Sorry this is a little late but I wanted to share a new food experience from last week.
The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is traditionally a harvest festival centered around the full moon. This year it took place around the full moon of October 4th. Originally celebrated in China and Vietnam, it has spread to many parts of Asia and found some attention from communities in the United States as the diaspora of tradition unfolds. The Mid-Autumn Festival seems to mean a little bit of a different thing to each community but the major ideas are family, gathering together and celebrating the harvest. One of the shared treats of this festival are Mooncakes.
These small cakes are stamped with intricate designs and filled with a variety of flavors like red bean, lotus paste, and mixed nuts, and often have one or two egg yolks in the center, which are sometimes salted duck yolks. Most commonly these cakes are circular with a flour crust and have imprints special to the bakery or relevant to the festival, but in some places are made of a jelly type exterior. There are such a range of types and specialties, from sweet to savory they are a beauty to experience.
In my Mooncake mission I sought out some advice and was recommended to a great bakery in my neighborhood. I can't tell you how many times I must have driven by not knowing what was inside, but was thrilled to stop in and see. Kien Giang Bakery (1471 Echo Park Ave) was in an incredible flurry of mooncakes! They had beautiful gold tins of different flavors stacked up, and a bakery shelf full of different individual variations. Since I was the only one snacking I tried to exercise the smallest restraint but it was basically impossible, there were so many things to taste! I settled on two "mini" mooncakes without egg, one lotus paste and one mixed nuts and a full sized, special flavor Abalone and mixed nuts which had one yolk inside. If you still have time to go bakery hunting I'd highly recommend checking out this spot!
Lotus Paste and Mixed Nut "Minis"
Abalone and Mixed Nut with One Yolk
These little cakes were sweet, dense and hearty, one slice packs a punch! It is reccomended to eat them with tea to balance the flavors. The yolk was not overpowering and added a nice savory quality. The abalone cake was sweet with a light taste of the ocean. I think the lotus paste was my favorite out of all of them but one thing is for sure, these little cakes are a beauty to behold!
Happy Mid-Autumn festival everyone!
For everyone interested:
Kien Giang Bakery, Inc.
1471 Echo Park Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026