Next week, the Jewish Community Centers in Tampa are getting trippy — with miracle fruit.
The West African berry, known for its ability to trick the tongue into perceiving sour or savory snacks as sweet, isn’t a new phenomenom (get it?), and neither are flavoring-tripping parties that invite guests to take their taste buds on a wild ride. CL even popped the small red orbs at our fifth annual Sensory Overload back in 2010.
But that doesn’t mean eating the fruit is any less fun. Which is precisely why aspiring flavor-trippers are welcome to attend the latest installment of #Gather, scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at 81Bay Brewing Co. in South Tampa, where head brewer Jay Jones serves as the evening’s special guest.
According to Lisa Robbins, director of young adult engagement for the Tampa JCCs and Federation, #Gather is an event series designed to engage local young professionals through hands-on, interactive experiences.
"We simply thought [miracle fruit] would be a fun way to bring people together," Robbins said.
To reap the full benefits of the fruit, #Gather Flavor Tripping plans to offer an array of food for sampling post-berry consumption — think everyday fruit, cheese, chips and sauces, plus spicy and savory bites. The berries were purchased from South Florida-based Miracle Fruit Farm, and all it takes is one morsel to achieve palate-changing effects.
Robbins should know. The first time she tasted the fruit was during that aforementioned CL event.
"They gave us lemons and limes to taste, and it was just so wild because they tasted like sugar, not tart like you are expecting," she recalled. "Lemons and limes have become my favorite food to try with the miracle berry — they are so delicious I’ve also eaten the peels."
#Gather Flavor Tripping attendees are also encouraged to test out what the berries do to 81Bay’s beer. Robbins and her team did a trial-run tasting with the brewers last month.
"Everyone is so stoked to do this event, especially because their beers definitely taste very different under the spell of the berry," Robbins said.
Even better? The event's featured beer deal is half-off flights, allowing for a range of taste trip possibilities. The tap list offerings include Coriander Orange Wheat, Electric Particles IPA and Oak-Aged Black Pearl Baltic Porter — possibly even some leftover limited releases from National Beer Day. Cider from Slim Pickens and Mother Kombucha are likely suspects as well.
Tickets cost $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers, each of whom should register online ahead of time (gotta make sure there's enough fruit to go ’round). While the beer and other drinks aren’t included with admission, the food and berries are.
And, no, Monday isn’t National Flavor Tripping Day, but, hey, maybe it should be.
"Based on the level of excitement and intrigue around this event," Robbins said, "I think we might have to make this a tradition."