Specialty Food

Petrossian Caviar

CAVIAR PETROSSIAN PARIS @ MEL & ROSE

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My eyes always widened with excitement when there is a cause to celebrate with a fare of  exceptional caviar.  Petrossian Caviar is our official caviar because of it’s quality and world of knowledge that comes along it. But you don’t need to become a caviar connoisseur to to understand the basic knowledge of etiquette, many different varieties and special utensils required to serve with caviar. Below is a guide to everything a wife should know before ordering caviar at your next lunch or serving it at your next dinner party .  

Strictly speaking, the correct and proper definition of caviar is limited to eggs harvested from different species of sturgeon, traditionally Beluga, Osetra and Sevruga sturgeon from the Caspian Sea in Russia and Iran. However, the rising popularity of other types of fish roe in modern cuisine has caused the definition of “caviar” to broaden. Nowadays, basically any fish egg is referred to as caviar.

The tradition of preparing caviar has remained the same for thousands of years, and is one of the many reasons why caviar prices are so expensive. The harvesting, preparation and manufacture, of caviar is incredibly arduous, and follows strict traditional methods. Click “Continue Reading” to learn more.

A Brief History  of Caviar:

 The first known record of caviar dates back to the Greek scholar Aristotle. In the 4th Century B.C. Aristotle described this delicacy as the eggs of the sturgeon, heralded into banquets amongst trumpets and flowers. But it was Russia and the Russian Tsars that catapulted caviar into the world of utter luxury. The golden roe of the Sterlet sturgeon – now over fished to the point of near extinction- produced what would become the “imperial” caviar, the most delicate and coveted type of caviar available.
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Types of Caviar:

Beluga Caviar:  The best, rarest – and definitely the most expensive- of caviar’s is the Beluga Caviar, traditionally harvested in the Caspian Sea fisheries in Russia and Iran, from the white beluga sturgeon. Beluga roe is superb- large eggs, soft in texture, heavy and ripe, ranging from pale silver to black in color. By far the highest quality caviar you can get, with the most superior flavor. Soft, buttery taste, with a delicate and sweet flavor.

Sterlet: The small golden strerlet caviar which is rare and was once reserved for Russian, Iranian and Austrian royalty. Female Sterlet mature after five to seven years and produce a small-grain caviar. Sterlet caviar is light to dark gray in color and has a distinctively strong and intense flavor. It is most similar to Sevruga with regard to size and over all appearance offering an assertive styled caviar with a clean finish. Sterlet caviar makes for a perfect addition to caviar tastings or food pairings offering another worthy Caspian selection.

Osetra: The next-best-thing to Beluga Caviar, Osetra is of medium-size, and comes from the osetra sturgeon, harvested mainly in Russian and Iran. You’ll find caviar fans that will swear by this caviar, preferring it over beluga. To rest the case, osetra is a fantastic product all the way around, and in the world of gourmet caviar, it is definitely not a runner-up. It is intensely nutty, and has an oilier, silkier texture that just melts in your mouth. It is more recognizable due to its golden yellow/brownish color. Golden Ossetra or Golden Imperial caviar is highly sought-after by connoisseurs, and is very expensive. It is light to dark brown with golden highlights, Delectably fresh and fruity, Osetra has a firm, juicy grain with a distinctive nutty taste.

Sevruga: Here’s an option for those with a budget in mind: Sevruga caviar. You get the high quality and taste of a sturgeon roe, but from a far more common species of fish, therefore making it more available, and thus less expensive. The sevruga sturgeon is small, and reproduces faster that the other species, so this caviar is cheaper and easier to find. Taste-wise, it is strong, but the eggs are on the smallish side (slightly greenish or gray) and crunchier than the other sturgeon varieties. It is light to dark grey with brown highlights, The smaller beads of Sevruga allow for an intense, robust flavor of sea, green nuts, bitter orange, and cashew.

Salmon Roe: This is the cheaper alternative to caviar having been developed from the roe of whitefish and the North Atlantic salmon.

Accouterments to Serve with Caviar:

For serving accompaniments, always present caviar with blini’s (A small Russian pancake), toast points or unsalted crackers with crème fraiche. These are very subtle flavors made specifically to let caviar’s full flavor shine through.

Save the following garnishes for inferior grades of caviar:

  • Lemon Wedges
  • Finely Chopped Onion
  • Capers
  • Chopped Hard Boiled Egg

What to Drink with Caviar:

ChampagneAny excellent chilled brut or extra brut champagne will usually do. The savory saltiness of caviar finds another perfect counterpoint in the clean, crisp flavor of Champagne, preferably a dry, yeasty one with undertones of citrus flavor. And when serving these great epicurean pleasures, by all means invest in a set of fine glass flutes and a wine bucket to keep the bottle chilled.

VodkaA venerable Russian tradition, the pairing of vodka and caviar is customary throughout the world of gastronomy. Like wine and cheese, they are the ideal complements to one another. Served ice cold, vodka has a subtle flavor that allows the distinctive taste of caviar to prevail.

Choose a high-quality traditional brand and make sure it is well chilled, at least four hours or as long as overnight. (Vodka can be stored indefinitely in the freezer; it will not freeze but does become syrupy.) Serve vodka straight, in chilled tumblers or vodka glasses, or over ice, if desired.

Wine:  Chilled dry white wine as a substitute for Champagne. Good choices include a crisp white Burgundy, such as Chablis, Pouilly-Fuissé or an austere New World Chardonnay. Any rich, oaky wine would only mask the delicate flavor of caviar.

Storing Caviar:

Caviar is always packaged in small containers and meant to be consumed in one serving the same day. Unopened, its quality can be maintained for up to four weeks. After purchasing it should be kept in the coolest part of your refrigerator (28 – 32 degrees) and kept unopened and refrigerated until ready to serve. Don’t save leftovers as the caviar will change in taste and spoil quickly.

Serving Caviar:

You can estimate 1 oz. of caviar for every 2 people. Caviar should always be served chilled and NEVER at room temperature. If you’re keeping it out to serve, maintain chilled caviar by  keeping it in the original jar or tin over a bed of crushed or shaved ice.

Utensils for Caviar:

Caviar should ALWAYS be served with a non metallic spoon, like mother of pearl, glass or plastic. Metal and stainless steel plates and or utensils change the taste of the caviar and make it taste bitter or metallic.

Eating Caviar:

It is traditional etiquette to eat caviar in small bites, and if you’re just learning to eat it, small bites will help you experience the flavor more completely without becoming overwhelmed by the flavor or texture. A good rule of thumb is: Help yourself to amounts as small as a teaspoon. So as not to break the eggs, caviar should be spooned carefully with mother of pearl spoons onto lightly toasted bread or directly in the mouth.

Couture Water Bottles

evian_clWho says water can’t be fashionable?  Celebrated clothing designer Christian Lacroix has officially made his foray into consumer goods with the chic limited edition Christian Lacroix  Evian Water Bottle. 

 These stunning 750 ml glass bottles mark the first time that Evian has brought in a famous designer to helm the project of their yearly limited edition bottle.   They come painted in a beautiful couture white coppice pattern with an adorning ‘Christian Lacroix’ on the bottle itself .

There is absolutely nothing plastic about this bottle, and the quality is as good as it gets!  It even opens with a traditional bottle opener, thoughtful of its true lavish nature.

Now a few words by  Mr. CL himself:  : “It seems that Evian natural spring water has been there all my life. I remember the curly label of my childhood (were they arabesques, elaborate columns?) in the hotels of the lake where our family used to spend holidays. They came the streamlined graphics, like a futuristic and timeless dress of the Sixties, and the small bottles you could find all over the world, the design bottles, collected every winter of that millennium. Life a foretelling. It is therefor an amused and rather proud old friend that I designed these bottles. Draping one with the flowers of success, those that adorn the ‘paseo’ parade capes, like snowy crystal garlands or frost-frozen alpine flowers. Giving the other the silhouette of a princess, a goddess or a mythical creature, a sort of snow fairy in couture garb, crowned with flowers, bejewelled with crystals, “wearing” the familiar range of jagged peaks and ridges, like the flounces of a crinoline.”

What a perfect water for events, conferences, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, engagements, or any other special or commemorative event. 

To purchase: http://www.melandrose.com/istar.asp?a=6&id=100093

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And then, of course, if you want to get absolutely crazy, you can always get Haute Couture. There are just 99 bottles, of which will be distributed worldwide and auctioned off for charity. The starting bid for these limited edition haute couture bottle is US $1,000.

Bold Boulder Limon Flavored Chips

It is a test of endurance to photograph, write web descriptions and generally be surrounded by enticing new products that  scream “try me! try me!!!” all day long, yet somehow we usually manage without any casualties. This is the story of one such exception.Boulder's are Bolder!

It was an exceptionally warm day here in LA, occasionally punctuated by new breezes.  We sat contemplating the meaning of life when we felt the inclination to savor something new…wait, that’s not true.

We were sitting in an AC controlled office doing our usual e-mail, web photos, idle chit chat, and so forth when we got primal (that’s more like it). The deadly combination of hunger, shiny new things, and absolutely all absence of remorse led us to rip open a bag of the newly arrived Boulder Limon Kettle Style Chips. And OMG. Slightly thicker and crunchier than the Kettle brand chips, I have the feeling this Boulder brand will create some healthy competition.

For those of you who have never had this delightful flavor, it’s something like lemon, lime and then salt & vinegar with a hint of spice all in one heavely bite. I’ve always enjoyed the Lays version of this flavored chip, but now I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back. These were crunchy, salty, sweet and spicy, and we wound up eating the entire family sized bag in just a few minutes… And with no regrets. Just writing about them now makes me want to saunter next door and get a bag. For now though I’ll exhibit some self control and leave a few for you all to try. But you better hurry 🙂

Bean to Bar, not your average chocolate

The glory days of commercial kings like Hershey’s and Nestle are gone. There’s a new kid in town and it’s a specially crafted artisan style chocolate made by a small batch of producers known as “bean to bar.”

These bean to bar producers control every step of the chocolate making process ensuring the best quality and very best taste.  Where milk chocolate and other mass produced dark chocolates may have extra sugar or artificial ingredients added to create ‘taste,’ the bean to bar chocolatiers enhance the flavor of their product simply by letting the natural flavor notes shine through.

The process begins with sourcing the finest cacao beans (and usually of single plantation origin) which are then carefully roasted, winnowed, ground, refined, conched, tempered, and molded.  Granted, they tend to be a bit more expensive than your average candy bar. But once you’ve tried these pieces of heaven you’ll see it’s worth it, not to mention the higher cacao % which means it’s ‘healthy’ chocolate (hello antioxidants!)

At this time there are around 20 true bean to bar makers, so next time you have a chocolate craving go for one of the producers listed below and rest easy knowing you are supporting a bean to bar chocolatier. 

US: Askinosie, Amaro, Guiltand, Theo, Taza and Rogue*

French: Bonnat, Pralus, or Michel Cluizel

Italian: Domoi, Amedei, Venchi

Spanish: Chocovic

Venezuelan: EC Rey

*the Rogue 70% Chocolate bar is a new addition to our store. These delectable bars have flavor notes like citrus, rum raisin, and toast for the Sambirano bar (a personal favorite); coffee, blood orange, and nuts for the Rio Caribe (equally delicious); and licorice, burnt orange, and cherry for the Hispaniola (and all three bars have the same ingredients: cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and tahitian vanilla).