(Strictly no photos were aloud, so all photographs were secretly taken on mobile phones).
As I sat in the steam room in the Four Seasons Hotel with a glass of cucumber water in my hand, pampering myself before the 81st Academy Awards, I wondered. What gastronomic delights awaited me?
I was in LA for the first time . A celebrity friend of mine, who I shall leave unnamed, invited me to the biggest showbiz bash on the planet, The Oscars!
On arrival there are police and helicopters circling the Kodak theatre. Crowds of people swarm the streets like hungry animals wanting a bite from the perfect celebrity cuisines . People with homophobic and self promoting placards line up wanting to be seen. Me, I was just hungry and wanted this hell soup to end, so I could get to the main course, The Governors Ball. This is the big dinner after the show. So in we go, like cattle down the blood red carpet, lights blinding you every witch way you go, and oh look there's Danny Glover, is he hungry? When you eventually make it in your surrounded by the hollywood elite, Sean Penn walks past with his crew. Sarah Jessica Parker is being followed by a hired hand so no one steps on her dress. But he's always there holding it off the ground, so in effect he is part of the dress. Good look!
And so it begins The Oscars. The big show. It's all so golden and duty free smelling.
Hugh Jackman appears on stage and proceeds to go ape shit for the next five minutes. This is his opening. Throughout the evening if you get up to go out during the commercial break, and you miss the countdown to get back to the show, they lock all the doors until the next break, and a seat filler will sit in your seat so the show doesn't look dead. This is an out of work panic stricken actor.
I went out to get a glass of water, queued for 20 minutes, only to discover it wasn't a free bar, and damn I had no cash on me. So i'm sure for the first time in Oscar history, I used the public water fountain. People looked at me like I was shitting into a bucket, and shouting "Run Forest Run!' at the top of my voice. I got back to my seat and the show wizzed along. I dribbled, I laughed, I even cried a bit. It was good, bad and a little ugly .
Stage 2 of the mission. The Governors Ball.
We sit down at a very tacky looking table. There's a band playing dinner jazz, free CD style. Kevin Kline and the girl from The Gremlins are sat at the end of the table. One guy complains to himself about the food because he's on a no carb diet. The waiter comes over with an appetizer. A pizza dough with smoke salmon and caviar on top. Not the greatest combination, but the fish eggs and salmon where fine. And if it's good enough for the Gov, it's good enough for me. Whoever he is?!. Then some soup, and some not so good rice with meat was served. So unimpressed by this, I didn't take a photo. Thinking this was the only food going, and knowing that the Vanity Fair party was around the corner, and remembering how drunk I liked to get, down it went.
For desert, a cube of chocolate arrived with a removable lid, and an edible Oscar on top with chocolates inside. I bit the head off the oscar thinking it would be the finest co co in town, but to my surprise it took me right back to the little football chocolates I would get for Crimbo. You know the ones, that tasted like crayon. So, quite full and slightly board, we went for a stroll around the ball. " What is this?" I yelled. "Why did no one mention this?" We'd found a room full of lavish wonders. There were Oscar cookies, a chocolate fountain with strawberries, chocolate moose, a mountain of shell fish, and two mini hills of sushi. Actually not the most lavish. But after the weird rice and chocolate box combo I'd just had, this was lavish . The cookies were good, the fountain had an interesting flow, especially with the fresh strawberries. The sushi wasn't that good, a bit dry and lonely.
Stage 3 the Vanity Fair party. Now this was a proper celebrity squeeze. Within the space of a five minutes Mickey Rourke left the building, I saw Elton John sulking in the corner, and Ben Stiller was making big joke all over the floor. But lets cut the celebrity chit chat, and get to the food.
Since America and the Worlds economic crisis the good people at Vanity Fair cut down on the freebies. So no pyramid of Ipods, no taps of Channel No 5 running, and certainly no gourmet food. As I was hob knobbing and making no sense at all, I see a girl sheepishly appear from the crowd holding a soggy box of In and Out burgers. "I'll have one of those please", "yes sir". The In and Out girls were having the best time, meeting all the celebs and handing out cold burgers with the biggest smiles on their faces. I took a bite and on looking back it has occurred to me, that that burger summed up the hole evening. It looked good but was cold and tasteless and it always looks better in the movies.
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