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Imperial Feast Was One for the Books

November 04, 1998|IRENE LACHER

They didn't let us eat cake, so we had to make do with roast quail a la Lucullus stuffed with foie gras and truffles. Of course, no one was losing his head over this dinner, which mimicked a meal the well-heeled and well-fed might have enjoyed before that other revolution.

It was a feast fit for a Russian aristocrat, specifically any who happened to be in the vicinity of the Russian Imperial Summer Palace in Tsarkoye Selo on the evening of Aug. 1, 1892. Movieline publisher and Russian emigre Anne Volokh re-created that repast from the past for 120 fans of Russian culture and international wine, such as Leon Max, Caroline Ahmanson, Tony Duquette and Brooks Firestone.

The dinner and rare vintage wine auction at downtown's California Club raised $30,000 for an unusual library in St. Petersburg--the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library, which is stocked with 3,000 volumes published abroad that had been banned by the Soviets.

The books are housed in an actual house, the former family manse of the guests of honor, the intrepid Princess Katya Galitzine and her mother, Princess George Galitzine, who started the library in memory of Katya's historian father.

"That makes me the only person of emigre status to have actually gained back any part of my family's residences," the British-born sculptor said between bites. "And it's the only library where the public can take a book off the shelf, flip through it and decide whether to read it or not, because the Russian libraries still work on a catalog system, where you have to know the book you want to read and then order it.

"No browsing. No judging a book by its cover."


Congratulations, Bert. You've finally made something of yourself.

Not that we're sniffing at Bert Fields' gig as one of the town's most successful entertainment lawyers, advisor to such contract signees as Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty.

We just think it's nice that Hoffman and Beatty got a chance to chow down on Spago's hors d'oeuvres recently in honor of novelist Fields' first book of nonfiction, "Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes" (ReganBooks).

So does dad, retired eye surgeon Maxwell Field.

"Five years ago, when he was 92, he read my latest sex novel, 'The Lawyer's Tale,' he said, 'Well, son, this is lots of fun, but when are you going to do something serious with your life?'

"That's how in thrall we are to our parents. You'd think that by the time they're 92 it would have worn off, but it didn't."

Irene Lacher's Out & About runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Page 2.

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