Friday, July 30, 2010

japanese delights

Hi bento friends! A highlight of my recent birthday celebration was an indulgent visit to Kushi, a recently opened Japanese restaurant that has received rave reviews for its ultra-fresh fish and savory, authentic Izakaya (pub-style) Japanese dishes.Our two-plus hour feast at Kushi was memorable! Here are some images from our epic meal.

Super-fresh and delicate uni (this was my first time trying this exquisite sea treat):
 Lovely grilled quail (photo by Jamison):
 Mixed grill with soy-butter glazed corn, bacon-wrapped asparagus, stuffed spicy peppers, sauce, whole grilled green peppers:
 Crisp-tender duck:
Wood-grilled eggplant...amazing! (photo by Jamison)
 A beautiful chawanmushi custard with edamame, wild shrimp, mushrooms:
Super-fatty tuna, yellowtail, mackrel sashimi:

 Later that day we visited Hana Market, a friendly and very tidy Japanese grocery in the U Street neighborhood with a great selection of Japanese items on its carefully organized shelves, from soba to mizuna, miso to pickles, locally grown Japanese produce and more...
Today's bento is a summery selection of Japanese tastes I love, with an enjoyable selection of little dishes nestled in the shokado box...
Green tea soba with a topping of farmer's market tomato and peppers, garlic, spicy saury, snow pea tops and ohba:
Calamari and seaweed salad with bitter melon, handmade food pick with blue bead accent:
Saturn peach from the farmer's market:
Strawberry mochi, raspberry on top:
In keeping with the soothing blue theme, a favorite Nepalese Buddha from the Sackler-Freer Gallery of Asian Art, which I visited on Tuesday:
A golden butterfly, Friday afternoon:
Happy weekend!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

sunny lion bento

Hi bento friends! This sunny lion onigiri bento is for Leo, my sun sign, and reflects the bright, joyous colors of this time of year.

Many Leo-associated foods are some of my personal favorites: tomatoes, golden-colored vegetables and fruits, salmon, raspberries, bay leaves, saffron, walnuts, basil, lamb. This bento features a few of them: inside the golden-tinted onigiri is spicy salmon, and the lion's sunny mane is of local golden zucchinis, whose bright hue is the essence of summer sun.

Fresh snow pea tops provide a soft green contrast to juicy raspberries and super-sweet golden local tomatoes. A big yellow rose from a birthday bouquet and sunny yellow fabric from Provence keep the radiant summer theme going...

The market has been overflowing with sun-ripened treats, making visits a visual and culinary delight!
A berry "quilt":
Such a pleasure to cook and bento from these local delights this week:
We enjoyed the round eggplant roasted stuffed with gingery beef soboro last night and were amazed by its custardy mellow flavor, must get more this weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2010

inspired by gamene bento

Hi bento friends and happy Friday! Today's bento was inspired by megan's recent, lovely cherry themed bento. I'm always inspired by her carefully crafted, lighthearted and sweetly stylish bentos and get so many cool ideas each time I visit bento zen!

In this version, I used a really yummy brown rice blend found at Trader Joe's. "Brown Rice Medley" contains long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds. Here's how it looks before cooking:

I added some mushroom bouillon for extra flavor and scattered some hazelnuts over the top when it was done--yum! Marinated baby peppers for the "cherries" with green beans and basil for the stems and leaves.

In the upper section, more green beans and zucchini peeled into pasta-like strips and sauteed in olive oil, butter, hazelnuts. Corn for more color and to perch a sweet food pick sent by a super bento pal--many thanks, you know who!

Garden nasturtiums and catmint in a delicate muslin bag:

 Have a relaxing, fun weekend guys!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"ice cream" sandwich bento

Hi bento friends! As the late July heat and humidity continue, thought it would be fun to cool down with a bento featuring an ice cream motif. Plain goat cheese serves as the "vanilla" scoop, I used India Tree natural food coloring to tint the "strawberry" scoop atop a cheddar cheese cone...tiny radish slice for the cherry on top! Inside there's a slice of artichoke-basil-zucchini frittata, baby greens and refreshing avocado. Gumdrops deco tape tucked around the sammie continues the sweets theme...

Watermelon, blueberries, nectarine stars and slices lend color and sweetness...really loving summer fruits this year!

Seeing lots of flowering vines of late:
These mystery pods had a velvety texture:
Hope you are staying cool and enjoying a good week so far...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

steak and market greens bento

Monday's bento is based on leftovers from a big Sunday meal: hubby made organic New York strip steaks baked in a special Greek yogurt, basil pesto, garlic and pepper marinade:
Resulting in tender, delicious steaks:
We enjoyed them with a quinoa pilaf and big green salad of baby romaine, fresh figs, radish and red onion. The dressing was yummy and bittersweet: one tablespoon each of Dundee orange marmalade and stone ground Dijon mustard, mixed together and tossed with the greens which had received a light coating of sea salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar...
At Saturday's farmers market I found a new and interesting leaf: the dramatic violet and green Red Amaranth--its related to lovely quinoa. Here in the bento it serves as a wrap for thinly sliced steak (under the okra garnish). A baby roasted eggplant with pine nuts and basil, quinoa pilaf, radicchio also for lunch:
Dessert is a strawberry mochi given a wagashi look with a Korean melon bunny plus shiny blackberries...

Have a great week and happy cooking, bento friends!

Friday, July 16, 2010

nori kitteh bento

Happy Friday, bento pals! It's been a busy week, looking forward to the weekend--how about you? Today's bento features a kitty shaped onigiri filled with avocado and seasoned rice. She's playing with a colorful ball of "fu", or decorative wheat gluten.

Zucchini with melted manchego cheese, marigold-petaled corn, fresh oregano, ripe blackberries and a watermelon flower keep kitty company. I love these rainbow-colored fu!
Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

savory summer banh mi bento

This bento was inspired by an intriguing package of Vietnamese tapioca cookies found recently at a favorite Asian supermarket. Love the bright colors and neat rows of sweets:
The banh mi is filled with an interesting combo including spicy Szechuan beef tendon, applewood smoked bacon, carrot pickle, mayo and mint. Cantaloupe butterfly, basil, green leaf lettuce, corn, watermelon and orange slices also inside today's lunch...
On a walk this afternoon I encountered these sweet guys:
Happy midweek, bento pals!