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Bäcos + Tuna in the LA Weekly: I am a Food Writer!

After writing LA-centric features for the school newspaper, arts and entertainment articles for the LA Times, and one op-ed about African-American newspapers for the Pasadena Star News, my journalism career is taking yet another turn.  I am becoming a food writer!   Today, my first posts for the LA Weekly food blog, Squid Ink, were published.

In the first, I use 15 – count ’em! – umlauts to write about the new restaurant from chef Josef Centeno that will serve his famous bäcos.  (Let us take a moment to recall the great line about the bäco from Jonathan Gold’s LA Weekly review of Centeno’s other restaurant, the Lazy Ox Canteen: “What does a bäco have in common with Motörhead? The umlaut, dude, the umlaut.”)  I live directly above the Lazy Ox Canteen in Little Tokyo and have observed its development from empty retail-space shell to bustling bistro emanating smells of rabbit livers, pork belly and fried pig ears.  Everyone I know loves the Lazy Ox.  One LA Times colleague says he eats there five times a week.

My next post describes the weekly “tuna-cutting performance” at the Woori Market in Little Tokyo.  I am a regular at this local Korean market that sells Japanese staples alongside aisles of kimchi.  The fresh seafood section – practically an aquarium – always impresses me.

Below, you’ll find article teasers and links to the full posts.

Your Bäco Update: Josef Centeno’s Bäco Mercat Opens Next Week

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A mirror reflects the interior of Josef Centeno’s Bäco Mercat (in its final construction phase). / Adam Murray

The bäco is back, and this time, in a starring role….

The chef and owner describes his signature dish as “a sandwich-taco-pizza hybrid that encompasses my style of cooking in a sandwich: a lot of flavorful meat and sauce combinations.” The name derives from Centeno’s concept of a global taco….Bäco Mercat will serve six variations. The original features crispy pork belly and beef carnitas with two Catalan-style sauces: romesco and salbitxada. (Food from Spain’s Catalonia region, including Barcelona, has strongly influenced his cooking, Centeno says.)  Another dubbed “carne picada” involves blood sausage and lamb merguez. Poultry-lovers can eat a chicken escabeche version. The ”crispy shrimp” bäco gets topped with pickled green tomatoes and caraway pepper sauce.  Vegetarians are covered with a pickled veggie variety. The “bäco crispy,” a spin-off, is a flat bread baked with toppings similar to those in the sandwiches. Centeno says it’s comparable to the pizza-like Spanish coca.

Read the full article here.

Deconstructing Tuna: Woori Market’s Tuna Cutting Performance

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Mr. Lee holds a yellowtail tuna collar / D. Solomon

How often do you see an immense animal in its full form just before you eat it? Unless you are serious about fishing and hunting, live on a farm, or spend a lot of time at Lindy & Grundy, that experience is rare.If the idea sounds intriguing, and you enjoy yellowfin tuna, the place to be is the Woori Market at the Little Tokyo Galleria. Every Saturday at 2 p.m., the seafood section presents a “tuna cutting performance,” combining a fish market, sashimi bar, and the showmanship of Benihana chefs.

Read the full article here.

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