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FoodNotes: Oklahoma's culinary calendar

Oklahoman Published: February 18, 2009

Soul Food Festival Friday

The annual Soul Food Festival returns to Grace Living Center,1921 NE 21st, on Friday. Food is served from noon to 3 p.m., the tradition grew from a conversation between Margaret Wright, Director of Dietary Services at Grace Living Center and administrator Sharon Dutton about traditional soul food. It started as a treat for residents of the home, staff, families and friends and in 2000 became a community event that now draws thousands.

This year's feast will feature 38 menu items, including fried chicken, meatloaf, pigs' feet, mixed greens, fried okra, black-eyed peas, Cajun dirty rice and a plethora of desserts.

Entertainment will include live music by Ermitt Brazille and the E and E Blues Express jazz band and Lee Fairchild of the Friends for Folks program with a black Labrador performing tricks.

There is no charge, but an offering box is available for those interested in contributing toward group trips for residents.

“Folks are welcome to join us, break bread, and enjoy the fun and fellowship,” Wright said, “but we don't offer take away. We want visitors to take time to sit and dine and get to know us better. A lot of people don't know very much about nursing homes. We want folks to see that there's a lot of love here. Our residents enjoy life because we're all one big family.”

Mama Roja opens on East Wharf

Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen is open for business on Lake Hefner's East Wharf. Operated by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, the restaurant opened in earlier this month. The restaurant is akin to a large, family-style Tex-Mex restaurant found in Texas. And while they're isn't freebie queso as part of the setup, four different salsas are standard with others available upon request. The menu includes lunch specials and ranges from street tacos to combination platters. Formerly occupied by Bahama Breeze, the 8,000-square-foot space is long on natural light thanks to the abundance of windows facing the lake. The interior has been reworked to create Tex-Mex ambiance, including the centrally located bar, and has a capacity of about 300.

Cooking Classes

FEB. 21

Restaurant Style Wings. Crispy chicken wings with a trio of sauces — chef Ian Wagner at The Gourmet Grille, 1 to 1:45 p.m., free, class limited to 15.

FEB. 24

Sushi with Michiko Dowling. 6:30-9:30 p.m. $29. Francis Tuttle, Rockwell Campus

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