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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

#87 - Doormen

#87 - Doormen

Doormen
Price: Confused By Push Signs

If you are like me you grew up in a city where people learned how to do things for themselves. In places like Winnipeg it means knowing how to dress for sub-zero temperatures throughout the year. Native Australians can protect themselves from kangaroos, great white sharks and hide their offspring from wily dingoes. Meanwhile, growing up in Mumbai teaches people to effectively operate a call center or program in C+ without the need to outsource this skill to other countries. The rich, unlike those without money, don’t take kindly to having to perform tasks themselves. Menial annoyances like blow drying their hair, cleaning their home, landscaping their estates, looking after their own offspring or sculpting their good looks can all be delegated to under-appreciated professionals…opening doors is no different.

We are all familiar with the difficulties that opening doors can pose. There is the tiresome task of finding one’s keys and the mentally exhausting struggle of push vs. pull. This may be simple to you but you likely are not rich and cannot understand the challenge that ingress conventions cause. As such they look to others to solve the wealthy equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat. Interestingly, while most everyone that works for the rich is at the beck and call of those with ample Ben Franklins in their Prada wallet, the doorman is a special breed of help. Equal parts security, concierge, confident, sycophant, gossip snitch and stanch union member the doorman can make a tenant feel welcome or thoroughly ignored. While the rest of the world world bows to the fancies of the wealthy, even agreeing with a milkaholic’s whimsical dream of launching a clothing line, an NYC doorman is protected by the Local 32BJ and needs not bow to the fickleness of the upper crust. In fact, if the right of the doorman to deliver sardonic humor and unsolicited advice to their pedigreed counterparts is compromised swift strike action is threatened which throws the city into turmoil. The result of this unlikely relationship is that the doorman is privy to Upper East Side indiscretions, SoHo secrets and Tribeca trysts.

Naturally, if you would like to wriggle your way into the lives of the fabulously wealthy a doorman may represent Prometheus waiting to share the secrets of the Gods. While discretion is the better part of valor, if gossip columnists can break these vaults of secrecy surely you can find a way to eke out a sound bite or two and gain familiarity with their wealthy patrons’ likes and dislikes. Perhaps the couple in 15B enjoys the thrill of meeting new people over Manhattans and dinner at a Gramercy Tavern barstool on Tuesdays while 12D loves sailing in the Maldives and 14C has a weakness for custom oxfords from John Lobb on Madison. If you can’t turn these nuggets into sparkling conversation over grilled sturgeon there is no hope for you to impress the well-heeled. Succeed and there may be enough wind in your sails to solicit an invitation to enjoy lunch in a stunning co-op overlooking Central Park in spring. Land ho you scallywag.

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#84 - Designer Cupcakes

#84 - Designer Cupcakes

Designer Cupcakes
Price: $36 a dozen

Prevailing wisdom dictates that little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Spend some time in a trendy shopping district and you will soon find that this is largely due to designer cupcakes, emphasis on the sugar and light on the nice. Thankfully, for the financially endowed, they need venture no further than around the corner in their hybrid SUV to satisfy a craving that used to take their private chef as much as an hour to whip up. Designer cupcake shops are becoming so popular, they are threatening to supplant Starbucks as the storefront voted most likely to replace a former tenant, although Vietnamese nail salons run a close third.

While common people may purchase these single serving delights at the supermarket, this could never satisfy the sophisticated sweet tooth of a high net worth individual. For starters, store bought icing isn’t rich enough; cupcake shops appear to have cracked the age old problem of condensing a full pound of butter into a half pound of icing. Second, buying a dozen chocolate cupcakes is blasé; the baked pleasures of the wealthy deserve creative names like “Tickled Pink”, “Lady Baltimore” or “Dirty Blonde”, the latter may also describe one’s third wife. Finally, the creativity doesn’t end with naming cupcakes, rich people love to fawn over the playful shop names where they purchased these heavenly indulgences; think Babycakes, Buttercup and Flour Girls for starters; I adore the t-shirts from Babycakes in NYC.

While many quirks of the wealthy are out of reach of the common man, a love of rich desserts is a human condition that knows no economic boundaries. With this in mind, impressing the wealthy is simple when done by the dozen. Discussing your favorite cupcake shop will certainly do in a pinch but it is the gift of cupcakes that will truly impress. The elegance and tastefulness of ribbon wrapped sugary goodness will have your hosts beaming at your thoughtfulness and once it comes to naming these savory delights, they will figuratively if not literally be eating out of your hand. An excellent conversation starter, your affection for cupcakes will win hearts, minds and stapled stomachs. Be sure to save the “Sexy Red Velvet” for the beautiful heiress you’ve been watching and she may turn out to be your sweet temptation!

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#83 - Flying First Class

#83 - Flying First Class

Flying First Class
Price: Your First Born, Their Pocket Change

Flying isn’t natural. As they say, “If God had meant you to fly he would have given you wings”, Icarus learned this the hard way. Of course, when they said this, they were probably referring to economy class where the masses are crammed into uncomfortable seats with sweaty, broad shouldered, obese individuals who want to talk to you about their 2-star vacation or persistent skin rash that is likely contagious. If this situation is the bookend to your holiday or business trip, you are probably inclined to agree that mankind is better off on terra firma. While the rich certainly prefer the comforts of a private jet, when push comes to shove, a lie-flat seat with noise-reducing headphones, personal media players, fine dining, full bar and a curtain to separate you from the plebs makes commercial flights tolerable.

For the masses that feel they have won the lottery because they managed to “score” a seat in an emergency exit row, there is a belief that the seats on the other side of the curtain are prohibitively expensive because of the roominess and luxury. Rich people know that, while 40” of seat pitch is comfortable, the real reason to sit in first class is that one does not have to associate with people that can’t afford the finer things in life. After all, the food, personalized service and comfort are table stakes in the lives of the wealthy. First class seating is one of the few places that legitimize class segregation, making it extremely attractive to the rich. Having a boarding pass that reads 2B with a flute of champagne in hand is a wonderful reminder that while money can’t buy happiness, it can help you choose your misery which does not include spending time with individuals who think a timeshare is a good investment.

Naturally, if you want to make good with the wealthy the first option is to secure yourself a seat in first class. This can be done in a few ways; buck up for the extra few thousand dollars every time you fly, try to sweet talk the ticketing agent into upgrading you on every flight or start sleeping with a flight attendant. Of course, if you could pull off the latter two options with any level of consistency, you would likely already be on the road to success and riches and able to execute on option A. As back-up,the art of conversation to kick start a discussion with your wealthy counterpart will work wonders. Give your new friend an opportunity to dazzle you with their in-flight experience. Use informed inquiry about flying Emirates or United’s P.S. service while jet setting between the left and right coast and sit back and listen. Make this work and you may never have to hear the question “fish or chicken” again. Enjoy the friendly skies!

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#78 - Opera

#78 - Opera

Opera
Price: Miniature Binoculars

Does being confined to a chair in a dark room, unable to eat, drink or speak while angry people berate you in a language you do not understand sound like an ideal night out? For most, this sounds like the worst vacation ever and one reason that visiting Afghanistan, Venezuela and Guantanamo Bay rank low on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of dream destinations. For rich people, this is called opera and the biggie sized German or Italian woman wearing the Viking helmet is a Diva rather than an interrogator.

The love of opera runs deep. Rich people love to talk about the architecture of the opera house, exotic sets, magnificent costumes, vocal size and range, Puccini, Strauss, Verdi and of course Mozart. A rich person from a good family can wax poetic for hours on the bittersweet tragedy of La Bohème, the comedic genius of Così Fan Tutte and the scandal of I Pagliacci. Given their knowledge and deep love of opera, you may wonder how the rich manage to grasp the plot and subtleties of productions conducted in a foreign language they neither speak nor understand. The simple answer is they don’t! The performance is a thinly veiled prelude to the most important part of any opera, the intermissions. Intermission is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a full meal, champagne and allow sycophants to compliment a rich person’s refinement, class, taste and sophistication. Watching this can prove more entertaining than the opera itself.

If you are more interested in life imitating art than the art itself, opera provides ample opportunities to mirror your own hopes and dreams. The annals of operatic discourse are rife with tales of sugar daddies fawning over young women and beautiful countesses falling for dashing men with ambition and optimism lacking only social status. If you are an aspiring sugar baby, male or female, your work is cut out for you. A conversational knowledge of Tristan and Isolde or The Barber of Seville that extends beyond Bugs Bunny or Seinfeld plus the ability to bat ones eyelashes should suffice. Either of these love stories may ingratiate you with your cultured courtier and with luck you’ll be enjoying lump crab cakes, roasted filet of beef and amaretto cheesecake at the Grand Tier restaurant faster than you can say “in te ravviso il sogno ch’io vorrei sempre sognar!” loosely translated as “I see in you the fulfillment of all my dreams!” Fitting isn’t it?

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#73 - Cooking Classes

#73 - Cooking Classes

Cooking Classes
Price: Trip to the Lipo Clinic

Despite the trappings of fabulous wealth, life can become predictable and eventually dull for the rich. Fortunately there is a world of exhilarating hobbies available to the wealthy that aim to inspire before the doldrums of life consume them. For most people, hobbies like skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba and rock climbing add the joie de vivre missing from their mundane existence. Not to be outdone by middle class thrill-seekers, the wealthy also like to step it up when choosing hobbies by throwing caution to the wind and selecting activities that they never thought they would do. These include driving themselves, working eight hours a day and cooking. While your evening likely includes preparing dinner, the wealthy consider this an unfathomable task that the chef, butler or, as a worst case scenario, the nanny will take care of. As such, signing up for private cooking lessons can be a thrilling way to spend a summer and an excellent excuse to visit France, Italy or perhaps Switzerland if checking on the private bank account is required.

While cooking classes are not an impenetrable bastion of the wealthy, rich people tend to have a different set of expectations for these courses. For the rich, being surrounded by world renowned chefs, fresh ingredients from around the globe, the finest kitchen implements and closely guarded cooking secrets is occasion to uncork another bottle of red while the pros create their masterpieces. Spending a month drinking in the Tuscan sun while observing a veteran of the dutch oven fold egg whites, fabricate port reductions and spawn the perfect soufflé lends the credibility required to authoritatively critique a Michelin four star restaurant and is therefore an invaluable experience. Cooking classes are a little like the Dummy’s Guide to becoming a New York Times food critic without the need for a sophisticated palate, experience or a cynical writing style. Nonetheless, such an experience will promote Bunny McCooking-Class to head of choosing restaurants and ordering lunch for her country club ladies group. Like port with chocolate, this newly developed expertise is best served with tales of Fabrizio the pool boy and his prowess in sunscreen massage.

But how does this help you? The best way to leverage this champagne fountain of knowledge is to grease the baking sheet of inquiry. You must walk the fine line between asking questions about the cooking school without broaching the subject of cooking technique; a surefire approach is to ask about the region in which the class was held. This enables them to speak about the setting without being put on the spot about class content. Bonus points if you can steer the conversation to the Le Creuset and Emile Henry cookware they outfitted the estate kitchen with afterwards. After all, their staff deserves the best when cooking for a discriminating palate like their own!

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#70 - Personal Chefs

#70 - Personal Chefs

Personal Chefs
Price: Saving the gratuity

If you are like most people, you know that dinner can be as simple as boiling water, opening a box of macaroni, adding milk and butter then mixing orange powder to creamy perfection. At worst, choosing fancy ketchup is as complicated as any meal gets. Sadly, rich people do not have the luxury of simple meals. They must choose a restaurant that is posh, exclusive and on the cusp of becoming trendy. While menus are often ignored, it is important that the restaurant be well-stocked with obscure ingredients so the chef can begrudgingly whip up their wealthy patron’s fanciful whim. All this is complicated by choosing the right car from the fleet in the garage and deciding whether the chauffeur will accompany them. If this sounds like a nightmare, you are not alone and it is the reason that 4 out of 5 rich people recommend retaining a personal chef at their estate.

If you have watched Hell’s Kitchen you already know that ego and incredible kitchen skills go hand-in-hand. It may be a surprise to learn that personal chefs are a special breed of culinary genius; they are talented and patient. Without these key ingredients the chef is as useful to the rich as a mistress with herpes. Fortunately, while money can’t buy happiness it can help choose one’s misery and there are plenty of suitable ginsu masters ready to create mouthwatering menus. They endeavor to provide the wealthy with the nourishment needed to lounge poolside and inform their broker about how to do his job.

Of course, just because rich people have a personal chef is no reason for David Chang and his staff at Momofuku Ko to press the panic button. Rich people will still dine out but knowing that they don’t have to is a paradigm shift. Now, when the hostess at Masa or I Sodi informs that there is a three week wait the wealthy can set aside andger and resentment, casually accept the reservation and enjoy homemade coniglio in padella in the comforts of their quaint 7,000 square foot residence in the Hamptons thanks to their chef’s outstanding talents. Just be sure that the only sampling going on in the kitchen is related to the meal! It would be a shame to have to choose between one’s spouse and one’s chef…good help can be so hard to find. Bon appétit!

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#60 - Foie Gras

#60 - Foie Gras

Foie Gras
Price: Cancel Your SPCA Card

Rich people love almost anything that is difficult to pronounce. It is all the better if it is also despised by Frisbee-throwing, Che Guevara loving, dreadlock sporting, patchouli wearing activists. Like a Hummer at a Green Peace rally, animal rights activists have a major hate-on for this tasty treat. This is why foie gras is so treasured in wealthy circles while baby seal pelts and snuff films, which anyone can pronounce, are take it or leave it items except among eccentric Europeans.

Let me put the Bentley in reverse, so to speak. It’s important to understand the essence of this delicacy to know why it is so divisive. Foie gras is fattened goose liver but this isn’t the issue as liverwurst is a favorite spreadable meat in trailer parks throughout the southern US and nobody is boycotting NASCAR. The battle lines are drawn because geese at most foie gras producers are force fed grain, corn and fat using a metal pipe shoved down the goose’s throat. To PETA this is an unethical mistreatment of the regal bird and former 007 Sir Roger Moore calls it a ‘delicacy of despair’. To the rich, this is business as usual as the goose has no gag reflex so it purportedly does not feel pain. This logic sounds remarkably similar to visits from high class escorts who likewise lack a gag reflex but just because you can cram something down their throat doesn’t mean you should.

Regardless of the ethical dilemma that foie gras production may pose there is an opportunity to make nice with the rich. There are two important guidelines; never talk about how it is made and please learn how to pronounce it. Nothing kills your chances of a second date like ordering “deux foys grays, garcon” or “a couple fozz grass s’il vous plait”. Enjoy the view of her Christian Louboutin’s heading for the exit because your date is over. However, elegantly request the “duck tenderloin tournedos with fwah-grrah” and your companion’s heart will melt as the words roll off your tongue. Showcasing your comfort with the finer things could mean your own lips encrusted with Guerlain KissKiss lipstick before the crème brûlée is served. This will help overcome any residual guilt. Last word of warning, never say down the hatch, it could prove traumatic!

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