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Persephone's $100 sandwich

Im not sure how many of you read Thrillist- but I just read (and then confirmed with thier website) that apparently Persephone has added a millionaire dollar sandwich "to flip off the market meltdown" - its made with Jamón Ibérico de Bellota sherried onions, Manchego, and Membrillo mustard. I was honestly appalled when reading this. How spending a $100 on a sandwich be in any way justifiable?
...its followed by a little blurb on Union's free bar bites and $5 drink specials-- I'm pretty sure thats a more reasonable special in our current economy

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  1. Wow, what else makes up this cost? I know Ibérico is pricy, but not THAT pricy...

    1. Actually, real jamón ibérico, which has only been available in the U.S. for a matter of months, is in fact that pricey. Estragon and Toro both offer small plates of it for >$25. It's awfully good, but having scarfed a few pounds of it on a recent trip to Madrid for no more than a few euros a plate, those prices are a little hard to take. I don't think I'd order that Persephone sandwich (though I like the place otherwise): too many distracting flavors. It's best naked, or perhaps with some very plain bread.

      17 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        You're totally right. My mind was thinking back to when I lived in Spain and would eat open-faced Ibérico sandwiches nearly every day after school, for just a few euros. And they were delicious because they were just bread and ham, none of this mustard business. Why overpower the flavor of something that's paper thin?

        This is why I'd rather put the money toward a plane trip to Spain. :)

        1. re: Prav

          I completely agree. The flavor of true true pate negre is so amazing, it is this kind of arrogance that made the Spaniards skeptical about the importing of their swine treasure. Mustard and onions???? Heart breaking. I'd rather get a perfectly fresh sliced Lb. from Las Ventas for $120! Mustard!....... no no no no, nooooo.

          1. re: maxpowers303

            Maybe, Max, but high-end chefs have been slapping foie gras on Kobe beef burgers, etc., so why not the Cadillac of ham sandies?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Foie gras is NOT the same as Jamon Iberico de bellota. Making a sandwich out of it is just plain dumb.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                SG - feel the same way about kobe beef "burgers"?

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  I am 50/50 on foie gras kobe burgers, kobe burgers, etc. It really is a crime to wreck a piece of genuine kobe to make a burger, but if you are using trimmings, etc. what the heck. Putting foie gras on top is a tad redundant, but again, a small slab of foie d'oie is not THAT pricey or ridiculous. Both have sort of been somewhat commodified of late.

                  Iberico ham (from a black footed=pata negra pig) that has been allowed to run free in the holm oak forest for the last 6 months of it's life eating acorns (de bellota) is a very singular thing.

                  You can fatten as many geese with corn as people will buy. But there is a limit to the amount of holm oak forest left in Spain, there are only so many acorns to feed to the pigs.

                  Truly special ingredients deserve a little respect. I would not make macaroni and cheese with artisan made cheeses from formaggio. A good sharp cheddar will do.

                  To put mustard on iberico is just gross and shows no respect to the food, the tradition behind it, or the care that went into making it.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Thanks for the thoughtful response, SG.

                    I scoff at the whole super-high-end thing, unless it's an "experience" restaurant like French Laundry, Alinea, etc. (My fiancee recently received a very thoughtful gift certificate to O Ya, so we'll see how that plays out.)

                    As for lunch, my baloney has a first name...

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I agree with your post, well, except for the macaroni and cheese part. :)

                      Cheesemonger's Mac & Cheese by Matt Jennings of Farmstead

                      mmm... the man knows his cheese.

                      But other than than, your post is all good SG.

                      1. re: fullbelly

                        Again I disagree. To show respect to the ingredients a true artisan cheese deserves to be eaten, at most with a crust of bread and some other nibbles.

                        That Mac recipe would not suffer in the least from being made with a good production gruyere, brie, and cheddar. There are EXCELLENT cheeses in all three of those categories that are made in quantity and are NOT by any means artisan cheeses. The wonder, and deliciousness of an artisan cheese would be destroyed using it in mac and cheese. To nerd out a tad, half of the wonderful, flavorful volatiles which give an artisan cheese flavor would evaporate when baked in a mac and cheese.

                        Show a little respect to real, quality ingredients and eat them in a way that the person who labored over them would appreciate.

                        Not even going to comment on the fact that that recipe is from Bon Apetit.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          What's wrong with having it both ways: eating your cheese and baking it, too? As a vegetarian, my diet is very cheesy. I love eating artisan cheese plain, but I'm also on a quest to find the best mac & cheese in the land, and I think using fine cheese is a swell idea. Once I'm the owner of piece of cheese, I feel no duty to respect it. It will respect me!

                          I do understand the impulse behind what you're saying. Although this is not in the realm of rare delicacies, I cringe when I'm at Regina's with someone who has insisted on sogging up their crust with a pile of veggies on top. I ask them to try a slice of my plain pie, and, if they prefer it, they'll know for the next time. If they like theirs better, that's what they should have. I don't get it, but I'm not going to be a pizza Nazi.

                      2. re: StriperGuy

                        I so agree with you, SG. On our trip to Barcelona, we ate jamon Iberico de belotta almost daily, always alone or with some plain bread. We loved the way the fat was integrated into the meat. Its flavor is incomparable. It is a true obscenity to serve it in a sandwich with onions.

                        We tried to bring a whole black footed leg of ham back into the country, a la Jeffery Steingarten, but it was confiscated in customs. Nothing that I could do would convince the customs agent that he was about to dispose of a Spanish treasure, and I still feel guilty that I didn't leave it in Barcelona, to be enjoyed by others. Incredibly, they let me bring in raw fresh cheese aged less than 60 days.

                        1. re: aadesmd

                          I need to find a new job... in customs. :)

                      3. re: Bob Dobalina

                        The difference is 98% of the time you see a menu say "kobe beef", it is either from the US or Australia, and isn't authentic Kobe beef from say, Shiga Perfecture Japan, the famous farming region in Kobe. If REAL Kobe beef was being used in a burger, that burger would cost around $125. Jamon Iberico de Bellota is ONLY farmed in Spain and is very methodically raised never eating anything other than acorns. To make a sandwich is one thing, to put mustard and onions on it is a sin.

                        1. re: maxpowers303

                          I believe the acorn-only diet of Bellotas is in their last months or weeks of life; they eat other stuff in addition to acorns (like corn and pasture grass) before that.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Correct, they only eat acorns for the last few months of their lives the "dehesa" when they are allowed to roam free in the holm-oak forests and feed largely on acorns.

                              Here is a halfway decent description of various Spanish hams:


                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                IIRC, there are also requirements for the pigs to gain a certain minimum amount of weight on the acorn diet.

              2. All the better for dribbling mustard onto your $300 t-shirt that you purchased at the Achilles Project on the way to your table.

                Naming a martini after chowhounds = cheeky.

                Putting the $100 sandwich only on your lunch menu = ???

                Must come from the same pig that B. Lynch uses to fill her hot dogs at the Butcher Shop.

                1. Obscene consumption. Even more obscene that the obscene $18 onion soup at Butcher shop.

                  1. Does it at least come with fries?

                    1. Nevermind that it is nearly criminal to make a sandwich with Iberico de bellota. All you would do is obscure the taste. Any Spaniard would be horrified at the prospect of putting mustard on Iberico... ick, and a pricey ick at that.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        If someone can afford that without thinking and wants to try it, fine. To each his own.

                        But I would guess that Persephone's goal in creating this sandwich was not to reach new culinary heights or even to sell a lot of them. They are simply looking for and getting free publicity here and elsewhere.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I totally agree, the best way to eat that is 'au natural', with a crust of bread and some excellent wine.

                        2. Bostonist had a picture of the sandwich this morning under the says-it-all headline "The future turd of a douchebag."

                          3 Replies
                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                AHHHHH!!!! Chow feedback (feedbag?) loop!!!!

                            1. Their food must be absolutely perfect and it sounds like they have a backlog of new dishes. Why else would you create a $100 sandwich instead of working on improving your existing menu and future ideas?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: JoeM

                                It's a stunt, a PR gimmick, and judging by the coverage, I'd say it has achieved the objective of getting lots of ink. I just wonder how much ill will they're generating at the same time. Trumpeting wretched excess in the face of economic freefall doesn't seem like the coziest image to project. Bad call from a place I otherwise like.

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  If I were them (and I'm not), I'd tie the price of the sandwich to the stock market. If stocks go down 10%, the price of the sandwich drops 10% to $90; if it goes up 5%, the price goes up to $105; and so on. I think that would be a great PR stunt on their part.

                                  But personally, I think I'll stick to my beloved $4.29 cheeseburger at UBurger and save the rest of my quickly dwindling money.

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Yeah I have to agree. Anyone who truly appreciates this ham is going to be insulted by what's being done to it. So you're not going to attract true fans. People who aren't fans won't pay the money for it. So, anyone who orders it is doing it just to be a pompous git who can prove they can burn $100 without blinking an eye. I suppose if you subscribe to the "any PR is good PR" school of thought, you'd be happy here, but if I was getting PR that made me and my customers look like idiots, I'd have to rethink it.