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Pair of Food and Wine Events Will Raise Funds for Local Causes

Saturday's outing on the Fillmore railway will benefit Christopher House; Sunday's festival seeks support for Casa Pacifica.


Local food fans will be eating and sipping for good causes at a pair of food and wine-tasting benefits planned for this weekend.

On Saturday, representatives from about half a dozen restaurants and wineries will join guests aboard the Fillmore & Western Railway Co. train for an evening of tastings, music, entertainment and a silent auction to raise money for Ventura's beleaguered Christopher House.

The financially strapped AIDS hospice was forced to shut down earlier this month, amid claims of health code violations stemming from inspections by the state Department of Social Services. Christopher House officials blamed the problem on a monetary shortfall.

Given the circumstances, the benefit has taken on much greater significance than anticipated.

"The money raised will be used with the intent of opening the Christopher House back up," said Gary Clark, an event coordinator. "There are some past bills that need to be cleaned up, and we need to get some financial stability for the Christopher House. These are rather unfortunate circumstances, but hopefully this will help right the ship."

Restaurants providing hors d'oeuvres include Cafe Zack's and Milano's Italian Restaurant in Ventura, and the Charn Thai Restaurant, DJ's California Catering and Antonio's Italian Restaurant in Camarillo. The list of local wineries includes Leeward Winery of Ventura, the Santa Ynez Winery and Barnwood Vineyards of Oak View.

Guests will board the train in Fillmore at 5:30 p.m. and travel to Santa Paula's Glen Tavern Inn for the silent auction. The train will return to Fillmore following the auction.

Cost is $40 per person. Call 658-7044 for reservations.


For more benefit bingeing, Casa Pacifica on Sunday will hold its annual Wine and Food Festival on the lawn at Ventura's Pierpont Inn.

About 20 local restaurants, 20 wineries and 10 microbreweries will serve samplings to benefit the children's crisis care and residential center for abused, abandoned and at-risk children throughout Ventura County.

The day's menu will include carrot cake, pate and fruit tarts from Ventura's Classic Carrot; Chinese chicken salad from Cinnamon's Restaurant in Camarillo; seafood Mexican lasagna from Ventura's Rosarito Beach Cafe; mushroom and artichoke tarts from City Bakery of Ventura; a sampling of Italian foods from Verona's Trattoria in Camarillo; assorted pastas from Pastabilities; Thai finger food from Little Thai in Camarillo; and turkey sandwiches from Nona's Courtyard Cafe in Ventura.

"We pretty much pick what we feel are some the top restaurants in the area that will give variety to the event," said Pierpont General Manager Rod Houck, who helped coordinate the event. "The chefs have a great time. They get to come outside, greet the people. So many times they have to stay back in the kitchen."

One of those chefs is the Pierpont's own Kevin Sherry. He said he'll probably prepare a barbecue tri-tip on pumpernickel, assorted smoked vegetables and some other goodies.

"It'll probably be a barbecue-type theme," he said. "Something to start the summer off with."

Among the wineries scheduled to participate are Fetzer Vineyards, Ojai Vineyards, Sutter Home Winery, Arciero Winery and Quope Wine Cellars.

Cost is $40. Call 445-7800 in advance or pick up tickets at the door. The Pierpont Inn is at 550 Sanjon Road.


Ventura County chefs were shut out in the recent Bouillabaisse Festival at The Brander Vineyard in Los Olivos.

Winners included Acacia Restaurant (voted best overall and first place in the cioppino division), El Encanto (first place in the classic bouillabaisse division), Piatti Ristorante (first place in the open division) and Rosa's Ristorante Italiano (people's choice grand award).

Acacia and Piatti are located in Montecito; El Encanto and Rosa's are in Santa Barbara.

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