From: Philip St. George, thenorthbaybay.ca staff
NORTH BAY — Anyone who’s swallowed a shadfly knows it’s not a pleasant experience.
But local entrepreneur and chef Cliff Neil says that’s only because it wasn’t seasoned properly.
Cliff is the owner of North Bay’s newest restaurant: Shaddies.
“Like the name suggests, we make all of our meals with locally sourced shadflies,” says Neil. “In some dishes we use a high protein shadfly gruel, but in a lot we use the whole shad, usually fried or baked.”
“Shaddies” is run by the husband-and-wife team of Cliff and Rebecca Neil.
“We really wanted to make something that was truly ‘North Bay,'” says Rebecca. “And what’s more North Bay than the deluge of aquatic insects we get every July?”
Shaddies celebrated its grand opening early on Monday, April 1st with free “shadfly-infused” butter tarts for the first 20 customers.
“People have been really receptive,” says Cliff. “As we get more interest, we’re going to look to expand our menu with new, interesting, and innovative shadfly creations.”
Among the currently available dishes are Crispy Shadfly Pizza, Shad Fried Rice, Shad Thai, Banana Cream Flies, Double Chocolate Shad Cakes, Shadpie, Stir Fly Fry, The “Mad Shad” Triple Patty Burger, and Chocolate Milk Shadfly Shakes.
Cliff says that almost everything in the restaurant is vegetarian, and there are plenty of vegan friendly choices.
“Shadfly cuisine is a good option for vegetarians and vegans too. Since shadflies are insects, they don’t have pain receptors and therefore make a great, suffering-free food source.”
“I think what people love most is the texture,” says Rebecca. “Depending on how you prepare them, shadflies can be soft, almost mushy, or naturally crunchy. We can make them sweet, tangy, bitter, tart, or smooth and rich.”
“I particularly like snacking on their wings.”
Shadfly Exchange Program
Both Cliff and Rebecca are excited for the coming summer.
“It’s when we stock up!” laughs Cliff. “That weirdo at the waterfront scooping shads into a garbage bag? That’s me – it’s part of how I make a living.”
Shaddies will also be starting a “Shadfly Exchange Program” in which North Bay citizens can bring fresh shadflies in to exchange for discounts or even cold hard cash.
“Right now, we’re paying $5 for every grocery bag of shads that people bring in,” says Rebecca. “If people only have a handful, we’re happy to offer 20% to 50% off a dish of their choice.”
“What do we do with them?” responds Cliff. “Well, we’ll freeze them and use them when we run low, so that everyone can enjoy tasty, edible shadfly dishes all year round.”
“What could be better than a crunchy shadfly Christmas pudding?”