With our tax deadline looming and many of us feeling the weight that goes along with the endless paperwork and math, we wanted to explore the better side of tax season: the returns! Often when we receive a return check it feels like “bonus” money, and here are a few luxury foods worth the extra dough. After all, once your taxes are done, you deserve a little leisurely extravagance.
Where is the (Most Expensive) Beef?
We Americans like to think of the humble hamburger as a quick and easy indulgence. The juicy, savory meaty sandwich is a staple — a convenient, affordable food for simple satisfaction. Now, don’t get us wrong, we have nothing against a juicy burger! But, for an unreal meaty experience, look for Kobe beef. The highly marbled beef is known for its irresistible tender meat and fatty flavor. In fact, it has so much marbilization (visible fat, which gives it flavor) that the Japanese refer it as “white steak.” The specific Japanese style of cattle were bred as working cattle and are meant to handle hard labor. This gives the animals more intra-muscular fat cells, or marbling. This equals amazing flavor. For true authentic Japanese Kobe the cow must also have been born in the Japanese Hyogo Prefecture (the capital is, of course named Kobe), raised on the local grasses, water, and natural terrain its whole life, and there are a number of other strict rules that must be followed for the acclaimed steaks. What makes this style of sought-after beef so unique is that the Kobe cattle are not fed pasture grass as conventionally raised beef is fed. Instead the cattle are fed a diet of dried foraged grasses, like rice and straw with nutrition-rich feed supplements made by blending soybean, corn, barley, wheat bran, and various other ingredients.
However, there are many purveyors raising Kobe-style beef in the US. In the 1970’s a few Wagyu bulls were brought to the US for cross-breeding with Angus cattle creating the American Wagyu/Kobe Style Beef. These cows are fed a slightly different diet of corn, alfalfa, barley and wheat straw, yet the result gives a strikingly similar result. If you can find it, Kobe beef from Japan will run upwards of $200 a steak, whereas an American Kobe steak will run from $80 – $100.
Pass the (Pricey) Cheese, Please
Many of us have a weakness when it comes to cheese—can we just admit that almost anything, even pie, is better with cheese? It is true; cheese can add a saltiness, creaminess, and sometimes sharpness that will bend our willpower to the forbidden foods, making them somehow even more irresistible. A slice of American, or Swiss on a sandwich; Brie with wine on a Friday; fondue for a date; a shmear of cream cheese on a bagel—cheese spells indulgence. Why not take this indulgence a little further?
Caciocavallo Podolico is Italy’s favorite, most prized and expensive cheese. Its name translates to “horse cheese,” though the delicacy is not made from horse milk, but from Podolica cows. The name comes from an old story: the cheese was tied to and hung off the back of a horse for curing while being transported. It has an intense and sharp flavor when ripened. It can run upwards of $650 a pound. For Bleu cheese lovers there is a cheese that is held holy, and that cheese is Gorau Glas, hailing from the UK. Gorau Glas is made of cow’s milk, specifically at the Caws Gorau Glas farm in Dwyran, Anglessy, United Kingdom. It is known for its piquant flavor and the highly coveted veins that all Bleu’s try to achieve. This Bleu beauty will run you $40 a pound. The world’s most expensive cheese is Moose Cheese. That’s right, the hefty moose produces milk with what is said to be a grassy, creamy, and savory flavor that is well worth the $500 per pound. This price is justified by the fact that only three unusually tame Swedish moose, named Gullan, Haelga, and Juna, produce milk only from May to September and are very picky about their handlers. Each animal produces about 1.3 gallons of milk per day, so the farm can only offer 660 pounds of cheese per year.
Other food items that cost a bit more than a pretty penny: