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At fundraiser for Dalí museum, a surreal meal with Bob Blumer, author of 'The Surreal Gourmet' and 'Glutton for Pleasure'

TAMPA — Bob Blumer has built a cottage industry out of playing with his food. And at least part of the credit for that goes to the Salvador Dalí Museum.

He released his first cookbook, a collection of bachelor-pad favorites called The Surreal Gourmet, almost two decades ago. He illustrated it himself, showcasing food and ingredients in the style of his surrealist artist heroes. But it was done out of necessity: It was simply cheaper for him to do it himself.

The concept was enough to get his book into the gift shop of the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, and he was invited to cook dinner here.

That, coupled with a review of the book that questioned the lack of surreal food in the book, focused him.

"I might have just had the one cookbook and been out," Blumer said Sunday aboard Holland America's Ryndam at a fundraiser for the Dalí Museum Guild. "It changed the direction of the style of my cooking. It gave me a signature."

That signature — which is to take simple, fresh food and present it in fun, whimsical ways — has led to four more cookbooks and two television series.

"I use food, instead of paint, as my medium. What I do is teach aspiring cooks that they can do it, too."

Jim Webster, Times food critic

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Faux Fries and Ketchup

Most of the "surreal" elements of Bob Blumer's dishes involve the presentation more than the preparation. Here, store-bought pound cake is presented as "Faux Fries," with a side of raspberry "ketchup."

To make the fries, take a store-bought pound cake and cut away the edges to make it block-shaped. Cut the block to make strips that are approximately ¼-inch by ¼-inch by 4 inches long. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the fries one-quarter turn and bake four more minutes.

To make the ketchup, put 6 ounces of frozen raspberries and 2 tablespoons of confectioner sugar in a blender or food processor and puree. Strain and discard the seeds.

To present: Blumer suggests asking a fast-food restaurant for an empty french fry container and putting the fries in it, then putting the puree in an empty ketchup bottle or squeeze bottle.

Serves 4

Source: Bob Blumer, Glutton for Pleasure (2010)

At fundraiser for Dalí museum, a surreal meal with Bob Blumer, author of 'The Surreal Gourmet' and 'Glutton for Pleasure' 10/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 2:21pm]

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