Appetite: Insects and mezcal

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A new twist on the tequila worm at Don Bugito dinner at Headlands Center for the Arts

Nestled near the ocean in the wilds of the Marin Headlands sits Headlands Center for the Arts, an artists' haven in a reclaimed military barracks that is inspiring just to be in, as it must be for its artists in residence. Known for the culinary care and special event meals they host in their warm, open kitchen and dining room, I was intrigued to check it out. So what better excuse than for a five-course insect and mezcal dinner?

You heard right. Don Bugito, a new La Cocina business that premiered at SF Street Food Festival this August (which I wrote about here), hosted this unique meal.

Paired with Mexican juices, a take on the Michelada (a beer and spice-based imbibement), and the Mission's De La Paz Coffee, the drink highlight was San Honesto Mezcal, a bright, grassy, gently smoky mezcal that is not yet available in the US but should be by early next year.

Having eaten mealworms and wax moth larvae with Don Bugito before, I was hoping for even further challenges at this meal. As an intro to bugs, the textures and tastes of the five insects served were inoffensive (yes, even to those who fear bugs), even tasty, proving the points made in a pre-dinner educational session: eating insects is nutritional, ecological and sustainable. One could see this becoming a micro movement in urban centers such as ours, just as beekeeping and urban farming have become.

Don Bugito owner, Monica Martinez, says, "Our goal is not to introduce insects as a novelty, but as something that will last." I'd say with the palatable insect-tinged dinner we experienced, she is introducing an approachable, realistic way to eat insects.

The Headlands Center's next dining event is December 7, a speakeasy-style, small plates dinner with cocktails from the incomparable Bon Vivants.

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