By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov
In Spring 2020, under the siege of the incessant coronavirus threat, shelter in place we must, but nothing should stop us from enjoying the finer things in life, even if life these days is far from normal. In isolation, romantic dinners are still en vogue (perhaps more so now when it’s really just the two of us!) and little indulgencies bring about the much needed joy and glimpses of hope for a brighter future.
To help us endure, home deliveries from boutique producers of luxury foods become a substitute for culinary travel, while working incomparably more efficiently than some grocery giants, stuck between their customers’ growing demand and their vendors’ limited supply.
Here are some of our favorites that can be ordered from the source and delivered to your door.
Tsar Nicoulai Caviar
For more than 30 years in business, this Northern California company is dedicated to sustainability, and consistently puts on the market the highest quality handcrafted product. Tsar Nicoulai produces the most delectable sturgeon and salmon caviar as well as hot- and cold-smoked fish following the “whole animal” philosophy.
“Our American White Sturgeon is a native fish. It lives in its natural environment,” says Otto Szilagyi, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Vice President. “Raised humanely and sustainably, the fish reaches 70-90 pounds by the time we harvest caviar. We smoke and sell every ounce of the fish.”
Szilagyi likes to quote Aristotle, who praised in 4th century BC “the eggs of the sturgeon, heralded into banquets amongst trumpets and flowers,” and gladly shares his deep knowledge of the history of caviar (100 years ago USA was the largest exporter of caviar in the world), its international significance throughout the ages, and its unparalleled health benefits.
Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, D, iron, magnesium and selenium, caviar presumably reduces blood clotting and inflammation in humans, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and strengthens immune system.
The company is on a mission of educating the American consumers on the benefits of local caviar from the California-raised fish. The statement reads, “As pioneers of farming Sturgeon for caviar, our mission is to provide a quality caviar that rivals the traditional imported varieties. By offering an alternative to the caviar harvested from wild Sturgeon, we can alleviate the demand for imported caviar, thereby ensuring an abundant and consistent supply of caviar from around the world for generations to come. Equally important for us, and for the survival of wild Sturgeon, is to educate our consumers on the importance of choosing sustainable caviar.”
Tsar Nicoulai Caviar product has been requested by the majority of upscale restaurants, specialty food stores, and boutique markets in Northern California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and multiple other locations.
You can get the goods now, while staying at home and sheltering in place. Order through the site: https://tsarnicoulai.com/
What started in Norway in 1973 as Stolt Sea Farms, raising salmon, sole and turbot, has moved to California in 1988, becoming a pioneer farm-raising American White Sturgeon. Sterling Caviar founder, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen (1931-2015) coming from a long line of fishermen, had implemented the principles of responsible harvesting of the ocean products through sustainable aquaculture.
After the company name changed to Sterling Caviar in 2006, the worldwide recognition followed for its refined and delicate product. The especially rare Two Color Caviar of brownish-greenish shade with a flavor profile that includes “vegetal notes and minerality with creamy undertones” became a staple at San Francisco’s Michelin-star restaurants, delivered exclusively to those.
It is now available to the public for the first time ever, and ships nationally. Sterling offers a comprehensive tasting guide to the caviar aficionados and novices alike. Its Notes section concentrates on the many facets of gradation for the precious fish eggs—size (from 2 to 4 mm), color (black, light gray, light brown, olive, gray, golden brown, gold, dark gray, and dark brown), texture (from soft to firm), and flavor (buttery, earthy, oily, umami, sweet, creamy, salty, clean, fishy, bitter, briny, fresh, nutty, coffee, seawater, and mineral).
Tasting tips provided by the Sterling are simple: 1. Chill (Caviar should always be served well chilled. Over ice is ideal). 2. No silver spoons (In order to maintain a pure taste, use mother of pearl, bone, animal horn, or wood spoons for serving). 3. Less is more (Small 3-5 g bites allow the palate to relish the flavors without being overwhelmed). 4. Bump it up (Spoon caviar directly onto back of your hand and lick it off. The warmth of your skin will help release caviar’s aromatic molecules). 5. Be gentle (Press your tongue lightly against the roof of mouth until fish eggs pop and savor the intricate flavors). 6. Smile and repeat. Order delivery at: https://www.sterlingcaviar.com/shop/
Arriving in an elegant designer box, ROE Caviar is a wonderful gift for that special someone in your life (or just for yourself, or both). California farm-raised American White Sturgeon single-origin caviar is packed in a gold-rim tin nestled in black velvet, decked by a tiny mother-of-pearl spoon with a polished precious wood handle and a brass key to open the tin, all marked with the ROE logo.
As the company clearly states, its caviar, “one of life’s great luxuries, is no longer reserved for New Year’s Eve and weddings. ROE is caviar for the people, meant to be enjoyed generously and at any time—whether served straight by the spoonful, on a potato chip or atop a spiral of pasta al dente.”
Founded in 2015, ROE harvests its caviar, defined by buttery, briny and nutty undertones from a Northern Californian farm, where it’s salted for one month to ensure its exceptional freshness. In a special note ROE stresses out that the caviar is produced without the use of Borax, a popular preservative found in most European caviars.
ROE Rules, printed on the back of a gift card, enclosed with the package, proclaim as follows: Enjoy within 3 days of opening. Store an unopened tin in the coldest part of your fridge for up to 6 weeks. To open, place the key under the lid and twist. Don’t forget to share.
For more information and orders go to: https://roecaviar.com/pages/welcome-to-roe-caviar
This Los Angeles-based caviar distribution company takes a leadership role in the new culinary movement that’s now gaining momentum in the United States. Thanks to the successful development of a robust California caviar industry in recent years, more and more restaurants, markets, corporate chefs and home cooks routinely use caviar—the ultimate luxury food—in their regular offerings. “We want beautifully cured caviar to feel less like a splurge, more like an everyday delight,” states Imperia Caviar. “Its versatility and addictive flavor profile are matched only by its abundant health benefits.”
The making of the highest quality farmed caviar is inseparable from responsible harvesting practices and multiple steps of the production process: retrieval, sifting, rinsing, filtering, curing, and packing. The finished product, of exquisite taste and quality, comes from sturgeon raised in fresh water on a sustainable eco-friendly farm, within the ecosystem that mimics wild environment, where a caviar master takes part in every step of the caviar preparation hands-on.
The company boasts Kaluga Hybrid (a.k.a. Black Gold) and Royal Ossetra (the most coveted variety, with origins from the Caspian Sea), and prides itself on offering the lowest prices in the US. “We work directly with reputable farms to purchase large quantities at a better value, and pass those savings on to you, caviar lovers,” promises the company.
To familiarize the wider U.S. population with the benefits of caviar, and make it a staple in our kitchens, there’s The Caviar Club with a mission “to make caviar accessible and available while offering uncompromised value and service.” To become The Caviar Club member, and be eligible for free shipping on all orders, you can choose a type of subscription that fits you best—monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, and select the preferred caviar types and quantity. If you’re not ready to commit to certain delivery dates, there’s flexible subscription with ordering at your convenience. For the undecided, there’s a Caviar Sampler to help you pick and choose your favorite. As a member of the club you will periodically receive a quantity of the best quality caviar available in the USA for less than $1 per gram.
Imperia Caviar’s many types of fish roe, like Ossetra with nutty and briny firm beads ranging from black to dark brown and golden brown, offer high culinary versatility, and can be used in a variety of foods, from cracker sandwiches, toppings to hors d’oeuvres, and deviled eggs to salads, pastas, seafood, and meat dishes. Orders ship overnight with Stay-Fresh packing from https://imperiacaviar.com/