Advertisement
Food & Drink

Six ways to eat gooseneck barnacles, the weird sea creatures that are all over Toronto’s haute menus

Six ways to eat gooseneck barnacles, the weird sea creatures that are all over Toronto’s haute menus
(Image: Renée Suen)

Gooseneck barnacles, also called percebes, are crustaceans that cling to rocks in places that have a strong crashing surf. In Spain and Portugal, they’re considered a rare and wonderful delicacy, thanks to their sweet flesh, which tastes a bit like a cross between lobster and clam. They’re also impossibly ugly (they resemble some type of prehistoric clawed beast) and extremely expensive, largely because gathering them is such risky and controversial work. In Europe, a single kilo of percebes can fetch almost $500. Their Canadian counterparts, which are hand-picked off the coast of Vancouver Island by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, cost over $20 per pound—if you can get your hands on them at all, which regular consumers generally can’t. Luckily, some of Toronto’s best restaurants are doing wonderful things with these odd-looking shellfish. You’ll want to hurry, though: percebes are only in season until the end of May, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

1. Bar Isabel At his Spanish restaurant in Little Italy, chef Grant van Gameren serves percebes over thinly sliced raw artichokes with lots of butter and garlic. $20. 797 College St., 416-532-2222

2. Canoe On Canoe’s spring menu, percebes are paired with pasta, shellfish mousse and sea asparagus in a coastal-inspired take on cannelloni. $26

66 Wellington St. W., 416-364-0054

3. Hopgood’s Foodliner Simplicity is key for chef Geoff Hopgood. He blanches the crustaceans, and then dresses them in olive oil, parsley, lemon and butter. $14. 325 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-533-2723

4. Marben After a decade living and working in Spain, chef Rob Bragagnolo knows his percebes. He likes to steam them in a mixture of white wine, chili, lemon and fresh herbs. He recommends pairing the dish with a glass of sparkling wine. $15. 488 Wellington St. W., 416-979-1990

5. Le Sélect Over at Le Sélect, Albert Ponzo tosses blanched percebes in a sherry cream sauce and serves them with fiddleheads, celery and wild greens. $16. 432 Wellington St. W., 416-596-6405

6. East Thirty-Six At month-old East Thirty Six, Brent Maxwell sautées percebes with olive oil, ramps and preserved lemon. $15 36 Wellington St. E., 647-350-3636

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for Table Talk, our free newsletter with essential food and drink stories.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Latest

House of the Week: $6.9 million for a reno off Leslie with a jazz bar
Real Estate

House of the Week: $6.9 million for a reno off Leslie with a jazz bar