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Wine for pachyderms (sort of), Eva Longoria's new restaurant and a blind date with a celebrity chef--just don't expect Gwyneth Paltrow to be there, too

Posted: June 13, 2007

• What do wine and elephants have in common? Until now, nothing. But Carolyn and Perry Butler, proprietors of Juslyn Vineyards in Napa Valley, recently visited the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Thailand, where they took in more sights than they expected to. "We were in Bangkok and saw a mother elephant and her baby weaving in and out of traffic. The baby almost got hit three times," said Perry. It turns out, elephants comprise a significant sector of Thailand's unemployed, since they were the principal labor force of the teak logging industry, which the government has since cut back on. As a result, elephants were cut loose far from their natural home. Seeing the elephants in city traffic inspired the Butlers to release 40 cases of a 2001 Napa Valley wine they're calling Rescue, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. All proceeds will benefit the Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation, which rescues elephants from the cities and brings them to a safe, natural jungle environment such as the Tented Camp. The wine is currently available for purchase in large-format bottles or in a three-pack wooden Elephant Rescue box at JuslynVineyards.com.

Eva Longoria is trying to compete with Felicity Huffman's pizzeria.
• Gabrielle, the character played by Eva Longoria on Desperate Housewives, probably isn't a person you'd associate with good hospitality. But the actress herself might be. Longoria is planning to open a new Latin-themed restaurant in Los Angeles with chef and restaurateur Todd English, best known for his Olives restaurants in Boston, New York, Las Vegas and elsewhere. The restaurant is rumored to be called Beso, though English's publicist, Robin Rehfield, would not confirm such details. Rehfield did say, however, that the restaurant will be located at the corner of Hollywood and Ivar (not Wisteria Lane), and that it won't open until late 2007, despite reports of an opening next month. "It hasn't been something on the top of Eva's radar screen because of her [upcoming] wedding" to basketball star Tony Parker, said Rehfield. Either way, sounds like a restaurant to look forward to--so long as betrayal, dishonesty, infidelity, adultery, bribery, blackmail and murder aren't on the menu, all of it narrated to you by a deceased former character. Not that we actually watch the show or anything....

If you won the date with David Chang, you might have to ask the cab to pull over for him.
• Whoever said that chefs make cheap dates clearly wasn't at Monday night's "Date Night" auction in New York to benefit the French Culinary Institute's scholarship fund. There, 15 high-profile culinary stars, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Ariane Daguin and Jacques Torres offered up customized dates to the highest bidder. Vongerichten's date, for which he'll take the winner to dinner at the super-pricey Japanese restaurant Masa, brought in the most money, at $6,100. Unfiltered spoke with rising-star chef David Chang after the event; he'll be taking the high bidder, a mysterious female attorney, to his favorite dive bar for beers, followed by dinner at wd-50. "I'm going to treat it like a real date," joked Chang, "and try to get as drunk as possible before dinner." No word on whether the auction lot also includes pepper spray or another, unsuspecting chef's phone number.

• Celebrities can be so one-dimensional. A press release for the June 7 launch party for online wine club Bottlenotes.com's new Little Black Dress Wine Club touted "special appearances by celebrity guests including Gwyneth Paltrow." What attendees got instead at the evening event, held at Christie's in Manhattan, was a poster of the star. (Paltrow is indeed a member of the club, but the actress was "shooting a movie in L.A. and couldn't get away," said Kimberly Donaldson, one of Bottlenotes.com's founders.) To make up for her absence, the group interviewed her "a couple of days before the event" and "printed it up on a poster" displayed at the party, said Donaldson. In the interview, Paltrow revealed, "My father was a big wine collector and a wine lover. I remember having tiny sips of his red wine when I was little. I loved it even then." Thankfully, some real-life notables attended as their actual selves, such as photographer Joyce Ostin and John D. Rockefeller great-grandson Charles Rockefeller. Donaldson says Bottlenotes.com will be donating the net profit (final numbers have not yet been tabulated) to the Miracles & Wonders Foundation, which funds breast- and ovarian-cancer research. Whatever the number is, we bet that a life-size cardboard cutout of Paltrow could've amped it up.

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