History’s great travellers know the importance of a good bite. From Odysseus sitting down to barley, wine and beast at feast after feast, to the Griswald family dining by the Eiffel Tower on European Vacation. Food and travel share a timeless romance, like salt and pepper, cheese and wine, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, bread and butter. Just as food can influence where you journey, geography can enhance the pleasure of food; fish and chips are elevated by the presence of waves; tacos come even closer to heaven in their homeland and McDonald’s always tastes better in a car, en route to anywhere. Conversely, French food falls flat in Fiji and seafood doesn’t belong on aeroplanes. New York City bulges with food that tastes better within its boroughs: bagels, pretzels, hot pastrami sandwiches and the other heated delicacy, hot dogs. As ubiquitous as their yellow cabs and subway rats, the great city’s culinary specialties are rarely more than three feet away. After a magical meal, late night wander and pit stop at Otto’s Shrunken Head, the siren song of the hot dog calls. But not just any hot dog. Not the pale pink, lukewarm and bloated dogs in the carts that crowd the sidewalks; a late-night/early-morning post-dinner hot dog calls for the top dog: the Crif Dog. On St Marks Place, noted in the history and guide books as the creative turf of Basquiat, Warhol and Hendrix, the downstairs kitchen pumps out wieners into the wee hours. At 1:45am I order The Crif Dog, a ‘handmade naturally smoked beef and pork dog’ ($2.75), with mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut and relish (all free additions). There is no method to my order, just a fierce love for mixed meats and condiments. Like other excellent foods – burritos, baked potatoes, doner kebabs – my dog is dressed in foil; I peel back the silvery suit and take a bite. It’s magnificent. And blisteringly hot. With each bite, I inhale sharply and audibly at the heat, as if sucking in cool air while I chew and swallow will save my oesophagus. It doesn’t, but I can’t slow down. The bun to meat ratio is a study in perfection, the toppings generous. Bite after toothy, hissing bite of the smoked and deep-fried sausage goes down, my panting justly comparable to an overheated canine. This place wipes all of St Marks’ lofty names from the books with a ketchup smeared hand, and where they once were the page now glows with two neon words: CRIF. DOGS. And the very best thing is you can eat them with one hand, while travelling. Unless you order three. And you really should.