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Wining & dining

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AMY SCHERZER'S DIARY
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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 12, 2002


LANDLUBBERS ANCHOR THE SPRING: Leaning over the waterside railing at the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel, one could almost imagine a Caribbean cruise. A soft orange sun setting over the Hillsborough River to the calypso beat of a steel drum added to the fantasy.

But no one got seasick at Saturday night's drydocked dinner-dance auction organized by the Spring of Tampa Bay's daytime auxiliary. It was smooth sailing all the way, raising $80,000. Poolside cocktails awaited patrons, including honorary chairpersons Ray and Nancy Murray. Shopping at the silent auction was as crowded as Nassau's Straw Market. Dinner was top deck. "Cruisers" danced to the Barracudas, and the roulette wheels spun all night.

Sue Spitz, chief executive of the Spring since November, got to meet many supporters for the first time. The Spring operates the largest domestic violence shelter in Florida, with 80 victims finding sanctuary in the 102-bed shelter nightly. Two-thirds are children.

The casual cruisewear theme brought up the annual when-it's-okay-to-wear-white debate. Party co-chairwomen Patti Lawrence and TECO Energy's Shirley Myers voted for after Easter. Perennial volunteer Juli Milas said Memorial Day. Rose Rosanelli opted out of the argument by wearing lime green silk and brought her own wine glass to match.

* * *

NOT FOR WOMEN ONLY: A supporter of women's issues, physician Dan Stein of the Foundation for Intimacy, encouraged his table mates on the Spring "cruise" to come see The Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Stein is an underwriter of the May 28-June 2 production in Ferguson Hall.

"It's a healthy, refreshing perspective on women's sexuality, and it's due," said Stein.

* * *

IT'S EASY BEING GREEN: Friends of Plant Park owe Frankie and Stan Harrell for providing the beautiful setting for "Conversations and Cocktails with the Dargans" on April 5. Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan are the landscape architects brought in to speak at GreenFest at the University of Tampa last weekend.

The Harrells' new home, nearly 15,000 square feet, rises on the former Howard Frankland estate, which burned down in August 1996. The house sits on 4 lush acres on the edge of the fourth hole of the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.

The Dargans gave their brief travelogue on the Harrells' patio at the foot of a sweeping veranda. They've visited more than 600 gardens around the world, and now that itinerary includes Plant Park and the Harrells. Party planners proudly pointed out that the wildflower centerpieces came from their own back yards. Northern Trust Bank sponsored the $75-ticket dinner.

Earlier that day, Laura Frost, on loan from Florida Blood Services where she is chief corporate development officer, served as the Dargans' tour guide. Frost escorted them to two television stations, lunch at Mia's, and to Brooks Brothers, where Mary Palmer bought Hugh three shirts. (It was their 18th anniversary.) Next stop was Debe and Jed Lykes' front porch for massages. The Lykes are clients of the Dargans, which brings Hugh to Tampa frequently.

* * *

NO WHINING ZONE: Bern's 5th annual Winefest sold out. Wine tasters overflowed from three tents Sunday afternoon.

"We're out of room to expand," said David Laxer, owner of the famous steakhouse. Elbow to elbow, 700 people sipped and socialized in air-conditioned tents and SideBern's dining room at the corner of Howard and Morrison avenues.

SideBern's partner and executive chef Jeannie Pierola prepared 20 unusual recipes to accompany the 200 wines being poured. Among the more unusual bites was Kahlua pig with pineapple macadamia coconut relish. Ceviche was served in a paper cone with popcorn and potato sticks.

Proceeds from a silent auction of wine packages raised about $9,500 for Divine Providence Food Bank.

Well-wishers asked about the restaurant's namesake, Bern Laxer, who suffered a serious stroke in December. David said his father is getting rehabilitative therapy in a long-term care hospital. His mother, Gert, comes into Bern's every Monday to help with inventory.

* * *

YOUNG POLLOCKS AND PICASSOS: Try to stop by Concepts 2002, the 17th annual exhibition of Berkeley Preparatory student artwork. For the past 10 years, Old Hyde Park Village has offered space in an empty storefront to display the art of students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. Anna Arcuri, a middle division art teacher at Berkeley for 22 years, points out the "flag" of individual tiles inspired by Sept. 11 hanging in the window.

The display will be up until April 21, at 1619 Snow Ave. between Tommy Bahama and Blackhawk Cafe. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. To 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Many of the pieces are available for purchase.

* * *

AN EXOTIC THANKS: The invitation to the Plant Museum patron's party called for exotic cocktail attire so John Herrman, a frequent lender, wore vintage tails with an aging Hawaiian shirt.

Mallory Lykes wore a turn-of-the-century Seminole Indian wedding dress to the April 5 party. Co-chairwomen Judy Dato and Lela McClure chose the theme for the current exhibit, "Exotic Florida," featuring paintings, photographs, poetry and music highlighting Florida from 1850 to 1920 from a tourist's vantage point.

* * *

SALUTE TO SAFETY: "Our Heroes Luncheon," organized by Sykes Enterprises to benefit the Gold Shield Foundation, is expected to bring 5,000 to the Tampa Convention Center on May 3.

"This is the eighth luncheon, but the first time we've honored all public safety agencies, all fire rescue, all Hillsborough County law enforcement personnel," said Conway Jensen, vice president of marketing for Sykes. Tickets are $25.

Tom Rivers of WQYK and Dick Crippen of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are masters of ceremonies. The Florida Orchestra is on tap to play a patriotic concert.

Chief executive officer John Sykes started the Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon in 1991 in Charlotte, N.C., moving it to Tampa in May 1994. More than 20 Tampa students have been awarded scholarships in memory of his father, a police officer for 35 years.

-- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.

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