I wanted to learn more about caviar and was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with Laura King, founder of Kings Caviar, which is the largest UK supplier.
They supply restaurants including The Fat Duck and The Ritz and stores such as Harrods and Fortnum & Masons. We did a comparative tasting of quite a few different types from both Belgium.
These days wild caviar is outlawed in order to preserve stocks, so any caviar you can legally buy is farmed. The largest suppliers are the Chinese, but there are also farms in several other countries. There is even notionally one in the UK, though apparently that appears to be more of a holding pen for Polish caviar than a true farm.
There are 26 different species of sturgeon, and almost all of these have at some point been used for caviar, as well as hybrids. However, beluga (the largest freshwater fish in the world), oscietra and sevruga are the most prestigious, while baerii, which matures much quicker than beluga, is used for entry-level caviar. The hybrid kaluga is similar to beluga and can be nearly as expensive.
Of the caviars that I tried, I particularly liked the Belgian beluga.
Read more of Andy’s reviews at www.andyhayler.com