But I love to drop in when the casual outdoor grill is firing. Tireless volunteers prepare skewers of heavenly seasoned grilled souvlakia (Greek shish-kebabs made with chicken or pork) and gyros and serve them up in pitas. Side dishes -- Greek salad, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) -- are available to round out an inexpensive meal. I usually bump into people I know while waiting in line, or while sitting in the crisp early fall air at the communal tables underneath the big tents in the church parking lot.
Then for dessert, I make my way inside to the church hall and pick up some of the homemade Greek pastries baked by a group of dedicated -- and food-loving -- parishioners over the last several weeks. There are diples, rolled dough that's deep fried then drizzled with honey; and the sweet and spicy melomakarona (a friend of mine calls these yummy morsels "Mellow Macarenas"), rich with walnuts and more honey; the kourabiedes, light buttery cookies rolled in a thick layer of powdered sugar; and of course the honey-sweet many-layered baklava. And while I'm there, I buy some raffle tickets and take a chance on several food gift baskets filled with Mediterranean specialties.
Good food, good company, good music and a fun community atmosphere -- now there's a belief system I can sink my teeth into. -- ANN M. COLFORD
The Greek Festival and Dinner at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1703 N. Washington St., is Thu-Sat, Sept. 27-29. Lunch and pastries available from 11 am, dinner served 4:30-8 pm. Dinner tickets are $12; $6, children 11 and younger. Call 328-9310.
TAKE-OUT Easy As Pie
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & f you live in Spokane Valley, you've probably seen their bakery and shop -- first on Pines, now on Sullivan. Or maybe you've spied their pies in deli cases and on dessert menus all across the area. Now, north-siders have a WHITE BOX PIES location close at hand, tucked into a tiny storefront on Wellesley near Monroe.
"We opened in July," says employee Elizabeth Rhoades. "Local residents and businesses have been coming in -- our neighbors at the Department of Ecology have been some of our best customers."
The shop has no eat-in space at the moment -- there's barely enough room for three customers at a time -- although two small tables outside on the fringes of the parking lot will do in a pinch as long as the weather stays mild. For now, business is all take-out and catering.
In addition to the pies for which they're known, White Box offers lunch fixings including sandwiches ($7, whole; $3.50, half), quiche, pot pies (beef or chicken), pasta salad and soups made from scratch. The flavor of the day was chicken noodle vegetable when I visited, and my cup was filled with chunks of chicken, carrots, celery, roasted red potatoes and shell pasta in a savory broth.
There are pre-made sandwiches to grab and go -- roast beef and cheddar, turkey and Swiss, tuna or the stacked Dagwood -- or you can get one made to order on one of the bakery's house-made croissants. (Hint: Try the turkey and provolone with cranberry sauce and cream cheese on a croissant.)
And then, of course, there are the pies. The shop always has three varieties available by the slice ($3); or you can just go ahead and get a whole pie -- you know you want more than one slice anyway. For fall, the pumpkin pie ($9) is delightful, and the mixed berry -- made with blueberries, marionberries, raspberries and strawberries -- is always a hit.
"We use all fresh fruit, nothing canned," says Rhoades. For the huckleberry pie ($21), all the fruit comes from local sources. Bestselling varieties -- including cherry, blackberry, strawberry rhubarb, huckleberry peach and huckleberry apple -- are usually readily available. Most varieties are $11. Or, you can call a day ahead to place a special order.
There are also four-inch mini-pies and mini-cheesecakes ($4), pecan wedges ($2) and four kinds of Nanaimo bars ($1). And, yes, the pies come in a white box.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
White Box Pies, 1101 W. Wellesley Ave., is open Tue-Sat 10:30 am-6:30 pm. Call 324-8850.