Donatella Diaries: Oscar Night

I love entertaining at home, and a special event is a great excuse to plan a party. With the Oscars coming up in a few weeks, it’s the perfect time to start planning an Oscar night with your closest friends.

The Oscars are full of glamour and your party should be too. Ask your friends to dress up in their favorite black tie ensembles and plan a menu of small bites. I love to miniaturize main dishes that I've already mastered. A simple reinterpretation takes an entree to an hors d’oeuvre in no time—a trick I’ve learned from the restaurant biz. Make your life a little easier and don’t attempt to make everything from scratch. Go to a great cheese store and buy a selection of your favorites to pair with artisanal jams or honey, and crusty breads. I also like to serve soup in double shot glasses—it’s extremely elegant and so simple! I love to serve casual foods at more upscale parties, like my favorite popcorn that has been gussied up with truffle oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and edible gold dust. Place bowls around the party space for your guests to nibble from.

Be sure to create a signature cocktail for the night. That way you don’t end up playing bartender while your guests have all the fun. My restaurant Mia Dona is having an Oscar party and we've created a specialty cocktail list based on some of the best picture nominees. I've included a recipe for the Avatar cocktail we developed (yes, it's blue) for you to use at your party.

Make it fun for guests and put together a ballot so everyone can vote on who they think the winners will be (find nominees at The guest who selects the most winners gets a prize. I always visit dollar and gag stores to find humorous gifts that will keep the laughter going throughout the evening. Have a great Oscar Party everyone!

Donatella’s Popcorn
Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons black or white truffle oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups popcorn kernels
1/2 cup grated imported Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Grana Padano
Edible gold dust, optional

In a large metal bowl, combine the butter, truffle oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Set aside. In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn, cover, and stand close by until the corn starts popping. Shake the pan back and forth until the popping has slowed but not stopped entirely. Dump the popcorn into the bowl and immediately toss well to distribute the flavorings evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese, toss again, and, sprinkle with the gold dust, if desired. Serve warm.

Avatar Cocktail

2 parts vodka
½ part blue curacao
1 part lemonade

Shake well with ice and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with cherries and pineapple.

- Donatella


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