Mercat a la Planxa, Chicago, IL
Can you believe we are already into 2017? Here at Mercat we are getting more & more excited about opening the doors of our newly renovated space in our Main Dining Room. January was full of planning, showings & dreaming of all the items we want to showcase to our loyal guests. Nine years is a long time & we are forever grateful for the patience & the anticipation our guests are showing us during this period! I want to tell you about one of our specialties here at Mercat.
February 16th is National Almond Day & one we get really excited about here at Mercat a la Planxa! Why? Because we have the best almonds you’ve ever tasted! Marcona Almonds. Marcona Almonds are a special product of Spain. They’ve been imported to the US for years, but have only recently gained a wider audience thanks to a growing interest in Spanish cuisine among chefs, food writers, and other foodies.
These almonds are more rounded and plump than the California varieties we’re used to. They also seem to have a softer and somewhat “wet” texture, similar to macadamia nuts. A Marcona almond is far sweeter, moister, and delicately soft, in contrast to the classic sweet variety. The Marcona Almonds a more delicate taste closer to the flavor we associate with almond extract. Here at Mercat a la Planxa we take it a step further… we take these glorious tasty little guys & stuff them into delicious Medjool Dates. Date palms, which produce these little beauties, were brought to America’s Western coast by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s. After that, we wrap all that goodness in bacon & fry them to perfection & serve them with La Peral Blue Cheese Fondue. La Peral, a single producer blue, hails from the remote area of Asturias in the north of Spain. Wedged between the ocean and the mountains, this is a less well traveled area of Spain in which the traditions of yesterday are largely intact. La Peral is produced by León Alvarez in the village of the same name.
Believe me when I tell you no stone went unturned in developing the best Almond Stuffed Dates you have ever tasted! You will be able to enjoy as many as you like when we re-open our doors at the beginning of March! We will be thinking of each of you on the 16th of February as we salivate waiting to get our menu back into the hands of our guests! Until then, grab yourselves some Marcona Almonds on the 16th, sit back & enjoy thoughts of sitting under the warm Spanish sun on a Veranda in Barcelona. We will see you soon!