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Small Park, Big Heart When a neighbor was badly injured in a traffic accident, the owners of Swirl Wines (3143 Ponce de Leon St., 304-0635) decided to recast the one-year anniversary of their wine shop's opening as a fundraiser to help their friend. Other local merchants in the Faubourg St. John area proved eager to participate and the scale of the event grew quickly. The result is shaping up to be a mini-festival to be held this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Fortier Park, the small, lushly planted triangular park on the 3100 block of Esplanade Avenue. Restaurants serving food include the French bistro Café Degas , the Spanish restaurant Lola's , the sushi bar Asia Pacific Café and the pizza joint La Vita . Pal's Lounge , Swirl and Fair Grinds Coffee House will serve drinks. There will also be a silent auction for donated art, merchandise and services, activities for children and live music. Of Wine and Noses There are studies out there claiming dog ownership can lower your stress level and improve your mood. A lot of people feel the same way about wine. Not surprisingly, then, there is a group called the Dog Lovers Wine Club (, and it has teamed up with the Louisiana SPCA ( to host a series of local social events and fundraisers. The next one will be held at Café Giovanni (117 Decatur St., 529-2154;, where chef Duke LoCicero will present his " Pasta for Paws " wine dinner on Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. There will be live opera singing in the dining room and wines selected by the club for each of the dinner's five courses. The cost is $100 per person. Call Café Giovanni for reservations. A Lux Engagement The New Orleans Grill (300 Gravier St., 522-1994; at the Windsor Court Hotel is hosting a decadent champagne dinner Tuesday, pairing dishes by executive chef Greg Sonnier with selections from the Moet Hennessy brands. The evening begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the restaurant's private dining room followed by a five-course dinner that includes Hog Island oysters, red snapper bisque, "satsuma supreme" with goat cheese yogurt, pecan- and almond-crusted tuna sashimi, tenderloin of veal with crabmeat and baby artichokes and a honey-poached pear with Cassis sorbet for dessert. Champagnes paired throughout the meal include Dom Perignon 1999 and Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame 1998, among others. The price is $195 per person. — McNulty Got a tip for Food News? Email Ian McNulty at


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