Looking around at the $750 ice cream machine (it makes a quart every 15 minutes), at the $498 copper steamer, at the $19 bottle of Oliveri olive oil, 50 different kinds of knives, 6 or 7 different food processors, one oldtime Washingtonian remarked that Williams-Sonoma was "a long way from Little Caledonia." The California cookware shop premiered last week like a movie with dancing, wine, food, society cooks, just plain cooks, just plain society and photographers to record the event.

For those who lived in Washington before there was a Kitchen Bazaar or a China Closet, Little Caledonia in Georgetown was the only place to buy a wooden chocolate roll board, a chef's knife or a steamer. Little Caledonia also sold, and still does, fabrics, furniture and knick knacks. Of course you could go across Wisconsin Avenue to the French Kitchen and buy copper pots, but not many people knew what to do with them 20 years ago. A lot of people still don't, so they hang them up in their kitchens, dust them once a month and polish them twice a year.

If you buy your copper at Williams-Sonoma, you better have a heavy beam from which to hang it. Even though the store has whisks for 35 cents, the emphasis is on top of the line high-priced equipment. "No question they're good. It think serious cooks will find items they've heard about here," said a guest at last week's opening where hot Brie, miniature Reuben's sandwiches, pate complete with bird in plumage, prosciutto with melon, California golden caviar and some version of dim sum were of more immediate interest to the social-cum-cooking crowd than the tomato crusher, Balsamic vinegar and hot Hungarian paprika. Naturally, the food was served with Sonoma wines.

This is the seventh store Chuck Williams has opened, the third outside California. The first store opened in Sonoma in 1956. Williams has plans for two or three more on the East Coast. He is actively looking in New York where the largest number of the store's catalog buyers live. Washington had the second largest number of mail-order shoppers, but now they can stop by Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights and see it all for themselves, and pick up a few cooking tips if they chose the right day. Today at 1 p.m. Jane Salzfass Freiman, author of the just published "The Art of Food Processor Cooking," will be demonstrating with assistance from Judith Huxley, a frequent contributor to The Washington Post Food Section. If you miss Freiman at Williams- sonoma, you can catch her at Kitchen Bazaar's Virginia store at Seven Corners from 7 to 8:30 Friday even or Saturday at the Connecticut Avenue store from 1:30 to 4.

Or if you aren't doing anything Friday at 1 p.m., you can stop by Williams-Sonoma to meet Elizabeth Colchie, co-author with Helen Witty of "Better Than Store Bought," Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. Julie Dannenbaum will be behind the stove and Friday, Dec. 1 p.m. Diana Kennedy, the authority on Mexican cooking, will be in place.

Washington is usually second to New York where food is involved. But with the arrival of Williams-Sonoma, the expansion of both Kitchen Bazaar and China Closet, Washingtonians can probably buy anything New Yorkers can . . . and more.

Almost at the same moment Williams-Sonoma was announcing its arrival, Georgetown Wine and Food was announcing its departure. The two-year-old operation of Howard Solganik, which concentrated on American regional foods, has been sold to Helen Wasserman, owner of the catering service, Chez Wok.

Solganik readily admits he "made lots of mistakes in the beginning." Whatever the reason, Georgetown Wine and Food may have been a bit ahead of its time. Interest in American regional food is just beginning to peak. According to Solganik, "What carried us for the last eight months was that people really got into simple American food and we were catering chicken pot pies, jambalaya, West Coast salmon and cavia, American catering chicken pot pies, jambalaya, West Coast salmon and caviar, American cheeses." But, Solganik said, it was too late: the bills had piled too high.

At 28 Solganik is off to the Caribbean to write, with his father's words for comfort: "You can always recognize the people who are pioneers. They're the ones with the arrows in their backs."

If you have never tasted real mozzarella chees, cheese made from buffalo instead of cow's milk, Pasta Inc. now has some for you to try. Imported from Italy twice a month, an individual serving is $1.40. Pasta Inc. owner Nadine Kalachnikoff suggests serving it on a bed of fresh basil or argula with crude olive oil and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Her shop is also carrying locally made fresh mozzarella at $4.75 a pound and mozzarella with prosciutto at $6.25 a pound. The latter, she says, is much better than pate, " and much less fattening."