The candy was dandy -- tables loaded with nothing but chocolate.

And the liquor was quick enough--three different kinds of champagne.

"An Evening of Chocolate and Champagne" last night, a $25-a-ticket fund-raiser to benefit Capitol Hill Hospital's "Lifeline" emergency program, enticed about 300 of 750 invited guests to slip and slide their way through the snow to the Sheraton Washington Cotillion Ballroom.

And the rich, rich gastronomic goodies that lined the table were all courtesy of merchants from California.

"Do you understand how great California is?" Norma Lagomarsino, wife of Rep. Robert Lagomarsino (R-Calif.), said with a glass of Chandon in her hand and a brown apron from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. over her turquoise party dress. "I learned that when my husband was a state senator. We had the sixth largest budget in the world. In the world--can you imagine?"

But what about the budget problems in California now, where recently it was reported that IOUs might be issued instead of tax refund checks?

"No problem. That'll be taken care of," she said with a wave of her hand.

Next to her, a uniformed waiter scooped out sundaes made with "California Sweet," a new flavor from Bob's Homemade Ice Cream shop, loaded with chunks of Ghirardelli milk chocolate.

Carolyn Deaver, wife of Michael K. Deaver, deputy chief of staff and assistant to the president, came without her husband, originator of the Deaver Diet. "He's at home."

Was the temptation too much for him?

"The snow shoveling was a bit too much for him."

The snow took its toll on the party in other ways, too. Cases of Piper-Sonoma champagne were stuck in Chicago. Two shipments of Giorgio's perfume samples never arrived. Guest chef Alice Medrich from Cocolat, a bakery known for its chocolate creations, never made it out of Berkeley. Her truffles were stuck in Baltimore.

"And you know, it's the last night of "The Winds of War," Lagomarsino added.

But there were plenty of sweets for the the most passionate of chocolate lovers, including chocolate choo choos, chocolate cupids, eclairs covered with chocolate, light chocolate mousses, chocolate-covered anything--from strawberries to prunes.

Jody Powell, political analyst and former press secretary to President Carter, just back from a quail-hunting trip in south Georgia, stood drinking a cup of coffee.

"I did the whole fondue bit. And I already had a glass of champagne," Powell said. "I'm waiting for them to turn the thermostat up, so everyone can take their clothes off and jump in the middle of all that melted chocolate--true California style."