& & by Pia K. Hansen & & & &
There's something about the Olympic Games and Greece that's forever interconnected, no matter where on earth the games take place. But even this year with the games held Down Under -- far away from both Greece and Spokane -- you can still add a little Greek flavor to the global sports fest this weekend.
Beginning today, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on North Washington puts on its traditional Greek Dinner Festival, which runs through Saturday. As a special service for those who don't want to miss their favorite Olympic discipline during dinnertime, the church is going to provide a TV, tuned to the Olympics, throughout the festival.
But back when the first festival was held, TV was not of great concern. "This is the 65th year of continuous festivals here at our church," says Irene Supica, who's married to the priest of the parish, Father Stephen Supica. "There may have been a year or two during World War II that it wasn't held because everything was too hard then, but frankly I don't think so. I don't think we've ever missed a year."
Almost all the food (definitely all the cookies and every single loaf of bread) have been made by the women who belong to the church.
"We have been baking for months, and we've gone through almost 700 pounds of flour," says Supica, whose parents are of Greek ancestry. "It varies how many visitors we get for the sit down dinner, but we expect to sell close to 2,500 dinners. We also have barbecue grills outside, and that's where we serve shish kebabs."
Those delicious grilled beef and lamp contraptions once almost got the festival in big trouble. "We have those shipped from this company in New York, and one year somehow the people there didn't realize we were in Washington state, not in D.C.," says Supica with a laugh. "We waited and waited on the shish kebabs, and finally called the company. They end up having to air mail the kebabs out here so we'd have them on time."
This year, they'll be shipped off extra early, and Supica, who's been cooking at and coordinating the festival for 10 years, expects all the mouthwatering treats to be ready when the first hungry guest walks in.
Although the focus is the food, there'll also be live entertainment on site. "We will have Greek dancing periodically every day, in the afternoon and evening," says Supica. "The church is open for tours, and people are welcome to worship with us as well." Though many church members and festivalgoers are of Greek ancestry, Supica says that as many as 80 percent of the marriages performed in the church today are between a church member and a person of a different denomination or different ancestry.
"We love to share this with the community, and some have come for generations," she adds. "It's just a pleasant time to enjoy with your family."
The Greek Dinner Festival is served from 4:30-8 pm on Thursday, Sept. 28, Friday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, September 30. The grill is also open for lunch, Saturday at 11 am. Pastries can be picked up every day from noon until closing time. Dinner cost: $10; $5, for children 12 and younger. Call: 328-9310.
It's all Greek
Here's a sneak peek at the Greek Dinner Festival menu, which contains plenty of the full-bodied flavors and much-loved mainstays of Greek cooking. The complete dinner consists of Greek salad, kapama (braised beef cooked in an earthenware pot with tomato, garlic and red wine), manestra (pasta with browned butter and myzithra cheese), green beans with herbs and garlic, and finally dessert. Indoor or outdoor dining is offered at the church, or you can take your dinner to go.
Come to the taverna for a glass of wine or beer and an appetizer plate of dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), keftethes (meatballs), cheese and kalamata olives. The grill also features chicken or pork souvlakia (shish kebab).
The Greeks are famous for their pastries, with well-known favorites like baklava topping the list. Diples (deep-fried, donut-like creations), kourambiethes (butter cookies), koulourakia (twisted sesame seed cookies), paximadia (the Greek version of biscotti) and tsourekia (a braided sweetbread loaf) will also be available at the pastry shop. And finally, don't miss the distinctive Greek coffee.
-- Susan Hamilton