Gray days, rainy nights
Shelter from the rain. 8:35 PM. Photo: JH.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on this day forty-two years ago. He was forty-six years old.

Yesterday was gray and mild in New York.
Late in the afternoon it started raining and continued through the night.

I went to Tiffany’s annual holiday luncheon
for about sixty editors, journalists and media people at Le Bernardin. In the past Tiffany held these luncheons in the boardroom at the store on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. For the past two or three years, they’ve been remodeling and adding new sales space, so they’ve moved the event elsewhere. Mike Kowalski, the president and CEO told us that soon they will be finished, and next year we’ll be back at Tiffany (those of us who are invited) for the luncheon.

Like everything Tiffany does, this was done impeccably and with a kind of thrown-away style, as if it is to be expected from Tiffany. Which it is.

The floral display on the lunch table at Le
Bernardin: Purple callalilies, tulips, roses, coxcomb, persimmon, purple artichokes,
echinacea, amaranth, and palm
Le Bernardin is inarguably one of the finest restaurants in New York. Internationally acclaimed, it is a four-star seafood restaurant created in Paris in 1972 by siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze. Their objective: fish served fresh, simple and prepared with respect. In 1986 they opened in New York and it became an immediate hit. Gilbert died unexpectedly eight years later in 1994 and Maguy began working with her partner, Eric Ripert who is considered one of the greatest chefs in the world. In 2004, Zagats rated Le Bernardin number one for food in New York.

I tell you all this because I am not a big fan of seafood cuisine. Which is not to say that I don’t eat fish, because I do. I simply don’t have the passion for it that many have. And as a result, I have visited Le Bernardin only once before. Therefore, knowing Tiffany’s style of doing things, I found their choice curious.

It didn’t take long for my questions to be answered.
The menu began with Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables with Truffle Vinaigrette. In my language, I would call it a warm vegetable salad. I would also call it the best vegetable salad, maybe the best salad I have ever eaten anywhere. Ever.

It was so good that it was transporting. Mind you, I had very nice luncheon partners – Corky Pollan who used to write Best Bets in New York Magazine and now has a column in Gourmet, and Jacqueline Goewey who writes for InStyle, and we had much to talk about. They agreed with with my assessment, however.

The main course was Lobster with Braised Endives, Enoki and Black Trumpets and Bourbon-Black Pepper Sauce. If you like lobster, and I like lobster (although I don’t eat it much), you couldn’t help but like this. But as Corky Pollan noted, it might have been the best lobster dish we ever had. Ever. It was, this simple dish in this lovely sauce, simply wonderful.

Then came dessert: Passion Fruit Cream Enrobed in White Chocolate, Ginger Caramel Sauce and Mandarin Sorbet. Perfect. Not too much, not too little; cool, sometimes crunchy, sweet, but not too; delicate and perfect.

The main course: Lobster with Braised Endives, Enoki and Black Trumpets and Bourbon-Black Pepper Sauce.
The wines served were Pessac-Lebognan, Chateau Villa Bel Air 2003 and Carneros, MacKenzie-Mueller, Pinot Noir 2001.

As is the tradition, after the first course, Mike Kowalski gave a speech about Tiffany’s progress in the past year. They are expanding. Soon they will have new stores in China. It has also been twenty-five years since they’ve taken on a new designer of jewelry. They have a new one, beginning in April 2006, the world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry, will join Tiffany as a jewelry designer. I think this may be a first for both Tiffany and major international jewelers.

Tiffany enjoys remarkably good relations with the media. This is due to a number of things, beginning with its public relations department which is headed by Fernanda Kellogg. They are friendly, efficient, all business but with pleasure. Like this luncheon, which was carried off like clock-work, as if effortlessly, you come to expect the best from them and that is what you get. At two the lunch was over. There were women from the public relations department passing out Tiffany bags, each containing a large blue box tied in a white ribbon containing: a beautiful sterling silver bowl.
Penny Pradow and John Loring
Jacqueline Plandi and Robert Rufino
Arlene Hirst
L. to r.: Jacqueline Goewey; Steven Drucker; Wendy Moonan.
Nancy Novogrod
Fernanda Kellogg and James Reginato
Deborah Needleman and Freddie Leiba
Amy Fine Collins
Cricket Burns
Margaret Russell
John Loring and Nancy Novogrod
Hal Rubenstein
Exiting Le Bernadin with our Tiffany bags
The calendar for last night in New York was a little lighter than the past few weeks, perhaps reflecting the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday which will take hold on Wednesday afternoon when New Yorkers exit town (if they are going to be) and otherwise prepare for Turkey Day on Thursday.

At the Rainbow Room, they held the Governor’s Parks and Preservation Award Dinner hosted by and benefiting the Olana Partnership in the presence of Governor and Mrs. George Pataki who honored Commissioner Bernadette Castro with the 2005 Award.

Over at the Paris Theatre, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richadson, Lynn Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Kazuo Ishiguro, and James Ivory attended the World Benefit Premiere of Mr. Ivory’s new film, The White Countess. All proceeds to benefit Dr. Roger Lobo’s research at the Columbia University Medical Center on metabolic factors affecting younger and older women. This was a Peggy Siegal event and so the roster was filled with bold-faced names and afterwards there was a glittering dinner at the Metropolitan Club just a couple of blocks up the avenue from the theatre (which was lucky for the rainy night crowd).

I was originally planning on attending the premiere except that Liz Smith asked me if I’d join them at a dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street for Women’s Voices for Change, the "groundbreaking first partner of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), the leading non-profit, scientific organization devoted to women’s health through midlife and beyond."

Ann Richards and Liz Smith preaching to the crowd
Liz was host along with Governor Ann Richards. The event chairs were: Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, Faith Childs, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Anne Marie Iverson, and Gayfryd Steinberg. And they presented the first ever Champion for Change Award to author Gail Sheehy who really got the ball started thirty years ago with her groundbreaking book Passages.

A couple of my woman friends laughed yesterday afternoon when I told them I would be attending this event – on menopause. Frankly I didn’t know how to respond except to say that Liz had asked me and because Liz is there for so many of us, I felt the least I could do was to accept.

There were about four hundred women and maybe a half dozen men in the great hall at Cipriani. Interesting, and as NYSD readers know, I go to a lot of formal affairs (although I was not in black tie), where the women really dress. Maybe it was just my imagination hyping it, but it seemed to me they were even more glamorous for this almost all-female event than they usually are.

There were a lot of women I knew who were present.
When JH and I arrived during the cocktail hour, the first people we saw were Cathy Graham and Carolyne Roehm. Then there was Sharon Hoge and Barbara Tober, Gail Hilson, Susan Blond, Marcia Mishaan, Shirley Lord, Kathy Steinberg – all raving about the amazing (Dr.) Pat Allen.

Then I learned about Pat Allen.
Pat Allen is a prominent gynecologist here in Manhattan who, according to many of the women I spoke to last night, is considered one of the greatest doctors in New York. Many were there last night because of Pat Allen.

When I found my seat, I discovered that I was seated between her and Diana Taylor who is a familiar face to New Yorkers because she is Mayor Bloomberg’s frequent companion. Ms. Taylor was at her seat when I took mine, but Pat Allen was nowhere in sight (I didn’t know what she looked like).

Dr. Pat Allen
The mesdames Smith and Richards opened the evening, a kind of duo emcee act, a hilarious kind of Fric and Frac of the post-menopausal ladies, a couple of pros getting the evening in order. Then they introduced Pat Allen – a tall, slender women “dripping in diamonds” (from Graff, the evening’s sponsor), as she put it, in a sheer floor-length gown and, and looking like a very chic society woman – the kind that on site you’d never regard as a guru-leader. Her voice is a kind of soft, melodic purr, reminding me a bit of that great groundbreaker Helen Gurley Brown.

She acknowledged the women in the room for making their best effort to look fabulous – which they did at her urging. Most of the women over-forty and many at or beyond the age of menopause, and all of them looking really smashing. Dr. Allen made light of a very serious subject and the women responded with laughter and applause like young women at a pep rally, but you got a clear picture of the authority that she brings to her practice: focus, certainty, confidence, and kindness.

Dr. Allen (although everyone referred to her as Pat Allen) introduced Dr. Wulf Utian who this year founded the North American Menopause Society. Most men don’t understand the whole exercise of this new organization, he explained. It is not something that is discussed with men and, in fact, from what I could gather last night, it is not something that is discussed in a very enlightening or productive way even among women. Yet it is, as most adults who care to know know, life-changing.

Abuzz during cocktail hour

Dr. Pat Allen addresses the dinner guests
The women in the room at Cipriani last night knew all that of course. After the main course, they called upon another one of the rare males in the room, Vernon Jordan to pull the tickets for the raffle. The famous and distinguished Mr. Jordan is a legendary charmer, besides being a brilliant businessman and politician. After he did his bit, he thanked the audience and asked if he could be invited back again next year.

Then Gail Sheehy came up to receive her award. She talked about working on this project with Pat Allen and how when they first went on the road to drum up interest, in Malibu, California or in the boardrooms of New York, they encountered “interested” parties who didn’t want to go near the word “menopause.”

Doesn’t matter with these girls/ladies/women: they’re going ahead with it anyway and soon, I don’t doubt, they will have enacted another change in our consciousness about the nature of life for all of us humanoids on this planet.
Bette Midler on stage
After dessert, the great Bette Midler, another member of this illustrious group came up on stage to entertain with songs and her jokes (oh those jokes!) for short concert ending with a rousing ovation and completing things with an encore singing “The Rose.”

In the meantime, Pat Allen finally joined our table. I learned a little bit (actually a lot) about her. She grew up in Kentucky and came to New York after college and medical school. The way she talked about her patients and her practice reminded me of my late lamented Dr. George McCormack whom I’ve written about in these pages. It turned out that Pat Allen knew George McCormack and how he practiced and gained the confidence of his patients. Having grown up in a small community, she told me, she practiced medicine like a doctor in a small community – get to know them, let them get to know you. They knew her last night at Cipriani 42nd Street. This tall, willowy, kind of fashion-model, socialite-looking woman who is regarded by her legions of admirers, followers and patients as a great leader, even a giant in her field.

New York is full of surprises that inspire optimism
and clear-thinking, even in times like these. I met one of them last night at Cipriani 42nd Street.
Sarah Rosenthal, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, and Kathy Steinberg
Nina Link, Janet Muir, and Ann Blinkhorn
Liz Smith, Dr. Pat Allen, and Ann Richards
Gayfryd Steinberg
Diana Taylor, Liz Smith, and Vernon Jordan
Marcia Mishaan
Carolyne Roehm and Cathy Graham
Diana Jacoby
Joan Jedell and John Mahdessian
Diana Taylor and Gail Hilson with a friend
Dominique Browning and Michele Oka Doner
Susan Kinsolving, Elizabeth Peabody, and Liz Cook
Christy Ferrer
Barbara Tober

November 22, 2005, Volume V, Number 195
Photographs by DPC & JH/


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