Insects & Wine Visits Darwin College, 20th May 2019

Inago (Japanese Grasshopper) on skewers with cucumber and nori.
Inago in Blankets

by Charlotte the Younger

On Monday 20th May, we were warmly invited by Darwin College kitchens to host our sixth Insects & Wine to date. We received glowing feedback from the winers-and-diners in attendance, and the College chefs were very amused at the gastronomic delights we were offering!

Darwin College have been very active in promoting more sustainable ways of eating amongst its student body – including offering insect-based snacks in their canteen, and listing the vegetarian and vegan options ahead of meat on their daily menus. The setting was beautifully laid out, and we were spoilt with the kitchen facilities we had on hand (including the loan of some rather flattering aprons!)

Charlotte the Younger pouring wine before the event.
Charlotte the Younger at work

We repeated the selection of insect-based canapés that had been so well-received at the Cambridge Science Festival back in March. This included grasshopper ‘sushi’ from Tsukahara Chinmi in Japan, ‘critter pittas’ using Eat Grub’s peri-peri crickets, and nachos loaded with Mexican grasshoppers (or ‘chapulines’) from Merci Mercado in Mexico. We also offered a bonus ‘dessert’ course of insect macarons, from the French supplier Minus Farm. Both Merci Mercado and Minus Farm are certified by EntoTrust, which assesses product quality, food safety, environmental sustainability and ethical employment practices. The Eat Grub crickets came from Entomo Farms which is in the process of becoming an EntoTrust certified producer. These dishes were designed to emulate the flavours popular in the insects’ respective countries of origin.

We switched up the wines we served this time: our guests loved the two Austrian wines (Eschenhof Holzer Invader and Eschenhof Holzer Wagram Grüner Veltliner) served with the first course; the red (Franz Weninger “vom Kalk”) served with the second course was a little divisive; and the Portuguese red (Opta Dão Red) served with the final course went down a treat. Our guests loved learning from Chris about the intricacies of the different (low-intervention) wine-making methods, including what distinguishes orange wine from its red and white counterparts, and even how phases of the moon influence the production of some biodynamic wines.

The event saw first-time insectivores, well-seasoned wine-tasters, and professional chefs come together, united by their interest to learn about and taste the diversity of insects and wines on offer. Our guests were open-minded and engaged, asking pertinent questions, and  providing valuable feedback that we will use to make future events even more enjoyable.

We extend our thanks to our guests, and our generous hosts at Darwin, and hope you all had a wonderful evening!

Here’s our team (left to right): Charlotte Milbank (‘the Younger’), Charlotte Payne (‘the Elder), Chris Kaplonski and Danielle Bradford-Howe. All photos by Vinay Malhotra, Darwin College.  

Sources and links to further information:

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Insects:

Tsukahara-chinmi.com (Japanese grasshoppers)

Eatgrub.co.uk (Peri-peri crickets)

Mercimercado.com (Mexican chapulines)

Minusfarm.fr (macarons)

Entotrust (Certification)

Wines:

Thirsty (our supplier for the event)

Eschenhof Holzer (Invader & Grüner Veltliner)

Red Squirrel Wines (Etre à l’Ouest )

Franz Weninger (vom Kalk)

Badenhorst Family Wines (Secateurs Red)

Opta (Dão Red)

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