In 1973, Salvador Dali did something strange, even for the notoriously quirky surrealist artist — he published a cookbook. Dubbed Les Diners de Gala, the 322-page tome mixes 136 recipes with Dali’s artwork, and includes dishes such as ox snout in puff pastry shells, tomato pie and prawn parfait. To find one of these out-of-print masterpieces in mint condition is a rarity, and first-edition signed copies can go for up to $25,000.
This cookbook was the catalyst for the Salvador Dali-inspired tasting menu at West Loop restaurant Ing. But it was only the starting point — the rest of the inventive menu comes from the mind of executive chef Tim Havidic. “I based all of the menu items from paintings that are in the book,” he says. “Some of the courses look like the painting, while some of them are the idea of the painting displayed in food.” With a focus on molecular gastronomy (Ing stands for “Imagining New Gastronomy”), Havidic incorporates plenty of his own surreal techniques, from liquid nitrogen-formed onion noodles to frozen vinaigrettes.
The Dali menu can be devoured in a six-course ($85) or 10-course ($105) tasting menu with drink pairings — or, if you’re looking to “whet” your feet with molecular gastronomy, Ing also offers a three-course menu ($50) Tuesdays through Thursdays. Whether you’re a Dali devotee or a surrealist novice, here’s why Ing’s Dali menu is not to be missed:
Chef stats: After teaching at the Culinary Institute of America, and a stint at a whole animal butcher in Hollywood, Havidic spent two years at Moto, and was promoted to executive chef of Ing in mid-2013.
The vibe: Stark yet warm. Vibrant red chairs mesh with hardwood floors and exposed brick, and the splash of modern art on the walls — courtesy of local artist Scott Frigo — mirrors the artistic plating of the dishes.
Beet it: For the painting “Honey Is Sweeter Than Blood,” Havidic takes his cue from the title. He combines a microgreen called bull’s blood with orange vinegar-soaked beets, pickled beets, pine-nut puree, toasted pine nuts, roasted beet sorbet and a piece of brioche to form an intricate beet salad. “Every component has honey in it in some form,” Havidic says.
Suspended animation: In “Still Life-Fast Moving,” Dali depicts a discombobulated dinner table, with items suspended in the air. Havidic replicates this by serving the course — a brown butter-poached pear with pear butter puree — via an L-shaped metal structure, with intricately placed forks holding the plates in midair. The structure took weeks to perfect, with Havidic making trips up and down the stairs to test the durability of different versions.
The berry: Because Ing is the creation of famed chef Homaro Cantu, two dishes are served with the “miracle berry,” a small red berry native to West Africa that manipulates the tastebuds so that sour and bitter flavors taste sweet. It accompanies the beet dish as well as a coffee dessert with anise chiffon cake, coffee gel and tonka bean mousse (available with the 10-course tasting).
Cheers! Drink pairings run the gamut from a Spanish red wine to an absinthe, Frangelico and sherry cocktail to the Rat Pack rye ale, a brew made by Ing in collaboration with DryHop brewery in Lakeview.
Through Feb. 1. 951 W. Fulton Market, (855) 834-6464; Ingrestaurant.com