Hollywood's elite are gathering in Los Angeles tonight for the Academy Awards. If you're hosting your own viewing party, here are some tips on how to keep your guests flush with Oscar-themed food, drinks and challenging trivia, courtesy of Dan Shapiro. He's a big-time movie buff and co-owner of Modern Bite Bakery in Los Angeles, and he knows how to host festive Oscar parties.
Snacks To Pair With Best Picture Bets
Check out NPR's Best Picture Cheat Sheet for more on the nominees.
Midnight In Paris
Top a small wheel of brie with a mixture of 4 tbsp marmalade, 2 tbsp chopped almonds and 2 tbsp chopped dried apricots. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, and serve with crackers or a sliced baguette.
Rub tuna steak with sesame seeds. Heat sesame oil in a skillet and sear the tuna for two to three minutes each side. Slice thinly and serve on cucumber slices or crackers, drizzle with soy sauce and wasabi.
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Stuff pitted dates with small cubes of blue cheese. Wrap each date with bacon, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until bacon is crispy.
Pigs In A Blanket
Wrap mini cocktail hot dogs in puff pastry. Bake and serve with yellow mustard.
Start with chilled champagne, ready at the door. For a special twist, add a drop of Chambord or peach syrup to each glass before pouring. For a budget alternative, use sparkling white wine with macerated strawberries.
Once the viewing begins, mix up a fun retro cocktail: mint juleps (mint leaf, bourbon, sugar and water) or a blended fruity rum drink like a scorpion (rum, brandy, lemon juice and orange juice).
Create a music playlist made up of original score and song nominees and/or past song and score winners to play as guests arrive.
Print out ballots and assign point values to each category, i.e., Best Movie = 10 points, Sound Design = 2 points, etc. All ballots must be completed and turned in during the red carpet pre-show. Have one guest be the official score keeper. You can use the Academy Awards' 2012 ballot pdf or create your own ballot.
List the years 2000-2010 vertically on a piece of paper with three columns across top: Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actress. The winner is the person with the most correct answers. (Oscars.go.com has lists of past winners.) You can also have guests write down the names of the 10 most recent Oscar hosts.
Dressing The Part
Invite guests to dress up in their red carpet finest and set up a paparazzi line at the door, taking pictures as they arrive. These can be fun follow-up emails the next day. Or, you can invite guests to dress up themed to their favorite movie or character — not full costumes, but clever interpretations.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Hollywood's elites are gathering in Los Angeles tonight for the annual Academy Awards. If your ticket got lost in the mail - I am sure that's what happened to mine - never fear, there's still time to throw your own festive Oscar bash. For some ideas, we have enlisted the help of Dan Shapiro. He co-owns the Modern Bite Bakery in L.A. and he's a big-time movie buff who knows a thing or two about hosting a good Oscar party. Dan Shapiro joins us from his home in Los Angeles. Welcome to the program, Dan.
DAN SHAPIRO: Thank you.
MARTIN: So, I understand you have thrown some pretty legendary at-home Oscar parties. Tell us about some of the best, most memorable moments.
SHAPIRO: Our parties are always a lot of fun. First of all, we start by inviting people who we know are really into the Oscars and who are movie buffs themselves, so that we're not going to have a lot of people chatting during the show.
MARTIN: Oh, yes. That's key.
SHAPIRO: You know, we always spice it up with some fun food and some fund drinks that are always themed to the movies. And then to throw in a little bit of competition, we always have a ballot going where people can vote on which films and actors and actresses they think will be actually taking home the awards.
MARTIN: OK. So, you mentioned food. Any good party obviously starts out with good food. What are your suggestions for a really standout Oscar menu?
SHAPIRO: Well, everything that I'm making this year is four or five ingredients that you can just pick up at the grocery store and put together pretty quickly. I was thinking of ideas that could match nicely with some of the films. So, first up is a baked brie, which is a nod to "Midnight in Paris." Then we're going to do a simple seared tuna, which is sliced and served either on cucumber rounds or baguettes.
MARTIN: Oh, that seared tuna sounds delicious. Is that a nod to a specific film?
SHAPIRO: Oh yes. That's a nod to "The Descendants," to Hawaii. Bacon-wrapped dates, which are a classic old favorite, which are a nod to "The Help." And then pigs-in-a-blanket with mustard, a great baseball food, which are a nod to "Moneyball."
MARTIN: And I understand there might be some Cracker Jacks happening?
SHAPIRO: Yes. As a fun snack, we have "Moneyball" Cracker Jack. It's like a kettle corn that we make adding sugar and some ground pepper and then topping it off with melted butter and roasted peanuts, again, for the baseball theme.
MARTIN: That sounds delicious. OK. So, those are our snacks. To drink, you have to have delicious signature cocktails of some sort in mind, I imagine.
SHAPIRO: I am a big proponent of serving different types of drinks. So, I love serving champagne as the guests are arriving and having it ready at the door right as they come in.
MARTIN: I mean, it is the Oscars after all.
MARTIN: What else? What else is on the drink menu?
SHAPIRO: So, then as people have had a chance to sit down and start to eat a little bit, I've got two drinks this year. One is a mint julep, which is, again, a nod to "The Help" and then another Hawaiian drink is the scorpion, which has rum and lemon juice and orange juice and brandy.
MARTIN: Yum. And the ballots. A lot of people do this - if you have an Oscar party, you can add a little competition by having your guests actually fill out ballots. Walk us through how you do that.
SHAPIRO: Well, it's very simple. You can easily Google Oscar ballots and find many sites that have them all ready to print out. What we do is we assign a point value. So, the highest numbers of points goes to the best film. That would be 10 points. All the way down to smaller categories, like Best Sound Editing, which might only get two points. We invite people come to the party during the red carpet ceremony, and that's on in the background. And during that time, people are chatting and filling out their ballots. But they have to be done by the time the ceremony begins, at which point we collect either $10 or $25 - whatever number you want - and that money goes into the pot for the winner of the...
MARTIN: Oh, so, there's a cash prize?
SHAPIRO: There is a cash prize, yes.
MARTIN: That's pretty good. That's a good incentive. It's not, you know, a fake Oscar trophy.
SHAPIRO: Yeah, it definitely raises the stakes and makes it more exciting.
MARTIN: Dan Shapiro is the co-owner of Modern Bite Bakery and a veteran Oscar party host. He spoke with us from L.A. Hey, Dan, good luck planning the party.
SHAPIRO: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.