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Friday, April 2, 2010

cherry blossom journey

Spring arrives in the Washington DC area with a sweet, lively spirit, unfolding with increasing beauty and variety by the beginning of April. Right now, we are at the height of pink sakura wonder and the National Cherry Blossom Festival is in full bloom! The Festival is an annual two-week event that "celebrates springtime in Washington, DC as well as the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan."

With the famous pale pink Yoshino cherry blossom display reaching its peak at the DC Tidal Basin this week, I set out to explore the fleeting, beautiful sights...
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 My journey started in lovely Old Town Alexandria, where the unique and delicious Buzz bakery cafe offered a special "Cherry Blossom" latte made with French cherry syrup and dark chocolate--really divine! Here's a cup next to the equally perfect weather report:
Other seasonal specials at Buzz:
Oh, yum!:
In bloom in the neighborhood:
In the garden of historic Christ Church, magnificent magnolias:
And rosy dicentra:
A cheerful window with Easter bunnies:
Taking the Metro into DC to see the beautiful sakura display was next! Here, blossoms framing a view of the Jefferson Memorial:
Nearby is one of my favorite museums, the Sackler-Freer Museum of Asian Art. I love this unique zodiac chandelier at its entrance:
Once inside, I was eager to see more spring blossoms! Details from a stunning Japanese screen, Blossoming Plum amd Camellia in a Garden Landscape by Kano Koi (1569-1636):
The serenity and elegance of this museum casts its own spell:
A lovely plate from an exhibit of ceramics from southern Japan:
I returned home amid a breezy, golden twilight. This bridge with weeping cherry trees is a close walk from our house:
Corgis strolling amid the blooms:
This hanami bento features sushi rice, shrimp, asparagus, sliced egg, garlic buds, carrots, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, and pretty flower-shaped hana fu. I purchased these at Katagiri in NYC last fall and have been waiting until spring to enjoy them!
 According to my lovely reference book,  Annual Events of Japan and Recipes of Dishes, this is a popular type of bento to enjoy under the gentle shelter of blooming spring trees...

As accompaniment, a small salad bento with baby greens and inari filled with avocado, rice and wasabi, topped with ume nameshi, a blend of dried plum and other savory seasonings (another item I've been squirreling away until spring!):
For dessert, a hand-decorated mini cupcake, kiwi and champagne mango flowers:
Happy spring, bento friends!

20 comments:

tatabonita said...

Beautiful bento and photos presentation Jenn :D. You always make jealous everytime you post great photos like these - you made me want to go with you hunting beautiful object to be photographed :D

bentobird said...

Thank you Tata! I love your photos, too! Wishing you a great weekend, dear :)

Bento Box said...

Absolutely gorgeous blossoms, blooms, and bento! Thanks for sharing your beautiful pics :D

bentobird said...

Hi there Bento Box, I thank you for this delightful comment!

sherimiya said...

I am so envious of you and other DC area friends who get to experience the explosion of cherry blossoms this weekend!! You are truly fortunate to enjoy this once yearly phenomenon. I love your celebration bento, and all the sakura themed associations. Thank you for sharing the journey with us. We have a few blooming cherry in the neighborhood and I adore them :)

babykins said...

How lovely and beautiful! I'm impressed with these pics. Since our neighboring sakura haven't bloomed yet, I'm so happy to see your sakura pics.
Your ohanami bento is graceful and looks so tasty.
You made the sakura pick too? So lovely!! ^^

hapa bento said...

Your sakura pics are sensational. Here in the PNW... we had a freakishly warm spell last month and all our cherry blossoms burst into full bloom only to be blown away by recent storms. I had no chance for a hanami picnic. But I'm so glad to be able to experience yours! Beautiful bento as always Jenn.

bentobird said...

Dear sherimiya, thank you for coming along on this sakura tour with me! It's been so fun to share spring's unfolding with you from our opposite coasts!

bentobird said...

Hi babykins! Thanks! I can't wait to see pics of the sakura blossoms when they burst open in your part of Japan! (The sakura pick is store-bought--its actually a sticker! in another bento I fashioned a similar flower onto colored paper and a toothpick for a brighter decorative effect :)

bentobird said...

Dear Debra, ah yes, the vagaries of early-spring weather! Some years here, the blossoms get frost bitten or suddenly shatter in a strong rain storm. After a historically harsh winter, their full and healthy bloom feels like a blessing! Thank you so much for visiting and here's to next spring's hanami picnic!

Lia Chen said...

Sorry for the late comment Jenn. More great flower pictures, just make me happy to see how beautiful they are. The bento itself is so pretty ... an awesome way to translate the beauty of the spring. You always the best!

megan said...

you have really captured the joy and the essence of cherry blossom season in dc with this post - gosh i love your "travel postcard" style posts. this bento looks wonderful too - look at you, exercising such restraint in saving these little goodies for your spring presentations! i don't even know what hana fu is, but it is lovely! and did you decorate that gorgeous cupcake with your *own* hands, or the people at buzz did so?

bentobird said...

Thanks so much Lia, your comments always add a happy glow to my day, and this lovely one's no exception! See you at Bentolicious!

bentobird said...

Hiya gamene! Thank you! It's a token of how nuts I am about this time of year that I saved these items for now :)
hana fu are decorative wheat cakes--the cute cherry blossoms with the hot pink accents in this bento!
Inspired by the Buzz cherry blossom cupcakes, I got a plain vanilla mini cupcake at whole foods and embellished it with the sakura design :)
Happy, glorious NYC spring to you!!

Margot said...

Happy Spring also to you! Beautiful images, love the bento with cherry blossoms :)

bentobird said...

Hi there Margot! many thanks...so happy you enjoyed this post :)

Susan Yuen said...

Gorgeous Spring bento! I love the arrangement with all of the different colors. You always have the best photos. :D

gnoegnoe said...

What an abundance! Makes me wish I could hop over and visit DC with you :)

I've been to Washington in 1993 but it was only for a few days in summer and it was 100 degrees at the time... Couldn't lift a foot, so hot!

bentobird said...

Hi Susan, thank you for the big smile! Hugs :)

bentobird said...

Hey gnoe, yes, please do hop on over, that would be fun! Summer in DC is pretty humidly intense--good description above! I intend to eat tons of chilled fresh fruit to stay cool this year ;)