WRITTEN ON February 28th, 2011 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Beef, Dinner, No really, what IS for lunch?

Actors of a certain age often moan about how ageist Hollywood is. The lack of respect for older actors, for the craft itself, and how the opportunities dwindle post-40. I’ve always been a bit wary of that argument. Look, Meryl never seems to have a problem landing a role.  Tom Hanks can pretty much write his own ticket. Dame Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are always putting in appearances at these things. Everyone on Earth knows the sweet sound of Morgan Freeman’s voice. Perhaps it’s less about ageism than it is about being the best at what you do. The pretty young things get weeded out as the looks fade and people realize that the talent just isn’t there.  Survival of the fittest. Let’s face it: Josh Duhmel looks great now but couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag.  That goes for you too, Jessica Alba.

Watching the train wreck that was the Oscars last night, however, it finally sunk in.  We’d heard for weeks that the producers had decided to go a younger, hipper route. Most of us (if we had two brain cells) were hugely skeptical of James Franco and Anne Hathaway. I mean, come on. Here’s a dude who is arguably the most aloof guy in Hollywood, paired up with the most chirpy, over-exposed actress in the business (what was with the whooping, incidentally?  Did she realize she was not at a high school pep rally? That the regal Cate Blanchett could care less if Anne-the-Chirpster-Hathaway whooped for her when she was walking on stage to present an award?)  It seemed a bizarre and out-of-left-field choice. There was no frame of reference, no past history to draw upon, no inkling that either of these young bucks could carry a show that is essentially the Super Bowl of Hollywood. And guess what?  They couldn’t.

If nothing else, their lack of chemistry, and, indeed, lackluster performance, had us all pining away for the old geezers who can host an awards show while walking, talking, chewing gum, and checking their Blackberrys. There’s something to be said for the old guard.  They are still relevant and still have so much to teach all the young, cocksure whippersnappers out there in LaLa Land. In fact, I kind of loved that the Academy’s attempt to make the Oscars young and hip went over like a fart in church. It’s the Oscars, people. There should be a sense of occasion. It should be more austere than the other awards shows. Let the Golden Globes be raucous and bawdy. This is the Academy Awards, for crying out loud. No F-bombs in the speeches please, no politics at the table, and no hosts under the age of 45.  For once, let’s not cater to the Twitter-ati, the 15 year old narcissists who already rule so much of pop culture. Let’s teach them that there is something to be said for attention spans, intelligent humor and respect for our elders.

If the Academy is looking to bridge the gap, why not give Sandra Bullock a try?  Everything she touches turns to gold, and one of the best, most comfortable parts of the night was when she presented the Best Actor award. She was relaxed, witty, irreverent, and current, all the while exuding her usual warmth, sincerity and class.  She made it look easy, and she seemed to have fun while doing it.

Billy Crystal walked onstage halfway through and got such a huge round of applause I thought Anne Hathaway would start crying right then and there. She knew it was over.  Here was the master, returned to show her how it was done. Grasshopper had failed, miserably.

In the spirit of respecting the classics, I’m posting this recipe for steak sandwiches with sauteed onions and horseradish sauce.  No fancy cheese, no garlic ciabatta bread, no tabasco onions, no chipotle-chocolate mayonnaise. Just your simple, understated, old school steak sandwich, in honor of Bob and Billy and Steve and Alec. Bring back the dinosaurs, please.  You can have your ingenue and your bizarrely expressionless hearth throb.  I’ll take experience over a pretty face any day of the week.

Sound bite

Classic Steak Sandwiches (makes 4 small sandwiches)
1 3/4 lb flank steak
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, halved and sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
1 soft baguette, split in half lengthwise and cut into 4 equal portions
2 handfuls fresh arugula
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbsp horseradish
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine Worchestershire sauce, soy sauce, olive oil and pepper. Pour into a large Ziplock bag, add steak, swish around so that the marinade covers steak. Chill for about 45 minutes. In the meantime, melt butter over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add onions, season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat until caramelized and very soft, about 20 minutes. If you start to see some burn in the pan, just add a few teaspoons of water swirl around pan. Remove onions from heat. In a small bowl, mix sour cream, horseradish, lemon zest and just a pinch salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat grill to medium high heat. Remove steak from marinade, grill about 8 minutes on the first side.  Flip and grill about 5 minutes more on second side for medium rare. Rest on cutting board for 10-15 minutes, then slice as thinly as possible. Layer steak, onions and arugula on each baguette piece, top with horseradish sauce and some of the juice drippings from the steak.  Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet!

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