Caviar is the new condiment.
From tacos and flatbread to pasta and burgers, caviar - those shiny little balls usually passed on a small spoon by a white-gloved waiter - is shedding its stuffy image and lending a highbrow take to a regular meal.
"It's about sharing in that little taste of luxury," said Wesley Holton, executive chef of "Rose. Rabbit. Lie." at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Step inside some of Europe's top restaurants and you wouldn't know there had been a global financial meltdown a few years ago. These temples to haute cuisine are still unashamedly, perhaps reassuringly, expensive.
In this rarefied world of showy dining, the cost of a single dish nudges into three figures. And that's before you pay $1,000 for a bottle of wine.
One beeeeeelion years ago (okay, 13), chef Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne unleashed the Original db Burger uponst the New York dining public. Yea and verily, they quaked and drooled in the face of the "monster burger's" lavish short rib, foie gras and truffle-stuffed extravagance - and its then-unparalleled $27 price tag.
Boulud's seasonally-available Double Truffle Burger variant was, for a time, Guinness World Records-certified as the world's most expensive burger. Its $120-$150 cost has since been topped by others including Serendipity 3's limited-time $295 "Le Burger Extravagant," made from white truffle butter-infused Japanese Wagyu beef, topped with James Montgomery cheddar cheese, black truffles and a fried quail egg and served on a gold-dusted campagna roll spread with white truffle butter.
Blini, creme fraiche and caviar added to the beefy tally, but this might make the whole thing a little easier to swallow: Bowery Mission, which serves homeless and hungry New Yorkers, was the beneficiary of the profits.
It's a little-known fact, but wealthy people are actually physically unable to ingest liquids that cost less than $20 per fluid ounce. Consequently, today is a banner day for 12 lucky, loaded imbibers around the globe.
Not only will they have the privilege of spending an estimated $168,000 for one of the dozen "Ampoules" of 2004 Block 42 wine newly available from Australian winemaker Penfolds, but as part of the purchase price, a senior official from said company will be personally dispatched to them to ceremoniously remove the precious liquid from its glass plumb-bob casing and open it "using a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe-snap." This same human will then "prepare the wine using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin." How fancy is that?