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November 17, 1994|LEO SMITH

Dennis Ofsthun, co-owner of Rib Tickler's BBQ in Saticoy (formerly Mario's Mexican Restaurant), took several styles of his Rib Tickler's barbecue sauce to Missouri last month for the annual American Royal Barbecue competition.

He returned with the Tastemaster's Choice Award, an honor awarded by contest founder Ardie Davis, who ranked the original version of the sauce as a personal favorite from among the 300 or so entrants.

Ofsthun, who made a name for himself and the sauce in Gig Harbor, Wash., moved to Camarillo a year ago. Last May, he teamed with Marco Gonzalez, a former owner of Mario's, in the Rib Tickler's Mexican-barbecue venture. Rib Ticklers BBQ is at 11012 Violeta St.

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Starbucks Coffee opened a shop Friday at Camarillo's Las Posas Plaza. The address is 540 Las Posas Road.

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And a new Baja Fresh Mexican Grill opened Nov. 1 at 2373 N. Oxnard Blvd. in Oxnard. The seventh restaurant in the nearly five-year-old chain continues in the tradition of serving the skinless, lardless, low cholesterol, fresh food of its predecessors. Unlike its siblings, however, it is the first Baja Fresh to be franchised. Other restaurants in the chain are in Newbury Park, Simi Valley, Westlake, Camarillo, Woodland Hills and Beverly Hills.

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Today, the third Thursday in November, is the day the French government traditionally releases its new Beaujolais. And, if all goes well, the 1994 vintage will arrive in California in time for the Beaujolais Nouveau Dinner on Friday night at Capistrano's Restaurant, at the Mandalay Beach Resort in Oxnard.

The menu for this celebration of the new wine was designed by executive chef Robert Garcia, with extensive input from Jean-Claude Guerin, director of food and beverage and a native of Burgundy, France.

"It's a fun wine to drink. You don't want a grand cuisine with a Beaujolais," Guerin said. "The cooking is not high-class cooking in France. It's country cooking like you would find in Burgundy."

The meal will begin with a choice pate en croute of Sonoma duck or French onion soup ("the soup of the poor farmer on Sundays," said Guerin). After a salad, comes the main course--a choice of supreme of chicken with wild mushrooms or roast leg of lamb with herbs of Provence.

Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. The cost is $42, which includes one bottle of the 1994 Beaujolais per couple and accordion music by John Largo. Information: 984-2500, Ext. 569. The resort is at 2101 Mandalay Beach Road.

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