By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving, the fortunate and feckless alike craving something beyond their fair share of the available resource pool. The rich demanding discounts and getting richer, the disenfranchised sliding down the totem pole, the media fighting over scraps like jesters at the king's court, jockeying for status and favor in the great feeding trough of America. An inelegant but oftentimes productive scramble, the past week bringing a particularly rewarding, colon-crippling wallow in Food World, culminating in the second annual "Compliments of the Chefs" Care Force 10/SOS hurricane victims benefit at Turnberry Isle Resort & Club. The long romp neatly coinciding with a postclubs blue period: too shattered for sex and mindless debauchery, past even the hope of fun, believing only in the gentler pleasures of lucid conversation and a particularly accomplished rhapsody of, say, stuffed whole baby goat and gravlax-studded Coho salmon cakes.
The gravy train gearing up at Pacific Time, the new East-Meets-West outpost on Lincoln Road, the twain cultures meeting happily and hiply ever after: Maine lobster with Thai-spiced coconut milk, shiitake dry-aged Colorado beef, gold-flecked stucco walls and a temple of TriBeCa effect. Very attitudinal, very tasty, partners Jonathan Eismann, Rebar's Alexander Duff, and Yves Picot drawing an interesting assembly of our real life friends, people with the wherewithal to live large on a regular basis. An aesthetic shift to Escopazzo (literally translated as "I'm going crazy") on Washington Avenue, a nutty little touch of old Greenwich Village. Owner Giuseppe Bodoni favoring simple uncomplicated food, beef carpaccio with gorgonzola-accented butter and such, right in step with the Italian penchant for sensing shifts in the sweet life: "Milan is not the same any more; South Beach is the place of the moment."
The gastronomical ascent continuing Friday night with Robbin Haas, formerly of Turnberry and now cooking up a storm at the Colony Hotel on Ocean Drive. Haas hosting a lavish ten-course dinner A cashew dusted soft shell crab, honey barbecued quail, grilled duck breast salad, et cetera A for his "Compliments of the Chefs" colleagues, the chefs making a culinary tour of the district: Shabeen for appetizers, dessert at Blue Star, Pacific Time wrapping things up with champagne and assorted delicacies. Dinner served family-style, our table dominated by three beefy big eaters, rendering the quail a dim memory in nanoseconds, forcing a foray into the kitchen for mounds of wild boar, venison ,and fried green tomatoes. Shamelessness has its own rewards.
Stuffed and ecstatic, the glutton's progress transcending the concept of a genteel sufficiency, off to another hard day's night. Sliding in with a costume birthday party for novelist/social pro Brian Antoni at his parents' commandingly bizarre Indian Creek home, previously owned by the late psycho-killer Doctor Ramos. Arriving five minutes after the height of the party, the cops having shown up to investigate noise complaints, taking in the remaining Warholian touches: a film crew from the upcoming love/sex/all that jazz drama In the Hot House documenting the gathering, the host withstanding an all-too-real psyschosexual encounter with a ballistic guest, whimsically airing her dirty laundry. On to a punishing troll through various clubs: Les Bains, 12.03, Bash, and finally Velvet, debuting a new China Club/Tommy Pooch effort on September 13. Sex and psychosis everywhere, a rigorous 4:00 a.m. prelude to the main event Foodarama Saturday night at Turnberry, Channel 10, WAXY 106, and Turnberry hosting a hungry, civic-minded group, downing complimentary Moát & Chandon champagne and samples from some 60 renowned local and national chefs, ranging widely in scope: Paul DeFavero of East Hampton's Nick & Tony's (part of what someone dubbed the "Beth Landman crowd"), Todd Weisz of Turnberry's Veranda restaurant, Phil Heimer representing the Pier House in Key West. Restaurants on the order of Yuca, Giacosa, and Casa Vecchia adding to the general sensory overload ambiance, everyone nibbling on savories like Thai duck confit salad and cayenne pasta fritters. The crowd including older I-still-got-it North Dade vixens, all molten lava decolletage and sinister eye shadow, mingling with hip orthodontists and homosexual lap dogs of the Dear-God-if-I-can't-be-loved-at-least-let-me-be-photographed school. Catching up on high society with fave rave Susan Kleinberg, catering director of Turnberry, taking about Cher -- a subject impossible to ever totally exhaust -- young Howie Kleinberg attending the same private school in Maine as Cher's boy Elijah Blue, her child with Greg Allman. Channel 10 truly mobilizing, the sizable volunteer contingent for the event featuring vice president/general manager John Garwood and producer Nanci Ross: "Just say I'm tired, but really tired."
Professional and tireless socializing to the point of inadequate food consumption, working the breaking-filth beat with a greedy chill, settling for celebrities on the scale of John Ratzenberger and the five-year-old French singing sensation Jordy, annoyingly young and successful. Ratzenberger, in town shooting Moon Over Miami, a long disgusting leap from the lovably eccentric postman role on Cheers, a true Cliff-We-Hardly-Knew-Ye public-relations nightmare socially. A thirtyish woman and her mother approaching the over-and-out actor's table, mom announcing her fanhood and wondering if he'd like to join them, Ratzenberger wittily retorting, "Is there a blow job in it for me?" Little Jordy still a bit shy of sexual sensibility, but a complete pro on stage: a denim suit and träs French Harley-Davidson insignia patches, lots of cute mugging during lip-synced renditions of "It's Tough to Be a Baby," and "Allison," the hit tribute to his long-time girlfriend.
An existential experiment-in-debasement interview afterward, Jordy tired and whiny, drinking Coke and wine, refusing to answer more than two questions and declining to join the wall of fame, our treasured collection of glomming-onto-important-celebrity photos. The interpreter explaining that the star was under pressure, hard at work on his upcoming Christmas album, the Lemoine family also in the midst of moving to Miami, international glitz headquarters. A sudden impassioned flurry of French -- either a Do-you-know-who-I-am? tantrum or Jordy expressing his real dream: producing and directing -- and it's on to more food and cocktails, the only true consolation at a certain point. Raucousness prevailing, a chef urgently cornering an attractive district restaurant owner and pledging eternal desire, the party rolling on obliviously and happily. In the land of excess, as Liberace once noted, "Too much of anything is just enough.