You can either have the bagel, or pay your rent.Photo: uk.reuters.comWe have some bad news. The bagel, that beloved, affordable symbol of New York cuisine, has gentrified. Chef Frank Tujague of the Westin hotel in Times Square (where else?) has unveiled the $1,000 white-truffle bagel, "topped with white truffle cream cheese and goji berry infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves." Now we love all truffles, far too much to ever be so rash as to declare them to be so over, and there may not be a thing on earth that’s not improved by them (we’ve even considered using truffle oil as conditioner — it probably works wonders for split ends). But now that truffles are toying with the doughy purity of simple bagels, we have to wonder: Is this white-truffle thing not getting just a bit too precious?
First, the Waverly Inn started offering its truffle-laced macaroni and cheese for $55 — an amount that, at the time, was relatively shocking. But that price seemed almost modest once Le Cirque owner Sirio Maccioni came back from Italy lugging a giant one-pound truffle, a beastly thing for which he bid $7,000. Then the news broke that this year’s truffle season was shaping up to be less than stellar, leading to a citywide truffle shortage — and just as we’d finally (somewhat shamefully) grown used to a $55 plate of truffley mac ‘n’ cheese, the Waverly jacked up the price to $85. And now, we have the $1,000 white-truffle bagel, an edible status symbol so special that you have to order it 24 hours in advance. Deep breaths.
Before we get too rage-y about this thing, we’ll note that it’s for a good cause — a portion of the proceeds will go toward Les Amis d’Escoffier Scholarship for culinary students. Presumably so that all aspiring chefs may go on to someday create their own wallet-smashing, truffle-tastic creations. —Jessica Coen