When you ask food-world luminaries to come up with picks for best food scene in a movie, you get some unexpected responses. (Who knew Pulp Fiction was such a foodie flick?) You pick up a few tips (like the Goodfellas guide to razor-thin garlic). And there will be bacon.
Here are three nominations for Oscar-worthy screen cuisine, along with recipes to help you celebrate this year’s winners on Sunday night.
Fabio Viviani, Top Chef Season 5 fan favorite and host of Yahoo’s Chow Ciao, took a practical approach, opting for the Goodfellas scene in which Paulie slices garlic with a razor. “What a way to get the perfect thin garlic! You can almost smell the garlic and tomatoes and meat cooking in the scene.”
His takeaway? “Doesn’t matter if you’re a criminal or just a normal guy, there is nothing better than breaking bread with friends and family and sharing food.”
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No one suggested scenes from classic food movies like Big Night or Tampopo, perhaps not surprising considering that they don’t exactly qualify as escapism to a cook.
Memorable food scenes are the ones that “sneak up on me, in non-food movies,” says Colman Andrews, editorial director of TheDailyMeal.com.
The food film moment Andrews thinks about most, “probably perversely, is the scene in Hook wherein the grown-up Peter Pan figure [Robin Williams] joins the Lost Boys in a banquet of nonexistent ‘Neverfood.’ It just seems to say so much about appetite and the joy that the mere thought of food can summon up.”
Michelin-starred San Francisco chef Michael Mina went for something a little different – the dialogue between Jules and Vincent as they have breakfast at a diner in Pulp Fiction.
“The whole scene is so perfect,” Mina says.
Vincent offers Jules a piece of bacon and prompts a diatribe against pork that segues into why Jules is planning on retiring as an assassin.
“It’s pure brilliance and classic Tarantino.”
• Spiced Rose-Pomegranate Spritzer: In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine a pinch each cardamom and ground star anise, 1/2 teaspoon rose water, 1 ounce pomegranate liqueur and 1/2 ounce Galliano. Shake well, strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with seltzer water.
• Citrus Bubbly: In a champagne flute, gently stir together 1 teaspoon each lime and lemon juices and 1/2 ounce Cointreau. Top with chilled sparkling wine, and garnish with a lemon twist.
• Wild Meadow: In a cocktail shaker with 1 ice cube (you want the cocktail cool, not cold), combine 2 ounces mead (honey wine), 1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur and 1 ounce brandy. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with fresh berries.
We’ve created a simple formula. For each canapé, select one item from each of the four categories and assemble. (Each spread recipe makes enough for 24.)
For an Oscars viewing party, you might consider turning the process into a pre-party. Set out everything on the counter, pour some wine and invite a few guests to come early and help.
• Bases: multigrain crackers, thin slices of seedless cucumber, toasted baguette slices, purchased phyllo cups (found in the grocer's freezer section).
• Spreads: garlic-herb cream cheese (combine 4 ounces softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons milk, pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon each chopped fresh oregano and minced garlic), zesty barbecue spread (combine 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce, 2 tablespoons red pepper jelly, 1/4 cup sour cream and a splash of hot sauce), orange sweet potato spread (combine cooked flesh of 1 medium sweet potato, 2 tablespoons orange marmalade, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste).
• Toppers: small cooked and peeled shrimp, shredded cooked chicken, halved cherry tomatoes, crab meat, slivers of manchego cheese.
• Garnishes: shaved Parmesan cheese, sliced olives, sliced hot peppers (such as piri piri or Peppadew), sliced scallions.