Like theater, dinner parties are about smoke and mirrors. For your Oscar theme party on Sunday, show your guests you’ve got it together with a little help from specialty food purveyors. This, of course, leaves more time for polishing bling and smoothing the Spanx under your ball gown.
‘Amour’: Butter croissants
Patisserie 46 is quite simply best in show. Here you’ll find butter croissants to commemorate the breakfast shared between “Amour’s” Georges and Anne, when life was still good. Choose chocolate, almond, or chocolate and almond if you want to live life to the fullest. (4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257.)
‘Les Miserables’: Baguette & cheese
It’s tough to think of food when everyone is starving in “Les Mis,” but the French have done more for gastronomy than anyone, oui? A baguette and a stinky wedge of Roquefort cheese from St. Paul Cheese Shop should make the point. (1573 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-698-3391.)
‘Zero Dark Thirty’/ ‘Argo’: Hummus, tabbouleh, Kebab
Take a (rare) civilized cue from “Zero Dark Thirty” and get your guests to open up over hummus and tabbouleh. And you won’t have to hold them hostage, “Argo”-style, once you serve some Persian kebab. All are available at the beloved Northeast institution Crescent Moon Bakery. You may have a tough time not taking home one of their famous football-shaped pizzas. (2339 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-782-0169.)
‘Lincoln’/‘Life of Pi’: Oysters & sushi
The Great Emancipator was known to enjoy releasing bivalves from their shells in his free time. Do as Lincoln would have, and source a pile of oysters from Coastal Seafoods. The good fishmongers will teach you how to shuck, season and slurp. And you needn’t be shipwrecked “Life of Pi”-style to enjoy raw seafood. Sushi is Coastal’s specialty. Inquire within for the day’s freshest catch. (2330 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., 612-724-7425; and 74 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-698-4888.)
‘Django Unchained’: White cake
No party is complete without dessert, so show your hospitality (as Calvin Candie attempts, miserably, in “Django”). Pre-order a white cake from Patisserie 46 in the size and flavor of your choice (48 hours in advance, please). It’s sure to put everyone in a festive mood, keeping six-shooters at bay.
‘Beasts of the Southern wild:’ Hushpuppies
No self-respecting film set in New Orleans gets by without copious culinary references, and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has many. But each time Hushpuppy’s Daddy calls out her name, it makes us hungry. Hushpuppies are a traditional Southern side dish. Try this Minnesota twist, with sweet corn.
¼ c. sugar
1 small onion, minced
1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
½ c. sweet corn, cut from the cob
Several dashes Tabasco, to taste
Salt and pepper
Beat eggs. Combine dry ingredients. Incorporate all ingredients together. Season batter. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into a deep fryer or deep pot with oil heated to 365 degrees. Fry until golden brown. Drain. Serve hot with more Tabasco.
Makes about two dozen.
'Silver Linings Playbook': Crabbies & homemades
Delores’ charming insistence on enjoying her pre-football “crabbies and homemades” got our imaginations and appetites churning. Our take:
½ c. precleaned crab meat (from Coastal Seafoods)
½ c. mayo
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
Smoked paprika, to taste
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients. Press 2-inch squares of puff pastry into mini-muffin pans and parbake in a 350-degree oven. Combine remaining ingredients, fill shells and bake just until golden brown and bubbling. Serve hot. Makes about one dozen.
Demi baguette rolls
1 lb. roast beef — ask your deli to shave it paper thin
Cheez Whiz (or Provolone, if you must)
1 large green pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a sautée pan and add garlic and veggies. Sautée until tender. Add meat to the pan just to heat through. Stuff it all in a bun. Slather with cheese. Makes about six large sandwiches — slice in half to make a dozen. Secure with toothpicks.