Eat Your Karats

By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 18, 2005

LOS ANGELES -- It's the holiday season, and so for the festive yuletide table, hosts in the know are considering the noble metals this year. The latest food trend: edible gold and silver.

You can eat your bling. With gold selling for more than $500 an ounce, that's conspicuous consumption.

Understandably, you have questions. Though well documented in the chronicles of medieval feasting ritual (along with the consumption of tiny songbirds and rotten fruits), eating precious metals is a new concept for many a modern merrymaker.

Here are some answers.

Q: Can I eat my wedding ring?

A: No.

Sold through Internet catalogues, high-end culinary outfitters and select gift stores, edible gold and silver come in sprinkles, petals and leaves. The silver is allegedly pure. The gold is 23 karats (almost pure and very soft and malleable; jewelry and wedding rings are typically made of 14 to 18 karats; the gold is mixed with other metals to give it strength).

Q: Does edible silver taste like Reynolds Wrap?

A: No.

Edible gold and silver are tasteless. The shavings are served in and on chocolates, cocktails, coffees, pastries, soups, salads and even entrees, like riso oro e zafferano , a gold and saffron risotto. Some chefs like to swaddle a whole chicken with gold leaf -- and eat with relish both foil and fowl. Silver is also big on finger foods. When one thinks of sushi, one can now think metallic shavings on raw mackerel. There is a gourmet who enjoys gilding lobsters, and why not? The celebrity chef Jeffrey Jake of the Lodge at Pebble Beach has created entire menus using gold and silver flecked on the high-end items like abalone, foie gras and truffles for those posh jet-setters who have seen all, done all. "Diners," Jake says, "are expecting more wow now than ever."

At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the bartender may rim a moistened glass lip with pure silver flake. At Spago in Beverly Hills, they'll gold-dust a flute of sparkling wine. At Libation, a hip new bar on New York's Lower East Side, owner Dennis Keane serves up goblets of "The Ultimate Libation," with 10 Cane rum, Grand Marnier liqueur, Veuve Clicquot champagne, passion fruit nectar and 23-karat gold powder. "They're skeptical at first," says Keane. "Then they drink it right down." Of course they do. The drink costs $16.

You are likely wondering, gosh, I really want to gobble gold -- but will it make me fat?

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