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EVENT Dinner Traditions & r & & r & Every March for nearly seven decades now, Spokane's Temple Beth Shalom has hosted a KOSHER DINNER to share Jewish traditions with the rest of the community, and the annual event has become a tradition unto itself. It's an amazing feat of volunteerism and organization: More than 200 volunteers work to prepare the meal and then serve more than 2,000 people in just seven hours.





When you arrive, you'll be tempted by homemade baked goods offered for sale, along with a gift shop filled with crafts and souvenir items from Israel. From the entry, you'll make your way into the beautiful, modern sanctuary, where musical groups -- local favorites, including the Kosher Red Hots -- provide entertainment while you wait your turn. Soon, you're ushered into the dining hall and seated at long cafeteria-style tables, where volunteer servers begin pouring drinks and delivering the food.





And what great food it is. The meal begins with an assortment of appetizers, followed by a main course that includes tender beef brisket, potato knishes (potato-and-onion-filled pastries), carrot tzimmes (Eastern European-style honey-baked carrots), challah (egg bread), Mediterranean spiced apples and apricot kuchen (a sweet bread with fruit).





While you eat, rub elbows with your table neighbors -- after all, building community is what it's all about. On the way out, those baked goods are still there to tempt you -- and to remind you of the ongoing sweetness of life.





-- ANN M. COLFORD





The 67th Annual Kosher Dinner at Temple Beth Shalom, 1322 E. 30th Ave. (corner of South Perry and 30th), on Sunday, March 9, serves from 11 am-6 pm. Tickets are $14 for adults, $7 for children 11 and under, available at Huppin's Hi-Fi Photo and Video (421 W. Main Ave.), Manito Ship & amp; Copy (2920 S. Grand Blvd.), Pawn 1 (8014 N. Division St., 11812 E. Sprague Ave., or 2427 E. Seltice Way, Post Falls), or at the door. Visit www.pgiinc.com or call the Kosher Dinner hotline at 747-3304 ext. 32.





BAKERY A Fresh Start


A customer walked into the little red house that's home to NATURAL START BAKERY on Hamilton last week and ordered up a latte and a muffin to go. While preparing the customer's latte, partner Gibran Sharpe explained that all of the shop's Doma coffee is fair trade, shade-grown and certified organic, and the focus is on local and regional products -- grain and dairy products from Washington, produce from nearby farms wherever possible. All the snacks -- muffins and scones, quiches and cheesy whole-grain focaccia, empanadas and incredibly delicious raspberry oat bars -- are baked from scratch on the premises by partner Alyssa Krafft. The third partner, Marc Gauthier, pointed out the photo board with names and photos of local farmers who provide the shop's ingredients. The customer nodded, munching on samples set out on the counter. As he turned to leave, sipping on his latte, he turned to Sharpe and said, "Hey, dude, this place is awesome. I'll be back."





That kind of scene has been common at the Natural Start (just north of the Safeway at Mission) over the last three weeks that the bakery has been open. The partners -- longtime friends who decided to take the plunge and go into business together -- love talking about the principles behind their new venture.





"The whole concept of sustainability is what we're all about," says Gauthier, who is also an organic farmer. "All of our cups and lids are made from corn and are compostable -- we're really proud of those. And we compost all of our stuff from the kitchen. We really want to focus on seasonality and to have a more hands-on connection between people and their food."





The partners planned for many months prior to opening, stockpiling local produce in their freezers while seeking out the right location. They selected their location to provide a locally owned alternative to Starbucks for the Gonzaga/Logan neighborhood. Most of the ingredients are certified organic; if not, says Sharpe, "we've talked to the farmers, and we're comfortable with their practices." The relationships with the farmers are carried into the shop and onto the photo board.





The interior, defined by log beams from Sharpe's yard, is compact but has several seating areas including tables, a couch, a counter and a couple of meeting rooms upstairs. Wi-fi access should be up and running momentarily. The partners hope eventually to stay open into the evenings: "We'll stay open as long as people are coming in," says Sharpe.





-- ANN M. COLFORD





Natural Start Bakery, 1718 N. Hamilton St., is open Tue-Fri 7 am-6 pm, Sat 8 am-6 pm, and Sun 9 am-5 pm. Call 483-3366.

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