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LIFESTYLES : Garden Partying : Taste of the Town at the Piru Mansion will present an array of fine cuisine to benefit a Santa Clarita counseling center.

September 10, 1993|REBECCA HOWARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Rebecca Howard is a Canyon Country writer. and

Making her debut as one of 21 restaurateurs and caterers participating in the fifth annual Taste of the Town of the Santa Clarita Valley, Gayle McCrosky of Valencia plans to go Greek.

In keeping with her theme of a Greek taverna, McCrosky, a caterer in the Santa Clarita Valley for more than 10 years, will come in costume and will provide music and a belly dancer along with serving a feast of gyro, tyropeita (phyllo dough stuffed with cheese), Greek peasant salad and cookies.

McCrosky's business, An Affair Extraordinaire, caters a variety of events with ethnic themes. As she determined the area for her booth, she gazed about the lush orchard garden of the Piru Mansion in Piru, where Taste of the Town is to be held, and said, "Now that I've seen the layout, I'm thrilled."

The annual garden party provides not only an opportunity to taste Santa Clarita's finest cuisine, but also a chance to socialize on the grounds of the lavish Piru Mansion. The 14-room, three-story Queen Anne-style structure is the home of community pillar Ruth Newhall, who has a special fondness for Taste of the Town.

"It's my favorite because I get so much good stuff to eat," Newhall said with a laugh. "It's a good cause, and it's a very pretty event."

The event is a fund-raiser for the Santa Clarita Child and Family Development Center, which offers the community various counseling services for children, teen-agers and adults, including a therapeutic preschool, as well as programs dealing with abuse, death, divorce and school problems.

A fund-raising arm of the center, KARES (Kids Are Special), organizes the Taste of the Town event and others throughout the year, including a black-tie gala.

Restaurants and caterers showcasing their specialties include Danny's Deli, Clarice's Cake Decorating & Candy, Mel's Landing, Mitch's Java 'n Jazz, Il Terrazzo, India's Tandoori, Hilton Garden Inn, The Ultimate Coffee System, The Magic Coffee Bean, Zeko's, Dansig Inc. Freshers, City Club, Fast Taco, Pasta Grill, Command Performance and Chariot Home Foods.

Last year, pastry artist Jill Phillips of Jill's Cake Creations in Canyon Country created a cake version of the Piru Mansion. This year, Phillips, also a hot-air balloon pilot, may showcase a cake with a hot-air balloon theme.

"It's a good cause. The center does such good work," Phillips said. "My son was helped by the center. He was going through some challenging times, and they really helped him."

A first-time participant is the Saugus restaurant L'Italiano Caffe and Pizzeria. Co-owner Karen Grassi said she and her husband, Fernando, would serve main courses of traditional beef-and-cheese lasagna, as well as Ravioli di Vegetali, a ravioli filled with spinach and vegetables, in a creamy basil sauce.

"We've participated in other community events before, and we're happy to be involved in this one," Grassi said. "We try and do whatever we can to help the community."

A longtime participant, Rattler's Bar-B-Que in Canyon Country, plans to serve marinated and grilled tri-tip roast and baby back ribs, along with peanut coleslaw and garlic rolls, said Mary Lopez, general manager of the restaurant.

"It's a nice event for the restaurants. We're not competing," Lopez said. "It's great to try all the other food."


* What: Taste of the Town at Piru Mansion, 829 N. Park St., Piru, featuring 21 food booths, silent art auction, door prizes and Fred Horn Jazz Group.

* Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

* Getting there: Piru is 20 miles west of Newhall. Take the Golden State Freeway north to Highway 126 west; exit at Main Street, turn right; left on Center Street; right on Park Street.

* Price: $50

* Call: (805) 252-9491.

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