In the last twelve months, “black gold” has been making something of a comeback on the London Restaurant scene.
In the moneyed streets of Mayfair, the caviar culture is being embraced by a deep pocketed clientele. Patrons can opt for a slighty nutty Siberian caviar or fresh and fruity Oscietra, rinsed down with copious amounts of ice cold Dom Perignon 2004 (somewhat ironically sold by the glass!)
Following on from this renaissance, generous dinner party hosts are looking to recreate this experience in the comfort of their own home. But how do you get it just right? What is the etiquette when it comes to serving this regal delicacy?
The first decision is perhaps the easiest. How much caviar do I actually need? “Need” is a strange word when it comes to caviar. Caviar is not about "needing", it is a desire, and ideally you should look to serve about 30 grams per person. The first 10 gram spoonful is to accustom the palate to the taste, the second to appreciate the flavour and the third is pure, unadulterated pleasure.
The fragility of caviar is part of its allure, and the etiquette surrounding the serving ensures it reaches your palate unblemished. Caviar should always be served at room temperature and only ever eaten with a spoon crafted from mother of pearl, glass or plastic…. although plastic does seem a little subordinate.
For a more authentic experience, a spoonful of caviar should be placed on the back of the hand between your thumb and index finger. Then you should delicately spoon the eggs into your mouth, pressing them against your palate until they pop. Caviar can be served with potatoes or scallops but to garnish with lemon, onions or capers is considered pure sacrilege.
There is a quintessential partnership between caviar and champagne, but if you are truly looking to dine like the tsars, ice cold vodka is the preferred Russian tradition. “Na zdorvie!”