Here it is, the full menu for OscarsFeast 2016. To be honest, considering what’s happening in the background of this year’s campaigns, I was contemplating putting together a menu of all white food (#oscarssowhite). But each of these dishes called out to me for a different reason. Make a couple of the snacks while you watch the ceremony, or split them pot-luck style and enjoy the full feast. In previous year’s we’ve gone whole hog and made the full feast again for a watching party. This year I think we’ll stick to a truncated menu in honour of my favourite pictures from this year’s crop- Potato Coins with Ketchup Salt for ‘The Martian’, SubPrime Fish Stew for ‘The Big Short’ and a small portion of Boston Baked Beans with Sage Eggs for ‘Spotlight’.
Oscars Menu 2016
Mad Max Fury Road
Seed and Water Crackers
In the post apocalyptic future of George Miller’s Fury Road, two things are particularly prized; seeds and water. You may not possess the bravery of Furiosa (Charlize Theron), or the anguish of Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) but if you can salvage enough seeds and a cup of water, you can have these. The edges of these crackers are as jagged as the sides of the canyons and the surface as dry as the salt flats that now lie where the Green Place once was. They are ideally baked over a few hours in a low oven, though the blazing dry heat of the ochre dessert (or on top of an engine of a running V8) may also work in a pinch. You could serve them as a civilised starter with any dip of your choice, but when the world is mad and resources are scant, a paste of salvaged seeds like tahini with a drizzle of oil will help keep the convoy rolling.
Potato Coins with Ketchup Salt
“In the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left with only one option, I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” so says Mark Watney (Matt Damon), as he tries to unearth a way to feed himself over 800 odd sols on Mars until a mission can retrieve him. Thank goodness he’s a botanist. Thank heavens for the potatoes that were sent along with the Thanksgiving rations. And thank modernity for ketchup (until it runs out). When that day arrives, you’re going to be left alone on a planet, eating plain potatoes you’ve farmed in your own fecal matter. Perhaps Mark could have made his ketchup stretch a little further if he’d employed the following method. 1) Dry it out- either in a low and slow oven, a dehydrator, or moisture depleted environment until it resembles the dust out the window of your shelter. 2) Mix it with sea salt flakes. 3) Sprinkle it sparsely over your potatoes. You can cut your potatoes into any shape you like, but considering the cost of the US having to save Matt Damon (once again), coins seem appropriate.
Beet and Vodka Cured Salmon – Bridge of Spies
Vodka and Beet Cured Salmon
James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is not in Scotland fishing for salmon- despite what he told his wife. Instead he is freezing in East Berlin, attempting to do the best by his client (a convicted Russian spy) and his constitution (both literal and physical). This elegant starter makes good use of the fictional salmon he fished for and the vodka his client claims he’ll drink if he makes it back to Russia. The final dish is tainted as red as James’ reputation after taking a long bath in pureed beets and foor garnish there’s a bridge of poppyseeds to traverse – think of them as additional Teutonic grist just in case it all seems too swimmingly smooth. This is a plate best served as frigidly cold as the war that sits as backdrop.
The Big Short
SubPrime Fish Stew
Collateralised Debt Obligations aren’t the easiest concept to digest- that is until you have a cameo from Chef Anthony Bourdain to illuminate them: “It goes something like this: A chef buys fish on Friday. Two days later, it can’t be sold as is, it’s now too old and stinky, “So what am I going to do? Throw all this unsold fish in the garbage and take the loss? No way. Whatever crappy levels of the bond I don’t sell, I throw into the seafood stew. [Now] it’s not old fish, it’s a whole new thing.” Welcome to SubPrime Fish Stew. This is not only a metaphor for the innards of the dubious financial products which helped unseat the global economy in 2008 and the theme of The Big Short – it’s also a delicious dinner. In honour of the hedonism of Wall Street in this mix you’ll find a pinch of saffron (worth more by kilogram than gold) and a fatty gilding of aioli over the top. You can employ whatever white wine or sparkling you like in the broth, but if you’re feeling particularly flush, feel free to use a cup of Krug.
Boston Baked Beans with Sage Eggs
This is a meal worthy of a plucky team of investigative team of reporters. For one, it honours a sense of place. With its twang of blackstrap molasses, Boston Baked Beans are an edible institution. For two, it’s thrifty, making the most of meager resources. For three, it’s placating – something that might be helpful when you’re on your way to uncovering the greatest scandal to smear the Catholic Church. These beans on their own make for a steadying breakfast (or late night snack), but add a five minute egg to the top with a yolk to plunder and you have your very own spotlight to shine across a murky mass. The slivered sage on top is optional but provides a nice herbal pun on the importance of wisdom-just in case you’re not quite as switched on as our protagonists.
Spaghetti with Mutton Ragu
Many things are more enticing in Brooklyn than the wee Irish town Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) grew up in. In Brooklyn there is opportunity. Over yonder there is the prospect of adventure, form-fitting bathing suits, Coney Island, love – and spaghetti. You just have to navigate the tides of homesickness first. It’s a kind of sickness so acute, that at first you want to die (or so we’re told). Though perhaps that ailment isn’t quite as bad as the motion sickness that strikes those who indulge in the mutton stew for dinner on the first night of the Atlantic crossing. This spaghetti is an excellent bridge between two lands. There’s the robust flavour of Irish mutton (or lamb shoulder, if that’s what’s at hand), braised and bathing in a rib sticking sauce of tomato, garlic and fennel seed. It’s enough to make a red blooded young Italian American like Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) weak at the knees. And the smell of it cooking is good enough to make any house feel like home.
Wholemeal Pancakes with Maple Butter and Pears
“There’s so much of “place” in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.” The world can be an overwhelming place. Particularly if you’ve spent the first five years of your life cocooned in ‘Room’ – a shed with a skylight, where the only person who knows the combination to the door is ‘Old Nick’. In the first 37 hours in the outside world our protagonist Jacob has seen pancakes, and a stairs, and birds, and windows, and hundreds of cars. And clouds, and police, and doctors, and grandma and grandpa. These are not the pancakes that Jacob first discovered in hospital- but they are the sort that his devoted mother Joy (Brie Larson) would probably make for him for breakfast. They’re made with well meaning wholemeal flour. They’re topped with sweet and gently spiced butter (which you can spread as thick as you like) and decorated with two intertwined slices of fresh pear (not tinned like those you had to beg for in ‘Room’). You may find an extra dose of egg in these pancakes- for one it’s additional protein- helpful for growing bodies. But it’ll also gift you a couple of extra shells to devote to your egg-snake-under-the-bed – just in case all of the toys available in the outside world lose their appeal and you want to return to some of Ma’s inventive home-spun distractions.
Cranberry Bear Claws
To get into the spirit of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s survival epic ‘The Revenant’ you could have your throat mauled by a bear, cauterize your own wounds and crawl across half of South Dakota during brutal winter in order to avenge yourself and family against the traitorous Tom Hardy. Or, you could turn on your oven and do a little baking. These ‘Bear Claws’ are much gentler than those that belonged to the beast that savaged Hugh Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio). Their origins hark back to the 1920’s (more than a century after Glass’ journey), when these breakfast danishes were traditionally made with yeasted dough and stuffed with almond paste. Here the frangipane gets cosy with some cranberries, which may bleed a little during baking (luckily any crimson spilled is just juice). We’ve also taken the easy route by leaning on frozen puff pastry (though if you want to go the extra mile prove your mettle and make your own puff pastry, you’re more than welcome). Once brittle and golden, you can dust these treats with a blizzard of powdered sugar- an end result that’s a lot sweeter (and more comforting) than a soul bearing treck in thigh deep snow with the remnants of a grizzly slung over your shoulders.
For a wander down memory lane (or some inspiration for Dinner and a Movie at home, check out previous OscarsFeasts below.
Plus the rest of the 2015 OscarsFeast here.
Best Picture 2014
Plus the rest of 2014 Oscarsfeast here
Best Picture 2013
Plus the rest of the 2013 Oscarsfeast here
Best Picture 2012
The rest of the 2012 Oscarsfeast here.
Best Picture 2011
The rest of the 2011 Oscarsfeast here