Caviar - what did I just eat?
So last summer I was in Budapest and bought a couple of small jars of "Russian" caviar at the central market. The price was irresistible. Wanting to save the caviar for an appropriate moment, I kept it refrigerated until the other night (both sons were home) and served it with a bottle of (very) good champagne we never got around to drinking to celebrate my eldest son's university graduation a few years ago.
Well, maybe I'm missing something but I just didn't really get the caviar at all. The eggs were distinct - unbroken - not too tiny and dark grey, not black. But they seemed too firm. They didn't pop in the mouth - they were almost jellied. And there wasn't much flavour, even though we did all the right things down to not using a silver spoon etc. I must say I'm disappointed. Anyone have any explanation for this sad caviar let-down?
I looked up the company online and they swear they're a legit caviar farm and they don't admit to packaging small plastic beads in jars to fool stupid caviar neophytes.
There are lots of different grades of caviar and who knows what yours was.
IMO caviar is grossly overrated.
This is just an educated guess but to draw an analogy, if aged prime T-bone is "proper" caviar, you bought last year's low-grade dried-beef-in-a-jar...
"Good" caviar is lightly salted - nothing else added - and kept just above freezing as it's moved as quickly as possible from the fish's abdomen to the end purchaser's waiting mouth. ;)
I think that the very idea of a "deal" for what is currently so rare and in high demand, is just not going to come out well. What seller - wholesaler, pirate, whatever - would discount something that has such a huge demand and limited supply, other than that it is either spoiled or otherwise not the merchandise it is supposed to be? (Psst... meester, you wanna buy a Rolex?) You got what you paid for.
Get some real good stuff and have it with some blini or toastpoints. Then you'll have a basis to judge a) whether you like it or not, and b) whether something sold at discount is indeed real good stuff.
I've ordered from these folks before with good luck - both some Sevruga and US Paddlefish and Sturgeon (the US stuff is definitely getting better all the time).
Another great caviar source (also good info) is Russ & Daughters in NYC:
This stuff was somehow preserved in the jar. There was a best-before date on the bottom of the jar, so I know it was still ok.
I know, I know - it wasn't the really good stuff but I had hoped it was better than lumpfish. It looked nicer, but didn't taste a whole lot better. Definitely not very salty, though.
I have had decent caviar before and my memory of it may be clouded by the ambiance of the moment - as are so many of my memories regarding food.