seasonal fruit topped with sweet cream, frozen yogurt, cheese, coconut and blackberry sauce. Can you guess which specific ingredient gave me pause? Yes, it was the cheese. It seemed an odd choice, but when speaking to the owners who were Colombian, cheese in their fruit salad is quite common in their country. You know what? It works. The saltiness of the cheese balanced well with the sweetness of the other ingredients while the tartness of the blackberry sauce added a complementary flavor dimension. In short, the Tutti Frutti was fun to eat.
We also ordered a couple of Colombian drinks to try. The Postobon Apple Flavored Soda tasted apple-y and fizzy, although a little sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the Pony Malta drink definitely wasn't sweet at all, but was too thick and malty for me. A couple of sips and I was done.
Now it was time for the main event, the Colombian hot dog. When I first saw it, I was just in awe, because I had no idea where to start. There was just so much to it. I honestly wished for a knife and fork because I could already feel the ketchup-mayo-mustard smeared all over my mouth and nose. Heck, if Jonathan Gold could just bite it into, I could to and I did and yes, it was quite messy.
At one point, I just developed a strategy where I would take a bite out of the top part of the hot dog, leaving a lower ledge of hot dog and bread. That way, I could at least have some control over the condiment chaos and than I'd bite the lower part of the hot dog and just repeat. So what does a hot dog with all these interesting ingredients taste like?
With each bite, you taste sour, salty and sweet with both creamy, firm and crisp textures. It was definitely quite an experience. I couldn't even finish it. It was quite a good size dog, but I think it also had to do with the TuttiFruitti Fruit Salad I had earlier in the meal. Overall, at least I can say that I had a Colombian hot dog, but in the end, I just found the plethora of ingredients a bit overwhelming. I prefer my dog to be a little more basic - mustard, onions, hot dog and bun, but if you're willing to see what all the fuss was about, than definitely pay a visit to Tutti Frutti.
To see pics, go to:
950 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91106