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June 29, 1995|CHARLES PERRY

Squids for Kids

A few years ago, Children's Home Society of California, which provides a charitable services to 10,000 children a year, published a well-received fund-raising cookbook titled "Only in California": 80,000 copies are in print. It has just published a new one, "Celebrating California." It features, among its 300 recipes, prize-winners from 17 California community fairs--not just the well-known Gilroy Garlic Festival (which contributed a ribs recipe) but the Carpinteria Avocado Festival (fettuccine with walnuts and avocados), the Weed (Calif.) Pasta Cook-Off and Sausage Challenge ("ravicotti") and the Great Monterey Squid Festival (squid puffs). It will be in bookstores soon, and it but be ordered directly from Children's Home Society right now ($17.95 plus tax and handling) by calling (213) 240-5900.

Chefs Just Wanna Have Fun

Every year about 50 chefs compete in Quady Winery's annual Wine and Dessert Competition, which will be held at the Argyle Hotel in West Hollywood Aug. 7. The idea of the contest, which is open to restaurant chefs and pa^tissiers , is to create a dessert that harmonizes with the Quady dessert wine known as Elysium. The winner gets $1,000 in entertainment tickets of his or her choice, but on the other hand, maybe the chefs aren't just in it for the free tickets--the winery gives them samples of Elysium to experiment with. To enter, chefs should contact Quady at (800) 733-8068. Entry deadline is July 1.

For Non-Serious Wine Lovers

Wine labels are all starting to look the same--just one darn box of FDA nutritional information and report on sugar content in degrees Brix at harvest time after another.

Buehler Vineyards (of St. Helena, Napa Valley) takes a different approach in a new line of '93 Cabernet Sauvignon called Dear John. The labels (12 different ones per case) take the form of perfectly fictional letters to some poor schmoe named John. Sample: "Dear John--For future reference, a dumbwaiter is a noun, not an adjective; I'm sure he'll get over it." "Dear John--Sorry about the whole pasta/ceiling fan incident last night."

That's Life

Frank Sinatra's Gourmet Italian Foods (now including Marsala, scampi, pesto and marinara sauces and a line of dried pastas) are available at dozens of markets and chains in Midwestern states such as Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, but apparently only two distributors in the Chairman's native northern New Jersey: Krista Sweets Flower World and Gifts in a Basket.

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