A few years back, I read an article about theme menus at Oscar parties. The idea was to make dishes that centered around each of the best picture nominees.
It was 2008 and “Juno” was nominated that year. My contribution was baked macaroni and cheese, inspired by the line in the film when Juno says to Paulie Bleeker, “You’re the cheese to my macaroni.”
The next year, I brought paneer makhani, a nod to that year’s eventual best picture winner “Slumdog Millionaire.” The Indian food, however, clashed a bit with the German dish from “The Reader” and the “Milk” and cookies.
This year, I wanted to create an entire Oscar party menu with food and beverages you can mostly buy locally on the North Fork. The nine items on the menu are inspired, in some way, by each of this year’s best picture nominees. I’ve divided them into four categories: entrees, sides, desserts and beverages — and I’ve given at least two options in each category.
Some of this year’s nominees — “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” to name a pair — lent themselves perfectly to this concept. Others, mainly “12 Years a Slave” and “Her,” were a bit trickier.
Ultimately, I settled on a southern barbecue inspired menu, since several of the films took place in the South. Feel free to cook this all yourself, have your party catered using this as inspiration, or just pick up one item up before heading to your Oscar party.
Editor’s Note: This column was originally published Feb. 25.
Kick off your party right by serving up a drink before diving into your entrees. The two nominated films we used to come up with local beverage ideas this year were “Philomena” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Since “Philomena” takes place in Ireland, what better item to bring to your Oscar party than a growler of Long Ireland’s Celtic Ale? The brewery’s Pulaski Street tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday. A growler refill is $12.
And since not everyone at your party will want to drink beer, how about taking a trip to the South Fork, where scenes from “The Wolf of Wall Street” were set? While you’re there, stop in at the appropriately named Wolffer Estate Vineyard and pick up a bottle of its Cool As Well 2010 Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, a chardonnay that sells for $35.
The films that really got me thinking southern barbecue for the menu’s theme were “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and “Nebraska.” I thought some Texas baked beans for the film shot there and cornbread inspired by the film shot in the Cornhusker State. I also thought that “Her,” a film where a man essentially falls in love with an operating system, a stand-in for the Apple iPhone’s Siri, might lend itself to some apple slaw.
If this were summer, the farm stands across the North Fork would be perfect for some ingredients to make these sides, but many are closed. It’s also not the right time of year for locally grown corn or apples, and dry beans aren’t grown in any bulk on the East End.
So instead I trolled the Internet for some good recipes for these dishes, figuring you can always buy ingredients at your local grocery store.
You can also try Cody’s BBQ and Maple Tree Deli in Riverhead or BBQ Bill’s in Greenport for barbecue beans or cornbread. Blue Duck Bakery in Southold, Riverhead or Greenport also makes corn muffins, but you better call in a special order if you want them in bulk.
Taking place on a boat in the Indian Ocean, “Captain Phillips” had us thinking seafood for an entree. Since much of “12 Years a Slave” takes place in Louisiana, I figured a cajun fish might be the best bet.
We reached out to our friends at Southold Fish Market, who recommended for cajun either the cod, haddock or monkfish they sell this time of year.
Recognizing that not everyone will want to eat a cajun fish, I searched deeper for inspiration from the two films. My wife pointed out that the name of the ship in “Captain Phillips” is the Maersk Alabama. Maple Tree Deli in Riverhead serves a dish called Alabama Chicken on its catering menu.
Of course, you can always cheat a little and make your own southern fried chicken to go with any of the sides on this menu. Browder’s Birds will be at the indoor farmers market in Riverhead Saturday. They sell an organic fry mix and a barbecue rub that you can try with chicken, pork or fish.
Among the most popular Oscar nominees this year is “American Hustle” and what’s more American than apple pie. We suggest you hustle on down to Briermere Farms to pick one up for $15. (Of course you could always just fire up some microwave popcorn for this film. Just don’t put any metal in the “science oven.”)
“Gravity” is also a major contender for best picture this year and Astronaut Ice Cream would be the perfect choice. The Long Island Science Center in downtown Riverhead does sell it, but they said they’re out of it this week.
So how about a makeshift moon pie? Try picking up milk chocolate covered marshmallow candies from Love Lane Sweet Shop.