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The Californian

Valentien Restaurant and Wine Bar is offering some seasonal favorites on its fall menu.

There's nothing like a pot of chili on an October day -- which is just what the folks behind a cook-off/car show were thinking as they planned a fundraiser to help cancer patients.

The parking lot of the Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center (6501 Truxtun Ave.) will be the site of the CBCC Foundation Car/Bike Show and Chili Cook-Off from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

This is the third year for the event, which has drawn about 70 vehicles to show in the past. The event is a fundraiser (via vendor booth fees and vehicle competition fees) to help support travel for cancer patients to UCLA and Madera, according to Ashley Manning, program coordinator for transportation at CBCC.

"We are open to any make, model and year," Manning said of the car show. "We expect a large variety of cars, trucks, motorcycles and choppers."

Anyone interested in bringing a vehicle or setting up a vendor's booth should call Manning at 616-6430.

New and different

For a limited time, Panera Bread is offering a new roasted tomato and feta cheese baked egg souffle made with a sweet croissant dough ... Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar has brought back a seasonal favorite from last year, the stuffed acorn squash with lentils, kale, risotto, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, presented with a red wine reduction. They recommend pairing it with a Pinot Noir from Oregon ... Chili's is rolling out computer tablet service at all 823 company-owned restaurants by the middle of next year. Guests will have the option of ordering with the tablets, playing games or even paying at the table ... Forget cronuts, the next great hot pastry is supposedly going to be the eclair. Paris chef Christophe Adam has been putting a contemporary spin on the classic that's usually filled with Bavarian or pastry cream by offering flavors such as salted caramel and popcorn; New York City restaurants are following his lead ... Burger King has introduced a lower-calorie french fry called a "Satisfry" that has 30 percent fewer calories and 40 percent less fat than traditional fries. The crinkle-cut shaped potatoes are processed with a special coating so they absorb less oil ... Golden Corral has added crab cake sliders to the buffet menu ... Chipotle is changing its pinto bean recipe to make them vegetarian-friendly by leaving out the small amount of bacon used as a flavoring agent ...

The quinoa backlash

Every time foodies get ahold of any food and promote it, there is an inevitable backlash, and the so-called superfood known as quinoa is getting that treatment right now, according to a hilarious article in the Wall Street Journal. Even beer commercials can't resist (a football fan says it tastes like "a dirty old tree branch") attacking the "mother grain of the Incas" grown in the Andes for thousands of years. It's actually not a grain, but a chenopod, like a beet.

Maybe it was Dr. Oz on TV trying to convince people to combine prunes with quinoa. Maybe it was the U.N. declaring 2013 the "International Year of Quinoa," or maybe it's because it has all the savory appeal of rice cakes crossed with tofu. The nutritional benefits are undeniable and it's gluten free, but it just doesn't have the savory appeal of, say, fresh whole wheat bread. Maybe the world's chefs will find a way to make it taste more appealing. Stay tuned.

Reader recommendation

As if our flurry of new barbecue restaurants weren't enough already, we got an email from Reader Phyllis Jackson recommending Big Denweed's Smokehouse and Catering, which moved into the longtime home of Mr. Tibbs Ribs and, later, Linda's Kitchen at 2508 Stine Road. "This place has really great comfort food," she wrote. "I give it five stars alone based on the cornbread. Everything on the menu is cooked fresh. They treat everyone like family. The owner's name is Leon Denweed ." Thanks for the tip.

The Great Pumpkin

It's a bit stunning how many restaurants have embraced pumpkin as the flavor of fall. Of course big dogs like Starbucks get all the attention (pumpkin spice lattes), but nearly everyone has something pumpkin coming out of the patch. McDonald's has both pumpkin lattes and pumpkin pies. Red Robin has pumpkin pie milk shakes. Bloomberg Business Week said the country's 250 largest chains have introduced 105 pumpkin-themed items.