We are starting 2017 as we mean to go on here at Bel Canto – and that means with a little extra luxury! We have added a decadent new item to our menu – an ingredient for the ages and one of the most luxurious culinary products in the world: premium Sturgeon Caviar.
Although in concept “salt-cured fish eggs” may not immediately scream “luxury foodstuff”, caviar has long been synonymous with wealth and sophistication. With strict etiquette surrounding how it should be kept and served, enjoying caviar is about so much more than simply eating it – it is a timeless ceremony adding pomp to even the most pedestrian of meals.
Strictly speaking, “caviar” can only be used to describe the roe of the wild Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga sturgeon living in the Caspian and Black Seas, with beluga being the costliest of all. Beluga eggs are famously large (often the size of a pea) and can range in colour from pale silver-grey to black. The older the fish, the lighter the colour – and the greater the price. The most expensive Beluga caviar is a milky white colour, known as Almas (which means “diamond” in Persian) and comes from a sturgeon who has reached 100 years old. Prices for this can reach almost £25,000 a kilo.
Although generally found off the coasts of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan, British monarchy have a penchant for the sturgeon dating back nearly 700 years. In 1324, Edward II decreed it a Royal Fish, meaning every sturgeon found within the foreshore of the Kingdom was exclusive property of the King – although the Queen recently waived this right to support the work of Exmoor Caviar – the British Isles’ only sturgeon caviar producer.
Extremely perishable, fresh sturgeon caviar is famously served on ice and eaten with delicate bone or mother-of-pearl spoons, so that no metallic tang can mar the taste of the fish eggs. We are serving ours on soft blinis with crème fraîche, warm potato salad, and a choice of Thienot Champagne or chilled of Grey Goose vodka to add a true touch of luxury to a night at the opera!