When Les Dames d' Escoffier, the professional society of women in the food and wine trades, gathers, can "Food, Wine & Other Temptations" be far behind? That is the theme of the annual auction-cocktail reception, to be held at 5 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Westin Hotel, and it is suggestive of the event's spectacular array of donations.

They include, among other things, two pairs of Redskins tickets (for games to be negotiated by the winner and ticket owner) with accompanying tailgate picnic, a champagne cocktail reception for 75 in the historic Thomas Law House with its view of the Potomac, two tickets to the invitational showing of designer Bill Blass' fall collection, a dinner for a dozen catered by New Orleans Emporium, a week in a cabin on a private wooded Chesapeake Bay island, and a wedding cake for 100 from pastry chef Ann Amernick.

Equally tempting is the raffle: a trip to New Orleans featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the city's restaurants and dinners prepared by the chefs appearing in "The Great Chefs of New Orleans" television series.

Funds from the auction will be used to benefit the organization's Anne Crutcher Professional Fellowship, granted each year to an individual seeking to enter the culinary field.

Tickets cost $40 ($25 of which is tax deductable) and may be obtained by calling Elizabeth Esterling at 333-4451. The Bard's Night Out

Shakespeare's on the menu of Chaucer's restaurant in the Canterbury Hotel this Thursday and Friday as that establishment celebrates its own version of a "Midwinter Night's Dream." Complete with a knight in shining armor, court jesters, madrigals and entertainment reminiscent of the 16th century (when was the last time you heard someone recite a sonnet at tableside?), the lighthearted event will highlight an English bill of fare: Merchant of Venison, Lamb as You Like It, Brutus Chocolate Death Cake, and drinks of Falstaff's Grog, hot mulled wine, ales and stouts. Reservations can be made by calling 393-3000.