On Sunday, March 7, Hollywood will buzz with excitement when the stars come out to shine at the 82nd Academy Awards. But the glamour of the Oscars isn’t just for Tinseltown. In 2010, the ceremony’s telecast will be seen in over 200 countries, allowing film buffs around the world to swoon over the celebrities, place bets on favorite nominees and . . . throw Oscar parties at home.
No matter where you live, it’s easy to throw a Hollywood-style soiree by following tips from Wolfgang Puck and the top mixologists in Los Angeles. When planning your bash, choose cocktails that pay homage to the silver screen. On any given day in Los Angeles you can have the Ginger Rogers at Bar Marmont, Rosemary’s Baby at Fraîche, or Writer’s Block—named for those behind the scenes—at The Bar at Palihouse Holloway. For an Oscar fête though, cocktails made with sparking wine are the most festive. The Fellini, a refreshing sip made with a California sparkler, was created by Tyler Dow at Checkers Downtown. At Copa D’Oro, Vincenzo Marianella’s Dark Horse is a Prosecco-topped cocktail that salutes the scrappy unknown who sweeps the awards. Both Dow and Marianella use top quality ingredients and freshly squeezed juices (Marianella sources produce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market) and encourage home bartenders to eliminate store-bought ingredients in order to make flavorful drinks.
No Oscar party would be complete without food by Wolfgang Puck, who will cater the post-ceremony Governors Ball for the 16th consecutive year. Puck says that celebrities all appreciate special dinners and that they like to relax and be pampered. Take a cue from the chef to the stars and give your guests the VIP treatment by preparing Puck’s Crab Cakes with Remoulade.
To guarantee your party’s a success, do what the pros do: prepare, organize and set the scene before lifting the velvet rope. Print out Oscar ballots at www.oscars.org so guests can “vote” and keep track of the ceremony. Make the remoulade and crab mixture earlier in the day so you can spend more time mingling and less time cooking. One hour prior to your guests’ arrival, squeeze the juices for your cocktails, set out bar tools (measuring jigger, shaker, strainer, muddler) and chill your glasses. “Flavor is the major part of the drink experience,” says Dow, “but if you have all the details right, it will raise expectations and your drinks will thereby be better received.”
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll secure a nomination–if not the award–for best Oscar party!
The Fellini (Created by Tyler Dow of Checkers Downtown in Los Angeles, CA)
½ ounce Limoncello
½ ounce Combier triple sec
1 ounce fresh-squeezed mandarin juice
4-6 ounces Roederer Estate L’Ermitage sparkling wine
1 mandarin orange zest, approximately 1 inch wide by 4 inches long (use a ceramic vegetable peeler for best results)
Combine first three ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake hard and fast. Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Finish by “snapping” the zest: holding the zest over the drink with the white side facing you, quickly fold zest lengthwise towards you to release the oils. Rub the rim with the peel and discard.
Dark Horse (Created by Vincenzo Marianella of Copa D’Oro in Santa Monica, CA)
2 ounces Partida Blanco
½ ounce crème de cassis
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce Agave ginger syrup
Muddle the blackberries in a Boston glass. Add the rest of the ingredients except the prosecco. Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of prosecco. Garnish with 2 blackberries and serve.
Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce (Courtesy of Wolfgang Puck)
• 1 tablespoon capers, minced
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
• 1 cornichon, minced
• 1-2 anchovies, minced
• 1 shallot, minced
• Freshly ground white pepper
• 1 cup good-quality homemade or store-bought mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
• 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3/4 cup finely diced red onion
• 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
• 1/2 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 pound lump crabmeat
• 2 fresh jalapeño chilies, seeded and finely diced
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
• 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), ground to a mealy consistency
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup clarified butter
1. First, make the Remoulade: In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients until well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
2. For the crab cakes, in a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, garlic, rosemary, and paprika. Boil over medium-high heat until the cream reduces to half its original volume. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red and yellow bell pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, just until glossy but not yet browned. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and leave to cool to room temperature.
4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
5. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, crab, jalapeño, basil, parsley, tarragon, 1 cup of the panko, salt, white pepper, reduced cream, and sautéed vegetables. Carefully mix until well blended.
6. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, each about 3 ounces, shaping them into round, slightly flattened cakes each about 3 inches in diameter by 1/2 inch thick. Spread the remaining panko on a dinner plate and turn the crab cakes in them to coat them generously.
7. In an ovenproof sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup of the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Place 6 crab cakes in the pan and pan-fry until their undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. With a spatula, carefully turn the cakes over. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 2 minutes more. Remove the cakes from the pan and repeat the process with the remaining butter and crab cakes. Serve immediately with Remoulade Sauce. Serves 6
Other Highlights from Wolfgang Puck’s Governors Ball Menu:
Mini Prime Cheeseburgers with Remoulade and Aged Cheddar
Smoked Salmon Pizza with Caviar and Dill Crème
Spicy Tuna Tartare in Sesame Miso Cones
Chicken Potstickers with Ginger Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce,