It’s funny how people change! You brace yourself for your daily panic attack in the middle of Whole Foods due to the bar exam, and it turns out the bar exam isn’t the source of the panic at all. What a pleasant surprise. Counterpoint: it’s because at checkout, the twee container of salted caramel butter you’ve just purchased, alongside four single-serving bagel triads (that is correct) and alcohol, has rung up for $7.00.
Maybe I don’t know what people are like, or maybe I haven’t checked my Google Analytics account in a long time, but perhaps you’re all butter magnates. Maybe it’s normal to spend 8% of your grocery bill on agitated cream and a picture of a cow. Maybe you married the heiress to Land-O-Lakes. But I fainted and I woke up to dreadlocks in my face, and normally, that’s not how I like to wake up.In the interest of preserving my own dignity, I went home with the butter, resigned to my fate and intrepid love of lipids. In the interest of exposing my extensive assets, the butter cost more than both the Gose I purchased and my renter’s insurance. Do with that what you will. Casco Falls gently tells us that it’s great for making frosting, which is ideal if you want 2.5 cupcakes, as that’s about how many 5.5oz. of butter will supplement.
Opening the container, it’s the most perfect butter I’ve laid eyes on. It begs you to cut against the grain like a fucking ribeye. Where’s Pat LaFreida to coax me through this butter? Where’s Paula Deen? It’s a thing of beauty. It’s a farmer’s market in a plastic container. Massive salt crystals and a lovingly whorled texture that says, “I hold the secrets to time itself.” I was torn between mixing my 1oz., or for you math geeks, $43 worth of butter, with Plugra to spread the love, but I didn’t want to mix my melting gold with peasant’s condiments and risk cross-cream-contamination. Plugra is for filthy animals now. Unfortunately, I’m going to gently spread some slowly-melting truths on you. For starters, I have to admit that I prefer Panera bagels over Goldberg’s, my local bagel shop, which I think means that I’m not going to get calls from Birthright anymore.
The truth of this is that this butter is not very memorable. The natural aspects of the butter shine, and it’s pleasant, with a thick and creamy texture, charming, saline bite from the occasional salt crystal; in retrospect neither very large or frequent, but the allure of the flavor is lukewarm at best and meant to harken gullible consumers like me from lesser butters further down the shelves with tantalizing flavors.
What’s the point of a butter that costs $19/lb? In a world of aggressive homesteading, continuous access to more and more farmer’s markets, artisanal products, and tutorials, there is none. If I can make my own butter or buy Vermont Creamery for $12 in a crisis, or President for $6, where’s the edge? It’s not twice the quality of butter for half the quantity. I’ll eat it, and I’ll enjoy it to a degree, but in a competitive market, I want more for my bagel and my rapidly expanding gut than this.