This weekend proved a rich source of bento inspiration and ingredients. Starting with an invigorating morning walk to my local farmer's market in Saturday's spicy, chilly air, with roses, anemones and small rivers of acorns along the path...
Amid thinning crowds, down from summer's glory days of glamour tomatoes and watermelons, the rippled, bright pumpkins and squash beckoned. Baby tomatoes and crisp apples were present, along with unbelievable dahlia bouquets in ripe peach-red, when not dark magenta or lilac-tipped white (all in the same bunch). I wish I could make these last longer than three days in the vase!
Once home, here's some of what I had (and still have) to cook/bento with:
Right now the baby eggplants are in the oven; a red pepper went into a stir-fry lunch today with rice and rainbow chard.
Headed over to the wonderful Eden Center in Falls Church with a friend to have lunch and do some food shopping. Once there, we learned that we had accidentally picked the auspicious day of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for our visit. Beautiful celebratory moon cakes were everywhere (the nut and spice version was so good!), along with the usual great selection of prepared treats, bahn mi, and my personal downfall, crispy crepe with shrimp and beansprouts, extra fresh herbs, please.
The version at Huong Viet was was nice--accessorized with tender lettuce and sharp, aromatic basil. The combined crispiness, red-pepper spiced fish sauce, and green zinging herbs make a mouth-alchemy of joy. Some of the crepe managed to survive, and went into the next day's bento project. Even the marinated carrots had a special sweet savor. At the well-organized Cho Saigon supermarket was a great selection of items, including some Japanese seasonings I'd had trouble tracking down at the much larger H-Mart last week.
Back home, I read a bit about the associations of lunar radiance (and rabbits), romance, family, and well-being celebrated during the moon festival (thank you,Wikipedia). The next day, taking a walk and thinking about a bento to gather some of the holiday's symbols and Saturday's produce together, I encountered this kitty lolling in the dappled, sunny shade. Exactly the feeling of this beautiful weekend and time of year!