Mezcal and Insects at MOFAD!
Thursday night, the Museum of Food and Drink (62 Bayard St), a Greenpoint-based non-profit dedicated to examining culinary culture, was alive with the sound of crickets. Except by “sound of crickets” we actually mean the sound of insect delicacies being sampled by guests. MOFAD recently launched a learning series named Spring Spirits, which takes a deep look into special spirits, the process of creating them, and the food that goes along with them. Their first event gave the spotlight to a spirit that is becoming quite poplar: tequila’s smokier, more artisanal oriented cousin, mezcal. Before the tasting portion of the event began, Danny Mena, a top-rated Mexican chef at Hecho En Dumbo, spoke bout mezcal’s fascinating history, which dates back 200 years. He spoke about the process of making mezcal, the life of an agave plant (it’s nocturnal, like many North Brooklynites) and the different regions of Oaxaca that produce mezcal. Mena also discussed ancient traditions of Mexican food, which include learning to love eating insects and the many uses of corn.
The second half of the event involved tastings from three different mezcal makers and munching on crunchy bug-topped bites. The insects that were left in tact to eat as-is were a little hard to swallow, but most of the tasters could get behind the insect salsa as well as sal de gusano, which is a salt made with worms that you are encouraged to dip an orange slice in—definitely a few steps up from an ordinary chaser.
All of the mezcal brands we sampled were fun to taste, with each one bringing something new to the table. Mezcales de Leyenda is a company that is more than 10 years old and actually opened the first mezcal-only bar in Mexico city. They keep their spirits organic and offer up five different varieties, each from a different region of Oaxaca. You may have seen the brand around Brooklyn, particularly its green variety named Oaxaca. It’s got a clear, fresh-feeling taste with lemongrass notes, making it drinkable and excellent to pair with snack foods. The other variety we sampled had a deeper sensation and a more unique tone to its smokiness.
Mezcal Creyente is quite drinkable and perhaps a good start for those who have never experienced a mezcal. This type of mezcal blends together two regions: Tiacolula and Yautepec. Each variety is distilled in copper stills before getting blended together, resulting in a smooth body. This mezcal was great to drink with its variety of salts made of crushed maguey worms (actually very delicious and easy to taste). There were also some samples from the brand Los Amantes, which included a reposado, a longer aged mezcal with a woodsy taste.
Casa Mezcal and Merci Mercado provided crunchy bites with a delicious amount of avocado, and salsas to attempt to taste the critters with. And to tie it all together, nearby bar Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer St) is introducing a new mezcal drink, aptly named Happy Camper.
MOFAD has a number of fun events lined up this month, including a Kimchi workshop for kids and a Polish vodka talk and tasting. Their current exhibit is called Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant, which you can check out during their regular hours.
MOFAD | 62 Bayard St