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Flavor tripping at Three Sheets

MIracleFruit_Image_ApprovedThe new Sandy Springs lounge Three Sheets features comfy seating on overstuffed sofas, a humidor filled with cigars, a full menu of plates big and small, live music and a list of trendy cocktails with names like “Rain,” “Storm” and “Cloud.”

And, then, every Wednesday night Three Sheets offers to mess up people’s taste buds but good at a “flavor tripping party.”

On these evenings, a small group of guests gathers together to ingest Tic Tac-sized red berries called miracle fruit and, for the next hour or so, marvel at their effect. No, these people won’t see pink elephants flying through the room, but rather find the flavors of familiar foods — provided by Three Sheets chef Josh Carden — altered.

Even though the miracle fruit (a West African plant taxonomically known as Synsepalum dulcificum) and its properties have been known for centuries, flavor tripping parties came into semi-underground vogue a couple of years ago, after a pair of New York Times reporters attended one. The article had fun tripping over the connotations of “tripping,” and almost made it sound like all tongue-to-brain flavor references were short-circuited by the miracle fruit. One guest swirled lemon sorbet into a glass of stout and tasted a chocolate shake, while another drizzled Tabasco onto a friend’s tongue, who in turn declared it tasted of “hot doughnut glaze.”

Perhaps she was having a psychedelic Krispy Kreme flashback.

In fact, the miracle fruit does something a little simpler on a physiological level. A chemical in the berry’s pulp called miraculin binds with taste buds and tricks them into perceiving sour flavors as sweet. So Tabasco, which is acidic, would taste sweet — as would lemons, salad dressing and many other foods. Items that are both acidic and sweet, such as cola, would taste cloyingly sweet.

As far as associations to other flavors, that’s where your brain kicks in. Lemon sorbet would sweeten a porter and bring out the chocolaty flavors in this beer brewed with dark malts.

If you want to try the miracle fruit at Three Sheets, you’ll have to wait a couple of Wednesdays, as tomorrow’s and next week’s flavor tripping parties are sold out. (Admission costs $20 for one berry and assorted foods to sample, but not drinks.) But the lounge will hold the events throughout the summer. Reserve online.

5 comments Add your comment

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jimihatt

June 16th, 2010
12:25 am

RK

June 16th, 2010
12:37 pm

Maybe this could make beets taste good. What’s the opposite of dirt?

[...] The AJC’s John Kessler writes on his blog about “flavor tripping,” in which a tiny “miracle fruit” makes your taste buds think that sour is sweet. Sandy Springs’ lounge Three Sheets offers the fruit and subsequent tasting menu on Wednesdays by reservation only. [...]

Angel

July 1st, 2010
6:08 pm

Sounds great. Wish I lived in or around Atlanta, but I let a few friends know. They’re definitely going to come flavor trip one of these Wednesdays. In my experience, rhubarb tasted like sugar cane. I had better luck with Guinness by itself instead of adding lemon sorbet (I ruined it with the sorbet…too sweet). The miracle fruit made the Guinness taste great. Cheers.