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Tasting notes: caviar

Spain on a plate

As a rule, I’m no fan of following etiquette. Tell me that something should or shouldn’t be served in a certain way and I’m likely to do the opposite. However, when something costs upwards of €100 for 50g, I’m willing to bow to the experts. Especially when, as in this case, they were giving it to me for free!

Caviar Riofrío produces a huge range of products that you can buy from their online shop, although clearly the caviar is the main event. They produce three different varieties, but the organic – which basically means it’s only had salt added – sells the best. Fun fact: During the Russian Revolution people walked miles carrying their caviar making it necessary to add preservatives. Because of that people are accustomed to the flavour, hence Caviar Riofrío produces a Russian-style caviar, as well as the organic.

If the caviar itself leaves you cold, some of their other products are well worth checking out. “Essence of caviar”, which is like a caviar salt, can be used to add an intense flavour to pasta or risotto; “dados” of caviar are like a tiny square of gel and are used a lot in cocktails; and confit sturgeon is like the best tuna you ever tasted.

But back to the black gold. One of the key things is not to eat the caviar on a metal spoon. Eating it directly off skin (the back of your hand, say) is best, but otherwise a mother of pearl spoon won’t affect the flavour adversely. I’ve only had caviar a couple of times before, but both times it’s been with bread and butter or crackers, but apparently that is just to disguise the flavour if it’s not very good quality. Caviar should be eaten solo, but in good company.

As for drinks, for Alberto Domezain, Riofrío’s Production Director, it’s vodka all the way, although a Chablis is apparently good for cleansing the palate; better than champagne. I’m not a vodka fan, but after the tasting, I’m convinced it’s the right accompaniment. Try this: First wash your mouth with vodka. Now take half a teaspoon of caviar and move it around your mouth before swallowing. Next take another swig of vodka. Now take some more caviar and you’ll notice the flavour is more intense. Apparently, that only happens with the organic caviar. I don’t know about that, but I do know that after more than a couple of teaspoons (and the accompanying tipple) the effect might be lost.

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