Wednesday, Apr 30 2014 04:36 PM

Greek lamb baack at spring festival

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Like its fall counterpart, the Greek Spring Food Festival, taking place Saturday at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, will have plenty of Greek dishes and pastries to go around.

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BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

Although spring has been in the title of this food festival for the last three years, St. George Greek Orthodox Church has brought back a menu item that evokes the season: lamb.

The tender meat was served at the church's first spring festival in 2012 and organizer Danny Andrews said guests clamored for its return.

Related Info

Spring Greek Food Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday

Where: St. George Greek Orthodox, 401 Truxtun Ave.

Admission: $5; free for children under 12

Information: 325-8694

"We're getting more requests for lamb so we decided to offer it. ... We are going to serve about 500 lamb chop barbecue plates to go along with our other barbecue items."

Pork shish kabobs and Greek chicken also will heat up the grill Saturday. Single entree plates, including rice, Greek salad, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and sliced Pyrenees bread, will run $15, while the combo plate (pork and chicken) costs $20.

Savor the spring meal now because lamb likely won't be offered at the church's two-day festival in the fall.

"With lamb, your chefs have to be really on top of the grill more. ... We want to make sure it's perfect. This is a one-day event -- small scale versus a larger event (in the fall)."

For a sweet treat after the meal, the baklava sundae booth returns, serving crushed home-baked pastry with nuts and honey over ice cream. The dessert -- a recent festival addition -- has been a success, Andrews said.

"The response was positive. They could choose their topping and get to have that nice flavor with the combination of the sweetness of the pastry and the coolness of the ice cream."

A small freezer, purchased for festival use, will keep the ice cream cool as temperatures near the mid-90s on Saturday.

"It'll be warm for a few hours in the late afternoon. Nothing unbearable. It's better than a forecast of rain," Andrews joked, referring to the torrential downpour in September 2011 that killed business on the first day of the late-summer festival.

"We'll take a little bit of heat."

The large tent over the picnic tables has been replaced by two medium tents offering a bit more coverage for diners as well.

Along with barbecue, the festival will offer gyro and falafel sandwiches, savory pastries, Greek baked goods and hot dogs for the kids.

Children can enjoy the bounce houses and performances by child and youth dancers at 6 and 8 p.m., with music by Synthesi.

St. George earmarks funds from its spring event to finance repairs. Proceeds from Saturday's festival will go toward a parking lot remodel.

"We have some asphalt that is in disrepair. We want to replace the asphalt with concrete, a long overdue capital improvement for the church.

"Parking is limited in our downtown location. We needed to secure more spaces. We need to get as many cars as we can in our gated property."

Along with other repairs, funds will help a young parishioner headed on a mission.

"Fotini Chaffee, one of the daughters of our priest and his wife ... is going to be traveling to Africa for a missionary trip. She'll be teaching basic health care (with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center).

"She's a real bright gal, been through our youth programs and ready to give back to the community. It's an experience of a lifetime."

Although the weekend is jam-packed with activities, Andrews hopes residents make a stop at the Truxtun Avenue church.

"Whether it's lunch or dinner, spend part of your weekend with us."

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