I don’t know why it took me so long to follow The Billfold, since I like money and I’ve always enjoyed the pieces that have been cross-posted to The Hairpin. Recently, The Billford linked to this Bold Italic rant against big birthday dinners, which was pretty satisfying to read even though I fortunately don’t often find myself in that situation. My people tend to prefer gatherings at home, birthday outings/activities that allow more movement, or smaller dinners within a group that already knows and loves its own exceptions (the nondrinkers, the only-ordered-an-appetizer-ers, etc.).
Perhaps inspired by that piece, each of the Billfold staffers told a story of the most expensive meal they ever paid for, which makes for a fun read. (Lots of steak.) I thought it over and realized I couldn’t really remember one particular dinner that cost me more than I had ever paid before. I had one or two missteps when I was younger and trying to figure out how to date (e.g. this place is more expensive than I realized but I already offered to pay), and I suppose that the entirety of my work trip to Montreal qualifies (CAD pricing at a time when CAD and USD were exchanged at a nearly 1:1 rate), but for the most part I’ve known what I was getting into, and I don’t have too many memories of sore feelings after a fine meal.
On the other hand, I vividly remember a few of the most expensive tabs I’ve run up, particularly in the period shortly after I graduated college. Once was when I went to an upscale bar in New Orleans with a friend to hear a chanteuse sing swing: we each ordered an Abita, the cheapest beer on the menu, and they came in champagne flutes and cost us $6 apiece, which we found outrageous. (We often drank for free in the bar where we both worked, and beers usually ran us $2 elsewhere). Another time was when a passel of college friends met up at a martini bar in Memphis and got roaring drunk on sweet novelty martinis (“Wedding Cake,” made with pineapple juice and vanilla vodka, was our favorite). Our total bill was a shocking $170 or $180, something like that, and even more shockingly, the whole thing was picked up by the one of us who had a real job.
These stories are funny to me now because the costs of things are so different ten years later and on the east coast. I also think it’s sort of sweet how unused we were to having and spending real adult money, or negotiating the niceties of drinking in public spaces. Eating and drinking out are learned postures.
As a matter of fact, I do wonder why iced coffee costs so much more than hot coffee, so I’m glad that the Gothamist spelled it out for me. The answer has a bit to do with plastic and a lot to do with ice, which explains why there wasn’t as much of a difference at the cafe where I worked several years ago. I think our iced beverages were just fifty cents more than the hot versions, but we had a relatively small clientele in a quiet neighborhood and so weren’t scooping up the high volume of ice described by one Brooklyn cafe owner.
Speaking of the hidden costs of your coffee shop purchases, how about that Mother Jones article? The title, “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters,” should leave no question as to why some people have angry responses to it. I think the author has a legitimate complaint in there: almonds are pretty costly to maintain and only grow in a few regions in the world, which is why the combination of a draught in California and a rise in popularity (hello, health halo!) have put a strain on almond supply and demand. It’s something to think about when choosing a plant-based milk: whether your reasons are ethical or dietary or trend-motivated, the cost of almond production will affect your cost-benefit analysis. Unfortunately that lede is buried in layers of frood trolling, and most of the counterarguments to it have focused on the author’s claims about the nutritional and flavor qualities of almond milk.
So we all know that Crumbs, the national cupcake chain that went public, is going out of business–we know it because in the year of the cronut and other more profane dessert mashups, media outlets are quick to crow about the death of the cupcake. First We Feast had a chat with Alison Robicelli, who is the owner of a Brooklyn bakery and also apparently a hilarious writer. Robicelli is not impressed with the way we talk about cupcakes and their rise and fall, and her version is seriously the best I’ve read. Also, if you are in or around Brooklyn, you might want to check out the bakery–they are having a lot of fun with the dessert mashup trend.