If you fondly remember a childhood of home-cooked meals made with love by Mom, consider this weekend time to return the favor. The hardworking families from St. George Greek Orthodox Church are ready to help you earn some brownie points at the second annual Spring Greek Food Festival on Saturday.
"Bring your mothers!" organizer Danny Andrews said. Along with good food and fun, mothers have the added bonus of free admission, Andrews said. That decision is an effort to encourage attendance to the festival amid Mother's Day and other activities.
"This spring we had a difficult choice to make because our celebration of Easter in the Orthodox calendar differed from the Catholics. There is fasting. We celebrated last week and we weren't able to host the event until after we celebrated. It's a little later than we wanted the event."
Despite the delay, the spring festival comes at the right time in the year to address the community's desire for gyros, spanakopita and all things Greek.
"The community was so pleased that we offered the second festival (in the spring). People said, 'I don't have to wait a whole year for Greek food.'"
Sadly, they will have to wait for feta fries, the popular dish of fresh potato chips topped with feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, which won't be back until the festival in September. But organizers will keep things interesting with a new dish: baklava sundaes.
"The family that has been running the (feta fries) booth, they're the ones that suggested the baklava sundae. ... We've seen it done at some other Greek church festivals and it seemed to be a good hit."
Rich with chopped nuts and honey, the home-baked baklava will be broken up and served over vanilla ice cream, with chocolate sauce optional -- "we'll leave that up to the guest." It will sell for $4.
"It should be a big seller, especially if it's going to be warm. We're going to buy a freezer to keep the ice cream cold."
Plain baklava and other pastries will be for sale as well as the popular loukomades (doughnut balls dipped in honey).
At the barbecue booth, lemon chicken and pork shish kabobs will served as plates ($15) that include salad, rice, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and sliced Pyrenees bread, specially made by the bakery for the event.
Other options include gyros, falafel sandwiches, hot dogs and savory pastries.
About a dozen vendors will sell women's apparel and accessories, bed sheets and towels and something unique for the kids.
"One vendor wants to sell illuminated toys to play at night. I'm curious to see what those are."
There will be traditional music by Long Beach band Synthesi, Greek folk dancing, bounce houses and face painting by church teens.
While its fall food festival covers everyday costs, St. George is using its spring event to put away money for repairs, capital improvements and savings in case the church ever relocates. In an effort to give back, the church also makes a donation to a local organization. This spring's recipient will be the Kern County Boys & Girls Club.
"We want to support the community and give thanks. That's part of our calling, not just to think about ourselves."