Caviar! Even the name sounds luxurious. But how much do you really know about caviar other than they are normally the eggs of the sturgeon?
Ten years ago (November 2006 actually) we held a caviar tasting in the Shelburne Room which proved a great success. So here in 2016, we thought it was time to hold another one. Prices of caviar, like everything else, have increased considerably. For example Beluga caviar was then around £1,700 a kilo, today up to four times that price.
In fact Caviar is the name given to the salted roe of various species of fish, although strictly speaking should only be applied to the roe of the sturgeon. It is commercially marketed throughout the world as a delicacy and is eaten principally as a garnish or spread, or more traditionally with potato blinis and sour cream. The name “caviar” comes from the Persian word خاگآور (Khāg-āvar) which means “the roe-generator”. This name in Persian means the sturgeon and its product, the roe. Russian uses an unrelated name, икра ikra which simply means “roe”.
Originally, most of the world’s best caviar came from the Caspian Sea, a large land locked sea surrounded by Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan. Here, three indigenous species produced the caviars known as Sevruga, Oscietra and the famous Beluga. The word Malossol was given to the highest grade of caviar which simply means ‘lightly salted’, which is up to 4%.
Due to heavy overfishing, a ban was imposed on the Caspian Sea and soon after worldwide for all wild sturgeon. This brought about modern aquaculture facilities producing caviar all over the world in Europe, Asia, North and South America.
The slow maturation rate of sturgeon and delicate eating qualities means caviar maintains its high price and so many more affordable alternatives became available such as lumpfish, salmon and flying fish roe.
This evening we will try a range of the finest caviars, as well as one of the alternatives to show the difference, led by caviar expert Harry Ferguson of Shah Caviar Ltd.
We will be trying a range of caviars showing the difference between modern and classic caviars, different species and different countries. This includes the famous Beluga caviar, today farmed in Iran. Still the most expensive and rarest, this retails anywhere between £4,000-£8,000/kg. The Beluga which can live for up to 100 years, creates large opalescent grey-blue caviar with a delicate skin and a palate-tickling flavour.
But to start the tasting we will be trying a Baerii caviar which now accounts for a very large percentage of farms outputs due to its eating qualities and relatively lower cost. Caviar is best tasted and appreciated in its true form alone so you can really appreciate the intricacies and delicacies of this fine product.
The organiser’s personal favourite is Oscietra. They are famed for their variegated caviar, traditionally in shades of gold and pale browns. Many connoisseurs prefer its more intense flavour than Beluga, being a subtle nutty tasting caviar.
But we will taste a whole variety including the aforementioned Beluga, Baeri, Oscietra and Royal Beluski as well as a cheaper alternative by way of comparison.
Champagne will be served with the caviar in keeping with the opulent mood of the evening.
By necessity the evening cannot be cheap as the prices above testify to, but we have tried to keep it to an acceptable level. So come along and enjoy something special.
Venue: The Shelburne Room, The Lansdowne Club,
Mobility Rating: 1 – Lift access
Nearest tube: Green Park
Time: 7.00pm prompt start
Dress: Jacket & Tie
Price: £89 Members and guests.
Organiser: Roger Ellis Tel 01494 837857
Bookings are closed for this event. Please contact the organiser for last-minute places.