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BENEFIT Wine and Tulips & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & pringtime means flowers -- well, most years -- and flowers mean it's time to enjoy the warming weather and raise funds to support St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute. At this year's FESTIVAL OF WINE AND FLOWERS, 20 of the state's premier wineries will be on hand pouring their finest vintages. Five Spokane-area wineries -- Arbor Crest, Mountain Dome, Nodland Cellars, Robert Karl and Lone Canary -- will take part.





"It's definitely a tasting event," says Tamitha Anderson of Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), St. Luke's parent organization. "Spitting buckets will be available. It's an interesting way for people to try some Washington wines they may not be used to."





To complement the wine, Chef Mike Lindsey (of Peppers Catering) has planned a menu of heavy hors d'oeuvres and sample-sized entr & eacute;e dishes.





"It's a mingling event," Anderson says, "not a sit-down dinner, and not stuffy. We'll have a little presentation about what St. Luke's does, but we also try to make it a fun night out for people."





A silent auction featuring many wine-themed items is planned, and a live auction begins at 8 pm. Proceeds benefit patient care programs at the Institute along with Team St. Luke's, a group of talented disabled athletes who compete in international Paralympics events.





New this year is an intimate winemaker's dinner to be held at a private home in Black Rock on Friday. Tickets for that event ($250) are separate but are available through the number below.





-- ANN M. COLFORD





The Festival of Wine and Flowers will be held at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, 711 S. Cowley St., on Saturday, April 19, from 6-10 pm. Tickets are $125 per person. Visit www.festivalofwineandflowers.com or call 789-4969.





DINING All in the Family


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & D & lt;/span & owntown diners gained a new option a couple of weeks ago with the opening of SANTORINI'S GREEK CUISINE, a family-owned eatery delivering home-style Greek specialties like spanikopita, gyros and baklava in a bright and comfortable setting.





Santorini's is run by brothers Jim and Peter Tsakarestos and Peter's wife, Sally. (The brothers' parents used to own and operate the Olympia Restaurant in downtown Coeur d'Alene, a hidden treasure on Lakeside.) The menu is filled with Greek specialties like kabobs ($8.50-$10), gyros, souvlaki, falafel and pita sandwiches ($6-$8.50). Moussaka ($14), a casserole of potatoes, eggplant and ground beef, is available at dinner.





A good way to sample the menu's range is to try Santorini's Sampler ($14), a platter with squares of spanikopita and tyropita, a pile of gyros, three dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and savory beef), triangles of grilled pita and some sharp kalamata olives. With two small side orders of hummus ($1.25 each), one traditional and one roasted red pepper, it made a generous lunch for two, with leftovers.





The gyro meat is spicy and savory, nicely browned and not at all greasy. The spanikopita combines the light feathery crispness of phyllo with the bright flavors of spinach and feta. The hummus has a refreshing garlicky-lemon bite and enough olive oil to smooth out the texture.





The relatively small establishment has been busy at lunchtime, but more seating will open up on the outdoor patio with the onset of warm weather. Dinners have been a little slower to take off, says Sally, but with the soon-to-come beer-and-wine license, it'll make a nice spot for a relatively inexpensive casual dining experience downtown.





-- ANN M. COLFORD





Santorini's Greek Cuisine, 112 N. Howard St., is open Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. Call 456-2349.





EVENT Slow and Local


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & C & lt;/span & elebrate Earth Day this year with a feast of local bounty created by Chef Alexa Wilson of Wild Sage at the EARTH DINNER, an event of Slow Food Spokane River happening at the Grande Ronde Cellars tasting room.





The menu is still coming together as of press time because Chef Alexa has to see what foods come in from her local sources. But she's planning a five-course meal paired with wines from local wineries including Townshend, Grande Ronde, Robert Karl and Mountain Dome.





"The whole nature of Slow Food is that one-on-one relationship," says Wilson. "It seems so simple that we overlook it ... but [getting local food] is really as simple as learning somebody's name."





Jen Hall of Slow Food Spokane River will introduce the group's work, local farmer Dan Jackson will share his story, and baker Gare Traeger of Wild Sage will talk about sourcing local grains.





The Earth Dinner is a national phenomenon begun by the Organic Valley Family of Farms in an effort to create a food-based celebration tradition for Earth Day.





-- ANN M. COLFORD





The Earth Dinner will be at Grande Ronde's tasting room, 906 W. Second Ave. (next to Wild Sage), on Tuesday, April 22, at 6:30 pm. Admission is $80; $70, Slow Food members. E-mail [email protected] or call 456-7575.

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