In case thronging shoppers aren?t indication enough of an economic rebound, look for signs in the food court. In Burbank, Century City and Topanga malls you can find Exhibit A: caviar-dispensing vending machines.
Operated by Beverly Hills Caviar, the machines are the size of two side-by-side soft-drink dispensers. They sell myriad caviars, including ounces of Imperial River Beluga ($500), American black caviar ($25), black whitefish caviar ($17) and red salmon eggs ($8). We liked the way the touch-screen recommends how to serve each type, suggesting that spicy black caviar ($30) tastes good in pasta, or that wasabi tobikko ($13) is used for sushi. All servings come insulated enough to give you three hours until they need to be refrigerated.
There?s also a full complement of accessories (including a $5 mother-of-pearl spoon) and other gourmet wares ($15 truffle oil, $45 escargot). While we give the enterprise top marks for convenience, we?d vote to upgrade its cheesy displays (a video of a chap spooning roe into a lady?s mouth, a glassy-eyed cat mesmerized by $32 salmon eggs for pets), which momentarily made us forget our hunger due to our giggling.
Beverly Hills Caviar, Westfield Century City, Level Two, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd.; beverlyhillscaviar.com