Turning 80 with a splash

March 06, 1994|By SYLVIA BADGER

The music of the Washington Strings, a favorite at White House dinners, set the stage for the gala 80th birthday party for one of the world's best-known vintners, Robert Mondavi.

Believe it or not, the celebration took place at the Baltimore National Aquarium, where Mr. Mondavi and his daughter, Marcie, joined members of the newly founded Maryland Chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food for a delightful evening. Mondavi and his friend Julia Child are the founders of this international organization.

Guests enjoyed tasty hors d'oeuvres and a 1992 Vichon Chevrignon as Shirley Polikoff, head of catered events for the aquarium, and Bob Schindler, owner of Pinehurst Liquors, introduced the guests of honor, who were decked out in evening attire and Wellington boots. Both were nice enough to respond to the invite to "pet" a dolphin; however, Marcie wisely declined to handle the dead fish being fed to the dolphins.

Chefs Barry Fleischman, Jerry Edwards, Vito Piazza, Michael Rork, Nancy Longo, Justin Wagner, Tom Powers and David Fusting prepared a seven-course meal -- accompanied by Mondavi wines, of course.

Among those tasting the food and wine were aquarium director Nick Brown; Anne Grieves; Martha Royall; Harriet Dopkin; Bud Finkelstein; Bill Jordan; Karen Marinelli; Paul Suss; Nick Tauraso; Dr. Lou Miller and his wife, Joyce; Pat Barrett; Dr. Hank Sabatier and his wife, Kathy; Dr. Doug Strouse and his wife, Sharon; Liz and Doug Trotter; Dulaney Noble; Jay Block; Mike Vince; and Kathy and Joel Sher.

Guests sat at long banquet tables that were fit for a king and covered with white table cloths, elaborate candelabra and flowers. I am told Tom Hardie entertained one and all with a story about a dinner party he and his wife, Dee, once had for a Nigerian king. The king asked if he could bring a few friends, who turned out to be five go-go girls from the Block, who ended up stripping to bikini nothings. The evening appropriately horrified the ladies present, but the king had a wonderful time.

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Did you know that one-third of all Americans have tried alternative medicine? I learned that and much more Monday afternoon at an alternative medicine conference at the Veterans Affairs hospital on Greene Street, where therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback and homeopathy were discussed. The auditorium was packed with people interested in what experts like Dr. Joseph Jacobs, director of the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine; Sir James Watt, past president of the Royal Society of Medicine; and Dr. Brian Berman, assistant professor of anesthesiology and family medicine and director of Laing/UMAB Complementary Medicine, had to say. Some of the people at the conference were Dr. Morton Rapoport, president of the University of Maryland Medical Center, Frank Gunther, Cynthia Parsons, Eloise Weatherly, Courtney McKeldin and Sister Charlotte Kerr, an acupuncturist and registered nurse, who seems to be turning into a guru for many of my friends. You may have read about this delightful woman, who was responsible for the huge billboard, donated by Penn Advertising, located near the Pepsi sign on the Jones Falls Expressway. The message: "Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty."

After the meeting, Courtney and I had a delicious "heart healthy" vegetable pasta dish at Cafe Hon in Hampden, owned by Denise Whiting, who stopped to chat with us. She told me that Tommy Schweizer, Ted Herget and Paul Reamer are among her best customers.

While I was there, WBAL-TV's pretty newswoman Carolyn ZTC McEnrue stopped by for a cappuccino and an interview. Whiting tells me she hopes eventually to move to a larger place, but in the meantime, she's decided to open for breakfast at 7:30 a.m., declaring she's going after some of the power breakfast folks at the Cross Keys Inn.

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On March 27, I will run a list of April, May and June social events. Please fax or mail your information to me by March 18, and include pertinent information and a telephone number for verification. My fax number is (410) 783-2519; my mailing address is in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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