Flavor Tripping at iNG

Nick and I are loyal supporters of anything Homaro Cantu and his people come up with at Moto and iNG restaurants in Chicago. For years we have watched them continually push the envelope with the format of dining, gastronomy and introducing new types of food, like the Miracle Berry, to change the world. They are constantly thinking about the bigger picture such as world hunger and health issues. From age six to nine, chef Cantu lived homeless with his mother and sister. This experience led him to want to fight world hunger and poverty  and to become a social entrepreneur.

Previously, Chef Cantu proposed using his invention of edible paper as a new form of advertising — “edible advertising”. Can you imagine opening a magazine and eating the advertisement! It was also meant to cut down on paper waste and put a dent in ending world hunger by having a single sheet contain much needed vitamins for an entire day.

I do think they are onto something big. Wanting to end world hunger with the Miracle Berry by making things that are bitter (like grass) palatable would automatically allow the abundance of some of our resources to become food for the masses. Another wonderful proposed method of use for the Miracle Berry is helping people with diabetes by using it to help their craving of sugar rather than eating actual sugar. I hope they succeed!

A few weeks ago, we tried their newest venture: flavor tripping with the miracle berry. It was a 6-course meal complete with pairings where the miracle berry was used to enhance or detract from certain flavor profiles. For instance, once you take the miracle berry, it tricks your taste buds into thinking you are tasting sweet instead of sour, or sweet instead of bitter. It also brings out umami flavors and rounds out dishes.

First course pairing: Honey nut cereal infused rum, honey, lemon, and frangelico cocktail served in a hollowed out lemon. Tasted like a white russian after the miracle berry!

Miracle berry pills:

First course: Mille-fuille: Puff pastry layered with lemon ricotta, apples, goat cheese ice cream and cider gastrique. Before the miracle berry, the lemon was more pronounced but after, the lemon ricotta mixture tasted like cheesecake.

2nd Course: Sweet Potato: Sweet potato “chain” with vanilla parsnip, puree of brussel sprouts, goat cheese, and balsamic, truffle marshmallows, and hazelnuts. Upon complimenting them on how delicious the burssel sprout puree was, we were let in on the secret that sans miracle berry  it was too bitter and kind of gross!

3rd Course: Baozi: Pork sausage with caramelized onions and homemade mustard (take on brats and beer). Served with a winter ale. The winter ale instead of being hoppy tasted like cream soda.

4th course: Turducken* bacon — Housemade turducken topped with bacon, a vegetable pave “bone”, horseradish puree topped with mushrooms, roasted brussel sprout leaves.  The folks at iNG and Moto do love a good “Road Kill”/”Massacre” themed plating.

*The Turducken was a slice of “deli meat” with Turkey/Duck/Chicken “Meat Glued” together.  Note the dark line down the middle is the duck.

5th course: Cheese course — Triple creme cheese ball with chives, fruit cake cracker, mulled wine reduction.

6th course: Figge rice pudding — Roasted and seasoned puffed rice, ornaments with apricot puree and cream — mixed together to make an instant figgie rice pudding.

Overall, everything tasted fantastic. They are still in the beginning stages of introducing the miracle berry so they had a few kinks to work out like explaining what the dish would have tasted like without the miracle berry. Right now the Miracle Berry pills are costly (about a dollar a pill), but I see a future dinner party in my future where we experiment with what it can do.

I always say food becomes boring once you stop experimenting and thinking of new combinations, forms, solutions, etc. Happy experimenting!