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Friday, December 2

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Event Tue Nov 10 2009

Zombie Doug's

White Zombie and Cherry Bomb
Just a few last thoughts on eating Halloween this year, before the candy corn goes totally stale... Intrepid DT Editor Robyn Nisi clued me into dinner at Lula Café for what has become an annual tradition -- dressing up the entire establishment as another restaurant. This year, Lula briefly closed for zombification on Halloween, only to re-open to immediately lengthy lines as a spooky version of Hot Doug's -- real-life Doug Sohn included, chained to a desk at the front of the line to take orders. The illusion was so complete I had to ask our slightly decaying waitress if the entire Hot Doug's crew had been locked in the walk-in and forced to whip up a service of specialty dogs (or pay the price! or something...). But the entire menu was planned and executed in-house, with Doug's approval before he agreed to lend his name and t-shirts to the staff.

The man himselfAfter almost an hour waiting in the cold, fortified only by Nerds and hot cider from the hostesses, we couldn't limit ourselves to just one dog each, especially with prices in the $1.75 to $9 range. So we tried a variety, along with an all-too-small paper sleeve of the duck fat fries partially responsible for those lines at the real Doug's. The Evans City was my favorite, the priciest dog on the list, ringing up the extra dollars with a foie and sauternes sausage, black truffles, a generous shmear of duck liver and a gooey dollop of date honey on top. The flavors were perfect, smoky sweetness of the dog and honey playing against the rich, velvet saltiness of the duck liver -- I only wish the dog to bun ratio had been a little higher to fill out the entire, doughy hoagie roll it came on. I also ordered the Rob Zombie, a Thuringer sausage (sort of like a lean bratwurst, apparently differentiated by its inclusion of marjoram along with caraway and garlic) with a tangy beer mustard, choucroute-style chunky sauerkraut and scrapings of raclette cheese. A zombie German gave their life for that one somewhere.

Rob ZombieI tried to limit myself to just a bite or two of Robyn's selections, for fear of devouring her dinner along with my own. The Cherry Bomb featured duck sausage, sour cherries, blue cheese and sage -- a nice play on sweet and savory, though a less fierce cheese might have been less overwhelming. And the White Zombie rounded out the table with a hefty New Orleans inflected boudin blanc that was all chewy char on the outside and meltingly tender meat in the interior, garnished with Dijon mustard, shallots, and a bristly down of chopped cornichons and crispy leeks. Our zombie waitress strong-armed us into a pair of milkshakes for dessert, and we eventually lurched out, looking not unlike zombies ourselves, past a line still 20 people deep after almost three hours of service. A rundown of the very funny menu is on the TOC blog, in case you're dying to know what you missed (or if you went, what you might have missed eating). In the past, Lula's restaurant costumes have included Olive Garden and Houlihan's, and it's nice to see them turning to a local inspiration this year, to say nothing of the mad sausage-stuffing skills on display. One can only hope a little of the zombie residue remains, if only until next Halloween.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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