On March 4, Hollywood will honor the best films of 2017 at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony.
All the beautiful people of Tinseltown will be inside the Dolby Theatre, but scoring a ticket to this star-studded event is next to impossible. The rest of us will have to be content consuming it from the comfort of our couches. We’ll ooh, ah and heckle – talking back to the TV as we judge red carpet walks, emcee Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes, and acceptance speeches, all the while watching for #metoo moments or faux paus that’ll become internet memes in an instant.
If you plan on tuning in to Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, are you prepared? Maybe you’ve made it a goal to see all the best picture nominees. But before you get to park yourself on the sofa and listen again and again to the phrase “and the Oscar goes to,” there’s one more thing to do in preparation for the big night: get the food spread ready.
Hollywood is going all out, so why not you, too – and with a menu inspired by Academy-nominated flicks?
I browsed through the lineup and found four movies around which I planned a three-course meal, plus a frosty drink.
To start, make it crab fritters. But not just any old crab fritters. Make the ones from Bacchanalia, which got a shout-out in bank-heist flick “Baby Driver,” nominated for film editing, sound mixing and sound editing.
In the movie, Bacchanalia is referred to as “the finest wining and dining of all the wines and dines in town.” And, while Bacchanalia’s menu changes with the harvest, one thing that remains the same is its crab fritters.
“I love the dish because I think it’s very well balanced,” said Bacchanalia chef and co-owner Anne Quatrano. She ticked off the various fritter components, including a hot pepper essence that holds fish sauce for umami funk and maple syrup for sweetness. All these unexpected flavors “hit you in one little bite,” she said. There’s also the texture because “everyone loves something crunchy.”
As I wrote of the crab fritters in my review of Bacchanalia last year: “If someone at the table doesn’t start the night with those crab fritters, you’ve all missed out on the finest you might ever taste. How fresh and meaty is the crab. How moist the interior. How perfect the fry. How light the whole ensemble.”
I thought for sure that this recipe was housed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution archives. Turns out, we haven’t published it until now. It’s our own little heist, food friends.
For the main affair, I propose serving the Hot Mess Burger in honor of “Lady Bird,” nominated for best picture, actress, supporting actress, director and original screenplay. The story is about a strong-willed teenager who has a heated relationship with her mother. It’s not just Christine aka, Lady Bird (played by Saoirse Ronan), who is the hot mess. The entire thing is one big hot mess.
The edible hot mess, which hails from Park Bar in downtown Atlanta, includes fixins’ of bacon, broiled pimento cheese and crisped jalapeño rings on a brioche bun.
“It’s just something that is a term of loving endearment for someone that is a hot mess,” said Park Bar co-owner Mat “Quickie” Tainow as we talked about the backstory for this burger. “It has the melted pimento cheese and spicy jalapeños. It’s messy and it’s hot and works out perfectly,” he said.
For dessert, there’s no arguing against a Mississippi mud pie. It would be a nod to “Mudbound,” a Netflix feature film that earned four Academy Award nominations, including one for Mary J. Blige for supporting actress and for Rachel Morrison for cinematography – the first for a female cinematographer.
Joy Café in Midtown has a Mississippi mud pie that sees layers of decadent chocolate mousse and freshly whipped chocolate atop a crust made from salted caramel brownies.
“I am one of those people who doesn’t like to waste anything,” said Joy Café co-owner Joy Beber. The edges of the brownies “get a little more dark and done than the center,” she said. Rather than sling those sweet bits into the trash, Beber saves them, crushing them into crumbles for the pie crust.
While Joy Café makes seasonal renditions of its Mississippi mud pie by changing up the mousse with the likes of strawberries or raspberries, there’s nothing quite like the original that’s become part of the pie rotation at the restaurant. “I love a good chocolate mousse pie,” Beber mused.
Finally, there must be something to wash it all down. After all, these awards go on for hours and you don’t want to get dehydrated. Sure, there’s plain old water. If you’re a fan of “The Shape of Water,” which got a whopping 13 nominations, drink up the stuff from the tap. But for a more sensationalist sip, how about a frozé that raises a glass to ice skating-class war saga “I, Tonya”?
The recipe you’ll find here comes from The Canteen, the micro-food hall in Midtown from chef-restaurateur Todd Ginsberg and the team behind The General Muir. At The Canteen, the frozé does flips and turns in a classy frozen drink dispenser. Classier still: They make it with boxed wine. Nice.
On Oscars night, popcorn and soda just won’t do. We might not get to strut down the red carpet in a gala dress or tux, but we can win with food and drink right for the occasion.
The Canteen’s Frosé
Looking to serve a crowd? This recipe can easily be multiplied. The Canteen uses Bota Box Dry Rosé that’s crisp with the flavors of strawberry and grapefruit zest and holds raspberry aroma. One box equals four bottles, so just quadruple the water, strawberries, sugar and lime juice and you’ve got a batch large enough for a party.
Park Bar’s Hot Mess Burger
At Park Bar, the jalapeño rings used for the Hot Mess Burger get dipped in buttermilk, dredged in a blend of flour and Cajun blackened seasoning, then fried. This simplified version calls for roasting the jalapeños in the oven, a step that can be done while cooking the bacon. The “mess” part of the burger comes from melted jalapeño pimento cheese. Park Bar uses Wicked Pimina Cheese from Harvest Moon Cafe in Rome, Ga., but recommends as an alternative locally made Home Grown pimento cheese, which is available at Atlanta-area Kroger locations.
Mississippi Mud Pie
For this recipe, Joy Café co-owner Joy Beber uses burnt brownie ends for the pie crust. What? You don’t keep a stash of burnt brownie crumbles in your pantry?! Probably the hardest part of this dessert is coming up with 1 pound of crushed brownies.
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