Apprentice chef Mark Thompson with a plate of roasted crickets. Photo: Graham Tidy
Would you like a beer with your crispy fried crickets?
It's not something you'll see on many Canberra menus but at Thirst Wine Bar in Civic, diners will get the chance to snack on a few of the crunchy insects before a special dinner for The Canberra Times Good Food Month.
Owner and chef Jeff Piper is dishing up the fried crickets with Thai basil and lime leaf as part of a "Thai challenge" menu designed to showcase unusual flavours and ingredients that will – gently – test diners palates and stretch their boundaries.
"They're just a really good little snack," he said. "Good with beer."
Crickets are a popular bar snack in Thailand and other parts of south-east Asia and are said to taste slightly nutty. Piper often offers them to guests when he leads food tours of Thailand, visiting the markets of Bangkok and up into the north of the country.
"Not everyone says yes," he said with a laugh.
The Thirst taste challenge is on October 16 and will feature a dish filled with lime zest, mint, fermented fish and enoki mushrooms, a hot and sour crispy fish salad that regularly appears on the restaurant menu, and a northern Thai pork larb spiced with pepper tree bark and enriched with pig's blood.
There will also be some of the restaurant's more classic Thai dishes, such as a trout green curry and Thai-style pork sausages.
Diners who are not up to the challenge set by the exotic menu can still look elsewhere for a taste of Thailand during Good Food Month.
Thai restaurant Morks on the Kingston foreshore will put on a "Surprise Saturday" lunch on October 11 featuring street food from the Issan province of north-east Thailand, such as chargrilled chicken, sticky rice and pork sausages.
Good Food Month, which runs throughout October, features the capital's restaurants, bars and cafes hosting one-off dinners, regular lunches and breakfasts.
It is part of Good Food Month, Australia's largest food festival, which encompasses Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and has given rise to popular events such as the Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park in Sydney and features celebrity chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, this year's international guest.
The Canberra Times Good Food Month runs until October 31. The Thai Challenge dinner at Thirst is on Thursday, October 16, from 7pm. $85 a person. The full Good Food Month program is at canberra.goodfoodmonth.com.