It’s unusual, to say the least, that a leading actor (or actress) stars in two consecutive Best Picture Oscars winning movies. Clark Gable did it in 1934 and 1935 with It Happened One Night and Mutiny on the Bounty. Meryl Streep did it as a supporting actress in 78’s The Deer Hunter and 79’s Kramer Vs. Kramer. And Russell Crowe did it with Gladiator and 2001’s A Beautiful Mind. And I love that these double winners (all of them) are soooooo different from each other.
Gladiator is an old fashioned yarn about the ups and downs and ins and outs of a Roman gladiator. Director Ridley Scott has added some modern touches–mostly CGI stuff. The cast is phenomenal. Russell Crowe is the perfect blend of tough and tender. Sigh. Joaquin Phoenix is great as the villainous Commodus. My favorite bit of casting you ask? It has to be the triumvirate of old 1960’s British actors on their last legs:
Oliver Reed as Proximo (remember him, Bill Sykes from Oliver!)
David Hemmings (so beautiful in Blow-up, so bloated here) as Cassius
And Richard Harris (post Camelot, pre-Dumbledore) as Marcus Aurielius.
Sadly, all three of these great actors have passed on. Gladiator was Mr. Reed’s last film.
Gladiator is a fairly good movie, but little by little I’ve been re-watching the 2000 Oscar telecast lately and I am really surprised from the tone of that evening that Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic did not win. Also, Julia Roberts was really annoying that night.
For dinner we tried to stick to a gladiator’s style of diet: lots of protein, walnuts and honey. For dinner we adapted a recipe from the beautiful and talented Giada De Laurentiis. However, no way has she ever eaten anything “poached in oil” before. Poached in oil is fancy chef-speak for deep fried.
Halibut with Broccoli Rabe Pesto
Broccoli Rabe Pesto: (if you can’t find broccoli rabe, swiss chard is a nice substitute)
- 8 ounces broccoli rabe (about 1/2 a bunch)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cupolive oil
- 4 (6-ounce) pieces halibut
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Broccoli Rabe Pesto:
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked broccoli rabe to an ice bath and let cool, about 3 minutes. Shake off the excess water and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, walnuts, honey, salt, and pepper process until smooth. With the machine running gradually pour in the extra-virgin olive oil. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Cover and set aside.
For the Halibut:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the halibut and cook until brown and crispy 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and place in the oven for a few minutes (3-4) until done.
Place about 1/2 cup of Broccoli Rabe Pesto on a serving plate and gently smooth out to make a bed for the fish. Using a slotted fish spatula gently transfer the cooked fish from the poaching oil to the serving plate, placing the fish on top of the bed of pesto. Serve immediately.