Soon the honey bees will be buzzing all over them.
And soon will be the third annual "The Feast: A Celebration with Mead and Honey," formerly known as the "Mid-Winter Beekeepers' Feast."
Sponsored by the Honey and Pollination Center of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, "The Feast" will take place Friday night, Friday, Feb. 6 in the Sensory Building of the Robert Mondavi Institute, Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
"A Mediterranean-inspired menu is being created by Ann Evans, author of the Davis Farmer's Cookbook, and Kathi Riley, caterer and former chef at Zuni Cafe, San Francisco," said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center.
The event begins at 6 with mead cocktails, softened by candlelight and music by the UC Davis Jazz Trio. Next a four-course meal, and the night will end with the "after dinner mead flight" led by legendary Darrell Corti.
What's mead? Basically, honey wine, an ancient alcoholic beverage.
"It's a fermented blend of honey, water and often fruits, yeast, or spices," Harris says. It dates back to at least 7000 BCE or Before the Common (Current) Era. Ceramic shards found in Jiahu, Henan Province, China held a mead-like residue, according to Patrick McGovern, leading authority on ancient alcoholic beverages.
Meaderies are rising in popularity. According to the BBC the number of meaderies in the United States within the last 10 years has spiked from 30-40 meaderies to more than 250.
To attend The Feast, the cost is $125 per person or $1250 for an eight-table sponsorship. If you want to learn more about the specific honeys served in the four-course meal, you can sign up for an "early bird"--er, "early bee"--tasting activity. Harris will lead a honey tasting of the menu's varietal honeys. The "Early Bee" activity, limited to 35 sign-ups, is free with dinner purchase.
Bon Appétit! (Or would that be Bee Appétit?)
It's cricket to eat Cambodian crickets.
And who wouldn't want a plate of teriyaki grasshopper kebobs paired with Rubicon Angus Scottish Ale?
"Don't worry, be hoppy," said celebrity bug chef David George Gordon, author of the award-winning “Eat-a-Bug” cookbook.
The occasion: the first-ever bugs-and-beer event at the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre.
Bring 'em on!
It was a pairing of bugs and beer--bugs selected by Chef Gordon and beer selected by The Pope of Foam” Charlie Bamforth--the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology.
Together they entertained, informed and educated the capacity crowd at the event, titled "Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven." The mood was jovial, the insects savory, and the beer delightful.
Which bugs did they pair with beer?
- Flavored mealworms with Ruhstaller Gilt Edge Lager
- Wasabi sago worms with Lagunitas Pils
- Baked European house crickets with Sudwerk Hefeweizen
- Cambodian crickets with Gordon Biersch Winterbock
- Ant and pear salad with Sierra Nevada Boomerang IPA
- Teriyaki grasshopper kebobs with Rubicon Angus Scottish Ale
- Cricket flour cookies with Heretic Chocolate Hazelnut Porter
- Chocolate-dipped chapulines (grasshoppers) with Berryessa Whippersnapper English Mild
All bugs must be cooked; no bugs should be eaten raw, cautioned Chef Gordon. Why? "Due to the possibility of parasites." He also warned the participants not to catch and eat that cockroach that crawled under your refrigerator or grab a pesticide-sprayed bug in the field. Bugs should be raised in hygienic conditions or purchased from reliable companies.
Chef Gordon said that 80 percent of the world's culture eat bugs, and two-thirds of all animal species are insects. "Bug-eating is good for the planet. Bugs are nutritious, delicious, cheap and plentiful.”
“John the Baptist was the most famous bug eater,” Gordon said. “The Bible tells us he ate locusts and honey. Angelina Jolie is the second most famous bug-eater. And I'm third, the godfather of insect cuisine.”
"Pope of Foam" Professor Bamforth kept the audience laughing with his references to beer preferences, which he boiled down to what people love and what people loathe. Bamforth likened some beers (not served at the event) as reminding him of “cat's breath, newly filled baby diapers, and wet horse blanket with mouse pee.” At one beer tasting, a beer reminded him of “a wet dog urinating in a telephone booth.”
The beer-bug fest was the brainchild of Elizabeth Luu, a UC Davis student-employee at RMI, who told the crowd that she entomophagy. "The more disgusting the bug, the more I want to eat it."
Gordon drew laughter when he said many Americans consider eating bugs "weird" or a novelty but look at the "weird things" that we eat, such as "an egg that comes out of a chicken butt."
RMI program representative Evan White said he especially loved two dishes: the pear-spinach-ant salad “with the crunchy weaver ants” and the dessert, the chocolate-dipped chapuline grasshoppers. “But then anything with chocolate is delicious,” White said.
Anne Schellman, manager of the UC Davis California Center for Urban Horticulture who attended with friend Javier Miramontes, a community education specialist for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in Fresno, said her favorites were the European house crickets and grasshopper kebobs. “They were both chewy but crunchy and had good flavor,” she said.
She wasn't so sure about the Cambodian crickets. “I ate the head and part of the body--after I pulled off the legs and played with the wings,” Schellman said. “It was just too darned big and intimidating to eat it (all).”
Gordon said it's only right that we humans eat the pests that eat our food in our garden. Tomato hornworms, for one. One of his recipes calls for tomato green hornworms, lavished with olive oil, green tomatoes, pepper, white cornmeal and basil.
Gordon mentioned that his “Orthopteran Orzo,” sprinkled with the tasty crunch of three-week old cricket nymphs, is quite popular. At one event, a pre-teen boy kept returning for more. “Don't they ever feed you at home?” Gordon asked him after the fourth helping.
“But this is way better than anything my mom makes,” the boy said.
These things go together:
Ham and eggs, macaroni and cheese, and beer and bugs.
Beer and bugs? Definitely! Haven't you ever had a few crickets with your Kölsch?
Well, you will if you attend the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's event, "Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven," set from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
Crickets? It's what's for dinner. And more.
UC Davis Professor Charles Bamforth, aka “The Pope of Foam,” will team with David George Gordon, aka "The Bug Chef," to create eight different insect-inspired creations for the ultimate tasting experience, says spokesperson and administrative assistant Elizabeth Luu. It was her idea--and a fine one at that!--to launch the event.
The RMI "has been a hotspot for famous chefs, wine and beer pairings, and cutting-edge research for all things gastronomic," Luu says. "The Institute places itself in the forefront of the entomophagy—'bugs as food' movement by providing an informational but entertaining dining experience for the curious consumer."
Eighty percent of the world consumes insects as a protein source, Luu points out. "As the world's population continues to grow exponentially, there is more need than ever for an alternative protein source."
Indeed. We prefer our honey bees in hives or photographs but people in many parts of the world, including Africa and Asia, eat brood comb. They consider it a delicacy.
Drone pupae, some beekeepers say in The Bee Source forum, are delicious, especially drizzled with a little honey. Bon appétit!
The UC Davis event will demonstrate various, innovative and creative uses for insects as a food source. You'll hear short lectures followed by tastings led by Bamforth and Gordon. Bamforth, by the way, is the distinguished Anheuser-Busch Endowed professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, and Gordon is a celebrity chef and the award-winning author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.
Tickets are $50 for the general public and $25 for students. Here's what else is good about the event: A portion of the proceeds will go to the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology to fund teaching and research.
To register, visit the RMI website. For additional information, contact Elizabeth Luu at email@example.com or at (530) 754-6349.
RMI was made possible through the generous donation of $25 million from Robert Mondavi in 2001. The institute, involved in research, education and outreach, is comprised of two departments: Viticulture and Enology and Food Science and Technology.
Okra. You either love it or hate.
If you hate it, it's probably because of its characteristic "slime" that it produces. It's a mucilaginous plant. If you love it-- absolutely love it--you may be from the Deep South, where okra is king. They bread the slender green pods and deep-fry them. And they pickle them. It's also a key ingredient in gumbo.
Indeed, it's a vegetable rich in Vitamin C, fiber and potassium.
But if you're a garden spider living in the Good Life Garden at the University of California, Davis, you depend on the tall okra plants to weave your web and trap insects. Then you can spin them around, wrap them tighter than a ball of string, and feast on them later.
The Good Life Garden is located behind the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on Old Davis Road. It's a well-cared for garden chock full of fruits, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals.
And predators and prey.
Its aim, according to its website, is "to educate the public on how to buy and plant seasonal vegetables for the best taste and highest nutritional content. Each season the garden's planting list will be available online along with information on how to grow, harvest, buy, and cook the various plants, herbs, and fruits found in the garden."
The garden is aptly named. The Good Life.
Good for people, predators and prey.
The event, themed "The Bounty of Pollination, More Than Just Honey," will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre, UC Davis. Keynote speakers are winning cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg whose film “The Beauty of Pollination” has resulted in more than 23 million views on YouTube; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology, who will discuss “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future."
Others speaking will include:
Amina Harris, executive director of the RMI Honey and Pollination Center and owner of Z Specialty Food, Woodland, who will cover “Honey Tastings Across America”
--Victoria Wojcik, associate program manager of the San Francisco-based Pollinator Partnership, “The World of Pollinators”
--Julie Loke, teaching kitchen educator at Davis Co-Op, “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”
Another attraction is the second annual "Best Honey" competition. Beekeepers can enter the competition by bringing a jar of honey (with business card and summary of the honey) to the RMI office on Wednesday, Oct. 24. There's no charge to enter. Those attending the conference will taste and judge the honey.
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis said the newly established Honey and Pollination, was approved earlier this year by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The vision is to “make UC Davis the nation’s leading authority on honey, honey bees and pollination by combining the resources and expertise of RMI and the Department of Entomology’s Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.”
The center’s mission is “to showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of the citizens of California. The center will spearhead and nucleate efforts to gain support and assembly teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including the beekeeping industry, agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination, backyard beekeepers and the food industry."
• Expand research and education concerning nutrition, health, quality and appreciation of honey
• Develop useful information for California’s agricultural bounty that depends on insect pollination
• Help the honey industry establish labeling guidelines to guarantee pure and unadulterated varietal honey
• Coordinate a multidisciplinary team of experts in honey production, pollination and bee health
• Promote the use of locally procured honey in the home, food industry and restaurants.