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Caviar, or fish eggs that are usually sourced from one of three types of sturgeon, is one of the symbols of decadence in the food world, and true food lovers tend to look at the delicacy with awe. It’s something that many aspire to eat in a romantic and even over-the-top way, and is often an investment.

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Luxury Awaits

“Unfortunately, there is no inexpensive way to enjoy caviar. You will have to spend a bit to get a quality caviar. I feel that it’s most important to enjoy caviar with someone you love. With caviar, consumers are likely shelling out money to celebrate a special occasion, so really savor the experience and make it memorable,” says Jacques Sorci, Las Vegas, Nevada-based Hakkasan Group’s vice president of culinary global.

However, to spend significant money on food  you may know little to nothing about is frightening for both the wallet and the digestive system. Not something that is eaten regularly, it’s akin to a newbie wine drinker attempting to create the perfect balance between wine and meal without being exposed to the breadth of what’s out there.

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a caviar pro, there are certain best practices that should be followed when setting out to pick caviar, notes Sorci, so that you are able to get the most out of your experience.  

Get Good Grades

“Try to get the best for your budget. Grading is of course essentialthe larger and the firmer the eggs are, the better it is. Making sure the caviar is sourced from pristine waters is very important. Caspian Sea caviar has become extremely rare, as most sturgeons are now farm-raised in France, Italy, Switzerland, and China. Caviar may be served on top of hot ingredients, but it should always be chilled,” says Sorci.

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Skip the Silver Spoons

He also explains that one very surprising detail may derail the entire experience if one is not aware of it—the type of utensils being used to serve and eat the caviar.

“Absolutely avoid silver or metal to come in contact with the caviar,” he says, as metal will react and change the flavor of the caviar. Glass or mother of pearl utensils are best and a spoon is the most practical way to ingest the caviar.

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Pare Down the Pairings

As for pairing up caviar with other accoutrements, Sorci says that keeping it simple is the key to a successful tasting, whether at home or in a restaurant.

“Attempting to pair caviar with too many ingredients will meddle [with] the flavors and destroy the integrity of the caviar. Most traditional accompaniments are considered classics for a reason. Caviar is great on steamed fingerling potato with crème fraîche, simply buttered pasta, or delicately folded into a chilled potato leek soup,” he says.

Additionally, says Sorci, pairing the caviar with Champagne or a shot of iced vodka will take the full experience up a notch, as the beverage pairings will complement the taste of the caviar as well as the accompaniments.

Vegan Caviar Is Still a Little Fishy

Although caviar is a desirable treat for those who eat fish, vegans were long barred from taking part in the ritual surrounding the delicacy. While there is vegan caviar on the market now, however, says Sorci, it does not seemingly successfully replicate the real thing.  

“Vegan caviar does not come close to the flavors of actual caviar. Sadly, there is simply no substitute. Caviar is the ultimate ingredient worth making an exception for,” Sorci says.

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For a taste of the ocean without the fish themselves.
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Header image courtesy of Dean & DeLuca.

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