Miracle fruit to sweeten a sour ending to 2008

An Ottawa restaurant that's offering a special New Year's Eve feast has found an unusual way to make sure the year ends on a sweet note.

An Ottawa restaurant that's offering a special New Year's Eve feast has found an unusual way to make sure the year ends on a sweet note. 

Lemons and limes are the last things diners will taste in 2008 at Atelier restaurant, but the chef has found a way to ensure they don't go down sour.

Before indulging in any citrus fruits Wednesday night, each of the 14 customers at the Rochester Street restaurant will be given a spoonful of a special powder that comes from a West African berry called miracle fruit. The fruit is considered miraculous because it has a reputation for making sour foods taste sweet.

"We thought it was a good way to introduce people to the fruit, first of all, and give them an experience that isn't really achievable in any other way that I know," said chef and owner Marc Lepine, who has been experimenting with the powder for weeks.

He swirled some on his tongue, then took shots of vinegar, which became "sweet and more like wine." Lemons began tasting more like oranges.

The powder, miraculin, isn't approved by Health Canada as a food additive, but it can be sold and purchased on its own.

Lepine ordered a $50 bottle of the freeze-dried fruit from Britain and waited two months for its delivery.

The miraculin, lemons and limes will be served right at the end of a 25-course meal that includes other unusual items such as fish bacon.

Vegetarian restaurant invites poor to feast

Another Ottawa restaurant is reserving its celebratory feast for Thursday, New Year's Day, and inviting a very different crowd.

The Table restaurant on Wellington Street in Hintonburg will serve a meat-free feast to the poor starting at 2 p.m.

Owner Simon Saab said not everyone has a place to celebrate the start of a new year with family.

"So we thought we would do it New Year's Day and introduce healthy, natural, organic food to anyone who has no place to go," he said, adding that the menu will include stir fries, curries and baked goods.

The Table has organized Christmas meals in the past with the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter, but this will be its first New Year's Day event.