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Monday, September 6, 2010

virginia country breakfast bento

 
We took a leisurely trip down to Lynchburg, VA this weekend, a drive about three and a half hours south to a very different world from the D.C. nexis of Northern Virginia. In this green and slower-paced city at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains we found much of architectural and culinary interest, a lovely change of pace.

Lynchburg was founded by in 1757 by Quaker and tradesman John Lynch; Thomas Jefferson was very fond of the city and built a home nearby called Poplar Forest. Given Jefferson's wish that Virginia would one day become a thriving home of viticulture, it was fitting that our explorations this weekend brought us to the vineyards of the oldest wine producer in the state!

The city's Community Market has been in operation since the 18th century and sells local fruits, vegetables, hams, preserves, and crafts:
Inside the Market we found a great selection of jams, jellies, wood, paper and ceramic handicrafts--I could not resist this wild plum preserve!
Locally made candies in bright colors:

On Main Street, an eclectic variety of garden and farm supplies and yummy cafes:
Aren't these snail and froggie watering cans cute?
Layers of architectural history live side by side in the commercial district, to include this beautiful and elaborate cast-iron facade and various classical details:
We stopped for refreshing iced lattes and an exceptional nutmeg-laced chai at a sprawling, relaxed coffee house/used bookstore called the White Hart
The weather was perfect this weekend--deep and brilliant blue skies, warm and breezy...
 
Although sadly I was not able to get any good pictures of our meal, dinner at Bull Branch was a sparkly, fun and funky evening in a romantically candlelit room with a creative menu spanning a range of world cuisines. Starting the meal with a savory hummus, crusty fresh baked bread and a very minty mohito was lovely. We really enjoyed the mellowly spiced fish in coconut curry sauce, and a salad of honey-sweet local cantaloupe with arugula and feta was so memorable that I re-visited the salty/sweet/green combination in today's bento!

We stayed at a creatively refurbished former shoe factory where this sprightly terrier greets guests and sometimes makes off with their shoes!
 
The green view from our room:
Sunday morning, we had a filling southern-style breakfast featuring sweet potato pancakes, corn cakes and local sage-flavored sausage. Given my love of all things sweet potato, I had to try these:
About a half hour outside of town, we found an amazing winery (the oldest in the state): Mountain Cove in Lovingston. Its land was aflutter with butterflies, the winding country road up to the vineyard embroidered with morning glories in purple, fuchsia, and ivory.
The view from the tasting room, where we enjoyed a very informative chat with the owner of Mountain Cove, who gave us a lively overview of the revival of wine making in Virginia from the early 1970's onwards as we sampled a tasty tinto and a delicious crisp apple wine...
Today's bento featured a collection of Virginia summer flavors inspired or sourced from our trip! Perfectly ripe local cantaloupe, a heart-shaped sweet potato pancake sandwich of sage sausage and golden tomato, baby greens with goat cheese and cantaloupe, plus heirloom tomatoes and black figs round out a bento of summer-ripened delights...
Have a great week and happy cooking!

36 comments:

cherry bento said...

It sounds like you had a lovely weekend away. The sweet potato pancakes look delicious. Beautiful photography, as usual. :)

cherry bento said...

PS. LOL at the terrier and the shoe!

BentoBeginner said...

This is only about an hour away from my home! Glad to see someone enjoying local history, and food!

Sonoma Bento said...

Wow! thanks for sharing your adventures Jenn! Looks like it was a great trip, and nice to see how it inspired a fun bento.

Judy said...

We went wine tasting too this weekend - only in "our backyard" though. Apple wine sounds interesting! Lovely pictures of the countryside and a yummy looking bento.

sherimiya said...

Love love love the heart - shaped sweet potato pancake sandwich. Such a sweet idea. You sure live in a stunningly gorgeous part of the world, don't you? I had a wonderful time journeying with you. I'm smiling now, as I head into my evening :o)

Emily Ng said...

:) You had a great journey and I have a super great "virtual tour" too...from your photos. ^.^
Love the bento, feel hungry now...

Lia Chen said...

Your journey photos always so interesting and nice! Thanks for sharing them with us ... Bento looks awesome! Need to learn food styling on the bento from you Jenn :)

tatabonita said...

You surely got a wonderful trip Jenn :D. I love the architectural beauty you have captured and a short story about Lynchburg. I even love the greenery photos, they remind me to Hannah Montana the movie whose setting in beautiful green rustic Tennessee :D. Oh, when will I have an opportunity to go to the states? T_T

Lil'chan said...

Wow, what a great bento!
I love the tomatoes and the heart ^-^

Bento Box / Asfora said...

Sounds like you had a lovely time! You got some great pics. Some of the pics look very English - the tea shop, countryside and home made jams! Super looking bento too! :o)

bentobird said...

hi cherry (cheery!) bento, thanks for your sweet comments! The terrier was quite a character, love staying places with live cute mascots….

bentobird said...

oh, that’s so cool! what beautiful, beautiful countryside, lucky you BB!

bentobird said...

hi Michelle, thanks we did have lots of fun this weekend! have a great Tuesday :D

bentobird said...

hi there Judy! ah, your weekend sounds relaxing. the apple wine had a nicely bracing edge to it, would be good in Normandy-style chicken dishes I’m guessing…will need to go back for another bottle if I’m to find out, tee hee….

bentobird said...

hello sherimiya! so glad you enjoyed this visit, that makes me smile for sure :D more rural trips are in order before it gets cold!

bentobird said...

thank you Emily for coming along, what a pleasure to share this visit with you!

bentobird said...

hi Lia, many thanks for coming along and for sharing your kind comments...I look forward to many smiles from your art-bentos this week!

bentobird said...

hi Ta! What a delightful comment, I hope you will be able to visit the US soon and see all the places here that interest you! hugs…

bentobird said...

hi there Lil’chan, so glad you liked this one! I imagine fall is starting to appear where you live? I remember how quickly summer turned to fall when I lived a bit north of you several years ago…

bentobird said...

hiya Asfora! ah, that would make sense, Virginia has such deep historic ties to England, great insight...thanks for your visit and lovley comments my friend :D

Lunch Buckets said...

Fried pies! I can't believe I've forgotten about fried pies. My mom used to make them from dried peaches, yum!

slushygirl said...

Jenn, I am ready to change my vacation plans for many reasons but mainly for the fried pie! I would kill for one of my grandmother's pies. You really do have a keen eye...such interesting shots. And the quilt table cloth is lovely!

bentobird said...

hi Lunch Buckets, thanks for sharing this culinary memory...sounds so sweet!

bentobird said...

hello Slushy! I really appreciate your kind comments...hope some delicious fried pie will figure in your near future, on vacation or at home :D!

babykins said...

I feel like I had a trip to an old good countryside in the US. Remembered The scenes I saw in the picture books when I was younger. I really love the atmosphere like these. Is that boy Amish? aahh I want to go to America so badly!

Debra said...

I don't know what to add except to say "wow". Oh...and OMG! Fried apple pie! I'd "hit" that! :)

bentobird said...

Hi Izumi! Ah, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed these pictures and that they even reminded you of picture books and pleasant green visions, that is so cool!

bentobird said...

Debra, thanks indeed for your comments and for making me LOL!!

Lexi said...

Looks beautiful there - and I love this heart shaped pancake!

bentobird said...

Hi there Lexi! Thanks a bunch, wishing you a fun weekend!!

Lyndsey said...

Okay I don't know where I was when this was posted, all I can say is...ahh...err...it must of been because it was the beginning of school and back to work for me. ;D

This looks like my kind of trip. We visited several wineries in northern part of the lower peninsula in Michigan and had so much fun. Did you know they had a whole book on winery dogs? We met a few. I love your style of photographs, it really catches my interest, I love looking at them.

The sweet potato pancakes with sage sausage sounds awesome! Yummy!

Tabatha said...

That looks fabulous. Love the photos -- now I have to make a fried pie this weekend.

bentobird said...

Hi Lyndsey, so nice to come across this sweet comment from you! reading them makes it so fun to share my photos! interesting about the Michigan wineries, and any vacation is enhanced when cute animals are present, no?

bentobird said...

Hello Tabitha, thanks very much your visit and kind words...happy cooking, homemade fried pies sound utterly delish!

Diana - FreeStyleMama said...

Very pretty! Thanks for linking up to Bento Blog Network! I've added you to our sidebar blog roll!