An Introduction to Caviar
The foodie in all of us dreams of exceptional dining experiences, and you likely have quite a few fantastic memories in the bank already. But the pressure heats up when the tables turn and you play host, aiming to pull off culinary feats of excellence chez-toi. As “the food of the gods”, caviar sets your table for greatness but it can surely be intimidating to serve it. Choosing to serve caviar for a special event should be a moment of joy and excitement, this introduction to caviar is here to help put your mind at ease and make your hosting experience a success.
Grades of Caviar
Right away, dismiss from your mind that grade indicates the usual “good better best” spectrum. While there are certainly superb quality caviars — such as all of Petrossian’s offerings— and those that don’t make that ultra-premium cut, the grade is not always an indicator of which you will enjoy most and at what time. With different grades of caviar come different optimum uses: a Royal Transmontanus or Shassetra are often best as a topping due to their ability to push through the other flavors, whereas the perfect texture and balance of Special Reserve Ossetra demands to be enjoyed on its own.
Most simply, grade indicates a difference in maturity, and the flavors released by the caviar. Much like a vintage wine or barrel of whiskey, caviar can be selected for special reserve production. Higher-grade caviar is more mature, and therefore more expensive, as this involves sorting and enhancing the finest caviar to ensure a batch reaches its peak potential. It offers stronger flavors with greater depth, yet typically are lighter in color. Mature caviar has a firmer texture and larger eggs for a bolder mouthfeel, which appeals to many caviar lovers, but not all. Some caviar lovers prefer more delicate flavors, which are typically younger, and therefore less expensive to produce. It’s really all in what you enjoy - that is the measure by which you judge grades of caviar, and it’s a highly individual choice and one that can vary by the type of dish you create.
Where Do I Start?
If you’ve never served caviar to guests or purchased it for your own enjoyment, the choices can be quite bewildering. You can try one at a time, but that makes it difficult to form an accurate opinion on which you found most divine. (Caviar should be consumed quickly once the tin is opened, we recommend in one sitting so as to enjoy the freshness and flavor.)
An elegant alternative is to host a dinner party and start off with a caviar tasting, selecting a variety of types to experience the range of tastes. With enough guests, you can consume all in one evening and still get a breadth of choice to experience. You might peruse our collection of types of caviar here to see what tickles your fancy, but might we suggest a taste trifecta of the Royal Transmontanus, Imperial Ossetra, and Kaluga Hybrid to start?
Introduction to Caviar Presentation
It’s critical to keep the delicate globes of caviar intact, so they may burst forth upon your tongue for maximum enjoyment. Therefore, leave them in the tin in which they arrive, but place the opened tin in a caviar serving piece, such as one of these presentoires. On that same page, you will see mother of pearl spoons, one of the acceptable materials with which to handle caviar. (There is a certain elegance in theme with mother of pearl caviar spoons, both being of the sea.) Important information to know about serving caviar is that you should never use metal spoons as it can alter the taste. For additional guidelines in foods and beverages that enhance the caviar experience, read our page about caviar information, covering the history and types of caviar. But do enjoy experimenting with the tastes and let us know what pairings you love!
Continuing Your Love Affair with Caviar
Once you have narrowed your focus to one or two types of caviar you adore, make a tradition of it for you and your loved one or close friends. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and once you fall for caviar, it should be more than a yearly experience. For holidays and other special parties throughout the year, you can have another caviar tasting, perhaps changing up the selection and accompaniments to keep it fresh and newly memorable. As with other fine cuisines, you may find your palate’s preference moving to other types of caviar than the ones you first found perfect, so a consultation with our Caviar Concierge may help in selecting the perfect taste.