Thursday, March 11, 2010



I've loved the Oscars since I was a child and not just because my parents let me stay up late to watch them. And in Bayside, Queens, Long Island, New York, that meant staying up til one a.m. on a school night (back in the day when the Oscars aired on a Monday).  The glitter and glamour of Hollywood reached all the way across the continent and left me wide-eyed in front of our TV.  The movie star pictures I had taped on my bedroom wall came to life.  I couldn't wait until Natalie and RJ came out to present an award or to see what garish jewelry Liz would be wearing (I knew even back then that Liz wasn't the fountain of 'taste' - but I loved her anyway).  I'd stare at Paul Newman and wish his face would never leave my screen and wonder why I couldn't be Audrey Hepburn.  That childhood love for the show has never left me and for years, starting in Manhattan where Richard and I met and married, we gave a big Oscar party with the requisite Oscar pool.  Sometimes as many as 50 people would be there, making the pool a nice chunk of change.

We don't give our party anymore, but always enjoy it when we're invited to share the evening with friends.  And since most of our friends, like us, are in 'show biz' - they usually make an 'event' of the evening.  This year our friends Candace & Craig invited us to their weekend home in Arroyo Grande in central California wine country... about three hours north of Los Angeles. 

We left Sunday morning and drove thru the mountains to the charming town of Los Olivos of  "Sideways" fame where we stopped for lunch (I'll be blogging about that lunch in the next day or two), then continued on to Arroyo Grande, an adorable, tiny town about ten/fifteen minutes from the beach, nestled among some great wineries. 

Our pre-show consisted of wandering the two block 'main' street, stopping in a couple of antique shops, then driving to two wineries (Wolff and Sextant) for a bit of 'tasting.'  Both wines were good, but the Sextant chardonnays and zins were really, really, really delicious.  We bought some.  We drank some.

Back 'home' Craig got the fireplace blazing and, as we watched the opening of the show, an abundance of food (and that Sextant wine) magically appeared.  Among the appetizers was fresh guacamole made with avocados from their backyard - (forget the earthquakes -there are some great perks living in California) and chips galore...  I know, I know my South Beach Watchers' diet... but, hey, I'd already fallen off the calorie-counting wagon at the 'tastings.'   And dinner was a delicious blend of scallops, veggies and rice.  But my favorite new food 'tasting' experience was a sort of salmon 'pizza' appetizer.  There's no recipe really -- just three ingredients.  An appetizer so easy and so good, I can't believe I'd never had it before, though Richard reminded me that he had this 'pizza' for lunch not too long ago when we went to see the Renoir exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum, but I digress...

Here are those three ingredients:

Heated Naan - that wonderful Indian bread (you can get it at Trader Joe's, pop it in the oven for a minute and it's done!)

Creme Fraiche
Smoked Salmon (nova or lox)

That's it.  So simple.  Sooooooooo good.

When Richard had it at the museum cafe the 'pizza' also came w/ capers and, at his request, caramelized onions instead of the chopped red onions offered.  But, I liked it just the way I had it Oscar night.

Before returning to LA the next day, we went for a walk thru the dunes at their local beach.  The sun was brilliant, the smell of the ocean air invigorating and the expansive ocean views - breathtaking.

We may not have been dripping in diamonds or rubies or wearing designer gowns or an Armani tux, but our Oscar celebration in wine country couldn't have been written, directed or produced any better. And that appetizer?  Best Picture.



Cindra said...

Sounds good. Makes me want to go to Spago for their fantastic version!

ilona saari said...

If you go - take me.

Lana said...

I was just in Arroyo Grande 2 weeks ago - meeting with a customer on Grand Ave. I love that area, especially Pismo Beach.

Have you ever been to nearby Oceano where there is an old drug store that has been turned into a theater that does melodramas? The campy, Victorian style plays where you swoon when the heroine comes out and boo and hiss the villain - especially when he ties the heroine to a railroad track.

ilona saari said...

No, I've never been to Oceano = sounds like fun. When Richard was still acting, he did summer stock in Jackson Hole WY where he performed at "Dirty Jack's Wildwest Theater" where they did just those kinds of plays -- he even performed shoot outs on the street everyday at around 4:00... ;o) ... The beach we went to near our friends' house was just magnificent (can't remember the name - Grover Beach?) but I still haven't seen Pismo Beach -- but I love it up there and hope to go again --

TravelsWithDan said...

Arroyo Grande I don't know--Pismo, I know and love... Sometime when you're up there, stop in the place on the street leading to the pier and go to the place that serves New England clam chowder in a fresh-made bread bowl. Can't remember the name of the place but any local can direct you. BTW, it's all they serve, but they do it very, very well. Thanks for the wine suggestions and the recipe for the pizza apps! Well done (the writing, not the pizza!)

ilona saari said...

We weren't far from Pismo - but didn't have time to drive the short way up the coast -- next time - and will definitely see if we can find the clam chowder place... I LOVE clam chowder.