Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween Bento

At the last Reston Farmer's Market of this year:

Back home, fall-blooming camellias:

Happy Halloween Bento: brown rice, carrots, sesame eggplant, and maple-miso chicken with endive (and nori kitty with soy paper and fish roe!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

As November Nears, A Bento of Scorpio Foods and Flavors

According to the very entertaining and informative "A Taste of Astrology" by Lucy Ash (Knopf, 1988)Scorpio, the sign presiding over this Halloween period of falling gem-colored leaves, remembrance, and deepening Autumn shadows has traditional food assocations that include cayenne, garlic, peppers, pine nuts, eggplant. Other food lore sources associate pumpkin, pomegranate, almonds, and star anise with Scorpio. This bento incorporates all of these foods and flavorings:

The details: farmer's market peppers filled with pine nuts, organic beef, garlic, scallion, diced stuffed grape leaves, cayenne, and ground chipotle pepper. Rounding out the bento: pumpkin with red onion, ginger, cloves and almonds plus roasted eggplant topped with Greek yogurt and pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend Before Halloween Bento

On the next-to-last farmer's market of the year in my neighborhood, deep, bright colors abounded:

And in the garden, the delightful contrast of softer pinks amid ruddy, ochre and amber tones:

My work bento for Monday features soba noodles in a spicy sesame-scallion-chili oil dressing, with salmon, farmer's market broccoli, orange peppers, edible flowers, and baby greens--plus a Halloween nori cat!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mash Hassan Bakery and Market

A twilight visit to the Mash Hassan Bakery and Market in Sterling, VA yielded a bright selection of Persian treats, including seeded flat breads, nuts and dried fruits, cheeses, hard to find dried herbs, preserves, saffron ice cream, unique spice blends, and more in a brightly lit, friendly shop decorated with romantic images of serene, dark-eyed women--a Sufi influence, perhaps?

Saffron rock candy:

And varieties of ghee:

Look for the wonderful whole wheat and sesame bread by the cash register, right next to the fresh pistachios:
I came home with many things, including bright, fresh mint:
And dried apricot in a thick sheet:
Plus many of these pastries:

Today's bento with maple-Dijon chicken, with tarragon, mint, grapes,cheese, and bread from the market:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Market Day Bento

The season is changing quickly: Saturday morning was just 45 degrees. Soft rain and gray skies an ideal background for fiery foliage...

Reston's Washington Plaza early Saturday morning:

The Reston Farmer's Market closes for the season in two weeks. While waiting for its Spring return, it will be interesting to explore year round markets in the area, including Alexandria's Market Square, where "farmers and artists have been selling their products since 1753."

These pumpkin and spice treats are from Valentine Country Bakery in Orange, VA:

This bento was made with market eggplant, tomatoes, baby greens, and edible flowers. It reflects the sense of chill adventure and change in the air, as color and life intensifies before being sent underground for renewal and rebirth. In other words, Halloween is on the way!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chilly Friday Bento

Today's bento features tuna steak in a mirin-miso-sesame sauce, avocado slices, and radish flowers. Craving sweets as I often do when the temperatures drop, I added hazelnut chocolates from the Russian Gourmet shop in Alexandria (love the squirrel wrappers). Kiwis and papaya lend some summery color as we head into November weather earlier than expected....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Union Square Greenmarket Visit and Bento

A visit to the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC on a drizzly Friday morning last week more than fulfilled my expectations. The very human scale of the market, coiled around the park's green heart, offered bright-colored variety and selection at every table. The sounds and energy of the city surrounding the market seemed to intensify the vividness of everything grown and offered.

Beautiful fall fruits and vegetables glowed with good health. Especially fresh and delicate produce was available at the Lani's Farm stand, grown in Hightstown NJ with evident loving care:

Their nasturtium were a peppery delight and became a key bento element, as did their baby romaine and mizuna. I felt like the bento made itself, with these items migrating to their self-selected, natural places.

Peppers, squash and other fall produce in many varieties:

As were handcrafted cheeses and breads:

Flowers of many kinds:

and much more!

Afterwards, my brother Peter and I met up and discovered a very good Japanese place for lunch just a few of blocks away: Butai, 115 E 18th St. Excellent salmon teriyaki with crispy skin bento lunch, relaxed atmosphere, grey gentle breeze blowing through its open doors--a find!