Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lotus, nature, and food

This weekend was all about appreciation for me... appreciating nature and food.

We started yesterday afternoon with a visit to Echo Park for the annual Lotus Festival.

My family regularly goes to the Lotus Festival hosted by the local Buddist temple in Port Arthur, Texas. All their descriptions have always made me want to participate (but I've never been visiting during that time of the year).

Last weekend the LA Times ran a story about the Lotus Festival here in LA so S and I made plans to go this weekend.

I think that the two events are probably about as different as you can get. It sounds like the Port Arthur festival is more of a religious celebration with much appreciation of the plant and nature in general (looking at their web pages it appears to be a celebration of Budda's birthday).

Our festival, which didn't have any clear attachment to any Buddist group, was a bit more like a carnival. Fair food (corn dog on a stick anyone?) and lots of booths selling imports. Nevertheless, we had a nice time walking around the lake and admiring the few lotus blossoms that were present.

It's been a hard year for the lotus here. They are speculating that this is due to the low rainful and high heat.

To be fair I should mention that there was a bit of an Asian presence at the festival, as evident from the dragon above. There were also some exhibitions (traditional asian and polynesian dancing). Maybe there was a spiritual element there too... but if so, I missed it [grin].

Of course there was at least one evil spirit present. This is an image of of a corrupt young boy about the run screaming through a flock of pigeons that were being quietly and pleasantly fed by a elderly man. Sigh... so much for peaceful reflection.

The lotus buds were quite beautiful though, and you do take your peace with you, so we had a great time. I think one of these days I need to try to make it to a temple for a more traditional celebration though.

After we left the festival we drove to the beach so we could spend a bit of quiet time reflecting on the ocean. Beautiful evening visit. Temps at the coast in the 70s, beautiful coastal breeze... a nice contrast to the festival.

Our day finished up with appreciation for food with evening spent with the Viand. I wish I had photos to share of this event but we foolishly didn't take any. You can at least see pictures on the Viand's webpages to get a sense of what the group was like though.

The idea of the viand is a blend of slow food, small plates, locally grown produce, sustainable living, and hand made food. One of the organizers is a friend of S's and she invited us to join the group. The group meets once per month and about 20 people attend each time, half 1st timers and half returning guests.

I think the tag line they use on their web page sums it up for me...

I think it's a phenomenal idea to really consider how we can become more cognizant of our food... where it grows, the resources consumed to grow and transport it, how it's prepared. (I know Hannah at the Purloined Letter has been writing about this quite a bit in the past month).

The other great thing about this dinner... everything was delicious!
It's 10 courses (meaning 10 different items, served one at a time, in very small servings - small plates).

Crostini with goat cheese and a tapenade made with figs and pomegranates (yumm!)
Cucumber and purslane salad
Grape leaves filled with a rice mixture with apricots and feta
Sauteed greens (I believe this was called something like lambshank... a green I had never had before)
Crostini with heirloom tomatoes and thinnly sliced parmesean
Hierloom tomato sample (8 different heirlooms sliced in small chunks so you could try each)
Pork loin stuffed with figs (as veggies we skipped this course)
Corn muffins with grilled peppers
Grilled peaches with cayanne pepper (yummm too)
Chocolate cake with a raspberry puree

Delicious! Even skipping the bread items and the meat (my meat and wheat avoidance issues) it was a fabulous experience. Definitely inspires you to eat more simply and locally.

I can hardly wait to get more heirloom tomatoes out of our yard.

So a very full and pleasant day.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair for me not to give you an update on the knitting front too.

After finishing up my shrug, I've decided to work a bit more on my toe-up sock. Here's the photo from early Saturday (I think) which I was going to blog before we left for our adventures. Pre-heel you'll see.

Here's the sock later in the afternoon, heel turned!

I've even gotten a bit further along on a K1,P1 ribbed leg of the sock (knitting while talking on the phone makes for good progress, but a bit of a shoulder cramp!). I might actually finish this soon and be ready to start on number 2. The best thing, no fear now about the toe up sock. Simple. I'm going to reserve judgement for a bit, but right now I think I may actually prefer the leg down sock a bit better... but again, let's wait for the end to see.

Happy reflecting, eating, and knitting everyone!

1 comment:

The Purloined Letter said...

Wow! What a meal. Sounds absolutely delicious!