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Caviar - Classic Gourmet

     Ah caviar - those creamy, salty, nutty orbs of goodness – tasting of the sea. You really haven’t lived until you’ve savored it. But for some it’s a scary proposition. Describing its flavor is no easy feat. Although caviar has evolved to be the term encompassing all fish eggs (or roe), true gourmet caviar comes from only the sturgeon fish. And even if the caviar you are sampling is fine sturgeon, there are several factors that can influence its quality and flavor.

     For one, there are more than two-dozen species of sturgeon, all unique and evolving over hundreds of millions of years. The caviar enjoyed today comes from only four varieties: Beluga, Osetra, Sevruga, and Sterlet. The harvesting of the roe matters as well. Was it farm raised? Was it wild caught? What was the quality of the water in which it lived? What did it eat? Was the roe harvested and immediately frozen or was it kept fresh? How was it packaged? How long was it stored? The way the roe is cleaned and processed influences the final product. Producing caviar is a labor-intensive art with many variables.

     There is only one way to figure out once and for all whether caviar lives up to the hype, and that is to try it. No description is a substitute for the individual palate. It is typically served atop blini (tiny pancakes) with a dab of crème fraîche and a glass of champagne. For caviar experts, naked on a spoon works too. But how can we get creative with caviar? Why not have some fun with it?

     How about a cucumber sandwich with caviar? Boiled egg with a caviar dab? Chocolate and caviar (it’s delicious!). And we can’t forget the famous Wolfgang Puck pizza with smoked salmon and caviar. Because caviar is salty, it can be used as a gourmet garnish on so many dishes, including soups and sushi. Imagine a slice of jamon Iberico with a spoon of caviar in the center. Salt on salt – heaven. Along with classic champagne, enjoy a shot of tequila with your caviar bite. Long live experimental gourmet!  There are many many more ways to serve this delicacy.

     Don’t be overwhelmed by your preconceived notions or scared that you’ll never be ready to take the caviar plunge. You will be and when the opportunity presents itself, your palate will guide you in the pairings. And along the way, if you find a new way to serve it or discover a new combination that knocks your socks off, please share it with the world. Caviar is too delightful to kept away from anyone who appreciates good food. 

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