Thursday, March 29, 2012

Moderation


Generally speaking I'm a believer in "all things in moderation," but there are times when that simply can't apply. Like the annual Oscar Night of Gluttony. You may recall hearing about it here and here. Basically, three of us make a dish or drink that represents each of the nine best picture nominations. And then we eat it all while watching the Academy Awards. Thankfully because this is a live event and we're on the west-coast, we get started early, but somehow that means we don't stop early. We tend to keep eating and drinking while we watch hours and hours of post-show commentaries on fashion, winners and parties.

I think the menu and the execution this year deserved an Oscar. Seriously, every movie was stellarly [Is that a word? It should be.] represented. Most courses/movies we wanted more, which is actually kind of disgusting considering that three girls were putting away nine courses — and they weren't small, lady-like portions! Case in point: my chili cheese dog with caramelized onions and crushed Fritos. This was my Moneyball dish. When I think of baseball, I think of hotdogs. And when it's the Oscar Night of Gluttony, you kind of have to go all-out! See Exhibit A:


I'm not one opposed to spending hours and sometimes even days in the kitchen to make a fancy or special meal, and I'm happy to report it's usually met with positive, even borderline adoring, comments. But I basically didn't make anything for this dish except the caramelized onions. I was just off a plane so was rushed for time and made a detour to 7-11 to grab a cardboard dish [yep, that's the best serving vessel they offer] of chili, which they were nice enough to give me for free — probably because they've never seen anyone during daylight hours come in trying to buy some. It's kind of like eating at Krystal's during the day — you Southerners know what I'm talking about! Anyway, I boiled the hotdogs (which I did try to find some that were nitrate-free, grass-fed, somethin'-or-other—I do live in CA, you know?), toasted some buns, and added some spicy mustard, caramelized onions and grated cheese. But for the crowning touch, I added some crushed Fritos, which I also picked up at 7-11 along with the chili. A stroke of genius I wish I could claim, but I think I saw it on some Man vs. Food episode, which probably also included a Philly cheese steak and fried mozzarella sticks on top. How that dude is still alive is a mystery to me. . .


Anyway, it was borderline gross but delightfully delicious. I mean no one would normally serve this to guests or eat this unless they're at a diner at 3 am with a blood alcohol level of 0.3, but damn was it good! And despite the fact that it took me a mere 10 minutes to assemble this dish, I don't think I've even received such a rousing chorus of accolades. One guest even told me it was the best thing I've ever made. I'm like, "You mean the best thing I've never made?" I wasn't offended because it really did hit the spot after . . . . the 8 other courses we had!

Meredith kicked us off with a classic and perfectly chilled mint julep, the quintessential Southern cocktail, in honor of The Help.


That was followed by spam sushi, representing The Descendants, which takes place in Hawaii. Spam is a beloved "protein" of the Islands, but we tend to mock it here on the mainland. After eating this dish, I must say, as white trash as it sounds, I think we need more spam over here! It was delicious, albeit heavily dressed in a sweet, tangy, doctored-up soy sauce. I've always said with enough soy sauce, anything can be consumed. . . .


Meredith finished out her triple with some homemade — yes, homemade! — soft pretzels with habañero mustard as a homage to New York City, where Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was set.


Karen got a standing ovation for her pan-seared Kobe rib-eye with béarnaise sauce (for The Artist, an elegant dish representing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in the 1930s), which she served with glazed baby turnips and carrots (for War Horse — even though I'm quite certain no horse has eaten vegetables that delicious!). Seriously, it was probably one of the best steaks I've ever had. I hope she'll share her secret.


Karen closed out her session with petits pains au chocolat, in the spirit of Hugo, which was one of two Best Picture nominations set in France.


We continued our venture to France, when I served up roasted ratatouille on olive bread crostini with chèvre cheese for Midnight in Paris, which was one of my favorite movies on the year.


My last movie was probably the hardest one for me to pair: Tree of Life. I didn't see it but know it was about a family in Texas in the 1950s. I was channeling Southern food — think bacon and buttermilk — and a little smokiness for Texas — enter cayenne, and the stay-at-home mom of this era who'd bake you cookies when you came home from school. The result was a delightful, slightly spicy chocolate chip pecan cookie made with buttermilk and bacon grease.

Again, maybe not the most common cookie recipe you'd whip out for company, but definitely fitting for the gluttonous occasion. And dang, I gotta say those were good cookies. Recipe to come for sure! Because gluttony loves company!

3 comments:

  1. Great review!!!!

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  2. delightfully clever and delicious too.as always. My admiration goes to anyone who would make a pretzel from scratch; however, anyone who can make an R2D2 birthday cake can create anything!

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  3. Thanks for letting me crash your party that night and I think that may have been me who said that about the hotdogs. :)

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