Toronto chefs are embracing the gourmet bug craze

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A dish sprinkled with insects used to be the ultimate culinary dare. Now they’re showing up all over town. Here’s where to find them


Xola’s grasshopper taco

At this popular Mexican restaurant in the Beaches, chef Mali Fernandez serves all the classic taco hits (barbacoa, cochinita pibil, nopales), but she also makes a mean grasshopper taco. A house-pressed blue corn tortilla comes covered in crunchy, protein-packed chapulinas. They’re dried until crunchy and seasoned with ground mild Mexican pepper, then served with a slice of charred avocado, some green salsa and a wedge of lime. $8.50. 2222 Queen St. E., 647-827-9070. Xolarestaurant.com


Death in Venice’s cricket gelato

Mad scientist Kaya Ogruce churns out gelato in off-the-wall flavours like corn on the cob, pad Thai, hot pepper jelly and panna cotta, and rotating flavours that use crickets (both the powder and some whole-roasted critters) as a thickening agent. This chocolate ice cream is made with cricket powder instead of skim milk, and studded with chunks of cricket cookie. $4.50. 1418 Dundas St. W., 416-509-3044. Deathinvenice.ca


El Catrin’s cricket guacamole

At the Distillery District’s massive Mexican restaurant, servers make the guacamole tableside with all the usual suspects—avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, serrano chilies—and, for a few bucks extra, one atypical ingredient: whole roasted crickets for some added crunch. $19.25. 18 Tank House Ln., 416-203-2121. Elcatrin.ca


Cookie Martinez’s patacones

Chef Natalia Martinez is no stranger to creepy-crawlies. She hosted an Eating Insects dinner earlier this year, at which she served cricket empanadas, cricket pâté and mealworm ceviche. For this dish, she tops patacones (deep-fried plantains) with mashed avocado, marinated ants and garlicky crickets. It’s finished off with a spicy sauce, lemon juice and sal de gusano de maguey (that’s “worm salt” en inglés). $8.85. 1565 Dupont St., 416-573-5817. Cookiemartinez.com


Summerhill Market’s mealworm protein balls

These house-made bites look like your standard protein ball—little golf ball–sized orbs of rolled oats and peanut butter—but they have a special ingredient: dried mealworms sourced from Entomo Farms, outside Peterborough. $3.99. 446 Summerhill Ave., 416-921-2714; 1054 Mt. Pleasant Rd., 416-485-4471. Summerhillmarket.com

 

A gourmet’s guide to sustainable dining

Local start-ups are using drones, AI and even vodka to change the future of agriculture

Grocery stores suddenly have faux burgers and meatballs galore. We asked our chief food critic to taste-test some of the Canadian-made options

Every week, Entomo Farms harvests millions of crickets, all destined for the dinner table

Stokes’s Vegan Cheese is stinky and sharp in all the right ways

A U of T lab is figuring out how to make animal-free meat affordable for everyone

The cellular scientist Isha Datar on how scientists will conjure real animal products without any animals

Adrian Pascu, also known as the Alternative Butcher, is creating an organic pork alternative to compete with Beyond Meat

Good Rebel is the city’s first all-vegan supermarket


These stories originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Toronto Life magazine. To subscribe, for just $29.95 a year, click here.