11 of the World’s Most Expensive Ordinary Foods

Most travelers I know like to try to eat well without spending a fortune when they’re on the road – and luckily, that’s usually really easy to do. But if you’re on the other end of the spending spectrum or you just want a new topic of cocktail party conversation, then you’ll want to seek out some of these most expensive foods in the world.

I’m not talking about the usual suspects – stuff like caviar or beef that’s been massaged by the feet of Thai virgins – I’m talking about ordinary foods that seem like they’d take an average-sized chunk out of your wallet. These expensive foods, however, will set you back quite a bit more than an average-sized chunk.

Most Expensive Hamburger

Fries with your foie gras & Kobe beef burger, sir?
While we’ve all seen high-end restaurants listing their high-end hamburgers for $20 or more, most of us associate the hamburger with budget eating at its finest (if not its most healthy). But the Wall Street Burger Shoppe in New York has taken the expensive hamburger to a new level with its $175 hamburger. It’s the ingredients in this pricey burger that make it so costly – you’ll be munching down on Kobe beef, foie gras, exotic mushrooms and even “golden truffle mayonnaise” between those buns.
And if that weren’t enough, the whole thing is dusted with gold flakes. Oh, and before you protest, yes, I know Burger King was selling a $200 burger in London for awhile earlier in the year, but it’s by special order only and it’s for charity. The Wall Street Burger Shoppe’s $175 burger’s only charitable contribution is toward your next colonoscopy.

Most Expensive Chocolate Brownie

At least you get to keep the bottle...

Unless you’re talking about space cakes in Amsterdam, you’d probably expect the average brownie to cost no more than a couple bucks, especially if it wasn’t part of some obscenely large and ice-cream-slathered dessert that tries to hide the fact that the word “mud” really shouldn’t be anywhere near a food product.

But at the DB Bistro Moderne in New York, your brownie won’t come drowning in ice cream or hot fudge and it’ll still cost you a cool $1,000. What makes the Brownie Extraordinaire with Saint Louis so spendy? Sure, things like hazelnuts from Italy and gold dust help, but I’m guessing it’s the whole routine whereby after every single bite someone with the uber-cool title of “the dessert captain” uses what looks like an old-fashioned perfume bottle to spray a fine mist of vintage port directly on your tongue. The bottle alone costs $750 – but the good news is that you get to keep it even after you’ve scarfed down the brownie. Sadly, you’ll have to find your own dessert captain.

Most Expensive Sandwich

It's big, but £100? Really?

For most of us, the idea of a sandwich being expensive is a little odd to begin with, especially when we grew up on sandwiches made with cheap ingredients like Wonder Bread (was that even really bread?) and Kraft cheese slices. But there are chefs out there who can take the humblest of foods and expensive it right up, as evidenced by the £100 von Essen Platinum Club Sandwich on the menu at Cliveden House Hotel in Taplow, Berkshire.

In fact, this sandwich is such a work of culinary art that it’s got two chef brains behind it instead of just one. The ingredient list includes Iberico ham, poulet de Bresse (that’s chicken from Bresse to you and me), white truffles, quail eggs, and semi-dried tomatoes on sourdough bread that was fermented for 24 hours. It’s a double-layer sandwich, and reportedly has 10g of the precious white truffles on it, but I’m thinking that those semi-dried tomatoes have something to do with the price, too. I mean, can’t you just picture someone being employed 24/7 to watch over tomatoes as they dry, waiting for the exact second when they qualify as “semi-dry?” A moment too late, and the sandwich costs £80 – tragedy.

Most Expensive Cheese

One of the cheese-making Swedish mooses. Meese?

Some people like cheese, but some people really like cheese. These are the folks who can tell you simply by smelling a sample whether it’s made of cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk. But even the most single-minded cheese aficionados might be stumped by the world’s most expensive variety – it’s made at the Moose House in Bjursholm, Sweden, and “Moose House” isn’t just a cute name. No, in this case, it’s truth in advertising, because this $500/lb. cheese is made from the milk of three moose cows.

The moose milk cheese is only available from May until September each year, and it goes directly to exclusive hotels and restaurants in Sweden. If you’re determined to get your hands on some, however, you can head to the Moose House and buy it from Christer Johannson, who runs the place. If you’re lucky, you may even get to meet the three moose who made the milk that’s in the cheese. Incidentally, their names are Haelga, Gullan, and Juna.

Most Expensive Pizza

Colorful & pretty, yes. Appetizing, notsomuch.

I’m something of a pizza purist. I tend to order the very-basic pizza margherita when I’m trying a new pizza joint, to see how well they’ve built their foundation. But that’s not the only reason why I’d be completely uninterested in this pizza… It has more to do with the $1,000 price tag. Nino’s Bellissima in New York has this $1K 12-inch pizza on the menu, and while I’ll admit it’s kind of pretty, it doesn’t look remotely appetizing to me.

It’s topped with creme fraiche, lobster tail and six different kinds of caviar, which are added after the pie is baked. Possibly even more remarkable, within 24 hours of putting this costly pizza on the menu, the restaurant had already had two orders placed for them – and that was before the team from the Today Show arrived to cover the story.

Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae

Subtle, this sundae is not.

Remember when going out with the family to the local ice cream parlor was an affordable summer outing? Well, be thankful that your family doesn’t live down the street from Serendipity 3 in New York, because then you might have rugrats pulling at your shirt-tails as you walked past, begging for one of those shiny ice cream sundaes. And then you’d have to explain how long said rugrat would have to work the paper route to afford that fancy $1,000 sundae.

Serendipity 3 calls it the “Golden Opulence Sundae,” and with good reason – the recipe calls for 5 scoops of “the richest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla and covered in 23K edible gold leaf,” and the world’s most expensive chocolate is then drizzled over the top. Over that, there are additional chunks of another rare chocolate, special candied fruits from Paris, truffles, and cherries made of marzipan. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that’s awfully minimalistic, right? Well, never fear, because on top of all of that, you’ll find a little glass bowl containing Grand Passion caviar. Don’t storm the counter, folks, you’ve got to order this one in advance.

Most Expensive Hot Dog

So that's what frizzled onions look like...

As you’re reading this article, you’re no doubt thinking every so often, “That’s just ridiculous, why would anyone pay so much for something so simple?” In many cases, it’s all about bragging rights – but in at least one case, it appears that even bragging rights weren’t enough to keep an expensive hot dog on a restaurant’s menu.

The Old Homestead in New York held the crown for the most expensive hot dog back in 2005 with its $19 11-oz. dog made from Kobe beef, but after consulting the restaurant menu it looks like it’s no longer available. No worries, because the price of the runner-up back then has gone up more than $4. These days, the 15-bite hot dog at the Brooklyn Diner USA in New York will cost you $17.95 (which may seem downright cheap compared to some of the other foods listed here, but keep in mind this is a hot dog I’m talking about here). In addition to a gourmet dog big enough to share on a brioche bun, you’ll also get “warm juniper berry sauerkraut” and “frizzled” onion rings, whatever that means.

Most Expensive Chocolate

Silk bedding definitely makes it look expensive.

Some people are accepting of the idea of expensive chocolate – the word “truffle” is, after all, used for both decadent chocolate mouthfuls and some of the most expensive mushrooms in the world. But even die-hard chocoholics might cringe at the pricetag on Knipschildt Chocolates in Norwalk, Connecticut.

This baby, called the Madeleine, might be a French dark truffle covered in 70% Valrhona cocoa powder, but you’ll have to decide whether that justifies the cost of $250 apiece. Of course, if you’re pricing it out in pounds, it comes to $2,600/lb. Yeah, all of a sudden that $250/ea cost is looking pretty reasonable, isn’t it? According to the chocolatier, the expensive ingredients are only part of the reason for the high price. The rest is reportedly due to how labor-intensive each one is to make by hand. These chocolates must be ordered in advance, so you’ve got plenty of warning – save your pennies now, Valentine’s Day is only several months away.

Most Expensive Nut

Macadamias before they've been prettified.

Since things like peanuts and almonds are a favorite snack among travelers, providing lots of great energy at usually a low price, it might be a little weird to think that there’s a nut that qualifies as really expensive. But when you hear that it’s the Macadamia nut from Hawaii you might not be so surprised.

Frankly, this fat-laden nut is so often used in desserts that it’s not outside the realm of reason to think of it more as a dessert than a nut anyway. And at $15-16/lb., Macadamia nuts should at least be thought of as a delicacy. To be sure, you probably shouldn’t gorge yourself on these things even if you get a great deal on them – they’re about 80% oil. Yeah, no wonder they’re so scrumptious, right? Oh, and just in case this isn’t enough trivia for you, here’s more – while we all associate Macadamia nuts with Hawaii, the trees actually originated in Australia. Now go impress your friends.

Most Expensive Pie

The costly pie with its creator, drunk on power.

I have to admit, when I first started researching this particular part of this article, I was hoping that the “most expensive pie” would be a dessert. I’m a dessert kind of girl. But I guess it makes more sense that this pie should be of the savory variety, as it’s easier to come up with lots of expensive cheeses and meats and such to cram into one pie. And so it is that Fence Gate Inn near Burnley, Lancashire created a pie in 2006 that cost more than £1,000 a slice. And just in case that wasn’t a high enough number for you, as I’m writing this the currency conversion makes that more than $1,800.

To make the entire pie, the chef used a £500 beef fillet, more than £2,000 worth of Chinese mushrooms and truffles, and two bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine valued at over £4,000. Oh, and the pie was then covered with gold leaf after it’s done cooking. One pie yielded eight slices, and the cost of making it was more than £8,000, so they were barely breaking even on this thing. (Which is perhaps why I can’t find it on the restaurant’s current menu.)

Most Expensive Dessert

Don't eat the rare gemstone, please.

Now, as compared to some of the other items on this list, “dessert” probably seems oddly vague. And I’ll agree with you on that count. But when you hear about the dessert that qualifies as the world’s most expensive, you’ll understand why I couldn’t not include it here.

See, the restaurant called Wine3 at The Fortress in Galle, Sri Lanka has created something that almost defies category here. I mean, can something that costs $14,500 really be considered an after-dinner indulgence, or is it more like the down payment on a house? So, what do you get for your nearly $15K? Well, in addition to a little cassata, a little caramelized sugar, and chocolate in the shape of a fisherman, you also get a native, 80-carat aquamarine gemstone. Before you even ask, the answer is no – not a single one has been ordered yet. Wanna be the first?

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About the Author
BootsnAll staff writer Jessica Spiegel writes the Italy Travel Guide, and while she’s quite familiar with the abysmal dollar-euro exchange rate, she’d rather pay for all her meals in euros than pay the prices listed in this article.

original photo locations, from top to bottom: Yumsugar, FoodTV, BBC News, joe-ks.com, The XO Directory, Most-Expensive.net, Brooklyn Diner, Luxuo, raeallen on Flickr, Manchester Evening News, and BornRich

Filed under: featured, Food