Have you ever seen a dish that was presented in such an inventive way, you didn't even know it was edible? Well, those unique plates are exactly what this feature is dedicated to. The eight dishes in this gallery deceive the eye and trick the senses. Yes, they’re delicious, but what exactly are they? You’ll have a hard time believing, even after we tell you.
Grana Padano Granita — Alice Ristorante, Milan
Granita is a dessert ice, made with sugar and oftentimes, fruit. During an Identità Golose cooking seminar at the Eataly Marketplace last month, it made a surprise appearance in an eggplant parmesan. Visiting Italian chef Viviana Varese whipped up a deconstructed eggplant parm that defied all texture norms. Flavor-infused chilled tomatoes were topped with sweet, creamy icy granita made of fresh Grana Padano parmesan. At Chef Varese’s Alice Ristorante in Milan, the remainder of the cheese is fried and served as an appetizer.
Giant Octopus Cake — Highland Bakery, Atlanta
It’s 200 pounds of a tentacled, sleepy-looking sea creature…and for those who dared to approach it with a spatula, it also turned out to be a delicious buttercream cake! This giant octopus creation wowed the online photo communities, but was hardly a career high point for Highland Bakery's Karen Portaleo, who is known for inventive, lifelike specialty desserts. She’s designed cakes to look like sumo wrestlers, a wombat, a rhino and even a Louis Vuitton handbag…with the necessary mini pooch peeking out.
Pecan Plate…and Foie Gras — Azul Sensatori, Riviera Maya
At Le Chique, the signature restaurant in Azul Sensatori on the Riviera Maya, Chef Jonatán Gómez Luna Torres has cleverly hidden chocolate-covered foie gras morsels within a dish of pecans. It’s a sweet, savory, nutty puzzle.
“The Harvest” Cake — Spot Dessert Bar, Manhattan
This super-cute and odd little dessert comes to the table inside a flowerpot. The dark cocoa-cookie crumbs are densely packed to look just like potting soil, and a green sprig is planted in it. It looks exactly like a plant, but it’s actually a fruity shortcake. One of many dishes to love at the sweet Spot Dessert Bar co-owned by Chef Ian Kittichai.
Candy Cap Mushroom Ice Cream Sandwich — Americano at Hotel Vitale, San Francisco
There’s always that one stubborn diner in every group who contends that mushrooms ruin a dish, and that they can always pick out that earthy flavor — no matter how faint it is. As a real test of their taste buds, order this dessert at Hotel Vitale's Americano Restaurant and see if they can figure out the secret ingredient that makes the gelato filling so delicious. The mushrooms are even foraged by Chef Kory Stewart himself!
Hearts of Palm Linguine — Casimir & Co, New York
Regardless of how many times you're told that this linguine is actually made with hearts of palm, you still expect a regular linguine with chopped hearts of palm. But no. Those noodles are actually delicate strips of the vegetable itself. It is a delicious, guilt-free, totally baffling take on an Italian classic from New York's Casimir & Co.
Turkey and Mashed Potato...Ravioli — Casa Nonna, New York
It’s become the norm to experiment with ravioli, filling them with everything from butternut squash to shrimp — a chef on the Oprah Winfrey Network even used elk recently. The surprising thing about this version from Casa Nonna is that most people don’t expect to see their traditional Thanksgiving dinner stuffed into neat little noodle packets. Behold, the majestic bird, the steaming mash, the tureen of gravy...suddenly no longer in table-groaning portions, but bite-sized ones.
Candy Corn on the Cob
Of all the creations in this roundup, here’s the one to try at home even if you’re not much of a cook. Take a tube of cookie dough and stick candy corns in it, pointy end first, close-packed enough so eventually they look like real corn kernels. Et voilà. AlaskanTomboy’s tutorial on Instructables brought this to the Internet masses, but other crafty folks have made candy corn-covered push pops, cakepops and even entire layer cakes!