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SLS Hotel opening: A Bacchanalia of jamon iberico

December 5, 2008 |  1:03 pm

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What recession? If the number of whole, full-leg jamón ibérico at the SLS Hotel grand opening party Thursday night was any indication, then the economy (or somebody's economy) is in full upward swing. The tall and mini-skirted were swarming around the jamón ibérico carving stations, more popular than the dance floor in the hotel ballroom where Pink Martini was performing. Occasionally, a server would cross the Bazaar dining room carrying a leg of jamón to replenish the carvers.

There was Dom Perignon and white sangria, chef José Andrés' foie gras cotton candy, escabeche of mussels and lobsters with raspberries served in tins, "Philly cheesesteaks" (they couldn't bring them out fast enough) and chicken croquetas that guests grabbed four at a time from servers (maybe this is a recession, and people were really hungry). Though one guest, after gobbling up one of the cheesesteaks (made with seared Kobe beef), said: "That is too rich for me." Meanwhile, music producer Jermaine Dupri sipped Champagne, and actor Jared Leto tried to keep a low profile wrapped in a big scarf.

One table clinked together their martini glasses in a round of cheers, but those weren't martinis -- the glasses were filled with white garlic gelée and tomato sorbet with raisins. What came out of guests mouths was sometimes as amazing as what went in them. From another group of guests, a man yelled: "World domination, baby!" And near the guacamole up by the rooftop pool... 

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a TV hostess was telling Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa how her self-defense classes were the most empowering thing she's ever done. Another guest asked if she had tried pole-dancing class.

Hilary Duff and Paris Hilton made late entrances on the red carpet. In the line for the valet, one woman did what everyone else wanted to do with their gift bags and tore into a big box labeled "SLS Hotel/Some Luxurious Surprises." What is it? "It's a monkey bust!" she says. Indeed it was a white ceramic bust of a monkey dressed in a military jacket decorated with tasseled epaulets and flowers. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Betty Hallock

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