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Treats For Your Rich Tastes

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Saffron: The most expensive spice in the world, saffron or kesar, is made from the dried stigma of the purple crocus flower. Each flower has only three stigma and it can take more than 75,000 threads or filaments of the crocus flower (that's nearly an acre of the flower) to equal half a kg of the spice. No wonder, half a kg of it can set you back by $5,000.


White truffles: Don't even dream of making mushroom matar using this rather ordinary looking fungus. The unassuming white truffle is sold at $3,000-$6,000 a kg. Last December, Stanley Ho, the owner of a Macau casino, paid a record $330,000 for 1.5 kg of truffles. They are expensive because they cannot be cultivated commercially; they grow in the wild. Also, they are available for only a few months, in a part of Italy. It takes trained dogs and pigs to sniff them out near the roots of oak trees.



Kopi luwak coffee: The most expensive coffee is made from animal droppings. And before you turn up your nose, remember that the Kopi Luwak coffee made from the beans digested by an Asian palm civet is so rare that only about 230 kg is produced a year. Half a kilo of it can relieve you of $350. According to coffee connoisseurs, it is mild, smooth and absolutely unmatched. The Indonesian animal eats only the most perfectly-matured beans which it then excretes. Plantation workers retrieve the beans, clean and roast them. The animal's digestive enzymes make the beans less acidic, adding to the coffee's flavour.

Caviar: Considered the ultimate in luxurious food, caviar has a grading system and the best of caviar is

the Iranian beluga called Almas. It comes from the infinitesimally rare albino sturgeons that are 60 to 100 years old and found in the Caspian Sea. Sold in a 24-carat gold tin, Almas caviar costs $920 per 100 gm.

Donkey cheese: Donkey keepers at the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve in Serbia are smiling all the way to the bank. Cheese made from the animals' milk is the most expensive in the world, at nearly $1,350 a kg. It takes about 25 litres of milk to make one kg of Pule cheese. Available only on pre-order.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 30-07-2012)

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