Dare to caviar!
Synonym for absolute luxury, above lobster, it is as fascinating as it is intimidating. However, as long as the raising methods are perfected and the sources of great quality are diversified, it has become more accessible whilst remaining exquisite. And, just a few grams are enough to ignite the spark of magic.
What is it, exactly?
It is the eggs of the sturgeon - the largest of fresh water fish - salted, dried and matured. The principle is simple, but each step requires extreme delicacy. It is, precisely, this harmony between with salt and the intrinsic flavour of the eggs that gives caviar its unique character. The drying is also important: the caviar must be supple and the beads roll on the tongue; neither too dry, nor too sticky. The boxes must be quickly filled, then the maturing begun, which is more or less long.
How to choose from among the different types of caviar?
The origin of caviar (Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Chinese, French and Italian breeders) is of less importance than the species of sturgeon that produces the eggs, the quality of raising and the expertise of the caviar house producing it. La Grande Épicerie de Paris proposes a wide palette, thanks to four caviar houses: the venerable Kaspia, the contemporary French Perlita and Kaviari, the Italian Calvisius. Thus, we pass from an initiation caviar, accessible to all (the Baeri), to delicate white sturgeon, the mature Ossetre and the more complex Scherenki, to the rare Beluga, king of the black pearls.
The True & False about the black pearls.
1) Caviar must be served on ice: False, or not exactly true.
It is advised that caviar be removed from the fridge and the box opened 15 to 20 minutes before eating, the caviar should be enjoyed at a temperature of 10°C for the most sublime flavour. For perfect enjoyment, we advise you to place the box of caviar on a bed of crushed ice.
2) Caviar should only be served with a mother-of-pearl spoon: False.
You can serve caviar with a mother-of-pearl spoon, or one made of bone, wood, gold or stainless steel. But we do avoid absolutely any other metals - no silver! - which oxidise the caviar.
3) Caviar can only be accompanied with vodka: False.
It goes naturally well with vodka, just as it does with aquavit, but the great white wines like Chablis, Meursault and even a Hermitage are wonderful with it. As is a vintage brut champagne.
4) Caviar goes well with fresh cream: True. It is a marriage made in heaven: the mild acidity of the cream with the lengthy palate, the notes of butter, iodine, wood and hazelnut of the caviar.
5) Good caviar stands by itself: True, or not precisely true.
Of course, we can serve it on toast or, better, real warm blinis spread with a fine layer of cream; either way, it is good to offer at least 15g to each person. Remember that caviar is a little flavour bomb that adds a miraculous touch to a creamy, slightly lemony sauce for fish, or on a baked potato or, as a starter, just a small teaspoon of cream-caviar mixture immediately adds nobility to a thick soup of Jerusalem artichoke or squash.