Little Bugs, Big Flavors: Novel Valentine’s Pairing Of Insects And Wine Slated For Fermental’s Bugaboo

By Miriah Hamrick, posted Feb 8, 2023
Fermental will offer a selection of black ants, cicadas, flying termites, mole crickets and stinkbugs at Bugaboo, its insect and wine pairing for Valentine’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Fermental)
In place of the ubiquitous offerings of chocolate and wine on Valentine’s Day, Fermental is serving something more adventurous: an edible insect and wine pairing. Fermental owner Steve Gibbs hatched the idea in 2019 as a fun alternative to the more conventional options typically offered for the holiday.
“We’re trying to do something a little different and have fun with it,” Gibbs said. “People are looking for something kind of unique, an experience rather than just another night out.”
Attendees of the free Feb. 14 event, called Bugaboo, can partake in a tasting of black ants, cicadas, flying termites, mole crickets and stinkbugs, with each round accompanied by a curated selection of white or red wine. The name has two layers of meaning, Gibbs noted. Bugaboo refers to the hesitation some might feel before eating insects, plus it sounds like a term of endearment used for someone special.
With his idea and a name in place for the inaugural 2019 event, Gibbs embarked on a taste test of bugs. He took notes on the flavor profiles of each specimen and used them to plan wine accompaniments. He found some insects “more pungent” than others in his accounting, but generally, he said the bugs present earthy, nutty or even fruit-forward tasting notes along with a crisp, crunchy texture.
The wine provides an opportunity to amplify interesting flavors and balance untraditional textures. For example, Fermental offered a “giant June beetle” for the 2019 tasting that was not for the faint of heart.
“It was big and the texture was there,” Gibbs said. “But with that, you just pair it with a really big wine and match those big flavors in the bug.”
People come to the event expecting the kind of big flavors and textures presented in the June beetle, Gibbs noted.
“Anybody who comes to do it knows what they’re walking into. They realize these aren’t chocolate-covered grasshoppers or anything like that. It’s just the pure insect,” Gibbs said.
The June beetle isn’t reappearing this year, as Gibbs changes the menu to keep the event fresh for return customers. He sources the bugs from a provider in Thailand, who farms them specifically for human consumption.
Some bug-themed beers – among them Jester King Brewery’s Bug Farm, a funky farmhouse ale out of Austin, Texas, and Beekeeper, an award-winning honey wheat ale from Raleigh’s Gizmo Brew Works – will be available for those looking to continue the night’s theme. Mr. Mac Salad’s O.G. BBQ food truck will also be on-site to provide more traditional dinner options like pulled pork, burgers, and macaroni and cheese.
Fermental will offer the Bugaboo tasting from 6-9 p.m. on Feb. 14. Participation is free.
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