by Susan Hamilton and Ann M. Colford & r & & r & Hot Dog! EATERIES & r & Hot dogs may have originated in Germany as the humble frankfurter, but they've become one of America's favorite sandwiches. Maxwell Street, a new eatery in Coeur d'Alene, claims to have the best hot dogs in the Inland Northwest.

"I serve up an all-beef Vienna hot dog in natural casing that I get out of Chicago," says Maxwell Street's owner John Frazier. "Chicago is defined by hot dogs. It has more than 1,800 hot dog stands -- at least one on every block."

And the name of Frazier's stand is straight out of Chicago as well. Maxwell Street was Chicago's open-air market where immigrants took their relatives to get situated -- an Ellis Island of the Midwest, if you will.

"Chicago natives are coming out of the woodwork for my hot dogs," Frazier proclaims. "They tell me it's about time somebody opened a good hot dog stand here."

So what kind of hot dogs can you find at Maxwell Street? There's the Mike Ditka dog, named after the Chicago Bears' football player and coach. It's the No. 89, of course -- the same number that Ditka himself sported. Covered in chili, kraut and cheese, it's a winner, just like Ditka. For those who like their dogs plain, Frazier offers the Heinz 57 dog with ketchup. But you won't catch Chicagoans ordering one of those. "People from Chicago think it's sacrilegious to put ketchup on hot dogs," Frazier says.

The Wrigley dog (named after the Windy City's famous baseball field) is a real Chicago-style hot dog. It sports yellow mustard, relish, onions, tomato slices and a dill pickle spear -- just like those first served at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Frazier's seasoned Italian pepper relish garnishes his Duggy dog. He also serves an Italian roast beef sandwich.

"I grew up with these hot dogs in Chicago," Frazier explains. "I always figured once people got a taste for these hot dogs, there would be a demand for them."

But why open a hot dog stand in the middle of winter?

"A chili dog on a cold day will warm the cockles of your heart," Frazier answers. -- Susan Hamilton

Maxwell Street, 5831 N. Government Way (near Dalton) in Coeur d'Alene, is open Mon-Fri 11 am-6:30 pm, Sat 11 am-5 pm. Call (208) 704-4176.

Wild Thing BENEFIT & r & Hunting is big business in these parts. In Washington and Idaho, some 1.5 million people take part in hunting or fishing activities, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures. With all those people doing the hunter-gatherer thing, it seems only natural that North Idaho College would hit upon the idea of a benefit dinner featuring wild foods that can be caught, shot or gathered locally, all prepared by a local chef. On Saturday, Jan. 28, NIC will host the seventh annual Wild Game Feast to benefit the college's alumni association and raise funds for student scholarships.

Chef Gene Tillman of the Coeur d'Alene Inn, site of the dinner, will prepare a four-course meal featuring wild meats, fish and plants available in the Northwest. The evening begins with a display of Northwest cheeses and fruits to tantalize the palate as diners arrive and socialize. The appetizer course brings the bounty of river and field to the forefront, with smoked salmon and spinach canap & eacute;s, braised elk and venison sausage with red cabbage, and Granny Smith apples. A Priest River organic mixed-greens salad with vine-ripened tomatoes, sweet Maui onions and a poppy seed vinaigrette will be served, followed by the main course: bacon-wrapped roast buffalo New York strip with peppercorn brandy demi-glaze, served with Idaho twice-baked potatoes and steamed vegetables. Completing the feast will be a dessert of peach and huckleberry crisp with fresh cream. Odom Northwest will suggest wines to complement both the unusual and the familiar on the menu.

Just in case you're not sure what your meal looks like in its more natural habitat, check out the displays of hoofed taxidermy animals courtesy of Beth Paragamian, wildlife education specialist for the Idaho Fish and Game Department, Idaho Panhandle National Forest and Bureau of Land Management. To showcase NIC programs and students, the event includes a silent auction with prizes such as dinner for eight from NIC Food Services and a landscaping package from the college's Landscape Technology program; NIC alumnus Raymond Blair and current student Andy Booth will entertain diners with classic guitar music and alumna Dianne Munkittrick will display her works of wildlife art. -- Ann M. Colford

The seventh annual North Idaho College Wild Game Feast is Saturday, Jan. 28, at 6 pm, at the Coeur d'Alene Inn, 414 W. Appleway, Coeur d'Alene. Tickets are $50 per person, $45 for NIC Alumni Association members. Call (208) 769-5978.

Grand Coulee Dam Laser Light Show @ Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center

Through Sept. 30
  • or