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The world's most expensive homes

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Who says the real estate market is cooling off? Just this week in Beverly Hills (predictably, perhaps), the highest asking price ever was set for a home newly on the market -- formerly the LA residence of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst (that's right, Citizen Kane himself). Boasting 29 bedrooms, three swimming pools, tennis courts, its own movie theater and a nightclub, the six acre estate is going for $165 million. It joins the upper echelon of an elite club of uber-expensive homes around the world, including Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar's ranch compound in Aspen, going for $135 million (no takers yet).

updown court.jpgFormerly in first place is the never-lived-in English estate Updown Court ($139 million), just down the street from Windsor Castle and featuring such amenities as a heated marble driveway and an indoor bowling alley. (These all sound like great locations for a reenactment of The Shining, if you ask me.)



trump.jpgAt number four, going for a mere $125 million, is Donald Trump's latest investment. It's a ritzy Palm Beach, Florida palace whimsically named "Maison de L'Amitie," and in addition to the usual luxuries (conservatory, 100-foot swimming pool), claims an astounding 475 feet of private beachfront.

Easily the world's most expensive apartment, Manhattan's Pierre Hotel penthouse has 20-foot-high French doors, a ballroom, a wine cellar, a black marble staircase and a paneled library. (My apartment has a patio ...) Asking price: $70 mil.penthouse.jpg

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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