Growing up in New York City, I took it for granted, as I’m sure everyone does with his or her hometown. That’s all we know, so nothing seems extraordinary. Whenever I visited, after moving to Los Angeles as a teen-ager, I concentrated on family and friends. But that was before I started hanging out there with the fabulous, totally aware, John Cole, who owned the fabulous store Tribeca Luggage and Leather, in Tribeca, of course. (I’m begging him to bring it out here because no one has a better eye in this category than John.)
I’d meet him at his store for dinner, and instead of just gabbing on the way to our destination, he’d walk me around the city and point out fascinating architecture, accompanied by various and sundry stories about the occupants, past and present. Now I do the same for others because I think most of us are so self-involved these days, or have the woes of the world on our minds, or both, that we forget to look up with wonderment.
|Authors Kathryn Livingston, Denise LeFrak Calicchio
and Eunice David.
So, when I was invited to the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills last week for a cocktail party celebrating the release of the new book “High Rise Low Down,” I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to be around these women who appreciate not only the architecture of the city, but the entirety of what it takes to live in that world. It was thrown by the venerable songwriter, Hal David, whose wife, Eunice, is one of the book’s three authors.
I just started reading the book, (after all, how much reading time does a bon vivette, as Mr. X describes my vocation, have?), so I’ll try to let you know my thoughts on it as soon as I have any! But here’s my review of the party.
The Peninsula always does everything with class. Even the passed hors d’oevres were fit for royalty. They were all delicious and elegant. My table particularly enjoyed the grilled prawns, crab cakes, and filo crusts filled with apples and cheese. I found those last ones particularly yummy.
The wait staff was lovely, as usual. And dressed better than just about everyone I’ve gone out with in the past ten years! Victor, who became my favorite server, even brought me my own plates of potstickers and curried chicken on raisin toast, and made them look special. How’s that for service? And there were stations of sushi, duck wraps, and sliced prime rib with accompanying rolls and dressings.
If dessert was served, I missed it. I have a feeling it wasn’t, though, because it seems that most of the events I’ve attended here are dessert-free. Strange, but probably best for me anyway, because I’d eat too many, if they’re as good as the rest of their party foods. (If it’s the Peninsula’s desserts you’re after, try their Afternoon Tea sometime, which I hope to review in a future column.)
I must give props to the guests, as a whole, in one category. I’m lucky enough to attend an eclectic group of events, with people of all ages and from assorted walks of life. I’ve noticed, that, sadly, rarely do people dress up anymore, no matter what the occasion. And the main groups I hang-out with think that “black tie” means “dark jeans”! But, at this party, the attendees were mainly seniors, and most of them were elegantly attired. I enjoyed being in that atmosphere. It had the feel of what I imagine a 1940s townhouse on New York’s Park Avenue to have been like. I hope to get that same feeling reading the book. Maybe I should read it in the lounge of the Peninsula.
The Peninsula Hotel of Beverly Hills
9882 Little Santa Monica Blvd. 310-788-2306 www.peninsula.com
High Rise Low Down Barricade Books Inc.
And lastly, Valentine’s Day will be here quicker than we think. But giving suggestions in January for a holiday in February is akin to putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween. So, next week’s column will do double duty; I’ll give you some ideas on how to celebrate, AND review some of my birthday meals, so you know what places to avoid!