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Corpus Christi food festivals go drive-through

Just a sample of what you'll find at the Jewish Food Festival Nov. 14-15. The Greek Food Festival is set for Nov. 6-8. Both are drive through events. Courtesy photos

Two cultural food traditions will carry on this fall despite the cancellation of many annual festivals in Corpus Christi due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the 57th annual Greek Food Festival and the 35th annual Jewish Food Festival will each offer its culinary delights via drive-through pickup: more food, less festival.

Hosted by St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the Greek Food Festival takes place Nov. 6-8 in the neighboring Nueces Brewing Co. parking lot. The Jewish Food Festival, hosted by Congregation Beth Israel, is Nov. 14-15 in the synagogue's parking lot at 4402 Saratoga Blvd.

GREEK FESTIVAL

From Water Street, enter the Nueces Brewing Co. parking lot at 401 S. Water St. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8.

Customers place their orders for food and pastries with the cashier and then go up the hill for food and drinks, including wine by the bottle (white, rose, red, Moscato, and Mavrodaphne) as well as 32-ounce cans of St. Nicholas Beer, a Greek-style lager specially crafted for the festival by Nueces Brewing Co. Water and tea are also available.

Traditional Greek dinner plates are available with a choice of chicken or pork souvlaki (shish kabob), a tiropita (hot cheese puff made of filo dough filled with feta and ricotta cheese), dolmades (grape leaves filled with meat and rice), rice pilaf, and pita bread. (No substitutions or customizations.) Gyros with tzatziki sauce and pastitsio (baked macaroni with meat and bechamel sauce) are also available.

Greek pastries include koulouria (semi-sweet butter cookie twists baked to a golden brown), baklava (pecans and spices baked in layers of filo and topped with honey syrup), kourambiethes (rich butter cookie with chopped toasted almonds and powdered sugar), melomakarona (spiced cookie dipped in syrup and rolled in nuts), and amigdalota (almond cookies). More information about the Greek Food Festival can be found online or by calling 361-883-0950

JEWISH FOOD FESTIVAL

Hours for the Jewish Food Festival are 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. Now in its 35th year, the much-loved tradition was almost canceled this year, according to event coordinator Marcus Lozano.

“It’s a very intensive event, involving months of planning and needing at least three months to prepare a shopping list,” Lozano said. “We decided that our community needs this, and each year, our congregation has a good time cooking and bonding together in the kitchen, obtaining our food handler's course and permits together. We needed something to look forward to.”

To maintain health and safety protocols with the least amount of contact, this year's festival will turn the parking lot into a drive-through.

When customers arrive at the beginning of the drive-through, they will be given a menu checklist. As they are filling out their order and moving forward in the line, they can roll down the windows and listen to a Klezmer band playing traditional Jewish music.

When the customer pulls forward to a carport near the temple entrance, a server will take the checklist, rush to fill the order, and bring the food to the vehicle as the customer pays with their credit card.

“Our inspiration was the drive-through procedure of Chick-fil-A,” Lozano said.

The popular community festival will include a menu offering showcasing the best of Jewish deli items with traditional favorites such as a succulent brisket dinner with kugel and green beans. Other items include savory cabbage rolls, matzah ball soup, New York-style corned beef sandwiches with potato salad, chopped liver, and kosher dill pickles from the Brooklyn Terminal Market.

The Sweet Shop will include assorted Jewish desserts such as rugelach, black and white cookies, Mandel bread, New York cheesecake, matzoh treats, and homemade challah.

A brunch including bagel and lox plates and blintzes will be available on Sunday only.

“Other changes to the menu are that we will also have ready-to-heat meals that you can pop in the oven and will be ready in 20-30 minutes,” Lozano said. “All the food that will be offered that day will be amazing.”

For more information on the Jewish Food Festival, visit the Facebook page or call 361- 857-8181.

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