On Monday, the latest creation from Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts makes its public debut. It’s called Good Coffee. Stick the word “damn” at the front of that, and you might catch the reference. It’s a Twin Peaks thing. The caffeine-themed round is the last in a series of four sugary tributes to acclaimed film and television director David Lynch. “We’re kind of saving the best for last,” says chef Matt Fein.
The so-called Lynchian doughnuts first appeared back in September during a reception for the filmmaker’s current exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where Lynch, a reputed doughnut fan and notorious java junkie, studied painting back in the 1960s. Federal Donuts partnered up to create some unique flavors for the event, and the store has been gradually adding the cinematic-themed sweets to its regular flavor rotation ever since.
It would be all too easy to get a little, shall we say, avant-garde with the recipes, when you consider the inspiration for these artsy doughnuts. We’re talking about the same guy who brought us such otherworldly flicks as Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, after all. And that’s sort of what Federal Donuts co-owner Michael Solomonov was driving at, when he joked to The New York Times Magazine about injecting the artisanal fried dough with “a little clove and allspice, to get at the Indian-mystical thing….[p]lus a healthy dose of windowpane LSD.”
Chef Fein, thankfully, keeps things a little more grounded in reality. The Blue Velvet, a nod to the 1986 film of the same name, takes Federal’s classic cake doughnut and covers it with a bright baby blue-colored, vanilla and lavender-flavored glaze. (No Pabst Blue Ribbon or nitrous oxide, as consumed by Dennis Hopper’s character in the movie.) Meanwhile, the Cherry Pie, a more oblique homage to Lynch’s 1990s cult TV series Twin Peaks, employs a glaze made with cherry purée and comes topped with graham cracker crumbs and some chopped dried cherries, too. Fein says the cherry one, in particular, has proven especially popular with customers, even non-Twin Peaks fans. “It’s one of the first to sell out every day,” he says.
Good Coffee — another Twin Peaks reference, specifically actor Kyle MacLachlan‘s famous line, “damn good coffee and hot!” — is glazed with a mixture of Federal Donuts’ own homemade cold brew and confectioners sugar, then sprinkled with a little finely ground coffee on top. “I’m a big fan of coffee,” says Fein, who is especially proud of the doughnut’s distinctively strong coffee flavor. “It tastes like natural coffee,” he says. “It doesn’t taste artificial, or like we tried to use an extract or anything. It just tastes like coffee.”
Each of those three Lynchian flavors are currently available at Federal’s four Philly locations. (The fourth, a malted milkshake-flavored tribute to Lynch’s favorite childhood indulgence, sort of got lost amid Federal’s many other existing chocolate flavors, Fein explains.)
How long they will remain on the menu is as unclear as the exact meaning of Lynch’s Inland Empire. Though Showtime recently announced plans to resurrect Twin Peaks for an all-new third season in 2016, Fein isn’t sure these specific doughnuts will last long enough to see it. “I highly doubt we’ll keep them on until then,” he says. “But, there’s always the chance that they’ll return leading up to the premiere of the new Twin Peaks.”
Here’s a clip of Fein explaining the concept, with appropriately Lynchian background music to boot:
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