[LA Weekly] Bäco Mercat Gets Expanded Hours + Why The Chef Looks So Tired

It may be land-of-the-bäcos, but Bäco Mercat serves up much, much more than flatbread sandwiches.  The lunch and dinner menus change daily and include a couple of dozen specials. On a recent evening, diners could choose from small plates of salads, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, and pasta.  And there are waffles for breakfast, as I reported in the LA Weekly. (Read the full article in this post, below.) Jonathan Gold has observed that the menu mixes “flavors from Italy, France, and Western China, Georgia (U.S.) and Georgia (eastern Europe), Tuscany and Peru.”   I decided to research some of the more unusual ingredients to see what he means…

Cubeb pepper: This pepper is native to Indonesia.  According to Spices Inc, “Cubebs have a pleasant aroma that is pungent, lightly peppery with hints of allspice.” Read more here. Dish: Crispy head-on shrimp with sea salt, cubeb-long pepper.

Fava bean: This bean with the buttery texture and nutty taste is often described as “ancient.”  It has been grown and eaten in many regions, including Asia, the Middle East, South America, North Africa and Europe. Dish: fava bean fritter bäco with poblano feta, chickpea, salmorejo.

Harissa: Hot chili sauce from North Africa. Dish: el cordero [lamb] with merguez, harissa, chevre.

Lebni: Strained yogurt with the consistency of sour cream, said to have a sour or tart flavor.  It is Eastern Mediterranean, and sometimes described as a cheese. Dish: Zataar and olive oil with lebni.

Long pepper: This pepper was used centuries ago in early African, Indian, Indonesian and Mediterranean style cooking. Today it’s not widely used. Read more hereDish: Crispy head-on shrimp with sea salt, cubeb-long pepper.

Manchego: This cheese was originally made from the milk of sheep in La Mancha, Spain.  Dish: “Deli meat plate” with pork belly ham, prime rib, and manchego.

Merguez: Merguez sausage, usually made with lamb, has its origins in North Africa. Dish: El cordero “coca” [baked crispy flatbread] with merguez, harissa, chevre.

Morcilla: This is a type of blood sausage typically made with pig’s blood, rice, onions and spices that derives from Spain.  Dish: Morcilla with potato, butter, and socca.

Pecorino: Italian cheese (encompassing a variety of types) made of sheep’s milk. Dish: Marinated pecorino with chile flake.

Rapini: Also called broccoli raab and and Chinese flowering cabbage, rapini is a leafy green often used in Italian and Chinese cooking. Dish: Rapini with chile and preserved lemon.

Romanesco: Romanesco is a type of cauliflower that resembles broccoli.  It is not to be confused with romesco, the Catalonian sauce.  Dish: Roasted romanesco with anchovy, garlic, cilantro.

Salbitxada: A sauce from Spain’s Catalonia region featuring tomatoes and almonds.  Dish: the original bäco – pork belly and beef carnitas, smoked aoili, salbitxada.

Salmorejo: A creamy, cold tomato soup from Cordoba, Spain.  It’s richer than a gazpacho.  Dish: fava bean fritter bäco with poblano feta, chickpea, salmorejo.

Socca: A thin, crepe-like dough made out of chickpea flour.  Dish: Morcilla with potato, butter, and socca.

Zataar: Middle Eastern mixture of thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. Dish: Zataar and olive oil with lebni.

Bäco Mercat Gets Expanded Hours + Why The Chef Looks So Tired

By Daina Beth Solomon Fri., Dec. 2 2011 at 1:37 PM


Josef Centeno has had his plate full since his new restaurantBäco Mercatopened its doors in early November. Good thing it’s only half a mile from the Lazy Ox Canteen where he continues as chef.We recently found Centeno perched high on a ladder outside Bäco Mercat wielding a squeegee. It was his first day off in weeks, he said. “But I guess I’m still working,” the chef-owner added with a shrug as he wiped another window clean. There’s a reason for Centeno’s high spirits. “After a great soft opening, Bäco Mercat is happy to announce our grand opening,” he tells us in an e-mail. The downtown L.A. restaurant is now open Monday through Saturday with expanded hours and is taking reservations.

Read the full article here.


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