Mayfair Eccentric’s Guide to Caviar
Caviar – Some things in life are simply better than others. A short list; Dom Perignon and Ruinart champagnes, Rolls Royces and Aston Martins, The Ritz and Claridges hotels etc. Caviar is one of these. Everyone knows it, not that many people eat it… that is unless they live in Mayfair.
But there are many myths and much confusions;
- Which caviar is the best?
- Which caviar for which occasion?
- Why are certain types of caviar more expensive than others?
- What is the best way to eat it?
With that in mind, Mayfair Eccentrics offer you the the complete guide on how to buy and eat caviar the London W1 way.
Where Caviar Comes From
The sturgeon fish, a slippery beast at the best of times, and oft referred to as a “living fossil” is the single source of the delicacy we all know as caviar. its roe (eggs). There are three species of the sturgeon—the beluga, ossetra, and sevruga. These species of sturgeon live in the Caspian Sea. Due to decades of overfishing, sturgeon have become increasingly rare, leading to other kinds of roe have become increasingly popular. Do not be fooled by imitations. Check your suppliers source and insist on the real thing. Generally roe from non sturgeon fish should be labelled so – eg “haddock caviar” not just “caviar”.
Kinds and Grades of Caviar
Caviar is graded by its size and the texture of its beads. The connoisseur tends to prefer the larger, firmer beads that pop in the mouth like little moons of Jupiter. Flavour of course is also important – fishy but not to haddocky is the Park Lane preference. Mild flavoured caviars tend to be rarer, subtler and ipso facto more ‘the Mayfair thing’.
Grade 1 caviar features firm, large, intact eggs, with fine colour and flavour.
Grade 2 caviar is still delicious, but is less delicate, and not as perfectly formed.
Then one must consider the colour;
For Beluga caviar graded 000 reaches the pinnacle of quality. Hand selected eggs are denoted by 0 for egg size, 0 colour & 0 flavour
Light colours are rarer than dark colours—but colour doesn’t actually impact the Mayfair palette.
The rarest, and most expensive kind of caviar is golden caviar. Also known as “royal caviar” it is thought to be the eggs that would produce albino ossetra. This caviar, a pale off-yellow colour, is found in only one in 1,000 ossetra sturgeon.
How To Eat Caviar
Caviar should always be chilled when served and eaten fresh.
For the Mayfair purist caviar is best eaten alone. Typically our fishy beads are best eaten with a special spoon made of bone, crystal, or mother of pearl. Metal spoons with their metallic nip can alter the taste. Caviar should be served and consumed in amounts smaller than a tablespoon – though it can be noted that a pair of Dukes were recently seen in an un-named Mayfair restaurant gobbling from bowls. We pass no judgement. Small bites help one experience the flavour more completely without becoming overwhelmed by the flavour or texture.
Caviar is also often served with freshly buttered toast topped with a dollop of crème fraiche. Another favourite is the blini – a thin buckwheat pancake of Russian origin, topped with a spoonful of caviar and a dot of sour cream. In some Eastern European countries, caviar is eaten with small steamed potatoes. Never do this in Mayfair.
A 30 gram tin is ideal for two people. Polish the lot off in the one sitting as it is not a good keeper.