The Austin Chronicle

Bite Into Fantastic Fest

Black-and-white dogs, monster-themed vodka cocktails, and more

By Virginia B. Wood, September 21, 2012, Food

Alamo Drafthouse corporate chef John Bullington and corporate beverage director Bill Norris know that the advent of Fantastic Fest means their creativity will be put to the test. Once Alamo honcho Tim League and the programmers announce the annual lineup of genre films, Bullington and Norris are challenged to create menu specials, feast menus, and distinctive custom cocktails that will enhance the film experience, Alamo-style. For example, this year's fest opens with Tim Burton's new, animated version of Frankenweenie, so the duo thought of dogs and monsters. Look for menu specials such as bacon-wrapped hot dogs served with black mustard and white mayo, resurrected potatoes, and a crème brûlée French toast patty melt that can be paired with Tito's Vodka-themed cocktails like the Zombie, the Corpse Reviver, a Dark & Stormy Night, or Maggots at Midnight with cucumber seeds. The dessert special is a milkshake with alternating layers of dark chocolate ancho and caramel white chocolate ice cream garnished with a chocolate-dipped shortbread dog bone.

League is nothing if not a gracious host, and filmmakers who attend Fantastic Fest have come to expect elaborate culinary presentations at the League home. They won't be disappointed this year, as Bullington will be roasting whole pigs for the filmmaker's luncheon one day and a multicourse Spanish tapas feast to complement the premiere of the Spanish film No Rest for the Wicked. Throughout the festival, guests in the theaters will also be tempted with treats and tidbits inspired by different movies. "We've been sourcing some pretty unusual things to serve as extreme sushi during one of the films," Bullington reports mysteriously. Norris has drink specials planned, as well, and he told us the HighBall will feature a build-your-own Tito's Vodka Bloody Mary bar every day from opening until 4pm. (And speaking of the HighBall, since the current incarnation of that pleasure palace could disappear with the scheduled shopping center remodel, it would be a good idea to get in there for the stellar Sunday brunch as soon as possible. Enjoy hot churros with warm coffee syrup, chilaquiles, and the Steak Benedict.)

This year's Fantastic Fest closes with the new version of Red Dawn, complete with North Korean villains and a delectable Korean food menu to match. Choose from kimchi, mandoo (fried dumplings with lamb and glass noodles, or tofu kimchi dumplings), pork or vegetarian bulgoki tacos, Korean fries tossed with peppers and served with cilantro scallion mayo and chile sauce, kimbap (Korean sushi with rice, egg, carrot, and cucumber), and bokumbap (Korean fried rice). "This festival always means a crazy, incredible amount of work, but being encouraged to come up with all this cool stuff is one of the main reasons we do this job," says Bullington. Bone appétit!

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