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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

cancer the crab cake bento and baltimore explorations

Hi bento pals! This month's astro-bento is for Cancer the Crab...or crab cake. We took a holiday weekend jaunt to the homeland of the crab cake: Baltimore, Maryland. And happily, this city was not only full of wonderful food, particularly seafood, its layers of the past and sense of originality were fully in keeping with the nostalgic, lunar spirit of this sign.

Lexington Market was an incredible journey through American food history, now in its 220th year. Today, it preserves in architectural amber the spirit of the last century. The intact Art Deco vividness of the "Chinese Savouries" stand amazed me:
 
So many options for local seafood and soul food here:
And an abundance of all kinds of sweets:
You can bring your delicious prepared food purchase upstairs and take a seat overlooking the food hall and listen to live music: a reggae band was playing when we visited. The maze-like proximity of food stands serving everything from crab cakes (of course) to hot sausages, fried chicken to Italian pastries was overwhelming, exciting and so much fun...
Jamison took these great shots at Poe's burial place:

 
 
The next morning we explored the city's waterfront as sizzling heat radiated off the streets, then hopped on a water taxi to venture out to Fells Point and Canton...delightfully cooling and a way to get closer to the aquatic heart of Baltimore.
 
 At Fells Point, lovely 18th century streets, many bars and taverns...
 Melting in the sun a little, we ducked in the cool, quirky Cafe Latte'da for excellent iced coffee...
and came across a little book took me back in time: I recall meeting its illustrator Mimi Vang Olsen one day while walking around NY with my mom many years ago...plenty of cute and helpful suggestions for giving your new kitty a Japanese or culinary-inspired name!
Fells Point street view by Jamison:
 
Lunch at the excellent Canton Dockside featured exquisitely simple and fresh crabs. We shared several steamed to order jumbos...with the addition of soft-shelled crab and sweet corn, this meal was summer bliss!
 
Buildings near our downtown hotel were full of interesting architectural character, often with a maritime theme:
Staying at the (very welcoming and comfortable) Monaco in the refurbished former headquarters of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway offered interesting glimpses of the past as well:
For breakfast we found ourselves time-traveling at the wonderfully dark-wood, Olde England-evocative Burke's. They open every day at 7 am, serving up old-time Mid-Atlantic Americana: yummy, caloric and sustaining meals in a relaxing, dimly lit dining room.
Comfy booths parallel a pretty 40's era bar:
My chili omelet:
This visit has us very interested to return, to glimpse other layers of the past as they interact with a vibrant, if at times challenging present in a friendly city full of excellent food. As seafood lovers, how could we stay away?
 Speaking of seafood, this month's Astro bento features foods that astrologer and chef Lucy Ash describes in the Cancer chapter of A Taste of Astrology.

Watery and soothing foods are expressions of this maternal, lunar sign: crab, eggplant, watercress, melons, pine nuts, mushrooms, lychee, dairy products, cucumber...this bento includes many of them. A crab cake is nestled in with watercress, lunar orbs of shimenji mushrooms and juicy watermelon:
Roasted eggplant with pine nuts fills a sakura container, golden corn (whose summery friendship with crab I so enjoyed this weekend) also inside with ripe cherries, a lychee and more watermelon for cooling relief (at least 100 degrees today, again)...

Thanks for coming along on this journey!

16 comments:

Lyndsey said...

Your bentos always make me smile! What a perfect Cancer crabcake bento! My birthday is next month, I can't wait to see what you come up with...oh but I'm Virgo near the Leo cusp, so I'll just have to wait a little longer! :D

You have such an eye for taking great photos. I love all the interesting architectural details that you capture.

And how can you not got to a place that boasts "best crabs in town"? :-)

Sonoma Bento said...

Wow! Thanks for taking us on your trip to Baltimore. It looks like you had lots to see and sample. I just love bustling markets like Pike Place in Seattle, and the Farmers Markets in Sonoma County. The combo of people watching and good food is always fun.

Jenn @ BentoForKidlet said...

What a gorgeous and tasty looking bento yet again! I love to see all of your pretty pictures!

sherimiya said...

How magical and delectable all at the same time!! I love your excursions and the way you found so many crabs for this bento. Super cool cat name book too!

tatabonita said...

Wow, Baltimore is beautiful! And here it is the Gemini Bento's brother, the Cancer crabcake bento hehe :D. Lovely as always Jenn, bravo!

bentobird said...

Hi Lyndsey, well that makes me smile to read! I'm a very early Leo, on the cusp of Cancer and I can readily relate to this foodie, nostalgic sign :) Have a great day, looking forward to your newest bento and recipes :)

bentobird said...

Hi there Sonoma Bento, thanks for coming along and sharing these comments! I can't wait to see the food markets of Sonoma and Seattle some day...

bentobird said...

Thanks, Jenn! Your comment is delightful as ever, looking forward to visiting your blog today...

bentobird said...

Hi sherimiya dear, thanks so much! Yep, this was really crab city...yum! The book was sooo cute, and an interesting document of the late 70's. Here's a lovely example of this artist's cat portraiture:
http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2960089100030754497HOErZG

bentobird said...

Hi Ta! Your comments are like sunshine, thanks so much...glad you liked this companion to your Gemini bento :)Hope your week is going well!

Debra said...

Who needs a vacation when we can just read your posts Jenn!

Thanks for letting me "tag along", I enjoyed every moment and hung on every word and photo. You have quite the eye for interesting shapes, colors and intrigue.

Of course the bento is lovely as usual.

bentobird said...

Hi Debra, delightful comment, thanks for the smile! Have been relishing "tagging along" for your recent Korean restaurant excursions, almost feel like I've been to these yummy places (the flavor-concept of "mushroom bibimbap" still resonates in my mind)!

Kaimono888 said...

Wow..yet another colorful post on your bento^.~ I like it. The crabs look huge and spicy huh?

bentobird said...

Hi Kaimono, thanks so much :) They were huge, and so fresh...wish we could share some...:)

Tammy Rose said...

so glad u enjoyed my city. I am so homesick. intexas.com

Bentobird said...

Hi Tammy, it was beautiful and I'd love to go back. Thanks for your comments, have a wonderful day!