Monday, November 5, 2012

Palm Beach Social Diary

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books and co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International, celebrated his 30th anniversary Saturday night at his flagship Coral Gables store, welcoming what felt like a throng of more than 1,000 to a party that closed Aragon Avenue. With booktiques in Westhampton Beach, Grand Cayman and South Florida, Kaplan was honored last year by the National Book Foundation with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Chairman of the board that guides the annual Book Fair, this year's happening kicks off next week with author Tom Wolfe, followed by Jeffrey Toobin, Chris Hayes, Adam Gopnik, and Robert Caro, among the many writers who will spend the week talking and signing at what is considered the nation's preeminent page-turner event.
Palm Beach + Coral Gables:
Best of Britain booked at The Four Arts and Books & Books celebrates 30th
By Augustus Mayhew

The Gioconda and Joseph King Library at The Society of the Four Arts attracted an enthusiastic swarm Friday night eager to help the facility’s restoration efforts.  The cultural organization’s popular night-before event gave guests first dibs on the library’s selection of rare and donated books, art catalogs, duplicates, and DVDs before the public sale began the following morning.  The following night, I headed south where Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan was joined by some of Miami’s top chefs and an overflow crowd of well-wishers to give a nod to his 30 years in business as an independent bookseller.  Way back in 1982, I still lived in Coconut Grove and B & B was one of my haunts. I recall one of my first purchases, a dozen Balzac novels, as it was when I just didn’t read one book by an author but had to read them all.

Although Doubleday’s on Worth Avenue is gone, today’s Palm Beach has three book stores. However much Palm Beach and Coral Gables are worlds apart, they share a passion for books.
Twilight at The Society of the Four Arts. I thought I was early, only to find more than 100 guests had already arrived for the event some consider the launch of the Palm Beach social season.
“Brits, Bubbles & Books”
The King Library at The Society of the Four Arts

With Merry Olde England being this season’s theme for many of the Campus on the Lake’s educational and cultural programs, Molly Charland, director of Libraries and Education, greeted nearly 400 guests with a phalanx of traditional Beefeaters and an array of costumed iconic British literary figures. “Brandy Stephenson, our senior associate for the Campus on the Lake Programs and Events, put a lot of this evening together for us,” remarked Charland.  She added, “Librarian Phil O’Connell  organized the books offered for sale and supervised the sales during weekend event.”
Beefeater on guard.
Having made their selections, guests made their way to the library's front desk to check-out. "We were grateful and overwhelmed," said Charland at this year's response that surpassed support from previous years.
Molly Charland, left, and Lorraine Buckland, far right, with several of the evening's costumed literary characters.
The scene within the King Library's garden plaza where several hundred guests enjoyed yet another beautiful Palm Beach evening.
Anne Washburn. "I will be 93 in December."
Jo Pulvermacher.
Connie Geisler and Captain Hook.
"Diana and I went to school together," said Marty Straton, left, about her friend Diana Holt, right. "I've just come back from Kenya," said Diana, who has supported various archeological and educational endeavors in Kenya for more than 30 years. Holt recently sold her family's Island Road waterfront enclave where her parents George and Lily Busch Magnus Blabon lived for many years.
Trish Donnelley and Thorne Donnelley. Thorne had just returned from Miami with a bundle of books for his Liberty Bookstore on Clematis Street and a heroic tale of surviving a flat tire.
Looking across the Naoma Donnelley Haggin Plaza towards the Pannill Pavilion.
Annie Falk and Daphne Nikolopoulos were stationed in the Pannill Pavilion signing their new book "Palm Beach Entertaining" with sales to benefit Children's Home Society.
Kit Pannill. Brandy Stephenson.
George Matthews and Betsy Matthews.
Scott Moses and Melanie Cabot.
Richard Hoffmann and Patricia Tillinghast.
The evening's entertainment.
Natasha Hoffer.
Nancy McKenna and Edna Cowan.
Enid Pollak.
M. Elizabeth Rogers and Anita Pollak.
Charles Kibort with Nancy and Ed Madden.
Marilyn Benoit and Gloria Welsh.
John S. Pearson and Shelly Rybak Pearson.
7 pm, dusk at the Gioconda and Joseph King Library, as guests began to depart the reception.
Books & Books bash marks 30th Anniversary
265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables

With Aragon Avenue closed off for the Books & Books festivities, I dashed over to the Biltmore Hotel and then looped around Miracle Mile. It had been years since I walked on Miracle Mile, once the living room for Coral Gables residents. I parked on Giralda Avenue, walked over to Miracle Mile, and then to Books & Books where the chefs were in their final prep for the party.
Arriving a few minutes early, I drove over to the Biltmore Hotel where the light around 6:30 pm was becoming Giottoesque. I've decided to stay at the Biltmore during next month's Art Basel. With so many added satellite fairs now gravitating around Art Basel's SoBe site and Art Miami's venues in Midtown Miami, I was thinking going-and-coming to the Gables would offer a change of pace from South Beach gridlock and Midtown standstills.
On Miracle Mile
The late afternoon light in Coral Gables, really golden! Along Miracle Mile, the historic Colonnade Building with the Westin Colonnade Hotel towering above.
At Hillstone's restaurant, Marley Palmer, Carrie Jackson, and Natasha Iglesias keep a watchful eye on Bo.
The Miracle Theatre miraculously stays open.
At Dominique's, a ball gown for every night of the week.
"I've been here for more than 40 years," said Dominique Aristondo, seen in her eclectic Miracle Mile boutique standing between the bejeweled carousel horse and the piano.
I stopped for a moment at 296 Aragon Avenue, the original location of Books & Books located a half-block west of its present larger quarters.
This "Little Shop of Fondants" caught my eye on Giralda Avenue. Something surreal or is it poetic, a wedding cake seated on a wing chair and wedding cakes atop a bedroom dresser.
A bride and groom rushed by while I was standing in front of Cake Designs by Edda bakery.
The couple was heading down to the corner where they were having their wedding dinner in the gallery loggia at the Coral Gable Museum. On November 9, the museum opens the exhibit "Building Bacardi: Architecture, Art and identity" with a "party to remember" at the Biltmore Hotel.
At Books & Books
The legendary Chef Norman Van Aken. The endless afternoons and never-ending nights at Louie's Backyard seem like so long ago. Van Aken is referred to as "the founding father of New World Cuisine," according to his web site.
While some appeared to be assembling various offerings, Cindy Hutson was actually cooking. Chef and co-owner of the highly-regarded Ortanique on the Mile restaurant, Hutson's "Cuisine of the Sun" can also be found at venues on Grand Cayman and at the Dunmore Resort on Harbour Island in the Bahamas.
"We don't like cameras and we don't like to have our picture taken," was the welcome shout-out from Coral Gables finest, who were all smiles. Note to self: look for Tasers before taking photograph.
Chef Allen Susser, who last year closed his landmark Chef Allen's restaurant "to focus on restaurant development, consulting, teaching, and other culinary ventures." Mr. Susser is the author of New World Cuisine, and perhaps the cuisine's co-founding father, The Great Citrus Book, and The Great Mango Book.
The courtyard at Books and Books.
The walls at the Café are lined with photographs of the authors who have appeared at the bookstore.
Another view of the Café and the wall of authors.
Bernard Matz, chef at The Café at Books & Books.
Authors also sign-in.
Family matters at Books & Books. Melanie Erlanger, left, is embraced by Helen and Joe Kaplan, parents of Mitchell Kaplan. And that is Rochelle Kaplan, whose husband Mitch runs the show, standing behind Helen and Joe.
With his family enjoying themselves in the courtyard, Kaplan greeted his legion of supporters.
The food lines grew longer, even though Michelle Bernstein's assistant said the noted chef was" traveling" and could not attend the event.
Across from Books & Books, the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
Café de Flore was playing at the art cinema.
The block party continued.
The crowd quickly kept growing.
Until, at 7:45 pm, SRO on Aragon Avenue; time to go. Congratulations Books & Books!
Of course, I had to snap another shot of "Wedding Cake seated on Wing Chair."
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.
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