Quality caviar is one of life’s great treats – but what should you drink with it? Jonathan Ray explores the ideal tipples.
Times might be hard, but we can at least afford to dream with spring in its beguiling, blossom-laden pomp and summer on its way.
In my dream, I’m sitting on a sun-dappled riverbank, a cloth-covered wicker basket groaning with comestibles by my side, a bottle of fizz chilling in the water and an open tin of Beluga caviar ready to offer my beloved.
What romantic, vinous, culinary joys await!
The staple of the poor until introduced to the tsars’ court in the 18th century, caviar – the eggs/roe of farmed sturgeon – is now the most expensive and prized of all foodstuffs, known to its devotees as ‘the food of love’.
It’s pricey because it takes so long before one can harvest the eggs. A Beluga sturgeon can take 10-12 years to reach maturity, while Oscietra takes up to eight.
Happily, dreams occasionally come true. Although I wasn’t on a sun-dappled riverbank then, I was lucky enough to enjoy some caviar recently with Laura King MBE, founder of King’s Fine Food, the UK’s largest importer.
Eggs with everything
Having learned to spread the caviar onto the back of my hand with a mother-of-pearl spoon, to let it rest for a bit before licking it off, and to taste it by gently rolling the soft, smooth, salty and meltingly creamy black paste around my mouth, I started to agonise over what drinks I should be knocking back alongside it.
Laura finds the traditional vodka too alcoholically assertive a partner, although I think Belvedere (see below) is ideal. But then I also found an ice-cold shot of Fishers Smoked Gin from Suffolk and ditto of Nardini’s Acqua di Cedro lemon liqueur both worked wonders.
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