Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Royal Evening

Looking southeast from Greenwich Avenue and 6th Avenue. 5:30 PM.
Bright and sunny day in New York. Down at Michael’s, I lunched with Peter Rogers, Sarah Rosenthal and Julienne Marie, the former Broadway musical comedy star who now resides in France, which she moved to after the death of her husband, public relations guru John Scanlon. Julienne was in the original production of “Gypsy” with Ethel Merman (playing Louise – replacement) and had just seen the new Patti LuPone version which she pronounced “brilliant.”

Aside from its glitterati and media-heavy clientele, Michael’s is well known for its menu. Regulars often choose “the same” and a popular item is the Cobb Salad (Michael’s version). However, their specials are often rather special and sometimes exotic, and always very flavorful. Yesterday at the table, two of us opted for the broiled lobster tail served on a  bed of polenta. One of us had the just-in-season white asparagus with prosciutto, and I had the steamed Dover Sole in a Thai-sauce. Very spicy and very good. Afterwards the sauce was finished with the help of some fresh warm rolls.

Steve Millington, in the pictures here with Sarah Rosenthal, is the restaurant’s general manager. Readers know that I lunch there enough so that it’s very familiar, and so is the general manager Millington, as you can see.
Sarah Rosenthal and Steve Millington before and after at Michael's luncheon yesterday.
Counterclockwise from top right: White Asparagus with Prosciutto and Sauce; Steamed Dover Sole in a Thai Sauce; Grilled Lobster Tail on a Bed of Polenta. All from Michael's; And last night's Lamb En Croute, Morel Sauce, Pommes de Terre Dauphine, and Fresh Vegetables at the Pierre.
Last night at the Pierre, the Versailles-Giverny Foundation held its annual dinner. This year it was to celebrate the completion of the restoration of the trio of sculptures of the Grove of the Baths of Apollo at Versailles. The statues have occupied this spot since they were commissioned by Louis XIV in the 17th century. The head of Apollo is actually a portrait of the head of The Sun King. It took 1.5 million euros to restore and make replicates of the three figures. It took three dinners and some extraordinary people, according to Barbara de Portago, the head of the V-G Foundation, to raise the funds for restoration.

In 18th century, Queen Marie-Antoinette commissioned her favorite painter Hubert Robert to create the grotto with its waterworks. That is the next restoration.

HRH Prince Charles-Philippe d'Orleans, Duc d'Anjou, Barbara de Portago, and Gillian Fuller
Last night’s Guest of Honor was HRH Prince Charles-Philippe d’Orleans, Duc d’Anjou. The 35-year-old prince wore the uniform of the Grand Master of Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. The Order’s “legitimacy” was under the protection of the House of Orleans since the 13th century.

The prince has also founded the St. Lazare Foundation financed by the World Society, an international think tank whose mission is to rationalize the problem of the planet’s future needs for water. “The future belongs to those who invest in it. The future is water.”

Each year this dinner has a person with a royal background. The guest of honor is asked to speak for 15 minutes on the subject of his or her life, family, history. For those of us who love history, they are always fascinating. It is especially interesting as an American to listen to a “royal” personage (almost all of whom have “defunct” political relationships and power) discuss his place in the world. In several cases, the guest of honor is directly descended from kings, and some even retain the title. All of these personas demonstrated an magnanimity toward their fellow man as well as a deep sense of commitment to doing one’s best for one’s people.

Prince Charles began his 15-minute lecture by reading the “requirements” and admitting to being a bit cowed by doing such in English and for fifteen minutes. As it turned out the prince rejected the “no-reading.” He talked about the business of having a royal title and how it is accepted (and/or ignored) in a world where the concept of royalty is more antique than ever. The prince’s family has been residing mainly in Spain since the Revolution. His paternal grandfather, Henri, Count of Paris was the Orleans pretender to the French throne as Henry VI.
Dimitri and Helen Sogolofff, Marjorie Rosen, Chris Hyland, and David Moyer
Medals and thrones aside, Prince Charles-Philippe is a bright-eyed and very friendly fellow, easy to laugh, and very seriously involved in the objectives of the St. Lazare Foundation and the Order of St. Lazarus. Realizing the seriousness of the royal notion of “one’s people” it is easy to wish that our elected politicians shared the same in-bred sense of duty and service.

The prince was accompanied by his fiancée, Dona Diana Alvares Pereira de Melo, Duchess of Cadaval. Diana, is a very sweet-faced young woman whom Prince Charles-Philippe described as “very shy” as she was asked to stand for all the guests to see. The couple will be married in June in Portugal in Evora at the Cadaval Cathedral which is located on the rue de Cadaval. The thrones may have been requisitioned by the republics that have replaced them but the pomp and circumstance remains in full flower.

Last night’s guests came from as far away as Europe and California, as well as Florida. Among the guests: Mrs. John Dorrance III, Gillian Spreckels Fuller, Chris Hyland, Donna and Royce Poyadjis, Robert Couturier, Carol Mack, Countess Marianne Cassini, Sir Robert Castellano and Lady Castellano, Aileen Mehle, Geoffrey Bradfield, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Mr. and Mrs. Angelos Canellopoulous, Larry and Marilyn Friedland, Chandra Jessee and Julius Gaudio, Mrs. Martha Ann Foster, Larry and Michele Herbert, Barbara and Donald Tober, Lucia Hwong Gordon, CeCe and Lee Black, Melissa Morris, Debbie Bancroft, the Marquis de Clapiers, Marjorie (Mrs. Jeffrey) Rosen, Nizza Heyman, Ray Learsy, Margo Langenberg, June Dyson, Vanessa Noel, Huges de la Rochefoucald, Chancellor of St. Lazarus, His Excellency Philippe Piccapietra, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Wyser-Pratt, Sabrina and Carl Forsythe, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Shafiroff, Mimi Stafford, Elizabeth Stribling and Guy Robinson, Gil Michael, Bunny Price, Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez Falla, John Punnett, Stonington Cox, Mitzi Perdue, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Tomlin, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Casaro, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Erdeljan, James Goldschmidt, Joseph Elmaleh, Mrs. George O’Sullivan, David Moyer, Dame Donna Solloway, Chevalier Richard Louis Solloway, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Thomas Kramer, Mr. Marcus Borman, Michael Simon, Patricia Applegate. I missed some in there, but you get the picture.
Thomas and Patricia Shiah
Barbara and Donald Tober
Noelle Nikpour

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