CAVIAR! - grey, black and blobs - but what a taste!
Caviar was once the food of royalty. Reserved for kings and queens and shahs in Iran, it has been eaten by the famous and not so famous but always by people who loved this wonderful food.
"Ah, Caviar I keep on eating it, but can never get my fill. Like olives. It's a lucky thing it's not salty." Anton Chekov
Is it the shining globes of blacks and greys, depending on whichever Caviar you are having? Or simply the fact, that with today's prices, you can afford to eat it? Having been one of the decadent ones, ( quite a while ago )at least where caviar is concerned, you can now find it in Andalucia!
There are many facts and myths surrounding the Sturgeon, specifically the female of course, which has these delicious eggs. There has been a massive decline in over fishing, something we humans are very capable of doing and during 2006 - 2007, it led to the international ban and trade of Caviar coming from the Caspian Sea. This made buying the Russian caviar impossible. Iran has wonderful Caviar also and when I was on one of my frequent trips to that lovely country in the time of the Shah, I stayed in the Teheran Hilton and when I walked into the lobby, the front desk would inform the kitchen and up to my room would come 250 grams of caviar with toast and a small carafe of ice cold Vodka. Every day. Bliss. I digress.
Caviar is being cultivated in the cold waters of the Rio Frio by Sturgeon farmers, up above Granada. The PSN was formed in 1956 and have over 50 years experience of this type of fish farming, its head is Keith Jaggard. (What a wonderful job... ) Now there are 5 locations including 2 of the largest farms in Europe. The farm at Rio Frio is also one of the largest in the world and accredited with Organic Caviar, which is delicious as I have sampled it personally.
"Caviar is to dining what a sable coat is to a girl in evening dress." Ludwig Bemelman
All the processes and recipes employed at Rio Frio and carefully developed in their laboratories especially through spring and autumn which are the natural breeding seasons for the Sturgeon. As the Caviar is a raw organic food, Rio Frio has been able, with the help of Russian and Iranian experts to make subtle and complex flavours to it. Whilst the delicate salting of the eggs allows expressions of is flavour, the size and taste of the caviar enriches the tasting experience.
Before I go into detail, there are many types of Caviar, all have their unique flavours and sizes.
Beluga. The largest eggs, soft and pale silver grey to black in colour. The absolute best of them all, is the ALMAS. Unbelievable taste.
Golden, or Sterlat, which was reserved for the Shah and his family only and Russian and Austrian royalty. It is very rare.
Oscietra. Medium sized eggs grey to brownish in colour.
Sevruga. Smaller grey eggs.
How should one eat it? With great gusto and giving thanks to this marvellous fish. Seriously, NEVER with lemon, it kills the wonderful flavour. It should only be spooned out of a crystal glass container and eaten off Mother of Pearl, Bone or Horn spoons, or if your Caviar is coming off a Middle Eastern table, maybe with a 24ct. spoon. It should always be served cold and NEVER, heavens forbid, be cooked! Or spread on your face, that's sacrilege. Mother of Pearl is the most aesthetically pleasing with the glistening black Caviar pearls on the white background.
"Wit ought to be a glorious treat like caviar; never spread it about like marmalade." Noel Coward.
The Rio Frio Caviar is now available all over the world, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong/Macau, Japan, UK, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Italy and their list will continue to grow. The company was bought by a Russian called Sergei Kapanen from Finland in 2011 and it is his export manager, Karen Ahtianen, hired last year, who is expanding the sales abroad, with great success.
In Jean Auel's magnificent 5 books on the Earth Children series, in the second book, The Valley of the Horses, she describes a scene where the male interest, Jondalar, was given a ride down a river by a huge Sturgeon while he and the tribe he was with were trying to capture it for its Caviar.( I do not recommend readers to try this!. )