Liquid Gold

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When it comes to frugality, I’m no black belt.

Although I am currently saving between 50 and 60% of my take-home pay, putting me on track to be financially independent within the next 10 to 15 years, this is largely a reflection of the good fortune of my own generous salary, not of my extreme spending discipline.

As mentioned in my first “indulgences” post, There remains a lot of fat to be cut from my budget.

In this way I’m kind of like a 250 pound camper at fat camp. Sure I’m obese, but compared to my peers I’m not super morbidly obese.

I think the main reason for this “moderation in all things” approach is that, at my core, I’m not an extremist.

My fundamental belief about spending is not that we should all spend as little as possible. It’s that we should spend the exact amount to maximize our own happiness. No more and no less.  So if a purchase is not worth the freedom that it will cost, that’s when I’m apt to choose to say “no.”

But the fact remains, that I’m saying “yes” an awful lot more than I’m saying “no”. And not just in the purchase of fancy cats.

And if I were to isolate one area of my budget that contains more unnecessary expense than any other, that would be quite easy; Food.

As I’ve previously mentioned I’m a foodie. I’m convinced that eating is simply more pleasurable for me than for most other people. And because of this, I eat out way more frequently than is financially wise.

Fortunately my taste in food tends more towards ethnic street food, then towards “butter massaged scallops”. Or “blini with caviar.”

But make no mistake. I could cut my food and beverage budget in half and still eat very, very, well.

There is a small market about 50 yards from my house in Portland called City Market.  It’s basically a collection of bests.  The best butcher.  The best fish monger,  the best produce, the best cheeses and wines.

And I would estimate that our proximity to this small food market adds least $100,000 in value to our home based on my own unique (and not exactly “market based”) approach to estimating real estate value.

Being able to pop over to City Market for a pound of fatty springer salmon, or a dry-aged, grass-fed, corn-finished ribeye, or a wedge of Stilton or Shropshire, or a sheet of handmade fresh-cut tagliatelle, or a handful of micro greens, or a slice of fatty porchetta, is just about as luxurious as it gets in my book.

And sometimes it’s worth it in the dollars and cents sense, and sometimes it’s not.

But these “indulgences” posts are really all about identifying things that I think are worth it. And what follows is a specific example of something that I recently bought at city market that was both relatively expensive, and worth every penny.

agru

Agrumato!

If you don’t know what agrumato is don’t feel bad. A year ago I didn’t know what it was either. And I’m a food obsessive.

What it is is actually pretty simple. It’s a “fused” olive oil.

This means that it’s not just olive oil with flavors added to it after pressing. (That would be an “infused” olive oil.)

Agrumato something else entirely. This miraculous condiment comes about when whole lemons and olives are pressed together, at the source, into a single oil.

Apparently this was the traditional method of cleaning the olive press at the end of the years olive oil production in Abruzzo.

As a result of this unique process, the resulting golden liquid has all of the richness of a high-quality olive oil along with the impossibly pure and clean fragrance of lemon.

And you can’t really understand how good it is until you try it.

A few drops of it drizzled over a fresh avocado half with a little bit of sprinkled sel gris is nothing short of miraculous.

A teaspoon in a salad dressing or added to a fillet of grilled fish adds such complexity and deliciousness and that it almost can’t be believed.

So while 29 bucks for 200 mL of this elixir certainly sounds expensive, I’m telling you it’s a bargain.

It’s happiness at a discount for any foodie worth his salt.

It’s certainly not worth going into debt over, but I’d gladly work an extra year or two in order to be able to continue enjoying it and other luxuries like it.

If you’d like to try it for yourself,  here’s a bottle of the very same  on Amazon.

Or pick up a bottle the next time you’re in Portland at City Market. And while you’re there don’t forget to pick up a few Paper thin slices of the Jamon Iberico. (Well worth the $99/lb –total umami bomb.)

And by all means please share any of your own favorite luxurious food finds below.

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6 Responses to “Liquid Gold”

  1. Robert April 28, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    Now THAT sounds delicious! Do you taste a difference if you put it on an avocado (or etc.) vs. if you used normal 1CPEV olive oil and added some lemon zest?


    BTW, you are an extremist, consumption-wise, by virtue of the fact that you live in the US. We all are, if we take a global perspective. So much of the world is living on $2/day or less that even the poorest American is rich by comparison and the thriftiest 10% of Americans would still be considered wasteful consumers by many of the world’s population. On the other hand, if one has a myopic local perspective, one can walk into a store like City Market or Whole Foods, etc., and think of oneself as moderate if one only buys a handful of things.


    Not trying to make you feel guilty for enjoying your bottle of agrumato, by the way! Just commenting on how we all can so easily get out of touch with the world when we live in a bubble. Kind of like how we can think AMZN with P/E of 476 is a bargain at $300/share because it was $400/share 4 months ago and is in the middle of the pack of valuation compared to many other internet companies whose stocks have high prices with no earnings at all. Narrow context distorts our perception of reality.

  2. Miles Dividend M.D. April 28, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Robert,

    It’s different from good olive oil and lemon zest. You really should try it if it’s allowed on your diet!

    I love lemon zest, in fact one of my go to maneuvers now is to combine agrumato, The zest from a whole lemon, lemon juice and salt on an herb salad. But the depth of flavor in this condiment simply must be tasted to be understood.

    I agree completely with your diagnosis of me being a consumption extremist. And I don’t mean that in a falsely modest way. Everyone reading this blog is likely financially blessed in the extreme. And I am probably much more blessed than most of them.

    Your point about the value of Amazon stock is a good one, and this is one of the things I find comforting about the value approach to investing. Value is anchored in some semblance of reality (Book value, earnings growth, and dividend growth), not in the relativism trap.

    Alexi

  3. Robert April 28, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. Sounds like good stuff! I only use a little oil now days, but at that price, it would be easy to restrict usage! LOL. I still have a little truffle oil I need to use up first before it goes bad.

  4. Free To Pursue May 1, 2014 at 3:52 am #

    This is officially the only PF blog that makes my mouth water.

    We are also frugal foodies. Food, and well-planned travel, is the only thing that we go all out on. We buy grass-fed beef, tons of fresh, organic veggies and wine for dinner when we want it. We are not big on restaurants as a regular treat, but we do like our quality fare.

    When you choose natural, tasty foods, you might even call it preventative health care ;).

    • Miles Dividend M.D. May 2, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

      FTP,

      That’s a great compliment and I’ll take it. Frugal foodies of the world unite!

      Agromato goes very well with fresh organic veggies. Highly recommended.

      The most mouthwatering post about food from an FI/foodie that I’ve come across recently was this one from Go Curry Cracker.

      http://www.gocurrycracker.com/3-meals-in-taipei-taiwan/

      I’m dying to try one of those pepper buns.

      -Alexi

  5. Jamie July 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Took me few months, but I found Agrumato. Then the store clerk told me that another version from California was even better, so I dropped $20 on that instead.
    I wasn’t very impressed at all, despite my excitement. Now I’m wondering if I should go back and buy your original recommendation or save my money.

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