17 January 2009

Give me the Gold Flake Icecream ~ Why the Rich Like to Eat Gold

From the WSJ Blog

"As any private banker will tell you, the wealthy have become gold bugs. They are buying gold futures, gold bars, gold coins, just about anything made from the shiny stuff. It is the ultimate crisis bet: when the world is falling apart, gold will always retain value (that is the theory anyway).

Serendipity-3’s the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate

The wealthy in Abu Dhabi have another way to enjoy gold: eating it. An article by Bradley Hope in the National says the Emirates Palace hotel served up five kilograms, or about 11 pounds, of edible gold to its dining guests in 2008. “That amounts to 5,000 one-gram bottles of gold leaf flakes from a German distributor, which each go for about $100,” the article states. The edible-gold budget for the Emirates Palace, which prides itself on its gold theme, could be as high as $500,000 a year.

The gold, in flake, powder or sheet form, is served up in everything from a rose champagne ($2,995 for a three-liter bottle) to chocolate cake and cappuccinos. The article says the Russians are especially avid consumers of gold, and like to eat it with their caviar and oysters.

Plenty of U.S. restaurants serve up gold to those who like to wear their bling on the inside. A New York chef came up with a $1,000 bagel featuring white truffle cream cheese and goji berry-infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves. An L.A. candy maker sells treats called Holiday Nougat, made with flakes of 23-karat edible gold leaf.

Stephen Bruce, owner of New York ice cream parlor Serendipity3 famously came up with the $25,000 Frozen Haute Chocolate sundae, covered in 23K edible gold-infused whipped cream. (The shop had to close for a while after the health department found rodents in the kitchen. Presumably even Manhattan mice also have developed a gilded palate.).

As much as these marketing gimmicks may have served their purpose during the shiny, happy boom times, they probably will lose their luster in the age of thrift. “A lot of people still ask why we use gold in food,” said Jean Pierre Garat, the head of food and beverage at the Emirates Palace. “We tell them it’s a sign of excellence.”

But who will want to eat a $3,000 bottle of excellence after their fortunes have crashed and their private jets are being repossessed? Maybe the ever-creative chefs of the world will come up with a more timely replacement. Perhaps iron shavings or finely layered sheets of 401K statements."

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