BY AMY WONG, THE SEATTLE TIMES
Perhaps you’re throwing an Oscars viewing party to commemorate the 92nd Academy Awards this Sunday night?
Sure, popcorn is the universal movie snack, but might we suggest some more unique items for your party menu?
In honor of the nine Best Picture nominees, we came up with some suggestions for food and drink pairings that relate to each film.
Most of these items were mentioned in their respective films in some fashion. For others, we took a little more… creative interpretation, shall we say?
Either way, ranked in order of aperitifs and appetizers to dessert, here are our picks for your party menu!
“Ford V Ferrari” — Budweiser beer
In a movie deeply entrenched in product placement, from very frontward facing Coca-Cola bottles, to the literal title of “Ford” and “Ferrari,” there’s lots of inspiration for your food and drink choices. But I’m gonna go with a classic Budweiser beer, a very quintessential man’s man beverage in the “Ford v Ferrari” universe.
As your guests trickle in, invite them to predict the winners. Then, to kick off your Oscars evening, raise a cold bottle of Bud for a celebratory toast as British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) does in the movie! Just don’t drink and drive.
“Jojo Rabbit” — Bread and grapes
Allow us a minute for a brief explanation. “Jojo Rabbit” strikes a delicate balance between the dangerously naïve worldview of a boy in the Hitler Youth and the reality of that universe — that is, Nazi Germany in the dying embers of World War II. Scarlett Johansson, as Jojo’s mother (who is hiding a young Jewish girl in the family’s attic), is relentlessly upbeat as she tries to repel her son from the Third Reich. The film goes for a gut punch when Jojo is forced to reconcile these worlds.
The conflict manifests at the dinner table — supposedly neutral ground, like Switzerland, Johansson’s character suggests. Saying she’s not hungry, Jojo’s mother elects to “chew on these grapes,” swigging some red wine around her mouth. On Jojo’s plate, the grim reality: plain toast, all of which Jojo scarfs down to spite the girl in the attic.
So start your party with some grapes. And no, you don’t have to offer your guests plain toast. Take some artistic liberties and conjure up some tasty bruschetta instead. We dug through the ol’ recipe archives and came up with this bruschetta recipe.
Classic Tomato, Basil and Garlic Bruschetta Topping
Makes about 3 cups
- 7 to 8 plums (or heirloom tomatoes when in season), roughly chopped
- 10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl and stir well. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes for the flavors to develop.
— “Real Life Entertaining,” by Jennifer Rubell
“Little Women” — Poached pears
Looking for a sweeter appetizer for your party? Food and cooking were a big part of Louisa May Alcott’s book, and this was well represented in Greta Gerwig’s version of the movie. One of the most visual scenes in “Little Women” includes a breakfast table spread full of pies, biscuits, ice cream, potatoes and a quintessential dessert: poached pears.
Make your own poached pears with our recipe and eat this spread up quickly, or donate it to the less fortunate — whatever your heart tells you, but also think, what would Jo March do?
Serve these warm or chilled, with a drizzle of reduced cooking liquid, chocolate sauce, vanilla custard or ice cream. Trim the bottoms of the cooked pears so they stand upright, or slice them vertically, leaving the slices attached at the neck. Then gently push the stem end down while twisting the pear to fan it out.
You can poach almost any variety (avoid the super-juicy soft ones like Bartlett, which will fall apart), but I prefer Bosc because they maintain their texture, and their shape is so beautiful. Or try tiny Seckel or Angel pears because they are the perfect size to serve on top of a crème brûlée or alongside a slice of cake.
As you peel and core the pears, drop them into a bowl of cold water with a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to keep them from browning.
- 1 gallon water (or 5 cups water and 1 bottle white wine)
- 2 3/4 cups sugar
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 2-inch chunk fresh ginger, sliced
- 1 plump vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored from the bottom, stems left attached
- Put the water (and wine if using), sugar, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean and scrapings, lemon zest and juice into a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Reduce the heat and simmer the poaching liquid for 10 minutes.
- Add the pears and lay a piece of parchment paper directly on top of the pears (and the liquid) to keep them from browning. Poach gently until tender (use a thin knife or toothpick to test) and remove with a slotted spoon. Start checking the pears after 10 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size and ripeness of the pears, and can vary greatly. Any pear should be cooked within 25 to 30 minutes. (You can use the liquid to poach a second batch.)
— Leora Y. Bloom
“Parasite” — Jjapaguri
In one of “Parasite’s” most intense scenes, the Park family’s housekeeper is asked to make jjapaguri, (in the English translation of the movie, it’s referred to as ram-don) a popular Korean food that mixes two types of instant noodles: jjapaghetti and neoguri. Here’s a handy recipe for jjapaguri. And if you’re feeling particularly wealthy, top the dish off with some grilled sirloin.
Voila, party entrée option No. 1.
Director Bong Joon Ho told the Los Angeles Times that he came up with what’s essentially “steak-on-a-pile-of-instant-noodles” to show that the wealthy housewife in the movie “wanted to please her young son” but “the rich wife couldn’t stand her kid to eat this cheap noodle so she adds sirloin topping.”
- Jjapaghetti (Korean instant black noodles)
- Neoguri (Korean instant spicy seafood udon noodles)
- 4 cups of water
- Boil the water in a pot on medium high heat.
- Once the water is boiling, add the Jjapaghetti noodles, Neoguri noodles and dried vegetable flakes from both packets in the pot.
- Boil it until the noodles are cooked, about 2-3 mins. During this time, mix the noodles well by lifting and dropping them a couple of times.
- Drain the water but leave about 6 tablespoons worth of water. Then add the whole packet of Jjapaghetti powder soup sauce, 1/3 packet of Neoguri powder soup sauce and olive oil from the Jjapaghetti sauce. Mix them well. (If you want more spiciness, you could increase the amount of Neoguri powder soup sauce.)
Note: Add some thinly sliced sautéd sirloin as a topping if you want to mimic the scene from the Korean movie “Parasite (2019)”.
— From mykoreankitchen.com
“Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” — Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Brad Pitt has a thing for eating food in movies — in “Ocean’s 11” he allegedly ate 40 shrimp while filming one scene. There’s nothing more charming than Hollywood’s sweetheart making the most humble Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese, the hallmark meal of children and college students alike, during “Once Upon a Time.”
But if you want to make something a little more sophisticated to wow your party guests, this Edouardo Jordan recipe is the perfect entrée.
Honorable mention: Pitt’s character, Cliff Booth, chills at a bar with a Bloody Mary, while Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) enjoys a whiskey sour. There. Those are your party drink options. You’re welcome.
Edouardo Jordan’s Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4 (at least), more as a side
For the pasta:
- 3 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni pasta
- In a medium stock pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil; season generously with salt.
- Add the pasta, and cook until tender.
- Drain the water.
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup sharp cheddar (shredded)
- 1 cup medium cheddar (shredded)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan (shredded)
- 2/3 cup Camembert (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and cook to make a blond roux.
- Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking to avoid lumps, and bring to a simmer, stirring so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Once it has thickened properly, shut off heat and add all cheeses and the paprika.
- Stir until cheese is completely incorporated.
- Salt to taste.
For the top:
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar (shredded)
- 1/2 cup medium cheddar (shredded)
- 1/8 cup Parmesan (shredded)
Bring it all together:
- Let both the pasta and the sauce cool for about five to 10 minutes.
- Combine the pasta and the sauce, and check again for salt.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium casserole dish, and cover evenly with the cheese topping. [With all due respect to Edouardo Jordan, this is a “do as he does, not as he says” situation, so use the JuneBaby method for this step: Spread the mixture in a thin layer — not more than one or two noodles deep — in individual-sized cast-iron pans or in one large one, then cover evenly with the cheese topping. If you’re using one large pan, you might need to broil more than one batch; be sure to eat the first one before proceeding.]
- Place under broiler until the cheese is melted. [Again, with apologies: Let the cheese get really brown, to the edge of burning.]
“1917” — Milk
We know this sounds like a strange option. Bear with us. Here’s why this beverage is essential to your Oscars menu.
Early in the movie, the protagonist, Lance Corporal Schofield, finds a pail of milk at an abandoned farm, and eagerly fills his canteen with it. He doesn’t know at the time, of course, but this bounty of milk will later help him win the trust of a French woman he stumbles upon deep behind German lines. The woman and her infant are starving, and she is immeasurably grateful when Schofield hands her his canteen of milk to feed her baby.
So take a swig of milk at your party in honor of Lance Corporal Schofield, or hey, just add it to the beverage we’re recommending to commemorate our next movie.
“Joker” — Coffee
Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker has a complicated relationship with food — Phoenix apparently lost a staggering 52 pounds in preparation for the role! — but in the few scenes in which he is eating, it’s with his effervescent neighbor Sophie.
If you’re feeling friendly, take a mid-party interlude and grab a cup of joe with your pal down the hall, just make sure you know they’re there.
Or, better yet, invite the neighbor over, fill up the old coffee pot and caffeinate your party guests to get them through some of the long, drawn out thank you speeches and quell any sign of a food coma.
Because dessert is next.
“Marriage Story” — Pecan pie
“What kind of pie is that?”
“It’s ………………. pecan.”
“Did you make it?”
“I don’t know …. No! It’s store bought.”
“Are you OK?”
And…. are you sobbing yet?
My favorite scene from “Marriage Story” was this one involving divorce papers, a panic stricken Merritt Weaver and a store-bought pecan pie.
Go buy one to complete your Oscar’s party menu. Or if you want to opt for a homemade one instead, try this recipe.
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
- A mellow, sweet bourbon, like Woodinville Whiskey or Woodford Reserve
- 2 cups pecans
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 to 4 tablespoons bourbon
- One 9-inch pie shell, chilled
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place one rack in the lowest position and one in the middle.
- In a large skillet, spread the pecans in a single layer. Toast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, until fragrant and slightly darker — they burn easily, so pay attention. Remove the pan from heat and cool to room temperature. Using the flat of a large knife, coarsely break the nuts; the goal is to have lots of different sizes. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until blended. Stir in brown sugar and salt, then mix in the corn syrup. Add the melted butter and bourbon, stirring until liquids are completely blended. Fold in the chopped pecans. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.
- Bake for 20 minutes on the bottom rack. Move to the middle rack, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the filling is set (it shouldn’t jiggle except in a small spot in the very center) but hasn’t cracked. Cool to room temperature.
— Jill Lightner
“The Irishman” — Ice cream sundae
Now that you and your guests are stuffed, take a moment to pause and contemplate all the gems from this past movie season before you dig into a giant bowl of ice cream.
From Al Pacino himself on his character Jimmy Hoffa: “He wasn’t a drinker, wasn’t a smoker. He liked his ice cream. Ice cream was a pause in his life where he could think and just sit with it — at least, that’s the way I thought of it.”
Sit with it. Ruminate and appreciate all the nominees. Add toppings to your ice cream bowl from the “make your own” sundae bar you should most definitely assemble for your guests in your living room right next to the TV.
And perhaps, by the time all those ice cream bowls are empty, you’ll hear the magic words, “And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to ….”
Seattle Times staff members Stefanie Loh and Trevor Lenzmeier contributed to this story.