No need to mess with perfection, especially when honoring Spotlight, one of the most technically solid films in years. We're starting our Oscar evening off with a single malt Scotch, tempered (ahem... lightened) with just a dash of water. We recommend the Talisker 10-Year or, for the cheating types, whichever Yamazaki Japanese whisky you can afford. Don't believe the pseudo-purists who cry foul at "watering down" your spirits--many Scotches benefit from the resulting decrease in alcohol content. All the better to taste you with, m'dear.
Manhattan can't have all the fun. Continuing down the whiskey road, we come upon a drink that has as many variations as there are neighborhoods in the borough. But one rendition shines above the rest. Whip this up and you'll find the result, like the movie, is just... lovely.
(Adapted from The Hooch Life)
1-1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz dry vermouth
2 tsp. maraschino liqueur
2 tsp. amaro or other bitter digestif
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
We're keeping it simple with our appetizer this year, in honor of Room star Brie Larson's heartbreaking naturalistic performance. For those who want the real deal, the closest you can get in the U.S. is Brie Fermier, a classic soft cow's milk cheese with a white bloomy rind and vegetal stink. Contrarians should try Harbison, a Camembert-style cheese (Camembert is to Brie as Mary Kate is to Ashley, so you're close enough). Of course, sometimes whichever cheese is closest to you is the best cheese. Our readers in northern Minnesota (of which there are thousands) would do well to seek out Dandelion Addiction, an all-American sheep's milk spin on the French classic.
The Big Short Ribs
(recipe via Smitten Kitchen)
For all its male-dominated casting and piss-poor wigs, we find it hard to dislike The Big Short. So why not honor it with a recipe that's never done us wrong? In this version, just omit the collards and potato puree in favor of the (very similar) sides below.
Mad Mash: Pureed Gold
Mad Max: Fury Road operates on the fringes while never sacrificing its internal reality. Now, maybe you don't take mashed potatoes as seriously as us, but mustard mash raised a few eyebrows before winning us over. Luckily, layers of flavor abound--from velvety Yukon Gold potatoes to three types of mustard to butter, milk, AND creme fraiche. This dish will enrich your world, just like Mad Max has enriched ours.
(recipe adapted from The Barefoot Contessa)
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 T. unsalted butter, diced
4 oz creme fraiche
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. whole-grain mustard
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with a few generous pinches of salt and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the saucepan. Add the butter, creme fraiche, milk, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dry mustard, 1 tablespoon salt, and the pepper and beat the potatoes in the pan with a handheld mixer on low speed until very smooth and creamy. Garnish with a Big Short Rib.
Foraged Winter Greens with Leonardo DiCapers
(recipe via Okra Magazine)
OK, so for this one you can "forage" your greens any way you'd like and we won't tell anyone, promise. We also don't believe the magnitude of Leo's "suffering" for his role in The Revenant, so just get thee to a supermarket and get on with it.
Fridge of Pies
(recipe via The Bald Gourmet)
For a perfect apple pie filled with Cold War nostalgia, try this filling from Serious Eats. We like it with Golden Delicious apples, in honor of Oscar of course. One bite and you'll forget Bridge of Spies' awful on-the-nose ending.
OK, maybe you won't, but would it help? Yes.
Red (Planet) Velvet Cake with Mars-ipan Frosting
(recipe via Hummingbird High)
We're decorating ours with red marzipan "planets" instead of hearts because The Martian. And yes, we know we could've/should've done a potato recipe here, but two desserts >> two potato dishes.
(recipe via Smitten Kitchen)
MacaRooneys, because we can't abide Carol's snub for a Best Picture nom, and because we can't abide just two desserts. We chose raspberry-flavored macaroons because we know Rooney and her raspberry lips would approve.