Down and Out in Denver

Oscar Feast!

Posted in denver, entertainment, fashion, food, movies, parties by Blake on March 8, 2010

My friend Nancy is visiting from out of town for the weekend and so on Saturday night Alastair and I decided to take her to our very favorite Denver restaurant, Potager (see Alastair’s very favorable review here).  It was, and it pains me to say this, a little disappointing. The appetizers — wilted savory greens, spinach and mushroom toast — were both fantastic.  The main courses, however, not so much.  The shellfish stew was more broth with scallops and mussels than it was stew as I understand the term, all topped off with a saffron aioli, which proceeded to disintegrate into unappetizing floating clumps in the broth.  I like mayonnaise in pretty much any form but this was distinctly unappetizing.  Nancy and Alastair both got the roast chicken and while the bird itself was well cooked, the jumble of accompaniments just didn’t work that well, and seemed to be different from what usually comes with the chicken.  This time: arugula, dried apples(?), pine nuts, olives, and about fifteen other things. One got the impression that Potager might have been trying to clean out its fridge.  The flourless chocolate cake, however, was divine.  And the service, as always, was fantastic.

Alastair's Sardine Toast with my Canadian Flag Cocktail Napkins and Grandmother's Monogram Plates

But after a disappointing dinner Alastair and I felt duty-bound  to prepare something pretty fantastic for the out-of-towner, especially as we were going to be settling in for a long night of Oscar-watching chez moi. And a veritable feast it was!  We began with Alastair’s signature sardine toast: sardines, lemon, mustard, minced onion, oil, and butter, all combined and then toasted on a baguette. Delicious.

Caesar Salad with PLENTY of Anchovies

Loyal DOD readers may recall that Alastair and I have ordered a number of disappointing Caesar salads of late, so I decided it was time to make it right.  I used my grandmother’s recipe for the dressing (as well as her bowl), fried my own croutons (pictured below) and Alastair brought over plenty of anchovies.  It was all topped off by some grated parmesan, and I have to say it was pretty amazing.  Tangy and salty and crunchy and thoroughly unhealthy, the croutons particularly.  I think it was seeing the amount of butter and oil I used that might have given Nancy a heart attack, not the croutons themselves.

Homemade Croutons cooked in a gallon of oil and pound of butter

English Cucumber

We finished the meal with a delicious pasta salad prepared by Alastair: shrimp, dill, and English cucumbers, all tossed with perfectly cooked shell pasta and a tangy lemony dressing.  Unfortunately my pictures of this scrumptious concoction all came out blurry.  Maybe a consequence of all the wine we had consumed by that point?

On to the Oscars:  We began eating and drinking and watching at 4:00 as E! began its red carpet coverage.  I always find these things a little bit painful as the hosts bend over backwards to ingratiate themselves with the celebrities.  Though we were grateful it wasn’t Joan and Melissa Rivers, Ryan Seacrest wasn’t much of an improvement.  I just felt embarrassed for him.  That said, he was leagues better than the horrendous Kathy Ireland, Sherri Shepherd, and Jess Cagle, who were hosting ABC’s half-hour coverage before the show actually began.  Ireland, looking far too skinny, was, in a word, wooden.  And yet absurdly peppy at the same time!!!!  All inflection seemed to be thoroughly rehearsed. Please take her away and never let her do this again!

The awards went to the predicted winners.  There weren’t really any surprises.  We all cheered for Kathryn Bigelow as much for the fact that she beat out her ex-husband, James Cameron as for her being the first woman to win an Oscar for directing.  Suck it, Jimmy!  And I loved Sandra Bullock’s remarkably gracious acceptance speech, as she wittily acknowledged the other actresses in her category, gave a shout-out to mothers, and spoke about her own mother’s influence, particularly her insistence that no person, regardless of race, religion, color, class, or sexual orientation, is better than anyone else.  I am also very much a fan of the format where each best actor/actress nominee gets a little speech delivered by someone who knows them.  Many were quite touching.

As for dress, the real reason to watch, it was the general consensus of the room that the following looked horrible: Vera Farmiga (even though we love her); SJP (who fiddled with her neckline the whole night and seemed to have bathed in bronzer); Charlize Theron (who has to really work to look bad); Zoe Saldana (were those ornamental cabbages on her dress?); Kate Winslet (great from the waist up but otherwise seemed to be wearing separates, not a dress; maybe a twinset?); and Miley Cyrus.  We were fans of the sartorial choices of Sandra Bullock, Rachel McAdams (Canadian!), Queen Latifah (all hail the Queen!), Carey Mulligan (hair, not dress), Julianne Moore, Helen Mirren, and Oprah Winfrey. George Clooney’s hair was horrendous and his attitude even worse.  And finally, James Cameron’s wife needs to investigate the power of food; not only is it tasty, it also covers up your jutting collar bone!

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10 Responses

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  1. squadratomagico said, on March 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I was very disappointed in the Oscar fashions… nobody really rocked it, in my opinion. I loved the color of the skirt part of Zoe Saldana’s dress, but what a strange construction! Charlize Theron looked like she was being victimized by her own clothing. J. Lo’s stiff poufty thing was “meh.”

    I’d say the best choices were Diane Kruger: a tough, intellectual piece that she wore well. Gabourey Sidibe looked great in her deep blue flowy gown. I loved the top part of Sandra Bullock’s confection, and the slinky silhouette below — though I thought it could have used a little less shine in the skirt. But her overall styling — dark Veronica-Lake-hair and scarlet lips with the silver dress — was very well done. Let me see, who else… Meryl Streep was dressed by PR alum Chris Marsh? Bully for her! I also liked Anna Kendrick’s choice (though I have no clue who she is.)

    Blake, can you tell I like to talk clothing? Sorry if I harp on it here – not enough outlets.

  2. Blake said, on March 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I agree, except perhaps about Diane Kruger. She looked fantastic but I don’t know what I thought about the dress. It might have been a little above my head. I didn’t like how it broke her up into segments. So maybe i just didn’t like the middle part. And Anna Kendrick also looked great, though the consensus here was that the hair was a bad move. She was pretty fantastic in Up in the Air.

    And there shall be no apologizing for talking about clothing here at DOD!

  3. squadratomagico said, on March 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Re-reading your comments, I just have to chime in about Vera Famiga! What makes a grown woman chose a garment dominated by enormous, stiff ruffles? What makes a designer conceive such a gown? I fail to understand it.

    I also agree about SJP: too bronzed, and the hair was spectacularly unflattering (she was going for 60s retro, but it didn’t suit her at all). She makes a good contrast with Diane Kruger, actually: they both had on Chanel, but it only worked on DK.

    Thanks for being a willing fashion gossip partner!

  4. Blake said, on March 9, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Vera Farmiga really was tragic. Dress, hair, makeup, all of it. And I kind of love her. I thought she was pretty fantastic in Up in the Air, totally holding her own against Clooney.

  5. Totally anonymous said, on March 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Oddly absent from this entire discussion is the weird hair trend that so many of the ladies (yeah, I said it) were sporting, which looked like they had gone through a lot of effort to carefully prepare their hair only to then strategically frizz out selected pieces. This was done by so many of them and did not merit comment from either the TV personalities we were watching or the DOD review, so it must be something that’s been going on for a while now. I am clearly behind trend here…..but what a bizarre trend!

  6. Blake said, on March 9, 2010 at 9:30 am

    TA: there was definitely a lot of bad hair going on (including the challah on SJP’s head) but I don’t think I’ve seen it summed up quite as well as you just did. I myself was a fan of Sandy B’s razor sharp part and simple do. Why does everyone feel the need to put it up always???

  7. Historiann said, on March 9, 2010 at 11:37 am

    SJP’s dress was just badly fitted on her. It looked like she was trying to cover up a non-existent post-partum pooch–but her twins were born via surrogacy last year!

    And yum yum yum to the transformative powers of food, Blake. (I’m surprised that someone was so skinny that the Manorexic found it objectionable!) Subcutaneous fat also plumps out wrinkles, too.

    • Blake said, on March 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      Don’t even get me started on the surrogacy!

      Manorexic finds it objectionable when someone else’s skinniness makes him uncomfortable, when he feels hungry just looking at (usually) her. And yes, it does happen!

  8. […] I was slightly disappointed in my last visit to Potager, they more than redeemed themselves this time around.  The food, the ambiance, and the service: […]

  9. […] As if you hadn’t figured it out already, Potager (11th and Ogden) is DOD’s favorite restaurant. Alastair and I returned (as we are wont to do with some regularity) this past Friday night to sample the new menu (which our server helpfully explained had been introduced after the New Year).  And we were not disappointed.  But then, we’ve only been disappointed one time at Potager. […]


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