by Susan Hamilton and Ann M. Colford & r & & r & Pit Stop FAST FOOD & r & It's a chain with an idea whose time has come -- high-quality, healthy fast food. Pita Pit is a 10-year-old Canadian establishment that has taken hold in the Inland Northwest. Its American headquarters are in Coeur d'Alene with a shop on Sherman Avenue downtown that opened last summer. Its newest store (no. 91, to be exact) is right in the epicenter of the Gonzaga District. But why open a Pita Pit near Gonzaga?
"It's popular on college campuses because we're open such late hours," says owner Erik Morris. "We're always busy with students, business people and bar-hoppers, especially from the Bulldog and Jack and Dan's."
So what's on the menu that's so enticing? The build-your-own aspect of quick food. First, you pick your pita, choosing from meat and vegetarian options. Morris says the most popular meat pitas are the chicken Caesar (with chicken, bacon and romaine), Philly steak (with beef, onions and green peppers) and the gyro (with seasoned lamb and beef strips). Popular vegetarian pitas include the hummus (with garbanzo spread) and falafel (a grilled garbanzo patty).
But that's not all. The next step is to pick your toppings, cheese and sauce -- and the array is dizzying. Toppings run the gamut from babaganoush (eggplant spread) and pineapple to olives and pepperoncinis. Then there are the cheese options -- cheddar, Swiss, feta and parmesan. Finally, you have a variety of sauces with which to smother your creation -- including tzatziki (with sesame butter), spicy vinaigrette and barbecue.
"We really focus on fresh ingredients," Morris says. "It's a healthy alternative to what's offered in the fast-food industry."
If you don't want to stop by the informal shop for your pita fix, Pita Pit delivers in the Gonzaga area and downtown until 3 am for only a buck. -- Susan Hamilton
Pita Pit, 818 E. Sharp Ave. (just west of Hamilton Street), is open daily from 10:30 am to 3 am. Call 483-7482.
Eat, Be Fit DINNER & r & For anyone who grew up in a Jewish family, dishes like potato knishes (savory potato-filled pastries), carrot tzimmes (a sweet casserole of baked carrots) and rich roasted beef brisket are the ultimate comfort food -- flavorful, satisfying and redolent with the aromas of home. On Sunday, the members of Temple Beth Shalom on Spokane's South Hill will share that tradition with friends and neighbors in the community at the 65th annual Kosher Dinner, served nonstop from 11 am to 7 pm.
"The food is just what was always cooked for family meals," says Lisa Lowhurst, a volunteer with the Temple. "The point of [the dinner] is community outreach. Most of the people who come to the dinner are non-Jewish, so it's a chance for them to hear the music, taste the food, meet the people and see our beautiful sanctuary."
In the Jewish tradition, the term kosher refers to the dietary laws that came down from Moses. It derives from the Hebrew word for fit -- as in "fit for consumption." There are many details to keeping kosher, but the most recognized among non-Jews is the separation of meat and dairy foods. The dietary laws helped food safety and hygiene in the days before refrigeration, of course, but eating kosher remains a way for Jews to remain aware of their relationship with God even in the most mundane of daily activities.
As a volunteer, Lowhurst says she's never seen anything quite like the TBS dinner, where 240 volunteers serve more than 2,200 meals in eight hours.
"It's amazing to see how this operates," she says, "to watch the flow of people coming into the sanctuary to listen to the entertainment, and then into the social hall for the food, to hear the conversations going on all around. After 65 years, they've got it down." -- Ann. M. Colford
The 65th annual Kosher Dinner at Temple Beth Shalom, 1322 E. 30th Ave, on Sunday, March 12, from 11 am-7 pm. Tickets: $12.50; $6, for children 11 and younger. Available at Huppin's Hi-Fi Photo and Video, 419 W. Main St.; Manito Ship & amp; Copy, 2920 S. Grand Blvd.; Pawn One North, 8014 N. Division; Pawn One Valley, 11812 E. Sprague; or at the door. Visit www.pgiinc.com or call 623-0372.