There’s been a lot of bad news this year, including the postponement or cancellation of popular events. Even as we agree large public gatherings are not a good idea right now, it doesn’t mean it’s any easier to stomach an empty social calendar.
One bright spot this fall is the Greek Food Festival, which will take place in a modified form with the necessary social distancing. Live music and dancing will have to wait as will dining at large communal tables. What is still on tap is a rich array of Greek food prepared by volunteers from St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
Final details are being decided by the festival committee, some menu items have been confirmed, according to Irene Sinapole, who helps with publicity.
On the first four Saturdays in October, lunches, dinners and snacks will be sold for takeout at the downtown church. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 8 p.m.
There will be two lines for pickup, one for those who preordered and paid via the festival website (bakersfieldgreekfoodfestival.org) and walk-up customers. Of course, preordering is encouraged, Sinapole said.
Masks will be required and social distancing markers will be designated for lines. Greek music will play from the sound system while people wait, Sinapole said.
On Oct. 3, the entree is Greek chicken, a half-chicken spiced with lemon and oregano, served with Greek potatoes. On Oct. 10, enjoy a boneless leg of lamb, also served with Greek potatoes.
The Oct. 17 entree is pork souvlaki (shish kabobs) with rice pilaf, and on Oct. 24 it will be chicken souvlaki with Greek lemon rice.
Sinapole said each souvlaki entree includes two skewers of meat, and either option is delicious.
"It's a lot of food. You're going to be full," she said.
If you don't like the entree on a given week, you can substitute it for beef gyro.
All dinners also come with salad, feta cheese and a bread roll.
Setting the price point at $15 per meal was important for the committee, which understands this may be a difficult time for many guests.
"These prices have not gone up," Sinapole said. "Those dinners are a fairly decent price. If you would go to a restaurant, you would not get that for $15."
Also confirmed are a la carte items such as gyros ($7) and dolmades, stuffed grape leaves that will be available three for $5 or $15 for a dozen, which Sinapole points out is a better deal.
"They're all handmade. I've never tasted any that are quite like these. There are beef in them; most don't have meat. The spices — mint, maybe oregano — are just really delicious."
Fans of savory pastries will be happy to know that spanakopita (spinach and cheese) and tiropita (cheese) will be offered three for $5 as well.
Pastitsio, a recent addition to the festival lineup that can be compared to a Greek lasagna, will also be sold for $5 a piece or $30 for a quarter-sheet.
"That's another one with a better price," Sinapole said of the large portion that should feed four to five people. "Oh my gosh, the pieces are humongous. You're going to have plenty of food."
Sweet pastries, including baklava and an assortment of cookies, will be sold in variety packs but details are still being ironed out.
Sinapole said more information will become available as the dates near. For the latest updates, check out the festival's website bakersfieldgreekfoodfestival.org, Facebook page (facebook.com/BakersfieldGreekFoodFestival) or Instagram (@bakersfieldgreekfest).
St. George Greek Orthodox Church is at 401 Truxtun Ave.