Preparing for watching the Oscars is such a ritual for many of us. A spread of nibbles and drinks is the perfect accompaniment to gathering with friends to watch and gossip. Some of us have enlarged friend groups for this year's gatherings, and others will still be Zooming. But I for one always look forward to the groans, laughter, and pointed remarks — starting with the parade of fashion as a kind of universal mean girl release of emotion.
Somehow a full meal never seems appropriate. It’s better to have a selection of appetizers for grazing and of course something to drink. As a food facilitator for decades of these kinds of gatherings, here are a few ideas for you to build upon.
I encourage you to take the night off from cooking. Instead become the producer of your gathering. There are many great local resources for putting together a grazing spread.
First start with the cheese board, which these days can be simple or baroque, and then build from there. You can do it yourself or have a specialist put it together for you. It’s the time to splash out and finally buy that guava marmalade or pricey Spanish tinned mussels you’ve been eyeing. If you’re actually stepping out into the world, I can’t think of a more fun and useful activity than visiting one of our local cheese shops or specialty food wonderlands. These are places that import the best of the best from all over the world, as well as featuring local and domestic makers.
Haven’t yet tried the greatest butter in the world flavored with all manner of additions? Go to Epicurus Gourmet for their library of domestic and French butters.
If you want to invest in tinned fish and seafood, head to Monsieur Marcel. Want incredible prosciutto sliced perfectly? Check out The Cheese Store of Beverly HIlls.
All of the specialty food wonderlands below have inventory guaranteed to blow your mind if you take the time to browse. I always give myself enough time to go up and down every aisle and invariably walk away with something new that becomes an obsession. Many of the cheese shops also stock specialty items. And definitely do not ignore the freezer sections of those stores that have them. Having a bag of cheesy gougere or blini or high quality ready-made appetizers in the freezer is always a good idea.
All these stores also have an array of sweets, from macarons to bean to bar chocolate to imported French caramels, and on and on. Treat yourself!
Cheeses and more:
Specialty food wonderlands: