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Posts Tagged: Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science

You Can Make a Meal Out of Mealworms

Chef David George Gordon calls himself "the godfather of insect cuisine.".
You can make a meal out of mealworms.

It's cricket to eat Cambodian crickets.

And how 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

Elizabeth Luu tries a cookie made with cricket flour.
UC Davis students majoring in food science, brewing science, or entomology prepared the bug dishes.

All bugs must be cooked; no bugs should not 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.

Cambodian crickets, fresh from the oven.
White did not eat the Cambodian crickets, which he described as “as big as a small mouse,” and which Bamforth characterized as “a full-flavored meat dish.”

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.

Flavored meal worms were first on the menu. (Photos by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Flavored meal worms were first on the menu. (Photos by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Flavored meal worms were first on the menu. (Photos by Kathy Keatley Garvey


"Pope of Foam" Charlie Bamfroth talked about why he paired certain beers with bugs.

"Pope of Foam" Charlie Bamfroth talked about why he paired certain beers with bugs.

Javier Miramontes and Anne Schellman played with their food, a Cambodian cricket.
Javier Miramontes and Anne Schellman played with their food, a Cambodian cricket.

Javier Miramontes and Anne Schellman played with their food, a Cambodian cricket.

Posted on Monday, November 10, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Have a Few Crickets With Your K├Âlsch

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 luu@caes.ucdavis.edu 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. 

Would you eat  honey bee larvae? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Would you eat honey bee larvae? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Would you eat honey bee larvae? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wax moth larvae: good source of protein? And throw in a few small hive beetles for good measure? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wax moth larvae: good source of protein? And throw in a few small hive beetles for good measure? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wax moth larvae: good source of protein? And throw in a few small hive beetles for good measure?(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

The Good Life

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. 

And photographers.

A garden spider wraps its prey, a honey bee, in The Good Life Garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A garden spider wraps its prey, a honey bee, in The Good Life Garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A garden spider wraps its prey, a honey bee, in The Good Life Garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Garden spider struggles with its prey, a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Garden spider struggles with its prey, a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Garden spider struggles with its prey, a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Debut Event of UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center

Neal Williams
If you want to know more about honey and pollination, then mark your calendar for Saturday, Oct. 27. That's the date of the debut event of the newly established Honey and Pollination Center of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI).

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."

The goals:

    • 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.

For more information on the debut event and to register online see the RMI website  The contact person is Kim Bannister at kbannister@ucdavis.edu.

A frame of honey from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A frame of honey from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A frame of honey from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ready to greet visitors are RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis (left) and event coordinator Tracy Dickinson. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ready to greet visitors are RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis (left) and event coordinator Tracy Dickinson. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ready to greet visitors are RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis (left) and event coordinator Tracy Dickinson. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis at the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis at the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis at the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 6:48 PM

A Taste of Honey

If you want to learn more about bees, honey and pollination, then you'll want to attend the debut event of the newly formed Honey and Pollination Center at the University of California, Davis.

Themed "Bounty of Pollination: More Than Just Honey," the event is set from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI).

It's “an afternoon of lively discussions, unique tastings and interesting displays on the science behind honey and non-honeybee pollinators,” says RMI spokesperson Tracy Dickinson.

Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of RMI, and Ed Lewis, vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and faculty director of the Honey and Pollination Center, will welcome the crowd.

Among the speakers will be Amina Harris, owner of Z Specialty Foods, Woodland; Rebecca Ets-Hokin of the San Francisco Bay Area, certified culinary professional, who will discuss “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”; and Neal Williams, UC Davis assistant professor of entomology, whose topic is “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future.”

Also planned is a best honey competition, a Pollinator Partnership activity, and a reception that will include tastings and best honey competition results.

The cost is $60 per person, with special discounts for UC faculty, staff and students. 

Folks attending will definitely walk away with a greater appreciation of honey bees and wild bees. 

And a greater appreciation of one of nature's most treasured treats--honey.

A frame of honey at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A frame of honey at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A frame of honey at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

A drone (male bee), distinguished by its large, wrap-around eyes and stouter body, mingles with his sisters. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A drone (male bee), distinguished by its large, wrap-around eyes and stouter body, mingles with his sisters. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A drone (male bee), distinguished by its large, wrap-around eyes and stouter body, mingles with his sisters. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 10:30 PM

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