Owner and chef Ian Kleinman of The Inventing Room recently began working with a rare fruit ingredient that’s unlike any other. The “miracle fruit” is indigenous to the African rain forest and is now being farmed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The fruit is picked then freeze-dried, flown to DIA and served-up by Kleinman at his experimental dessert bar.
Where does the miracle aspect come in? The berry has “flavor-tripping” qualities, so when ingested its effects alter the taste buds’ perception of flavor — sour becomes delightfully sweet while sweets turn overwhelmingly sour. The fruit couldn’t be a more perfect addition to a kitchen known for unusual techniques and interactive presentations.
Upon entering the steampunk-themed “laboratory” you are immediately welcomed by an eager staff, and perhaps if you’re lucky, Kleinman. After ordering the miracle fruit ($10.00) you are handed an instructions card alongside a quarter teaspoon of the crushed freeze-dried berry, various wedges of citrus fruit, greek yogurt and a sour orange sorbet.
Following the instructions step-by-step, you are first instructed to bite into the lemon wedge — later you will understand the reason for doing this is to make sure it was in fact sour and had not been tampered with. Second, you’ll pick up a small pink spoonful of the freeze-dried miracle powder and hold it face-down on your tongue until it dissolves. Once a minute has passed it’s time to really “Enjoy your tasting.”
The lemon that puckered your lips just minutes earlier is suddenly transformed, now tasting much like fresh-squeezed lemonade — sweet and refreshing. It’s not unusual to find yourself wide-eyed and grinning a toothy expression; Kleinman calls it, “The twelve-year-old grin.” Without any added sugar or sweetener your tongue will register that same bitter lemon from a moment earlier as unbelievably sweet, not just semi-sweet but vibrantly bursting with sweetness.
You’ll continue your tasting adventure with the grapefruit, followed by an orange sorbet and finally capped with a greek yogurt. Each item proving to be wildly different in flavor than what you originally anticipated. The bitter fruit and yogurt evolve into these sweet treats when they hit your pallet, but be warned, the effects of the dose can be enjoyed for up to 45 minutes, so we don’t recommend going to eat something sweet before that time is up.
Much like Veruca Salte in Willy Wonka’s Inventing room, you’ll enter fairly skeptical and leave a full blown believer. Kleinman has plans for expansion, starting with a new location in Dubai at the beginning of 2017. In honor of their one-year anniversary they will be serving up free sundaes at their Larimer location to anyone who stops by in a costume on Halloween from 2 to 9 p.m.
The Inventing Room 2020 Lawrence Street, 303-885-2802
All photography by Lucy Beaugard