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15 of the World’s Most Expensive Foods

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If you ever find yourself in a Brewster’s Millions situation and have to burn through a fortune in a hurry, then all you need are this article, a few plane tickets and an empty stomach. (It never hurts to plan for the unexpected.) So just in case, here are 15 meals that can help you wipe out your bank account in no time.

1, 2 & 3. The Most Expensive Burgers

Where You Can Find It: Serendipity 3, New York

Price: $295

What Makes It So Expensive: Le Burger Extravagant is made with white truffle butter-infused Japanese Wagyu beef, topped with James Montgomery cheddar cheese, black truffles and a fried quail egg. It’s served on a gold-dusted roll spread with white truffle butter and topped with a blini, crème fraiche and caviar. If that weren’t enough to excuse the price, it also comes with a solid-gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick.

There’s Competition Though: While they may not be recognized by Guinness, New York food truck 666 Burger offers the $666 Douche Burger that features a Kobe beef patty stuffed with foie gras and gold-leaf, covered in caviar, lobster, truffles, Gruyere cheese melted with champagne steam and BBQ sauce made with Kopi Luwak coffee. While the burger was a satire of La Burger Extravagant, it is actually available for sale, but as of yet, only one person has actually ordered it.

There’s also the FleurBurger 5000, from Vegas restaurant Fleur that features a Wagyu beef and foie gras patty with truffle sauce and shaved black truffles. Your order for this $5,000 burger also includes a bottle of $2,500 wine, Chateau Petrus, so really, you’re not just paying for the burger -- but still, the $2,500 burger might be the world’s most expensive, even if it’s not official yet.

4. The Most Expensive Dessert

Where You Can Find It: Serendipity 3 (Yes, the same place as the most expensive burger)

Price: $25,000

What Makes It So Expensive: The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate ice cream sundae contains a blend of 28 cocoas, including 14 of the most expensive in the world. It is decorated with edible gold and served in a goblet lined with edible gold. As if all that weren’t enough, there is an 18 karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of diamonds in the bottom of the sundae, and the treat is served with a golden spoon decorated in white and chocolate diamonds, both of which go home with the diner.

5. The Most Expensive Curry

Where You Can Find It: Bombay Brasserie, London

Price: $3,200

What Makes It So Expensive: The Samundari Khazana (meaning “seafood treasure”) contains Devon crab, white truffle, Beluga caviar, gold leaf, a Scottish lobster coated in gold, four abalones and four quail eggs.

6. The Most Expensive Pie

Where You Can Find It: The Fence Gate Inn, Lancashire

Price: $14,260, or $1,781 per slice

What Makes It So Expensive: This meat pie contains $870 worth of Wagyu beef fillet, Chinese matsutake mushrooms (that cost around $400 a pound), winter black truffles, and French bluefoot mushrooms (they go for around $160 a pound). Two bottles of vintage 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine are used in the gravy (another $1,740 per bottle) and the crust is covered in edible gold leaf.

7. The Most Expensive Frittata

Where You Can Find It: Norma’s, New York

Price: $1,000

What Makes It So Expensive: The Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata contains 10 ounces of sevruga caviar, one pound of lobster, six eggs, cream and chives. While that might not sound that impressive, consider the fact that the restaurant has to pay $65 per ounce for that particular caviar.

8. The Most Expensive Bagel

Where You Can Find It: Westin Hotel, New York

Price: $1,000

What Makes It So Expensive: Executive Chef Frank Tujague topped the most expensive bagel with white truffle cream cheese and goji berry-infused Riesling jelly and gold leaf. At least a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Les Amis d’Escoffier Scholarship, which benefits current and future culinary students.

9. The Most Expensive Pizza

Where You Can Find It: Margo’s Pizzeria, Malta

Price: $2,400

What Makes It So Expensive: Up to 100 grams of white truffles and gold leaf. Orders must be placed one week in advance and, on the bright side, the chain gives all the money from this particular pie away to charity.

11. The Most Expensive Hot Dog

Where You Can Find It: Capitol Dawg, Sacramento

Price: $145.49

What Makes It So Expensive: The California Capitol City Dawg is a ¾ pound, 18” all-beef frank with French mustard, garlic and herb mayo, sautéed shallots, mixed baby greens, applewood smoked uncured bacon, Swedish moose cheese (which costs $200 a pound), tomato, dried cranberries, pepper and a basil olive oil/cranberry-pear-coconut balsamic vinaigrette. It is then served in an herb focaccia roll toasted in white truffle butter.

12. The Most Expensive Ramen

Where You Can Find It: Fujimaki Gekijyo, Tokyo

Price: $110 per bowl

What Makes It So Expensive: This isn’t the ramen you snacked on during your college days. Owner/chef Shoichi Fujimaki opens the doors to his menu-less, reservation-only restaurant to those who have already dined at one of his other restaurants. Once you get access to the restaurant, you will be served the Five-Taste Blend Imperial Noodles made with over twenty ingredients and two different soup stocks.

13. The Most Expensive Soup

Where You Can Find It: Kai Mayfair, London

Price: $190 per bowl

What Makes It So Expensive: The Buddha Jumps Over the Wall contains shark’s fin, abalone, Japanese flower mushroom, sea cucumber, dried scallops, chicken, huan ham, pork and ginseng. Orders must be placed five days in advance so the chef can source all the ingredients.

14. The Most Expensive Sushi

Where You Can Find It: Request it From Filipino Chef Angelito Araneta Jr.

Price: $1,978.15 for five pieces

What Makes It So Expensive: Well, each piece of sushi is wrapped in gold leaf and topped with caviar, three Mikimoto pearls and served with a diamond. No word on what fish was actually used on the inside of the sushi rolls, but I’m kind of hoping it’s imitation crab.

15. The Most Expensive Ham

Where You Can Find It: The Food Hall in Sefridges, London

Price: $2,682 for a 15 pound ham (about $180 a pound)

What Makes It So Expensive: The Albarragena Jamon Iberico de Bellota is made from pigs that were only fed acorns and roots to give them a distinctive flavor. The ham is then cured for three years before being put in a handmade wooden box with an apron handmade by a Spanish tailor. And just so you know what you’re getting, each ham comes with its own DNA certificate confirming its authenticity.

Personally, I find it to be cheating when a restaurant serves their “most expensive” food item with an expensive bottle of wine or a diamond accessory. What do you guys think? Is it cheating to throw something extra in with the food items? And lastly, if you were going to indulge in one of these, which would you choose?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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