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PARTY LINE : Just Another Brick in the Wall

September 02, 1993|KATHIE JENKINS

Barbara Lazaroff is the first to admit it: She marches to a different drummer. After all, how many businesswomen wear outfits that match their Dalmatian? So when she threw herself a 40th birthday party last month at Spago--the restaurant she co-owns with husband Wolfgang Puck--her friends barely reacted when she told them, first, that there would be no men allowed, and that rather than buying her a birthday present, she wanted each one to bring a minimum $40 check. The money would buy used bricks for the wall she's always wanted to build around her Beverly Hills home.

"It was tongue-in-cheek," Lazaroff says. "It gave a sense of parity to the situation. There were women from many different walks of life. There was Suzanne Pleshette, and then there was my girlfriend from back East whose plane ticket was a big expense."

In keeping with the theme, the invitations, printed on brick stationary, arrived in a brick box. (They were delivered late because, as the invitation read, "the cute ones were missing in the Flood of the Century somewhere in the Mississippi.")

At the party, everyone received a "brick puzzle" place card with a color photograph of Lazaroff in another outlandish outfit--a poufy skirt with a 3-D rose garden surrounded by a white picket fence--erecting a brick wall. Also, on the tables were photographs of all the famous walls of the world: the Berlin Wall, the Wailing Wall, the Great Wall of China . . . even Pink Floyd's the Wall.

Lazaroff and her two assistants spent hours making decorations, gluing, stapling, photocopying and tying bows. "I told everyone this is my last birthday party," she says. "We stopped everything for a week to pull this party together. I didn't know if I was going to have the strength to turn 40."

At least she didn't have to worry about the menu. Puck whipped up all her favorites: caviar, smoked salmon and sturgeon, Maine lobster and sorbet.

Then there was the birthday cake. Each of her 20 pets were sculpted on top of the 5-by-4-foot creation. "It was enormously beautiful," says Lazaroff. "My two llamas were peeking over the wall, and Baby Ganache, my cat, was sitting in a mortar bucket. Zandra, my Dalmatian, was pushing a wheelbarrow. Even my dog Melon, who passed away this year, had angel wings on and was ascending into the sky. And then we had pictures of me at different ages--it was pretty phenomenal."

The final surprise: Puck, normally the more practical of the two, hired the USC marching band to deliver the cake.

"I thought, 'Oh, oh,' " says Lazaroff, " 'A little of me is rubbing off on him.' Now, that's a little scary."

*

Wolfgang Puck made this easy coconut sorbet for his wife's birthday. Drizzle chocolate sauce over it, and you've got yourself a frozen Mounds bar.

SPAGO COCONUT SORBET 8 cups coconut milk 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup rum (dark or light) Toasted coconut

Mix together coconut milk, sugar, lemon juice and rum and strain through fine strainer. Freeze in ice cream machine, according to manufacturer's instructions. Top with toasted coconut. Makes 2 quarts, or 8 servings.

Each serving contains about: 666 calories; 36 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 57 grams fat; 39 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 6.26 grams fiber. (All that coconut milk and no cholesterol? That's right: Only animal fats contain cholesterol.)

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