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Sunday, June 27, 2010

almost july bento, szechuan delights

This was a great weekend for foodie pursuits. The local market is bursting with more colorful, sun ripened fruits and vegetable and flowers with each visit. Virginia peaches are here and glorious:
And lovely, festive squash and eggplant have me leafing though my cookbooks...
These round eggplant with varigated deep purple tones, streaked with white and ornamented with starry leaf and stem designs are so delightful. Can an unadorned vegetable be kawaii? I say yes!
The delicate petal-folds of this hibiscus plant for sale at the market caught my eye:
Some of the fresh market items we look forward to this week (ok, most of the tomatoes already went into heavenly BLTs made with amazing Niman Ranch Applewood smoked bacon, avocado, red onion, and many slices of these heirloom tomato beauties...summer's recreational meals have arrived!):
 
Today it was too hot to do much outside besides water the yard, so we tried a Szechuan place in Fairfax that has received glowing reviews: Hong Kong Palace. The restaurant inherited its name from the former owners of the space, and its cooking is full of Szechuan vitality, heat and savor. They even import special peppers from the chef's hometown in China for authenticity and maximum deliciousness.

We enjoyed crispy scallion pancakes to start:
Spicy beef tendon with peanuts, green herbs:
A refreshing dish of celery and wood ear mushrooms:
 
Flounder in Szechuan hot pot with special peppers, bean sprouts, ginger--awesome!
The service was helpful, charming and informative--we can't wait to go back and try the Cumin Lamb and a host of delicious-sounding dumplings, just to start! It is such a blessing to live in a diverse area with many proud and passionate food traditions, and we really experienced the benefit of this lucky circumstance today.

Another day near 100 degrees predicted for Monday, so I've made a bento with cooling tastes and textures:
Along with a slice of farmer's market tomato and sprigs of aromatic local basil, baby shrimp with mayo and fennel fronds fill an avocado half; golden zucchini blossoms with goat cheese, Mt Rainier cherries and a watermelon flower mingle for a refreshing lunch...
 
This rose in our yard is happily producing pink blooms amid the heat and dry weather:
Sophie had the right idea this afternoon, chilling underneath the hydrangea:
Have a great week, bento pals!

24 comments:

Lyndsey said...

Oh, you got the squash blossoms! Lucky you! The bento certainly says summer. The avocado looks so good too. Yum!

That food at the Hong Kong Palace looked fantastic. So colorful and fresh!

So cute of Sophie. Our self adopted cat, Negi is his name (at least Sophie is a cute name)has found a new place to sleep at our house. He used to sleep in the back of Wade's jet ski in the garage, now it's in the breezeway between the garage and house under a shelf next to our door. Oh and under my car, now that it's home during the day.

Photos are great! Have a good evening!
xoxo
Lyndsey~

bentobird said...

Hi Lyndsey dear :)
Yes indeed, I'm excited to try them this week! I think I'm addicted to avocados...yum indeed!

Glad you liked the food pics--we were thrilled to add another authentic and yummy place to our restaurant list today :)

Negi looks so adorable in your pictures (pet pet), sweet face and lovely markings.

I was so happy to see you've started to set up a bento site--yay!! Looking forward to it very much. Best wishes and happy week ahead!

Angi said...

I wish I liked fish and different meat because you make it sound and look so good! What I would do for a piece of watermelon though!!!! hhmmm girl I saw some at the grocery store and they wanted £6 for one smaller then a basketball... I think they lost their mind!

bentobird said...

Hi Angi! How are you? Oh my, that's a crazy price for a watermelon (any size)! And given the beautiful, abundant ones back in S.C. I can really understand your yearning! Are there any summer-seasonal treats you are enjoying eating in the UK? Hugs :)

tofugirl said...

Those peaches look amazing! what a beautiful, summery bento. I can just taste the heirloom tomatoes now...(although I could taste them better if you sent me one! Haha. Damnit, when IS someone going to invent a teleporter.)

Scallion pancakes and szechuan style hot pot are two of my favorite foods! So delicious, and strangely, I think eating very spicy food is great in the summer...you sweat, but then you feel cooler :)

Lia Chen said...

Love ... love this bento! And enjoying your great photos as always. The round eggplant is too kawaii! We have it here too the purple and green one. But the purple one is not always available at the supermarket. I still can't get my kids to eat the eggplant. Have to think some ways to cook it :) Have a nice day Jenn!

bentobird said...

Hi Carol! Thanks so much. Yep, the peaches are almost(almost) too pretty to eat! We do need that teleporter...but I'd become enormous quite quickly after teleporting your gorgeous baked goodies, so just as well? ;)

Your point about spicy food in hot weather makes intuitive sense...and now I have another way to rationalize eating alot of it this summer!

bentobird said...

Aw, thanks Lia dear, so glad you liked this bento...and that you see the kawaii qualities of these eggplant as I do! If you have any recipes or thoughts on preparing, I'd love to hear... have a happy day :D

Karina said...

You have the best visits to the Farmers Market. I love finding new and unusual things. My mistake is buying them...thinking I'll be able to make something. I should just take beautiful pics instead and take them in that way. What a fun time...love your little sleeping kitty.

bentobird said...

Hello Karina :)

I'd love to hear about your California market finds!--and I can relate to the challenge of making the most of them--these beautiful round eggplant are right now eyeing me from a pretty platter in the kitchen, silently asking to be cooked! Need to do so soon :)

I agree that taking pictures of seasonal market splendor is tons of fun!

Sophie (who technically lives next door)seems prepared to sleep over here tonight (she's curled up on a comfy chair)...

KidsDreamWork said...

Lovely & lively bento as always! Like the flower bento box (is it a disposable one?), it fits into your bento theme so perfectly!

And your colourful photo never failed to make my day!

sherimiya said...

Really gorgeous and lovely bento. The squash blossom is the most beautiful color. I need to get some basil plants pronto!

Love how Sophie knows where to just blend in...

Sonoma Bento said...

Such lovely photos, bentobird. I had some watermelon today, andfound a recipe for tequila soaked watermelon wedges. Oh my! I will post it soon. Love the pic of Sophie, and you have to make sure they stay cool. Fur coats in 90 plus weather is not so fun.

Judy said...

I just *love* your photos! What kind of camera do you use? Have you had schooling? You seem a natural artist in composition and color. And design too, especially of bento. That said, your watermark font is the same that use in my Foodie blog. Did I copy you? Or is it Coke!

Anncoo said...

Love all your photos. Very nice clicks as always.

bentobird said...

Hello KidsDreamWork, lovely to have you visit. This unfinished wood box was found at an arts and crafts supply store, and I loved its floral shape...so bento box it became! It has some of the fun, easy to use qualitities of a "Magic Round Bento" box:) So happy you enjoyed these pictures!

bentobird said...

Hi sherimiya, thanks! Yes--the zuke blossom color is intense--solar saffron! Fresh basil is the spicy green essence of summer, hope you'll find some great specimens :)

bentobird said...

Dear Sonoma Bento--wow, watermelon tequila treats! Sounds excellent--how delish that would be to finish a homemade Mexican feast...hmmmm, poblano peppers have appeared at the market, you've inspired me! OK, will wait *patiently* for your recipe, tee hee!

Yep, we coaxed her inside to the a/c that afternoon!

bentobird said...

Hi Judy! Wow, thanks so much for these kind comments :)

I've been using a Canon S90 since late Feb, its a sharp, lightweight little camera, like it a good deal. I've never taken classes, though that would be a great experience...just like to take pictures of whatever seems beautiful around me :)

The font is via Picknic--to me it has a kind of antique charm--slightly blurry edges to the scrolled letters, a little bit 18th century in feel (love that century). I love your design sense as well, and the impish charm of your bentos!

Happy Summer!

bentobird said...

Hi there Anncoo! Thanks, so glad you enjoyed! Have a great day...

susanyuen said...

WOW! What a beautiful bento! It's Summer packed into a bento. It's just gorgeous Jenn! :)

bentobird said...

Hi Susan dear--thank you! It's fun to take bento cues from the seasons...I'm a springtime girl, really, but want to enjoy even the hot and humid days of summer with a little help from bento :)

megan said...

sigh, that szechuan meal looks sooooo delicious, i can say a lot of wonderful things about my ne neighborhood, but "good chinese food" is NOT one of them! those BLTs sound good too... jenn, you're a woman after my own heart, spending her weekends eating well - brava!

this bento is so beautifully colorful - the filled avocado and zucchini blossoms are especially elegant touches!

bentobird said...

hi megan--haha, that's what weekends are for!
the BLT's were crazily good--I try not to eat much bacon, but when the heirloom tomatoes come along, resistance crumbles and we, well, pig out on them a couple of times! a sort of rite of summer...

its so lovely to have you back on the bento scene with your inspiring bentos, recipes, and comments!