Jay McInerney and Chuck Scarborough take on causes from Alzheimers to Peconic Land Trust.
August is a month packed with events from art shows to charity benefits, from gala private house parties to pop-up shops on yachts. Certainly, the most unusual of the summer’s events was a jewelry pop-up shop aboard a luxury catamaran, the Heron, dubbed the SS Adornia named for the jewelry line showcased that sunny day.
Guests sailed from the Montauk Yacht Club to Navy Beach and sipped Chandon bubbly aboard. The organizers paraded around in bejeweled sailor caps and models, hired as eye-candy, decorated the catamaran with their tiny string bikinis. At Navy Beach, more guests were ferried from shore to the anchored yacht to shop for jewels and enjoy music, sun and sparkling wine. Adornia is the line of high-design costume jewelry made with semi-precious stones by Becca Aronson and Moran Amir (Bec and Mo).
Leyla Marchetto, co-owner of Navy Beach, greeted guests with her specialty cocktail, Aperol and Chandon on the rocks garnished with an orange wedge. This Italian spritz drink, consumed all summer everywhere in Italy, tastes just as good at Navy Beach’s beachside club with its umbrella’d tables and day lounges on the sand viewing the dozens of boats anchored off shore. A French television crew doing a segment on the hipness of Montauk filmed the spritz-drinking scene at Navy Beach and aboard the SS Adornia.
Every summer brings surprises and one of the biggest surprises
to Hamptonites, who expect to be at a raging party at Bridgehampton Polo at every Saturday at 4—6:30 p.m. from the third weekend in July through the third in August, was that the polo party didn’t go on throughout. There were merely two parties, the opening and closing days of polo and in between people just formed their own tailgate picnic at the field and actually watched the polo match. “How could this be?” was the agonized reaction when reality hit after the opening afternoon on July 20th that this would be the last till August 24th!
I arrived at the place where the iconic large polo tent stood at Two Trees Farm on Hayground Road to find a smaller tent for this 17th season. The large tent used to have a banner atop with its sponsor’s name (like Mercedes, for years) but now approaching the tent was a sign on the lawn with one of the opening’s sponsors, Town & Country magazine. (Ferrari is sponsoring the closing.)
Since the tent was small, we were closer to the game. The VIP section was outside of the tent in the blazing sun (which was appropriate since celebrity merits the bright lights). People either sat along the field or circulated in the tent sipping a wonderful rosé wine from St. Tropez, Bertaud Belieu, made at the Domaine Gassin winery. The crowd actually watched the game (which in the past was not the case, when hundreds of people chose to socialize madly under the big tent) and seemed absorbed in the action of Peter Brant’s White Birch team pitted against Victor Vargas’ Lechuza Caracas.
Another little shock to the summer season’s expectation was that the annual blow-out charity benefit, Love Heals, which carries on the work of late AIDS activist, Ali Gertz was not held at its usual venue at Luna Farms, a private horse farm in Sagaponack, but at Wolffer Estate winery. The second shock was that the price of admission went up from $175 to $500, i.e. eliminating the young crowd who stretched the budget for a good cause and a good party with dancing to a rock-out band. The party went from a huge tented event with around 800 people to a 200 person intimate event with buffet sit-down dinner and formality. At least the excellent sponsors were the same, Patron Tequila and Pyrat Rum. And being at the Wolffer winery, an additional offering of Wolffer’s excellent sparkling wine, Noblesse Oblige, was a pleasant surprise.
Ordinarily Luna Farms is a Wild West BBQ & burgers shindig whereas this year Love Heals morphed into an elegant Great Gatsby affair billed as “Let’s Misbehave to Benefit Love Heals” with dancing to a multi-piece old school jazz band in the vineyard. It was indeed an elegant evening with fancy dressed up people in Gatsby garb, which raised $195,000 for the charity.
On any given weekend in the Hamptons, especially in August, there can be as many as 20 charity events. The number seems to be growing every year. I suppose this is because it’s far more fun to get all gussied up. Women in little festive dresses and high heeled sandals and men in colorful pastel shirts and light summer suits sip cocktails at great Hamptons’ manses. On one such weekend I attended three elaborate charity events, all with a celebrity glow and held at inspiring locations.
Imagine a vast farm with exotic animals, (emu and llamas) a corral and grazing pasture the size of several football fields, in the distance a pond with weeping willow trees and this whole enormous property enclosed by high trees in a private enclave. Well, that was the scene on Friday evening, when I sipped Provence Rose wine and nibbled on shrimp and king crab at Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney’s breathtaking Ashgrove Farm in Water Mill. They held the Alzheimer’s Association’s kick-off party for the Rita Hayworth Gala (main charity to take place at the Waldorf on Oct. 22).
The crowd was sprinkled with bold names. Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn was also a host. There was Robert Wilson, Francine LeFrak, Nina Griscom, Nicole Miller and a few Bushes (Sharon and Lauren). Even the grandson of Richard Nixon, Christopher Nixon Cox and one mayoral candidate, John Catsimatidis attended.
Lauren Bush attended wearing her burlap FEED bag. She was to give the big charity party on the next night at Bridgehampton Bath & Tennis with Women’s Health magazine for FEED Projects, her charity that “creates good products that help feed the world.” The male and female emus looked on oblivious to this high-minded crowd all promoting their pet charities like Davina Dobie’s Battle for the Elephants, a film about stopping the ivory trade, held at Guild Hall.
“Through Fields and Farms” benefit of The Peconic LAND Trust was held at another truly spectacular property owned by the Salm family at an enormous open field, part of an historic hunting reserve at Port of Missing Men near North Sea Road. Two white tents stood on the field—one for the opening cocktail hour and silent auction and one later used for a sit-down lunch and the live auction moderated by Chuck Scarborough as Master of Ceremonies.
There couldn’t have been a better place to hold this land preservation charity event than the astonishing open lands of Port of Missing Men (named for sailors who drowned near the Peconic Bay in 1893) nearby a pond with 1000 protected acres of land. And this secret nature preserve is right under our noses in Southampton. My friends and I took the long walk through the fields to Scallop Pond and stood in awe of this beauty.
Upon our arrival, an electric golf cart took us from the parking lot to the entrance gate. At the gate they had set up a little arrival bar holding Lillet Rosé cocktails. The greeting committee handed us cocktails while we stayed on our cart and we were then ferried to the white tent where the silent auction items were set out. It was a welcoming touch. The Lillet drink made a big hit with the women in my circle and we all agreed it was the perfect drink for a summer afternoon!
Lillet Rose Pavot Cocktail
– 1 oz Hendricks Gin
– 2 oz Lillet Rosé
– 6 Fresh Raspberries
– 0.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
– 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
1) Muddle raspberries. Combine ingredients and shake well. Pour over ice.
For those who missed this luncheon, the Peconic Land Trust will soon stage Harvest East End on Saturday, August 24th, which celebrates 40 years of winemaking in Long Island. Forty-two Long Island vineyards and thirty top regional chefs will participate in a walk-around tasting at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue (I’ll bring it to you in the next installment of Liquid Liaisons).
Not to be outdone by the land preservation charities, the water charities are just as active. Peconic Baykeeper and Waterkeepers Alliance hold many events to raise awareness of the need to protect our rivers, streams, coastline as well has Long Island’s swimmable, drinkable and fishable waters. I attended one such event in Sag Harbor aboard the Mariner III, a 1920’s Classic Fantail Motor Yacht. The charities combined forces with a Michelin-starred chef Gustav Tragardh, one of 18 Swedish chefs who’ve been in the Hamptons all summer showcasing the best of Swedish cuisine. We sipped Xanté cocktails, a pear brandy, another Swedish import.
More enchanting sights and locations awaited at a celebration
of “The Armory Show in the Hamptons” held at the high design contemporary home and spectacular contemplation garden/forest of Chiswell Langhorne. The home featured an exhibit of museum quality paintings and sculpture and every room had outstanding views of the Zen-like gardens.
But the true enchantment came from performance art on the grounds. Artist Lia Chavez performed a work called Luminous Objects. Dressed in a formal white gown with its expansive shirt forming a giant circle around her on the grass, Chavez sat for three hours in deep meditation beneath a shady tree. She meditated for cycles of 20 minutes and as an intermezzo taking up a calligraphy pen and inkwell she made her impressions on a large white drawing pad. Each meditation was meant to explore her inner universe. It was riveting to watch her. In her explanation of the performance piece she described how deep meditation can generate visions in “multicolored, stroboscopic light, complex geometries and other surreal visual experiences.”
It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon of sipping Prosecco and rosé wine and watching the art crowd watching the performance art—Annabel Daou and Karen Tompkins were other performers.
The “shop till you drop” crowd waits all year to perform the unique act of charity-by-shopping. (I personally prefer charity-by-drinking.) Every year Super Saturday—a charity where people paid a hefty price of admission to enter the big tent in order to buy an array of designer labels at discount—gets donation discounted merchandize from over 200 leading designers. The massive designer garage sale offers up names like Proenza Schouler, Saint Laurent, VERSACE, Robert Rodriguez, Diane von Furstenberg, JBrand and Ralph Lauren. The trick is to buy the VIP ticket, which allows you to enter around noon and have the first dibs on the best designer stuff. You also get a luxurious lunch with lobster rolls and champagne, which fuels you for the hours of shopping to come. This year Kelly Ripa, Donna Karan and InStyle hosted Super Saturday 16, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, which raised an astounding $3.5 million.
photograps by Tom Fitzgerald and Pam Deutchman of Society-in-Focus
Another of the summer’s notable white-tented charities rolled out its 9th annual “A Hamptons Happening” benefiting the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Chef Todd English took center stage and brought his sous chefs and assistants from Olives New York and The Todd English Food Hall and cooked up his famous braised short ribs, seared scallops and grilled yellow peaches. He presented displays of oysters with a display of toppings. He even enlisted his 19-year old daughter, Isabelle, to man the dessert table with her CurlyCake Cupcakes.
photograps by Tom Fitzgerald and Pam Deutchman of Society-in-Focus
Todd’s handsome son, Oliver, was also on hand to serve and entertain. No doubt that Todd and Oliver English make the most arresting sight as a tall, dark and handsome father-son team. The wine table held a variety of wines from the importer Palm Bay International. While listening to the speeches and then the live auction, I sipped one of my favorite wines, Trimbach Riesling from an Alsace winery dating back to the early 1600’s.
I end this Hamptons wrap-up with an omission from July’s column in which I covered all the major food/charity events (James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne, GrillHamptons and Dan’s Taste of Two Forks). How could I have forgotten the annual Chef’s Dinner to benefit Jeff Salaway’s Scholarship Fund held at the end of July under a huge tent at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. This year they honored chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin.
The “Meet the Chefs” cocktail party is a showcase for all sorts of liquor and wine brands. Xanté, a pear liqueur from Sweden, was one of the stars. In fact, Xanté has had a big presence in the Hamptons this summer and seemed to be everywhere. It was featured at the many events part of the Swedish Culinary Summer in the Hamptons. It’s a brandy with a pear infusion and when served in cocktails on the rocks, it’s refreshing and has a most intriguing fresh pear flavor.
Another hit was the table of the Provence rosés from Chateau d’Esclans, especially their Whispering Angel. With its lovely pale pink color, Whispering Angel is all the fashion these days. In previous years everyone ordered Chateau Minuty rosé from St Tropez (thinking they were so smart because it was less expensive than the reverred Domaines Ott). But now Whispering Angel is on everyone’s lips. Why is it so good? The South of France grape varieties in its blend (Grenache, Rolle, Syrah and Cinsault) give the rosé a luscious fleshy flavor and an additional amazing grape Tibouren imparts floral aromas and magic. A Master of Wine once gave me a lecture on the wonders of Tibouren in Provence.