I hate to admit it, but I’m the queen of justifying expensive purchases. I actually have it down to a formula, which I think of as cost per day: I divide the price by the amount of times I’ll use it, and the answer, I like to tell myself, is the real price. Jeans for $200? Not so bad if I’ll be wearing them a few times a week. But a pricey bottle of wine or steak, on the other hand? Even I have a hard time telling myself those are okay. So I was intrigued to learn that there’s been a trend toward pricing food at ridiculously expensive prices. That’s right, while the rest of us are struggling to hold down our jobs and pay off our loans, people are creating and consuming thousand-dollar desserts. Looking for a distracting mirage in my financial desert, I decided to window shop for some of the world’s most expensive foods.
1. Cheese Sandwich: Around $175
Even one of our favorite comfort foods has found itself a high-end counterpart. This gourmet sammy, concocted by celebrity chef Martin Blunos, boasts a custom-made, white-truffle blend of cheddar—which alone costs around $145. In addition to being infused with the rare truffle, the cheddar is coated with one-hundred-year-old balsamic and with sourdough bread that’s—wait for it—sprinkled with powdered gold. (Yes, apparently gold dust is edible). Between those slices of bread are also extra-virgin olive oil, quail egg, black heirloom tomatoes, apples, and fresh figs. Gotta admit, this one does sound divine.
2. Hot Chocolate: $25,000
Many of us view a creamy cup of cocoa as an indulgence, but this baffling beverage costs the same as nearly two of my cars (and my car’s not bad). Serendipity 3’s Frrrozen Haute Chocolate quite literally packs the price into a little cup, with 24-carat, edible, gold-leaf lining. Besides the precious metal, it comes in a crystal goblet with a bracelet made of 18-carat gold and diamonds attached to the neck. The drink itself is made from fourteen rare cocoas from South America and Africa, along with milk, whipped cream, and shavings from the world’s most expensive truffle (more on that later). Am I the only one that finds the idea of eating gold a bit disconcerting? I guess that’s just my inner peasant talking.
3. Hot Dog: $69
This world record holder is hardly eat-and-run street-food fare. Another Serendipity creation, this dog blows overpriced ballpark franks out of their stadiums. How does one manage to tack on an additional sixty bucks to an already overpriced snack? The Foot-Long Haute Dog is grilled beef, dressed in white truffle oil, duck foie gras, Dijon mustard, Vidalia onions, and ketchup, atop a salted pretzel bun doused again with some truffle oil. Guess double the truffle means double the … fun?
4. Bagel: $1000
Another New York staple with a fancified price tag, this bagel, concocted by Westin Hotel’s executive chef Frank Tujague, is whole wheat and available for just over a dollar without the toppings. But, of course, the toppings are what make it so lavish: goji berry–infused Riesling jelly, white-truffle cream cheese, and (you guessed it) gold leaves. (Okay, eating all this gold can’t be good for anyone.)
5. Wagyu Steak: $160 for eight ounces
They don’t even have to add truffles and gold to make this one expensive. It’s no American feedlot cattle we’re talking about here—the Japanese have outdone us with steak. Wagyu cattle turn into luxury steaks that pull in hundreds of dollars a pop on menus around the world. Also called Kobe, these cows are massaged (rather than being allowed to exercise and burn off any of that precious fat), a process resulting in extreme tenderness and marbling. Anyone can try the massaged meat by popping in to a high-end steakhouse. Anyone willing to shell out nearly two hundred bucks, that is.
6. Pizza: $4200
“Affordable” and “easy” are synonymous with pizza for me—until I ran across Pizza Royale, the twelve-inch creation that chef Domenico Crolla sold on eBay for charity. It’s positively packed with opulence: cognac-marinated lobster, champagne-soaked caviar, sunblush tomato sauce, vintage balsamic, prosciutto, venison medallions, and Scottish smoked salmon. And if that’s not luxurious enough, it’s also dusted with those ubiquitous 24-carat gold flakes.
7. Densuke Watermelon: $6100
That’s right, watermelon. Don’t get me wrong; the pink, juicy summer fruit is one of my favorite foods, but what separates this one from those overflowing at farmers’ market stands throughout the summer? Well, the Densuke’s not our average pink melon. These black fruits only grow on one Japanese island, making them extremely rare, costly, and coveted. The particular melon in question weighed in at an extremely heavy seventeen pounds and sold at a fancy fruit auction. (Hmmm … still doing the math, and I’m coming up around $6000 short.)
8. Saffron: $2700 per pound
As anyone who has tried making paella knows, just picking up a container of saffron from the spice aisle can be bank breaking. This spice carries such a high price tag because not only does it have to be hand harvested, but each flower only yields three of the microscopic saffron threads, which is pretty brutal since it takes over thirteen thousand of them to compile just one ounce. The highest quality stuff—prized for its color and flavor—sells for the record-setting price of almost $3000.
9. Chocolate Truffle: $250 each
Every overspending eater has to have dessert options. Connecticut’s Knipschildt Chocolatier boasts the most expensive chocolate in the world, according to Forbes magazine. And with this one, buyers do know what they’re going to get. The dark chocolate truffle, officially called La Madeline au Truffe, begins with, well, an actual truffle: the rare French Périgord truffle. It’s then surrounded by a rich ganache, made of dark chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, truffle oil, and vanilla, and rolled in cocoa powder. It’s convenient, too—you can order it online and have it shipped to you.
Though rare cocoa and all that truffle do sound mouthwatering, I can’t help but wonder what better uses I could find for my hundreds and thousands of dollars. Because until that thousand-dollar bagel infuses me with the power to fly, or at least convince my boss to give me a raise, I’ll be sticking to my usual Noah’s—toasted, with butter, please.