Sharing the Spirit of Spokane

Centennial Trail Spokane
Photo by Clayton Bunn on

Being separated from family members over the past year and half isn’t a unique story. Like so many others, I’ve missed births and deaths, weddings and graduations and been forced to take part in family events via Zoom, FaceTime and photos.

I recall that, in my youth, my mom would joke that we lived in Dallas, primarily because we could always get home, thanks to it being a major airline hub. I moved to Spokane around the same time that daily non-stop flights between GEG and DFW were introduced, making it easier for this homesick Texan to get back and forth to Dallas. My family last visited Spokane in November of 2019 when we launched Edible Inland Northwest and had a friends-and-family celebration at Wanderlust Delicato. We were able to take a nice family vacation to Hawaii at the beginning of 2020 when the coronavirus didn’t yet demand A-block coverage on the news, but soon after, we all went into lockdown. Them in Dallas, me in Spokane, separated by a global pandemic that had to be weighed against the issues presented by travel.

Even when many people started to return to air travel, the demands of quarantines on either end of the trip, whether mandated by the state or my mother, did not sound like the makings of a dream vacation, so we kept up with promises that we would see each other soon. Then we headed back into winter, when cases spiked and the risks outweighed the benefits, especially once my sister-in-law found out she was pregnant and my brother and she began taking additional sensible precautions for their growing family.

But, as spring rolled around and my niece was born, the separation became too great. So, after receiving my jabs, it finally felt right to visit. Spending a couple of days with my family didn’t make up for the time apart, but we made the most of it—and I caught up on a lot of missed Tex-Mex.

Then, earlier this month, my family came to visit for the first time since the magazine launch. And they weren’t the only ones—I had extended family in town every weekend during August. It wasn’t until the last guest left that I finally had a moment to look back at all the ground we had covered and meals we had eaten. Other than some coffee-shop repeats, I realized that I had not taken any of the three separate groups of visitors to any of the same places.

Early-morning treats from Rind and Wheat, a lakeside picnic lunch from Cafe Carambola in Coeur d’Alene, happy-hour sushi at Umi and late-night pizza from PeacePie. At LocalFest, I introduced my dad to several of the vendors I recently have come to know. In Sandpoint, we enjoyed beers at MickDuff’s new brewpub and picked up goodies from the Pie Hut for a backyard BBQ with friends. Burgers, beignets and birthday cake, thanks to WisconsinBurger, Downriver Grill and Sweet Frostings, respectively. Oh! And we ordered the entire menu at Tavolàta, a feat the chef said was a first since they opened at the beginning of summer and a delight because at least one guest thought that the meal was as good as any one, anywhere!

I loved having my family here, because I enjoy showing off the greater Spokane region with all that it has to offer. I may get nostalgic about being in Dallas, with the opportunity to eat Sunset-Style Fajitas and cracker-thin pizzas and to wander around Eataly with all its varieties of prosciutto, prosecco and Parmigiano stacked 30 feet high. However, these days, I am thrilled by the Inland Northwest’s bounty and growth, which is energized by its creative and generous people. I cannot wait to see how we continue to grow, so I can share it and its new offerings with everyone who either lives in or visits the region.

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Jeffrey Fijolek
Publisher & Editor in Chief, Edible Inland Northwest

This story first appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Edible Inland Northwest