From Kaluga to Sevruga to the White Gold of Austria, nothing says posh like this elegant nosh.
The word “caviar” conjures up images of opulent scenes with gold-painted furniture and a dripping-with-diamonds hand holding a perfectly tiny bite of tiny black pearls. It’s the culinary epitome of luxury, and yachts are, indeed, a luxury business — but is there a way to scale our perceptions of one of the world’s hottest commodities to fit all sizes of boats and budgets?
I asked Shtivelman if the old standards for top quality are still the three kings of caviar: Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga. He explained that Beluga, in most cases, is considered the best because of its large eggs and non-fishy flavor. Although he cautions that in some cases Beluga may be bland and new caviar consumers don’t prefer the grayish color, he said regular caviar consumers will expect Beluga at any formal tasting or grand-style service.
“Osetra,” he went on to say, “is the most popular order of the three stalwarts. In my opinion, Osetra offers the best taste for the price and many like the mostly dark brown color. Sevruga is more of an acquired taste and an appropriate choice for people that like classic caviar hallmarks, such as a very black color and a strong taste of salt and the sea.”
We all know caviar is a luxury product, but how pricey does it actually get?
“The most expensive of the popular caviars consumed in the U.S. today is the farmed Persicus Persian Caviar from Iran,” Shtivelman said. “While it is rare, marketing plays a big part in the cost of this caviar, and for me, personally, its flavor is too mild, in a similar style as Beluga. It sells for about $320 per ounce”
Huso Huso goes for about $830 per ounce and is the only true Beluga sold in the U.S. Almas Osetra, a type farmed in Italy and famous for its pale gold color, goes for about $485 per ounce. The most expensive sold in the world right now is out of Austria: Strottarga Bianco, known as the “white gold of caviar,” sells for approximately $7,500 per ounce and comes from a farmed Siberian albino sturgeon.
What does Shtivelman prefer to eat? “My favorite is Kaluga Amber, a great value in terms of dollars for flavor,” he said. “I’m from Eastern Europe originally, and I prefer a large portion of caviar on black bread with unsalted butter.” He also recommends, depending on budget, offering guests a tasting of Beluga, Russian Osetra , Kaluga, and Paddlefish.
If you must buy your caviar for ship stores ahead of a busy charter season, it should be air-sealed and kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator for four to five weeks, Shtivelman said. Caviar may also be frozen if it is thoroughly thawed in the fridge before serving.
“An opened tin or jar of caviar generally can last up to 10 days in the refrigerator — or, in my case, about a few minutes before I eat it all,” he said, adding that a glass jar is usually the best vessel for preservation, as some metals can change the taste of the caviar. Pasteurized caviar does not need refrigeration, but Shtivelman doesn’t recommend it, because much of the flavor is lost in the pasteurization process.
Click here for creative ways to serve caviar and here to learn the best way to store caviar on board.
EXCLUSIVE TREAT FOR TRITON READERS
For expert advice on caviar and other luxury food products, send a message via phone or WhatsApp to Steve Shtivelman at +1 917-838-6465 or email him at Ssty11@aol.com. For a limited time, those who mention “Triton” will get the following exclusive pricing:
• 5.5oz crystal jar Kaluga royal amber $190.00 plus shipping
• 1kg Kaluga royal amber $1200.00 plus shipping