I had such a good time at last year’s Hills Oscar Dinner that as soon as the 2010 dinner was announced I knew I wanted to attend. Jill (Marketing Director and Event Planner Extraordinaire) and Constance (Wine Director) are so creative with their wine and food pairings and it is fun to interact with the other diners. I also enjoy hearing what the critics have to say about movies that made and didn’t make the oscar short list. I always come away with a list of recommendations. As last year we were joined by WCBE 90.5 FM’s John DeSando, co-host for “It’s Movie Time” and “Cinema Classics”, Johnny DiLoretto, co-host for “Cinema Classics” and entertainment reporter at Fox 28 TV and Kristin Dreyer Kramer, co-host for “It’s Movie Time” and editor-in-chief of NightsAndWeekends.com.
This year to make Jill and Contance’s challenge even harder the Oscar short list for best picture has increased from 5 to 10 movies. Undaunted, or at least determined, they managed to incorporate a reference to each of the ten movies either in the choice of wine or food. We were greeted with a sparkling blue cocktail inspired by the movie Avatar and a colorful table decorated with balloons and chocolate. The balloons on the table are a hommage to the movie Up but luckily the table stayed firmly on the ground.
Not having seen all ten of the contenders I had to rely on my fellow diners to explain some of the references and some of the more ‘creative’ ones Jill had to explain. The first course, a cream of cauliflower soup was inspired by the opening scene of A Serious Man, one of the movies I had not seen.
Prawns Peri Peri was inspired by District 9. Doubly clever: not only are prawns the name used for the aliens in the movie, but peri peri is a popular seasoning in South Africa. The accompanying wine was also South African: Goats do Roam from Fairview in Paarl which I particularly enjoyed it because I have visited that winery. It is a very drinkable and refreshing white – I need to remember it for the summer. The prawn was served with a banana chip, a reference to An Education which needed explanation for anyone who had not seen the movie, as well as some who had. At one point in the movie Jenny declares that she is not going to lose her virginity to a piece of fruit – a banana. I highly recommend An Education if you haven’t seen it.
The $18 Middle Eastern salad was inspired both by The Blind Side (which contains a reference to an $18 salad) and The Hurt Locker (set in the Middle East): Pitta triangles, a mixed marinated vegetable salad and a yoghurt dressing – it was really good. It was served with the wine Boarding Pass Shiraz from South Australia, the name and label being a perfect fit for the George Clooney movie Up in the Air.
I loved the detail on the back of the bottle.
The main course was crunchy buttermilk fried chicken with greens and mac and cheese inspired by the Movie Precious.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t finish my fried chicken, I miraculously found room to polish off a very generous portion of Inglorious apple strudel topped with glorious Snowville whipped cream. The dessert (perhaps you have guessed) was inspired by Inglorious Basterds.
I take my hat off to Jill for her creativity and another delicious dinner. Who knew that you could have so much fun in a grocery store!