Best Picture Dinners: The Descendants

BlogHer Original Post

The Oscar Best Picture nominees were announced Tuesday, and since I am as much a fan of films as I am of food, I'm planning to have seen all ten of the nominated movies before the envelopes are opened on Oscar Night. But this year, just watching them is not enough. Here on BlogHer Food, I'll be assembling ten menus for three-course dinners (plus a cocktail, of course) inspired by the honorees. Today is the first of the ten, and I hope you'll join me on this journey through Hollywood's shining stars, course by course.

First on our dining tour? The Descendants.

The Descendants

In June 2008, I spent a week in Hanalei, which is where part of The Descendants was filmed. When I went to see the movie in the theater, I had to keep myself from poking my boyfriend every couple of seconds to whisper, "I've been there! I've been there! That's where I put my towel! I've totally walked on that street!" My memory of that visit is of course infused with visions of lush green hillsides, rainbows spied from our lanai, and an actual surf lesson, but also with the food I experienced there, whether it was ingredients bought at the local farmers market and taken home to prepare simply, or dinners eaten at a local restaurant. Those memories inspired my menu to go with The Descendants.

We'll start our Descendants-themed dinner with a very traditional and locally-sourced appetizer: Ahi poke. This soy- and sesame-glazed treat highlights the amazing flavor of freshly-caught ahi. Honestly, I would be willing to make a meal of this, but there's more great Hawaiian food to try during this celebratory feast.

No appetizer would be complete without a cocktail, and I'm pairing a classic Mai Tai with this movie. If you've never had a real, handmade, authentic Mai Tai, I encourage you to mix this up and give it a try. It's not at all like the cloyingly sweet drinks you'll find at most bars, where they make them with artificial mixers and dubious recipes. This is a simple set of ingredients, mixed thoughtfully, is utterly delicious. I like this recipe from Cocktailia, which features four ingredients: rum, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. Don't have orgeat syrup on hand? I've substituted Amaretto without throwing the cocktail too off-balance.

For our main course, we'll revisit an incredible meal I had at a hole-in-the-wall noodle joint in Lihue called Hamura Saimin Stand. Saimin is a noodle soup, similar to Japanese ramen, that comes with a number of different toppings, and when I was visiting, I heard it was the best place on the island to get this dish. It's not an easy one to make at home—there are tons of saimin recipes out there to choose from—but the blogger at Honolulu Eats did what she could, thanks to a delivery of fresh Saimin noodles from Hamura, to make the dish at home. Here are some recipes for saimin to help you make this comforting dish:

For dessert, there's only one option: Shave ice. This frosty treat is a cousin to the standard American snow cone, but imagine that snow cone made with an even more delicate grain of ice, and with better-tasting syrups, and with a scoop of creamy, tropical-flavored ice cream at the bottom. It's amazing, and I could not get enough of it when I was in Kauai. I couldn't actually find a recipe for shave ice online, so I encourage you to share yours in the comments below, if you have one. Otherwise, start planning your trip to Kauai now. There's some amazing poke, saimin and shave ice awaiting your arrival.

What foods did The Descendants evoke for you? Share your movie-inspired thoughts in the comments below.

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She is also the Food Section Editor for BlogHer.

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight

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