OK, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to play an Oscars game. Name three things you are guaranteed to see at the Academy Awards on Sunday.
How about: beautiful people with blindingly white teeth, women wearing outrageously expensive dresses and jewelry they didn’t have to pay for, and that oh-so-coveted little “guy” named, well, Oscar.
One thing you will not see at the ceremony: food, unlike at the more laidback Golden Globes, where the attendees sit at tables and dine throughout the evening.
No need to fret over whether your favorite actors and actresses will go hungry — there are plenty of excellent restaurants in Los Angeles, where the ceremony is usually held, should they decide to skip the numerous after-parties.
And if you believe the stereotype that food in Los Angeles is all about avocados and alfalfa, you will be surprised to learn that the chile burger, French dip sandwich and hot fudge sundae were said to have been invented in the city.
Angelean cuisine is as varied as its people. In fact, Alison Clare Steingold, author of “The L.A. Cookbook,” writes that the city is “a modern food capital having its moment.”
You don’t have to travel to the Left Coast to taste its fare. We have rounded up some recipes from Los Angeles restaurants and eateries for you to try at home. Formal attire optional. (Scroll to the end of the recipes for more Oscar-mania.)
VEGAN CRUNCHY AVOCADO TACOS Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 cups vegan mayonnaise, preferably Vegenaise 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotles in adobo Juice of 1 lemon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 11/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1 cup lager beer, plus more as needed 3 large avocados (not too ripe) 2 cups panko bread crumbs Oil, for frying 18 corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade, warmed Garnishes: shredded red cabbage, corn salsa, lime wedges
1. In small bowl, whisk together vegan mayo, chipotles and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Stir together flour, garlic powder and chili powder in large bowl. Add beer and whisk until smooth. The mixture should have consistency of pancake batter; add more beer or flour to adjust, as needed.
3. Working with one at a time, cut unpeeled avocado lengthwise into 6 pieces. Loosen wedges with edge of knife, and remove peel. Dip each slice of avocado into batter, allowing any excess to drip off, then roll it through panko, pressing it to adhere. Place coated slices on tray.
4. Heat 2 inches of oil in Dutch oven to 375 degrees. Working in small batches, fry avocados until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper-towel-lined tray to drain.
5. To assemble, lay out tortilla on counter. Start with layer of cabbage, then slice of fried avocado. Top with dollops of the chipotle “mayo” and corn salsa. Serve with lime wedges.
— From Golden Road Brewing as included in “The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture From Downtown Los Angeles” by Adele Yellin and Kevin West (Clarkson Potter, 256 pp., 2017)
PORK BELLY WITH APPLE FENNEL SLAW Makes 8 servings
1 cup packed light brown sugar 1 cup sweet paprika 10 tablespoons kosher salt 10 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper 3 tablespoons mustard powder 3 tablespoons chili powder 6 tablespoons garlic powder 6 tablespoons onion powder 2 pounds unsmoked pork belly, skin removed 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 (12-ounce) bottle bock-style beer, preferably Shiner Bock
For slaw: 2 tablespoons fennel seeds 2/3 cup honey 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 small napa cabbage, shredded 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into matchsticks 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced on mandoline 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, mustard powder, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder. Rub mixture into pork belly on all sides.
2. Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over high heat. When oil shimmers, add pork, fat-side down, and sear until browned, about 10 minutes. Turn pork over, and pour in beer. Bring to boil, then transfer pan to oven. Cook uncovered until internal temperature reaches 195 degrees, 11/2 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, smoke dry-rubbed meat in smoker at 250 degrees for 4 hours.)
3. While pork cooks, make slaw: Toast fennel seeds in small saute pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add honey, which will boil up. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain mixture through fine-mesh sieve set over small bowl, discarding seeds. Add vinegar to honey and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. In large bowl, combine cabbage, apple, fennel, mint and basil. Pour dressing over the slaw, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with pork belly.
— From Horse Thief BBQ as included in “The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture From Downtown Los Angeles” by Adele Yellin and Kevin West (Clarkson Potter, 256 pp., 2017)
CAULIFLOWER “RISOTTO” Makes 4 servings
1 head cauliflower 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter 1/4 cup olive oil 4 green onions, finely chopped 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes Salt 11/4 cups (about 4 ounces) grated Parmesan
1. Using large holes of grater or shredder attachment of food processor, grate cauliflower.
2. In regular saute pan, melt butter in olive oil over medium-low heat. Add green onions, red pepper flakes and salt. Sweat, stirring, but do not brown onions. Add cauliflower and continue to sweat, stirring continuously. (Again, do not brown vegetables.) You want to steam vegetables to resemble rice as much as possible. Add few tablespoons of water so there’s a little bit of steam coming off pan, keeping heat at lower temperature, and stir occasionally.
3. Once cauliflower is just tender, turn off heat and fold in grated Parmesan, stirring constantly to thoroughly incorporate and melt cheese. To serve, transfer risotto to platter while hot.
— From Little Dom’s as included in “The L.A. Cookbook: Recipes From the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, and Bars in Los Angeles” by Alison Clare Steingold (Rizzoli, 256 pp., $40)
LAVENDER LEMONADE Makes approximately 1 quart lemonade, plus additional lavender syrup
1 cup sugar 4 cups water, divided 1 heaping tablespoon culinary lavender, roughly chopped 1 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste Lavender sprigs, for garnish
1. Combine sugar, 1 cup water and lavender in small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Once sugar has dissolved (it’ll be tough to see with the flowers, so give it a taste to feel for any sugar crystals on your tongue), turn off heat and allow syrup to cool, then strain into bottle. In refrigerator, the syrup will keep for up to 1 month.
2. Pour lemon juice and remaining 3 cups water into pitcher. Add lavender syrup to desired sweetness, taste, and adjust with more lemon juice as needed. Stir and pour over ice to serve. Garnish glasses with a sprig of fresh lavender.
— From Kali as included in “The L.A. Cookbook: Recipes From the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, and Bars in Los Angeles” by Alison Clare Steingold (Rizzoli, 256 pp., $40)
SEAFOOD FRIED RICE Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon kosher salt Juice of 1/2 lemon 1/3 pound bay scallops 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled 1/2 pound squid, tubes cut into 1/4-inch rounds, tentacles chopped 1/4 cup vegetable oil 4 cups day-old rice 2 large eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, preferably Knorr 1 teaspoon mushroom soy sauce 1 teaspoon oyster sauce 1/2 teaspoon sugar 11/2 cups bean sprouts 2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
1. In large saucepan, bring salt, lemon juice and 5 cups water to boil over high heat. Add scallops, shrimp and squid. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 5 minutes. Drain everything.
2. Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. When oil shimmers, add rice and eggs. Stir until eggs are cooked, taking care to break them up and distribute egg through rice. Add bouillon powder, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Continue cooking until sauces are absorbed. Add cooked shellfish, bean sprouts and scallions. Toss just until combined, and serve hot.
— From China Cafe as included in “The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture From Downtown Los Angeles” by Adele Yellin and Kevin West (Clarkson Potter, 256 pp., 2017)
FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICHES WITH SPICY B&B PICKLE SLAW AND ROOSTER AIOLI Makes 4 sandwiches
For rooster aioli: 1 garlic clove, finely grated 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
For spicy B&B pickle slaw: 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage 1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickle slices 1/4 cup pickle juice from the jar
For fried chicken: 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon (11/2 grams) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more as needed 1 cup buttermilk 2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved crosswise Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
For assembly: 4 white sandwich rolls, split 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1. To make aioli and slaw: Mix garlic, mayonnaise and hot sauce in small bowl. Cover and chill. Toss onion, jalapeno, cabbage, pickles and pickle juice in large bowl to combine. Cover and chill.
2. To fry chicken: Set out two shallow bowls. Whisk flour with pepper and salt into first. Into second, pour buttermilk. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip in buttermilk, allowing any excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge again, and shake off any excess flour.
3. Pour oil into large, heavy skillet to depth of 1/2 inch and heat over medium heat to 350 degrees. Set wire rack over baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add floured chicken to hot oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Using spatula, transfer pieces to rack. Season to taste.
4. To assemble: Spread cut sides of rolls with butter. Heat second skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, toast rolls, buttered-side down, until browned and crisp, about 1 minute. Remove and spread with spicy mayo. Build sandwiches on rolls with chicken on bottom, topped with chilled slaw. Serve immediately.
— From Son of a Gun as included in “The L.A. Cookbook: Recipes From the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, and Bars in Los Angeles” by Alison Clare Steingold (Rizzoli, 256 pp., $40)
ALL ABOUT OSCAR
Official name: Academy Award of Merit
Height: 13 1/2 inches
Weight: 8 1/2 pounds
Composition: Solid bronze that is plated in 24-karat gold. Because of a metal shortage during World War II, statuettes were made of painted plaster for three years. After the war, those recipients were invited to trade their statuettes for gold-plated metal ones.
First recipient: Emil Jannings, named best actor for his performances in “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh” in 1929
ON THE BIG SCREEN There have been many movies that featured food in a starring role. Here are some of them.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) leads five “lucky” children on a tour of his magical chocolate factory.
Tampopo (1985) A truck driver helps a restaurant owner make perfect ramen noodles in this Japanese comedy.
Babette’s Feast (1987) As a housekeeper named Babette plans a lavish dinner for the two pious sisters who took her in many years ago, the women worry that the excessiveness of exotic ingredients might be sinful in this Danish drama.
Like Water for Chocolate (1992) A woman who cannot marry the man she loves realizes she has a talent for cooking in this Mexican drama.
Big Night (1996) Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub are brothers who plan an extravagant dinner to save their struggling Italian restaurant.
Soul Food (1997) After the family matriarch dies, her grandson forms a plan to bring his estranged relatives back together at a Sunday dinner like the ones his grandmother hosted every week.
Ratatouille (2007) In this animated film, a rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) is the behind-the-scenes cook at a famous restaurant.
Julie & Julia (2009) Jersey native Meryl Streep does her best Julia Child-learning-to-cook while Amy Adams is the blogger who attempts to make all of the recipes in Child’s first book.
Chef (2014) Jon Favreau is a disgraced chef who buys a food truck, which helps him rediscover his love for cooking and bond with his young son.