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This is a “catch up” column with a promise that during 2010 I will try to be a better correspondent. But considering.......

“Victor’s daughter” is how Monika Henreid introduced herself more than three years ago when I greeted her at the door as “Madame Rick.”...
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“Victor’s daughter” is how Monika Henreid introduced herself more than three years ago when I greeted her at the door as “Madame Rick.” We had been open only six weeks when we were asked to host a dinner for 40 in honor of Monika, the daughter of Paul Henreid who played Victor Lazlo in “Casablanca.” It was her birthday, and as she said, “Never in my wildest dreams – and I do have wild dreams – did I imagine spending a birthday in Casablanca, let alone Rick’s Cafe!” We’ve kept in touch over the years, and a special tribute in Vienna connected with the centennial of her father’s birth on January 10, 2008 found Monika close enough to Casablanca to encourage a return visit. We had the Veuve Clicquot on ice for her arrival lunch on November 20...Veuve Clicquot, a brand immortalised by Claude Rains’ famous line in the film: “May I recommend Veuve Clicquot 1926, a very nice wine.” I couldn’t have organized it better when, as we sat down for lunch, I noticed Manfred Schmid, the Austrian Trade Commissioner sitting with a colleague. They were both delighted to meet her and enthusiastic about the Paul Henreid retrospective being planned in Vienna. Monika was here for Thanksgiving and our menu of stuffed coquelet (game hen) with sweet potatoes and miniature pumpkin pies. Craig Phillips from Marrakech had reserved and it turned out he and Monika had many friends in common from the Los Angeles area. We enjoyed tea at the residence of the U.S. Consul General, “Villa Mirador” where Doug Greene and his wife Randa recounted the Villa’s historic role as Winston Churchill’s residence during the historic Anfa Conference of January, 1943 – when it was classified by American military simply as “Villa No. 3”. Monika spent some evenings in the lounge meeting visitors including a German film crew – one of them wrote in our guest book, “Tonight I met Victor Lazlo’s daughter” – and two different groups of German tourists. It brought to mind “Victoria Lazlo” as a “nom de plume.” Monday evening November 26, Monika was the guest of honor at a dinner we held to mark the 65th anniversary of the official premiere of the film “Casablanca” on November 26, 1942 at the Hollywood Theatre in New York. We welcomed Royal Counselor Andre Azoulay and his wife, President of Royal Air Maroc Driss Benhima, US Consul General Doug and wife Randa Greene, and UK Consul General Biddy Brett Rooks, along with other representatives of the film and travel industry. Guests were asked to wear black and white, and our kitchen followed the theme with a black and white menu. As the black and white birthday cakes in honor of “Casablanca” were presented at each table I asked Issam to play, not the birthday song, but the song everyone wanted to hear – “As Time Goes By” – as “Casablanca” enters its 65th year.

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