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Authentic, Properly-Handled Caviar by Weight Source in Boston Area?

rlh Dec 22, 2009 11:56 AM

I want to buy actual beluga/ossetra/sevruga by weight (not purchase a whole tin or jar) that's been properly stored and handled - (where) is this possible in Boston and how much does it cost per gram (I realize the prices vary widely among the three varieties)? Not interested in domestic options this time - at all.

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  1. 9
    9lives RE: rlh Dec 22, 2009 12:15 PM

    Talk to Mike at Concord Prime and Fish. If he can't get it directly, he can steer you in the right direction.


    1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: rlh Dec 22, 2009 12:17 PM

      Seems like the Russian grocers in Brookline and Allston would be a good lead.

      3 Replies
      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
        rlh RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 22, 2009 12:23 PM

        Thanks for that tip - there's a Caviar special featured on the Bazaar website, but seems too good to be true for any Caspian variety - may have to go check it out anyway...and get a pound of Napoleon Cake - because there aren't enough other sweets around....

        Are there other Russian grocers you'd recommend in addition to Bazaar?

        1. re: rlh
          BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: rlh Dec 22, 2009 12:37 PM

          Bazaar is certainly my favorite.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
            Allstonian RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 22, 2009 12:40 PM

            Berezka, on Comm. Ave @ Harvard., is also very good, with especially friendly and helpful staff.

      2. SuperFineSugar RE: rlh Dec 22, 2009 12:38 PM

        I know John Boyajian used to be a good source for caviar, but I am pretty sure he's left that part of the business completely. Have you looked at Little Pearl? www.littlepearl.com.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SuperFineSugar
          rlh RE: SuperFineSugar Dec 22, 2009 01:55 PM

          Thanks - have had and recently looked at Little Pearl - mostly domestic and no Caspian options listed on website, but I can give them a call and confirm that.

          1. re: SuperFineSugar
            enhF94 RE: SuperFineSugar Dec 22, 2009 03:47 PM

            pretty sure Little Pearl only does sustainable caviar (I can sleep at night), but they just won "Best Domestic Caviar" from Chefs In America, so consider another look. I love their trout roe.

          2. huckfinn RE: rlh Dec 22, 2009 04:34 PM

            You are down to two varieties. Importation of beluga caviar to the US is presently unlawful. Osetra runs about $5/gram retail, I have never seen it sold from an open tin other than in a restaurant. I'll watch here.

            2 Replies
            1. re: huckfinn
              c oliver RE: huckfinn Dec 27, 2009 07:26 PM

              Seems the beluga issue was at least partially resolved two years ago:


              1. re: c oliver
                huckfinn RE: c oliver Dec 28, 2009 06:18 AM

                Good article, thanks. The rest of the world may be enjoying beluga, but the US restriction of its importation is still in place. Part politics, part trade posturing, and the part that should count the most counts the least: science.
                It may be available in Canada, but one would have to enjoy it there.

            2. Chrispy75 RE: rlh Dec 22, 2009 05:18 PM

              Beluga caviar has been banned in the US for many years now so you're going to have some trouble finding that one. Most caviar is sold in tins/jars, which is what you want, because it keeps it fresh for about a month. Once opened, it lasts a few days. I've never seen caviar sold the way that you describe. At around $200 oz. for Osserta and over $300 for the rarer Sevruga, it wouldn't make sense because freshness would deteriorate quickly.

              I echo the Little Pearl recs. Whether this is your first introduction to caviar or have enjoyed it for a long time, they have something for everyone. Their caviar is extremely fresh and definitely worth checking out. No, they don't have Caspian, but did you see the Uruguayan Baerii? It is worth giving them another look.

              1. rlh RE: rlh Dec 28, 2009 07:20 AM

                So - I did end up buying the top stuff available at Bazaar (Cambridge St) according the deli counter staff - it was Russian and in a large blue metal can wrapped in a huge rubberband that they retrieved from the back refrigerated room - it is sold at $180 per lb (yes, lb not oz) by weight. There is also an inviting 4-oz, sealed red-labeled container at $55 (pricier at $220 per lb as well) that is also marked Russian but they recommended the other one so I went with it.

                They couldn't confirm it was Caspian and it wasn't osetra or sevruga. The eggs were tiny and dark grey. It was mild and subtle with a rich flavor, but not that fresh "snap" I think of with top tier caviar.

                It was great with blinis, creme fraiche, and chives, and I would get it again for that use, but probably not a standalone choice for luxury by the spoonful for me.

                5 Replies
                1. re: rlh
                  galleygirl RE: rlh Dec 28, 2009 09:25 AM

                  Hmmm, sounds like paddlefish, which a lot of Russian caviar is, sometimes dyed darker...You can get American Spoonbill Paddlefish from Little Pearl for $29.00 and ounce...

                  1. re: galleygirl
                    rlh RE: galleygirl Dec 28, 2009 10:06 AM

                    Thanks - that's about 2.5x the price ($464 per lb) - have you had it and is the difference worth it - does it "pop" with freshness?

                    1. re: rlh
                      galleygirl RE: rlh Dec 28, 2009 11:13 AM

                      They'll let you sample if you go over there...It probably won't have as much pop as you might be used to, tho it does have some. It's truly wonderful, as is their Transmountanus Rex, $70. an ounce...
                      I don't think the 'pop' indicates freshness, tho. Most Caspian caviar is harvested once a year, and heavily salted to ppreserve it for so long. The stuff that Little Pearl sells is fished and farmed year round, so you're dealing with caviar that's a month old, or so....

                      1. re: galleygirl
                        chefboyardee RE: galleygirl Dec 30, 2009 08:01 PM

                        So I also just bought the 4 oz glass Russian black caviar at bazaar. They told me it was the best they had, so go figure, given what rlh said. It says it's paddle fish and imported through Brooklyn. Is this very different from the more famous osteria and severga varieties? And how does it compare in taste and price to American paddlefish? I eat it once a year and always get confused at new years. Thanks.

                        1. re: chefboyardee
                          galleygirl RE: chefboyardee Jan 1, 2010 10:08 AM

                          To be perfectly honest, I think the Russian groceries, even Bazaar, are dumbing down in terms of their caviar. I went over there and did a taste test of all the salmon caviars, They're all pasteurized, which really dulls the flavor.
                          Their $28.99 a pound caviar didin't come close to the $6.50 an ounce salmon caviar from the Little Pearl.

                          Plus, imported caviar is only harvested once a year, so they salt it much more heavily that a fresh, unpasteurized domestic caviar would be. I did not try the paddlefish from Bazaar, but if I were going to buy paddlefish,I wouldn't bother with the imported. I would definitely go for a fresh, unpasteurized, less salted domestic.

                2. 9
                  9lives RE: rlh Dec 30, 2009 08:33 PM

                  If you want the real thing, don't skimp. I prefer Ossetra to Beluga ...usually garnish oysters,raw/slightly smoked salmon or toro; buy some for NYE. I called Baltic Market in Southie and the assured me they had a good variety of caviar. I'v always been happy with my purchases there.

                  It's close, it was cold, and I thought I could satisfy my caviar needs. Little caviar labeled jars in differenet colors..labelledd lump fish roe..

                  I'd have passed but I took the T and it was short$..and not worth it
                  Very disappointing so I hope no one repeats my mistake. A far better product is the larger jars of salmon roe at Bazaar or of course the real thing.

                  Got some nice herring but I'm pissed at myself for making the error about the caviar. I may run out to Bazaar tomorrow,maybe WF..Concord's too far. I bought some real garbage..:( I don't even know if the cats will be happy.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: 9lives
                    galleygirl RE: 9lives Jan 1, 2010 10:09 AM

                    Sadly, a lot of caviar coming out of Russia is dyed lumpfish, in many different colors...

                    1. re: galleygirl
                      9lives RE: galleygirl Jan 1, 2010 10:22 AM

                      I was hoping for the mid size orange salmon eggs that Bazaar usually has. I called first but my Polish isn't that good..:) Quick trip so no real loss and we certainly didn't go hungry..:) Just didn't quite scratch the itch..:)

                      I've bought the Little Pearl product at Urban Foodies's Market in the SE and at WF and think it's a great product and very well priced.

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