Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Cornucopia of Caviar

The final chapter of our caviar adventure is now complete. It all started in January when both the Cute Gardener and I admitted we had always wanted to have the caviar and Champagne experience and proceeded to create a tasting evening surrounding the world’s most expensive fishy eggs. Novices in the field, we did a little research and bought a variety from lowest price to high to try.

After that, we discovered that Petrossian’s of Beverly Hills actually prided themselves on being one of the finest French purveyors of caviar and actually held classes to help the uninformed masses understand the famous salted roe in all its often misunderstood glory. So we signed up for the Caviar 201 class and enjoyed it together last night.

According to Chris, the jovial general manager of Petrossian’s, the classes are usually stuffed with upwards of 15 people but for some reason this class consisted of only the CG, myself and the publisher of Edible West Side magazine.

This intimacy allowed for some great perks for us including the fact that the general manager drank champagne alongside us removing the barrier of teacher/student and creating a jolly camaraderie. This merry mentality had him overflowing with generosity, enough to give us five extra spoons of our favorite caviar at the end of the class. He had to open the jars anyway and needed our mouths to help get rid of them. This made the $75 a person tuition fee a lot easier to justify on the brain.

Aside from the small spoons of eight different kinds of caviar we were given to try through the course of the two-hour class, we were also delighted by small dishes incorporating caviar created by the very creative chef Gisele Wellman and a flush glass of French Champagne along with an elegant, cold flute of premiere vodka.

The dishes were all interesting and good but the star was an egg royale: a gorgeous little eggcup filled with creamy, scrambled eggs and topped with a dollop of vodka-whipped crème fraiche and a pile of caviar. There was also a cube of magnificent smoked salmon rolled in caviar powder. Caviar powder is an odd little product made by Petrossian’s, which is basically just dried roe balls that act as a salting agent. They also make a type of caviar cube that is saturated with flavor and good for tooth-picking atop martinis as well as a flat, fruit roll up type product that you can cut up and use as a garnish on sushi, or mashed potatoes, or other things that you would like an elevated form of luxurious salt on.

We learned that caviar is a super food that can counteract the effects of alcohol, which may explain the birthplace of it in the boisterous drinking society of Russia. We learned that Kaluga, the most expensive caviar we tried, was known as Ugly Fish and that sturgeons which produce the delicacy look a little bit like dinosaur creatures, making me realize that some of life’s best things come from the funkiest bowels such as oysters, livers, et al. 

(I also learned that I like eating things off of shiny, cool mother of pearl spoons.)

Lastly, we learned that we have pretty much exhausted our foray into the land of caviar and although we’ve enjoyed every minute of it, we don’t have the inflated pocketbook or the need to uncover much else. We will no doubt enjoy it when we stumble upon it at holiday parties or special occasions and I would recommend the class to others who want to broaden their horizons a little further beyond the cheaper brands of fish roe that they may have already tried versus the grand options that are actually out there.

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