Eating and drinking with verve on Oscar Sunday
The Academy Awards are to me what the Super Bowl was to my ex-boyfriend: an excuse to eat nonsensical amounts of food, swill unacceptable combinations of alcohol and become irate and ragingly hormonal over unjust judgment calls.
In short, I live for Oscar Sunday. This year's ceremony crept up on me, however, and this week finds me scrambling to see as many contenders for best picture as I possibly can. Last night I saw "An Education," and realized too late that I was sitting awkwardly close to a cute 16-year-old boy. And on Sunday night I went to see "Avatar" all alone, which was a really bad decision. The end made me weepy and I kept reaching out my hand to the stranger next to me, making him uncomfortable and his girlfriend mad.
I still have three more films left to see, and with my spotty track record the best I can do is look forward to Sunday and try to redeem my week of cramming by taking advantage of some of the great Oscar specials around town. Here are the ones that have come to my attention, in no particular order:
Hotel Casa del Mar: Get interactive on Sunday night at this historic hotel's Veranda Lounge. Side-by-side flat-screen TVs will be placed in four locations around the lobby and the bar. In each location, one TV will show the Oscars and one will display a live Twitter feed that guests are encouraged to contribute to. The bartenders will occasionally give free drinks to people who make the funniest comments. Ballots will also be passed out before the show, and the guest who comes the closest to guessing the night's winners will receive a prize at the end of the show. Finally, a regular bar menu will be offered alongside the following Oscar-themed cocktails, available for $9 a pop: the Avartini (blue curacao is used, of course); Up in the Air; Inglorious Punch; Sweet and Precious; and Red Carpet Stunner. Hotel Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica. 4 p.m. No cover. (310) 581-5533; www.hotelcasadelmar.com.
Find the rest of the nominees after the jump:
Pourtal Wine Bar: Watch the awards while lavishly stuffing yourself with a three-course tasting dinner prepared by chef Sean Takaki, with wine picked by wine director Rachel Bryan. The Best Actress course pairs Champagne with truffle mac and cheese; Best Actor consists of a wine from Tenbrink Vineyards with roasted Hudson Valley duck, cranberry wine sauce and rainbow fingerling potatoes; and Best Picture is Classico Veneto with a chocolate bar, brownie bite, Godiva truffle, chocolate sauce and chocolate sticks. Pourtal Wine Bar, 104 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. $25 per person. (310) 393-7693; www.pourtal.com.
Katsuya: If you're planning to host an Oscar party but want to keep your kitchen clean enough for the stars, consider ordering to-go sushi from Katsuya, which is offering 10% off all catering and to-go orders on the big night. Katsuya, all locations (Hollywood, Brentwood, L.A. Live and Glendale). In addition, the Glendale location will host a 1920's-style viewing party beginning at 3 p.m. and featuring half-off all bottles of Champagne. www.sbe.com/katsuya.
RH at the Andaz: From Friday through Sunday, celebrated French chef Sebastien Archambault will serve a special "Julie & Julia" three-course dinner menu to celebrate Meryl Streep's spectacular Oscar-nominated turn as the warm, witty and eccentric Julia Child. The menu includes Perigourdine poached egg with field mushrooms, foie gras and black truffle; Lompoc Farm leeks vinaigrette with black truffle, goat cheese and applewood bacon; Boothbay Harbor lobster ravioli with bisque sauce; beef bourguignonne with carrots and baby potatoes; and Dillon rum baba jar with vanilla whipped cream. The bar will also serve a special French Kir Royal cocktail for Oscar weekend (Champagne and creme de cassis). RH at the Andaz, 8401 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. $90 for two. (323) 785-6090; www.andaz.com.
The London West Hollywood: It may be obvious but that doesn't mean it's not clever. The London is offering a series of Red Carpet cocktails from now through Sunday. All the drinks pay tribute to nominees in fun and creative ways. The Crazy Heart features Hennessy VS, Gran Marnier, fresh lemon juice with muddled strawberries, which render it a bright red; a Tribute to Butter (named for "Julie & Julia") is made with hot-buttered rum, vanilla simple syrup and Amaretto; and Pandora's Punch ("Avatar") is a rainbow of blue, yellow and pink flavors. The London, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood. Cocktails $16 each. (310) 358-7788. www.thelondonwesthollywood.com.
The Standard Hollywood: More Oscar-themed drinks can be had at this hip hotel bar. Expect Pandora Punch as well as Shoshanna's Revenge and a Mile High Club cocktail ("Up in the Air") mixed with French vanilla Kahlua, Patron and coffee. The Standard, 8300 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Cocktails $12 each. (323) 650-9090; www.standardhotels.com.
Ketchup: Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most. Ketchup, which always offers half-off your bill on Sundays, is adding half-price glasses of Champagne to the menu just for Oscar Sunday. Huzzah! Ketchup, 8590 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 289-8590; www.dolcegroup.com.
Taix: This sprawling French restaurant is hosting an Oscar-viewing party in its huge bar, beside its roaring fireplace. Drink and food specials will be on offer and guests are encouraged to cheer and jeer together. Taix, 1911 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. (213) 484-1265; www.taixfrench.com.
The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel: It's only fitting that this grand dame of Hollywood celebrity and spectacle would feature a variety of Oscar-themed menu items. Through Sunday, sit down and tuck into the following dishes: matzoh ball soup and mini croque monsieur ("Inglourious Basterds"); grilled "Big Mike" prime beef sandwich ("The Blind Side"); and "Explosive" Key lime pie ("The Hurt Locker"). The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 887-2777; www.beverlyhillshotel.com.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: With 270 guests dining on broiled chicken, the first Academy Awards were given out at the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929. Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.