From the category archives:



Ferran Adrià, owner of the restaurant famed as being the best in the world, El Bulli, has decided to close the restaurant at the end of the year.

Adrià said he would be taking a hiatus from El Bulli as of 2012 to explore new gastronomy trends and to do some teaching in the United States, before re-opening for the 2014 season.

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Spandau Ballet lead singer Tony Hadley helped deliver a gold leaf-covered special edition of a Wispa Gold bar, priced at a gobsmacking £961.48, to London store Selfridges on August 3, 2009.

Hadley was helping to promote the relaunch of the once popular Cadbury’s treat, which went back on sale at the more reasonable price of 55p in September 2009, six years after it was originally discontinued. The chocolate bar went back into production following a huge campaign on Facebook, where more than 22,000 people joined the group “Bring back Cadbury’s Wispa Gold”.

Hadley was accompanied by a full security team to ensure the luxury chocolate bar was kept under lock and key.

The bar is covered in edible gold leaf and sheathed in a gold leaf wrapper, and its price is said to be the precise value of its weight in gold.

All proceeds from its sale went to the UK Lowe Syndrome Trust, of which Hadley is patron.

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Would you pay £350 a pint for the world’s most expensive beer? James May and Oz Clarke taste the world’s most expensive beer at Carlsberg UK in Northampton to see if the extraordinary price tag is worth it.

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Christmas is a time to eat, drink and be merry! And you will certainly be able to do just that with the world’s most expensive Christmas dinner.

Here’s a shopping list for the ultimate Christmas dinner for ten – priced at close to half a million pounds, according to The London Magazine:


Fissler diamond cooking pot (for sprouts)… £100,000

Christofle ‘Malmaison’ diamond cutlery… £96,000

A set of 10 silver chased Theo Fennell water beakers… £56,000

10 Cristal St Louis champagne flutes, 20 wine glasses and 10 port glasses (all £200 each), from Harrods… £8,000

Hand-painted Herend china Christmas table setting for 10… £8,330

Bespoke double damask tablecloth… (£850) and napkins (£25.00 each), from Jane Sacchi… £1,100

Pair of House of Odiot sterling silver gilt candlesticks… £29,000

Box of gold tapered Venetian candles… £50

Tiffany candle snuffer… £170

David Linley walnut handle sterling silver Stilton scoop… £175

David Linley crystal caviar bowl… £995

Tiffany ‘Paloma’s Groove’ sterling silver corkscrew… £145

Theo Fennell Christmas bowl centrepiece… £5,600

KWO gold-leaf nutcracker… £28,699

Subtotal: £334, 264


2 bottles 1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil Champagne (£550 per bottle)… £1,100

Asprey sterling silver cooler…  £3,300

2 bottles 2003 Le Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (£2,520)… £5,040

4 bottles 1945 Mouton-Rothschild (£9,270)… £37,080

2 bottles 1949 Chateau d’Yquem (£1,800)… £3,600 Wines from Berry Bros & Rudd

Subtotal: £50,120


500g prize reserved Iranian beluga caviar (£345 for 50g)… £3,450

Side of wild smoked salmon… £60

2 packets Cruscam Russian blini pancakes… £8

2 pots Longley Farm sour cream… £1.80

1kg fresh Dordogne foie gras… £65

Lidgate’s limited-edition turkey (10kg)… £100

2 packets chestnuts (for stuffing)… £10

MA Brussels sprouts… £2

5g white truffle (£50 a gram)… £250

Leg of Iberico ham… £700

Paxton & Whitfield whole Stilton… £105

Paxton & Whitfield truckle of cheddar… £32

Paxton & Whitfield savoury biscuit collection… £12

Fiona Cairns bespoke Christmas cake… £60

20 Fortnum and Mason mince pies… £23.17

Fortnum & Christmas pudding (£14.95) plus 10 real silver Victorian sixpences (£35 each)… £364.95

Voss water from Fortnum & Mason… £1.99

Subtotal: £5,245.91


Bottle 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional Port from Bibendum… £1,800

Bottle Louis XIII de Remy Martin cognac from Berry Bros & Rudd… £995

Five Cohiba Piramides limited-edition Maduro Havana Cigars (£22.90 each), from Davidoff… £114.50

William Curley handmade chocolates… £32

Subtotal: £2,941.50


Twelve Harrods ‘Russian’ crackers (£999 a box of six)… £1,998

Celebrity cook… £4,000

10 Theo Fennell silver toothpicks (£145 each)… £1,450

Zantac indigestion pills (48)… £10.50

Subtotal: £7,458.50

Grand total: £400,029.91

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Burger King’s £95 sandwich, named simply The Burger, made Guinness World Record history as the world’s most expensive hamburger when it was launched in 2008 as a limited edition.

The world’s most succulent Japanese beef is complemented with white truffles, onion tempura prepared in Cristal champagne, and Italy’s finest Pata Negra prosciutto.

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Millions of people around the world will be celebrating Thanksgiving today with a plentiful feast of turkey, with all the trimmings, topped off with a slice of traditional pumpkin pie.

But for some, a traditional home-made Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t quite make the bill. Just ask the Thanksgiving dinner-goers at the former Café Grey in New York. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Dinner at their chef’s table runs at US$10,000 for 12 seats. That’s around $833 a head.

So what do discerning Thanksgiving fans get at Café Gray’s? In 2006, chef Gray Kunz’s expensive event included a breakfast of, among other things, scrambled eggs (with caviar and chervil), smoked salmon (with dill crème fraîche) and bacon. Between meals, there was a viewing of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (on plasma screens), balloon sculptures and a strolling magic show. The Thanksgiving dinner itself consisted of endive and quince salad, truffled butternut squash potage or lobster and crabmeat gratin, and the centrepiece, a roasted organic lemon thyme turkey.

Now that’s one lavish Thanksgiving dinner!

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The next time you’re at a restaurant gawking at the hefty prices on the wine list, spare a thought: they’re most probably nowhere near the prices of the top 10 most expensive bottles of wine. That should make your choice a little easier.

10. 2005 Chateau Petrus

Sold: US$3176 per bottle

Take a number and get in line for the most hyped Bordeaux vintage in recent memory.

9. 2003 Romanée Conti

Sold: US$4,650 per bottle

There is tremendous competition to snare bottles from this, DRC’s most exalted vineyard. Jamie Wolff, partner in Chambers Street Wines and Spirits, advises that you can’t just walk off the street with your credit card expecting to buy a bottle, however. “There’s not a lot to go around. They’re for my loyal customers.”

8. 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Sold: Zachys LA auction, October 2004, US$24,675 per bottle.

Francis Ford Coppola keeps one of these (empty) on top of his refrigerator. “It was one of the best I’d ever had,” he said about the wine, which set the record for a Californian. And how did it taste? “There is a signature violet and rose petal aroma that completes this amazingly well-preserved, robust wine that had just finished fermentation at the time of Pearl Harbor.”

7. 1934 DRC Romanée Conti

Sold: Hart Davis Hart, Chicago, June 2006, US$20,145 per bottle


The DRC Duvault-Blochet is a 1er Cru wine from grand cru grapes, and there were only three vintages ever made: 1934, 1999 and 2002. Driving the price up even further on this rare wine was a pre-auction tasting note from Allen Meadows (aka The Burghound) and a score of 99, giving the stunning wine impeccable credentials.


6. 1978 Montrachet Domaine de la Romanée Conti

 Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, 2001, US$23,929 per bottle

As shows, you can grab the 1978 for $6000 at Park Avenue Wine & Spirits. It remains a mystery why this went for so much money during the 2001 slump, even if it is the only white wine property from DRC in a very good year. Be warned: Much bottle variation is reported on this gorgeous wine in this particular vintage, from dreary to sublime.

 5. 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild

Sold: Christie’s Los Angeles, September 2006, US$28,750 per bottle (a 6 magnum case was bought for US$345,000)


Michael Broadbent waxed poetic about this vintage, summing it up as “a glorious mouthful.” By his account, 1945 was one of the best vintages in the last century. During that year, however, the Mouton was classified as a second growth, not as the first it is today. It has been described as youthful and powerful.

4. 1947 Cheval Blanc (three-litre bottle)

Sold: Vinfolio, San Francisco, July 2006, US$33,781.25 per 750 ml bottle (US$135,125 for the three-litre bottle)


The St Emilion property Cheval Blanc contains a hefty dose of difficult-to-ripen Cabernet Franc grapes. However, the year 1947 was hot and dry. According to the head of Christie’s wine auction department, Michael Broadbent, it’s still a brawny mouthful.

3. 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage

Sold: May 2004, Melbourne, Australia, AU$50,200

This is winemaker Max Schubert’s bold experiment that put Australian Shiraz on the map. His boss was less than charmed by the first few vintages. Nevertheless, Schubert continued to make the wine, eventually winning over his hard-to-please employer, as well as the rest of the world.

2. 1787 Château d’Yquem

Sold: February 2006, Antique Wine Company, London, US$100,000

Those worshiping sweet wines made from Chenin Blanc often scorn the most famous of all stickies, Chateau d’Yquem, made from semillon. However, it’s hard to question its auction performance. 

1. 1787 Château Lafitte

Sold: December 1985, Christie’s, London, US$156,450

After Christopher Forbes outbid Marvin Shanken, publisher of the Wine Spectator, he brought this bottle back to Forbes Collection on 5th Avenue. Though its origin has been debated (it was believed to belong to the estate of Thomas Jefferson), it remains the world auction record holder for a bottle of wine. 

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Most celebrities have an intimate understanding of restaurants – and not just because they can afford to indulge their tastebuds at the most decadent eateries around the world. Before they were raking in the millions, many of them worked as waiters waiting for their big break.

“You feel like you know everything once you’ve been a waitress,” Sandra Bullock, a former server, once said. But who knew so many stars, like Bullock, would be inspired to return to their humble beginnings? Indeed, a number of celebrities have added “restaurateur” to their resumes. And many of them have the same appetite for the craft as they do for their more glamorous jobs.

Danny DeVito - DeVito South Beach

For his first venture into the culinary world, Danny Devito partnered with renowned restaurateur David Manero and entrepreneur Michael Brauser to open a traditional Italian chophouse Miami’s hotspot – Ocean Drive. The décor was inspired by the colours of the Italian flag, with lipstick-red Venetian chandeliers, pearly white oversized booths and avocado-green walls, plus dark fig wood shutters and wood plank floors. Check out the outdoor patio with oversized wing chairs and airy cabanas, which offer privacy with the drop of a drape. Savour the signature Kobe Flight: Devito’s Global Wagyu Trio featuring steak from Japan, Australia and the United States.

Eva Longoria – Beso

Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria teamed up with her pal, chef Todd English, and restaurateurs JT Torregiani and Jonas Lowrance to create Beso (Spanish for “kiss”), serving Mediterranean cuisine with a Spanish infusion. The 150-seat restaurant and bar features an open kitchen, wood-burning oven and a full ceviche bar; expect English’s signature dishes like paella with lobster and chorizo. The black leather-tufted chairs, beige crocodile booths and crystal chandeliers add a touch of glamour to this fine establishment.

Justin Timberlake – Southern Hospitality

In 2005, Justin Timberlake, Eytan Sugarman and Trace Ayala opened Dostino, serving Southern Italian fare by chef Mario Curko. In July 2008, the trio debuted Southern Hospitality in New York — a nod to the trio’s roots south of the Mason-Dixon line roots. Executive chef and pitmaster guru, Ray Lampe, aka Dr BBQ, created a menu featuring home-style barbeque fare. There are dishes like pulled pork (a Timberlake favourite), Southern-fried catfish, Memphis-Style dry rubbed spareribs, and Beale Street BBQ chicken.

Jennifer Lopez – Madre’s

Jennifer Lopez labels Madre’s, in Pasadena, California, ”a family restaurant with a little bit of sexiness to it.” She played a key role in nearly every aspect of the restaurant’s creation, working closely with renowned designer Rachel Ashwell. Reserve one of the cabana booths, which are complete with a curtain for privacy. Lopez’s favorite dish is said to be the bistec encebollado (prime sirloin steak marinated and sautéed with caramelised onions).

Paul Newman – Dressing Room

Paul Newman’s business partner Michel Nischan, chef and co-owner of Dressing Room in Wesport, Connecticut, says that the restaurant’s goal is to “restore American culture to a time before the emergence of fast food and convenience.” So expect to find true Yankee pot roast, chicken and dumplings, pot pies and angel food cake in an inviting countryside setting. Co-owner Newman calls himself the “Director of Opinions,” working closely with Nischan and the Dressing Room team to develop menu ideas, attend tastings and brainstorm about events for the restaurant.

Don Johnson – Ana Mandara

Don Johnson and Cheech Marin opened Ana Mandara, in San Francisco, California in 2000, which transports diners to a rural Vietnamese village with 1,000-year-old artefacts, carving, pottery, glass and dishware. Executive chef Khai Duong, one of the world’s leading Asian chefs, created recipes inspired from his Vietnamese village, Nha Trang. As Johnson once noted, “To describe my passion for the culture and for the delicate nature of the Vietnamese cuisine a la chef Khai Duong is like trying to describe love.”

Rose McGowan, Ben Harper, Laura Dern – Dominick’s

Once a genuine Hollywood haunt, the original Dominick’s was a Rat Pack favourite. Now under the co-ownership of Rose McGowan, Ben Harper and Laura Dern, the Los Angeles restaurant brings home-style Italian cooking to the hipster crowd, serving classic Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, homemade fettuccine carbonara, wood-grilled chicken marsala and veal parmesan.

Francis Ford Coppola – Café Zoetrope & Cafe Rosso

Francis Ford Coppola told Forbes Traveler that he began cooking in junior high school and never stopped. As a very poor college student, he’d whip up his mother’s recipes for girlfriends in his tiny apartment rather than take them out to dinner. Later, he cooked for his cast and crew during film shoots, so opening cafes was a natural move for him. Before opening them, however, he journeyed to Naples, tasting all kinds of Verace Pizza Napoletana, watching the pizzaiola ply his craft so he could give the diner an authentic experience. The result is fresh pizzas made in a wood-burning oven and pastas made to order. He’s keen to note that you should come as you are to the cafes - located in San Francisco and Palo Alto in California - and stay as long as you like.

Julian Lennon – Blowfish Sushi

When chef and Blowfish Sushi owner, Ritsuo Tsuchida, brought his San Jose and San Francisco eatery to the L.A. crowd— with Julian Lennon as a silent investor — he sought to continue his goal of making the culinary experience just like theatre — and high-tech theatre at that. A state-of-the-art audio-visual system streams Japanese anime and vintage Japanese films to more than 15 plasma screens in the restaurant while a live DJ booth plays an eclectic soundtrack. Try dishes like the Kyo Twist, a melt-in-your-mouth black cod marinated with sake and miso.

Robert de Niro – Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Rubicon, Ago Restaurant

In 1990, Robert De Niro and famed restaurateur Drew Nieporent opened Tribeca Grill in New York, and the duo continued their magic with Nobu, New York, and Rubicon, San Francisco, turning Tribeca and the world into their culinary oyster. De Niro joined forces with celebrated chef Agostino Sciandri to open Ago, an upscale Italian trattoria, at his new Greenwich hotel in New York (earlier outposts are in L.A., Miami and Las Vegas).

Moby – Teany

“One of our other goals with Teany is to make a vegetarian restaurant/café where even non-vegetarians are happy to hang out,” wrote pop artist Moby, who co-owns this New York cafe with business partner Kelly Tisdale. “We wanted Teany to be a place wherein everyone feels comfortable, regardless of whether they’re vegetarian or vegan or carnivore or what have you.” In addition to serving 98 different kinds of tea, there are dishes like goat cheese and artichoke salad, English Heinz beans on toast with farmhouse cheddar and the vegan BLT made with tempeh bacon, greens, tomatoes and veganaise.

Gloria Estefan – Lario’s on the Beach

You’ll find Lario’s on the Beach, owned by Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, in the heart of South Beach on Ocean Drive. Weekends at this Cuban eatery are especially jumping when a live Latin band performs. Don’t miss the mouth-watering grilled skirt steak, arroz con pollo (yellow rice with chicken) or paella. Grab a tasty margarita, park yourself on the terrace and watch the world go by.

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Ever wondered what the world’s most expensive foods are? You’ll be in gastronomic awe of some of the foods which make the list…

Serendipity Sundae

Prepared with five scoops of the richest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with some of the world’s most expensive chocolates, the world’s most expensive dessert, which will set you back around US$25,000, was created by Serendipity in New York City and certainly lives up to its name: Grand Opulence sundae. What’s more, the treat is topped with special dessert caviar, adorned with a 23-carat edible gold leaf, and served in a crystal goblet complete with an 18-carat-gold spoon.

Nino’s Bellisima Pizza

This US$1,000 luxury 12-inch pizza pie made its debut at Nino’s Bellissima restaurant in New York City. The pricey pizza is topped with sliced lobster tail, creme fraiche and four kinds of caviar. “The owner states that $750 worth of caviar is spread on this pizza, which is the main reason why this pie is so expensive. That averages approximately $33 per bite,” Associated Content reports.

Chocopologie truffle

For the chocolate lover, this is the ultimate decadence. So what’s in this US$2,600-per-pound morsel? “Decadent 70 per cent Valrhona dark chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, truffle oil and vanilla,” which form the base, and ”a rare French Perigord truffle is then surrounded by this rich decadent ganache; it is enrobed in Valrhona dark chocolate and then rolled in fine cocoa powder,” reports. You can only get the Chocopologie truffle at Knipschildt Chocolatier in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is made from the Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cow, which is raised in accordance with the Hyogo Prefecture traditions (these traditions sometimes include feeding the cow sake and beer) in Japan. It is known for its marbled appearance and delicious taste and texture. Kobe generally fetches US$40 to $150 per pound.

Kona Nigari

This seaweed mineral concentrate, which sells for US$16.75 per ounce, must first be mixed with regular drinking water before consuming. The concentrated water is said to be high in minerals and free of contaminates. If you’re thinking about buying one gallon, though, you’d better have more than US$2,000 set aside.

Almas Caviar 

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 Almas Caviar is the creme de la creme of caviars. The word “Almas” means diamond, and this Beluga caviar is a whitish color. The Caviar House and Prunier in London sells it in a 24-carat gold tin for about US$25,000 for 32 ounces.

Diamonds are Forever Martini

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This isn’t your everyday martini. The olive has been replaced by a 1.6 carat diamond, partially accounting for the martini’s US$16,000 price tag. The martini, created in conjunction with jeweller Bulgari, contains a Bulgari diamond at the bottom. You can take the stone to any Bulgari store in Toyko and have it set for free.

White Truffle Mushroom

These fancy fungi have their origins in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Typically sold for US$1,350 to $2,700 per pound, the record price paid for a single white truffle was set in December 2007, when casino owner Stanley Ho shelled out US$330,000 for a truffle weighing just over three pounds.


Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice because it takes about 75,000 saffron crocus blossoms (enough to fill an entire football field) to make a single pound of saffron. The spice, which has a slightly bitter taste, appears in many Moorish, Asian and Mediterranean dishes. Saffron prices range from US$500 to $5,000 per pound.

Kopi Luwak

The world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak is made from coffee berries that have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet, a catlike animal. The animal eats the berries, but the beans inside pass through its system undigested. This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, and in the Philippines. The total annual production is only around 500 pounds of beans, explaining its staggering price for a pound – up to US$600.

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For the fourth year in a row, Spain’s El Bulli restaurant has been voted the world’s best restaurant, according to the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2009 compiled by Restaurant Magazine.

Head chef Ferran Adria was voted top by a panel of 806 chefs, critics and industry experts worldwide, while British chef Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck held onto its second place on the list.

Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant, with its youthful head chef Rene Redzepi, ranked third. Noma, which rose seven places on the list, also took this year’s Chef’s Choice Award, which was decided after the head chefs from each of the top 50 restaurants on the list were asked to nominate the restaurant which they considered to be the best in the world.

Last year’s Chef’s Choice restaurant, Mugaritz, held onto its highest-ever position at number four, while another Spanish restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, rose a staggering 21 places to fifth, making it 2009′s highest climber.

Spain can claim more restaurants at the very top echelons of the list than any other country.

Thomas Keller’s New York restaurant Per Se grabbed sixth spot and with The French Laundry also well placed on the list, this year, Keller is the only restaurateur with two restaurants in the top 50.

Family business, Bras, headed by chef Michel Bras, was the highest placed French restaurant at seven. France’s culinary heritage and mastery continues to draw in a wealth of admirers from across the globe as it ties with the United States to score the highest number of restaurants on the list - each has eight in the top 50.

Grant Achatz of Alinea who was the highest new entry in 2007 rose 15 places in 2008 and this year rises a further 11 places to join the top 10.

The highest new entry came in from Italy, settling at position 13. At Osteria Francescana, chef Massimo Bottura introduces Italy’s old guard to Spain’s new wave by taking traditional Italian flavours and boldly toying with them.

Meanwhile last year’s highest new entry Vendôme, with Joachim Wissler at its helm, keeps the momentum going by rising a very respectable nine places to 25th position.

More new talent made its mark on the 2009 list than in previous years.

Such rising stars and new entries include Steirereck of Austria (30), New York’s Momofuku Ssam Bar (31), Mirazur in the South of France (35), Iggy’s in Singapore (45) and Quay in Australia (46).

Restaurant rankings on the list are decided by the votes of a panel of international judges collectively called the Nespresso World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

The Academy comprises of 806 chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and restaurant critics, a third of whom did not vote in the previous year.

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