This Wednesday, I had prep class in the evening. Since I was travelling to downtown anyways, I went a few hours early to visit the gallery and to window-shop. With the gorgeous weather outside, I could not resist packing a bento for an alfresco supper on the staircase to the gallery’s entrance. It was nice just to go out and do my own thing.
I also bought two cookbooks at a second-hand bookstore that I stumbled upon on my way to the gallery. The first book talks about 15-minute bentos, with sections on donburis, onigiris, and etc. Its bentos are simple but well-balanced in both taste and colour. The second book dedicates itself to bar cookies and any sweets rectangular shaped. While it has the usual brownie bar or chai bar, it also includes some Japanese-inspired creations like “mille-feuilles à la crème de lait de soja.” Printed in full colour, lovely art direction, interesting recipes… Both books are from Shufu-to-seikatusha, one of my favourite publishing houses. I am especially in love with the images from the second book: the choice of backdrops, the mix of colours and patterns, and the placement of lines. Very “zakka,” very nice.
(clockwise from top left: bâton de cake, bâton de fromage à la banane, mille-feuilles à la crème de lait de soja, shortbread au sucre noir et poivre japonais)
The sweetest bit is that I got each book for $4.50 each (!!). Even though they are “second-hand,” they are in fact in pristine condition: no marks nor tears. Fifty percent less than the original listed price on Amazon Japan, and a fifth of the price at the import bookstore. Just thinking about this makes me ecstatic: nothing beats finding something you love by chance and at low prices.
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I made a simple noriben (海苔弁), which basically is layers of rice and nori seasoned with soy sauce. The method I used was from a random bento book that I flipped through at a bookstore a while back (it may have been this). It is simple to make: spread a thin layer of rice in your bento box, cover it with a sheet of nori, and drizzle over some light soy sauce. Repeat these three steps two more times, and you have gotten yourself a classic bento. My only suggestion is that you should shred the nori into smaller pieces first.
P.S. I can’t believe I actually made it to bento post #40! I know there are many other bento-bloggers who started later than I did and have already gone past 100… But dear readers, you know how lazy I am.