Hello, my friends! The holidays are upon us! You know what that means? Parties, so many parties! This week, I teamed up with Whole Foods and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar to bring you caviar and cheese! Shiho Taka Ceramic, a wonderful San Francisco-based ceramicist, lent me some of her stunning dishware for today’s blog post.
I haven’t really had much experience with caviar before this, so tasting Tsar Nicoulai’s caviars and other fish roe was so novel for me! Generally, the caviar tasted much more creamy, and far less fishy, than I was expecting. I hadn’t thought of the bead, or size of the fish eggs, before, and the different flavor notes different kinds of caviar can have.
If you are serving caviar to your guests, there are a couple things to remember:
- Serve caviar cold (but not frozen!). M. Cheesemonger crushed some cubed ice for me, and we made an ice bed for our caviar.
- Do not let the caviar touch metal. It alters the taste of the caviar. Tsar Nicoulai includes mother-of-pearl spoons with each of their caviars, so I was OK on that front! You can also use a wooden spoon.
To accompany your caviar, the classic pairing is crème fraîche, and with good reason. The fat in the caviar and the fat in the crème fraîche make for a silky, elegant treat. For this tasting, I went with Vermont Creamery’s crème fraîche, one of my favorites on the market.
I wanted to try some cheeses with the caviar and roe as well, and here are the pairings I found worked well.
Nicasio Valley Foggy Morning + Tsar Nicoulai Clasico Caviar
Foggy Morning is one of my favorite Nicasio Valley cheeses—it’s soft and pillowy, with a little tang and the slightest hint of barnyard. That tang was a good complement to the Clasico caviar, which has a slight fishy, oily flavor and texture. The two were well matched. The stronger fish flavors in the caviar stood up to the tang in the cheese, and the cheese’s smooth texture was a good vehicle to show off the caviar’s full finish.
Caseificio dell’Alta Langa Il Nocciolo + Tsar Nicoulai Estate Caviar
The Estate caviar was perhaps my favorite of the caviars. With no fishy flavor and a smooth, buttery texture, it had an unexpected minerality that I loved. I paired it with this cheese made by the makers of the ever-popular La Tur, called Il Nocciolo. This small packet of sheep, cow, and goat milk is like cheesy ice cream. It’s got delicate floral and yeasty flavors, as well as a soft-serve-like texture. The combo was exquisite and delightful!
Brebirousse d’Argental + Tsar Nicoulai Reserve Caviar
I keep flip-flopping over whether I prefer the Reserve caviar or the Estate! The Reserve caviar has the mildest, sweetest flavors of the Tsar Nicoulai bunch, which makes it easy to eat a lot at once without noticing. And Brebirousse d’Argental is one of the most popular cheeses out there, with a mild, milky flavor and ultra-runny texture. Together, I thought they made for the tastiest pairing of the whole session. The cheese created a beautiful milky flavor base on which the caviar could show off brilliantly!
Brillat Savarin + Tsar Nicoulai Smoked Trout Roe
I don’t usually love smoked products, but the smoked trout roe (fish eggs that are not from sturgeon are called roe, not caviar) was so well rounded, with a light smoky flavor and bubbly texture. Brillat Savarin, a French triple crème, cow’s milk cheese, is known for its whipped butter texture and creamy flavor with that slight tangy finish. Together, the cheese and roe smooth each other out. The roe’s bursting bubbly texture takes on more subtlety, and the flavors of both cheese and roe meld harmoniously.
If you want to try pairing cheese and caviar, generally, stay with the mild, creamy, soft cheeses. Caviar and roe have rather delicate flavors, and you don’t want to hide that under too strong a cheese. I found that while I should let the cheeses warm up a bit, serving it at room temperature was a little much for the caviar. So I serve the cheese cool, but not cold.
Thanks, Whole Foods and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar for introducing me to the world of caviar! Thank you, Shiho, for lending me your beautiful dishware!
If you would like to purchase the cheeses and caviars and roe you saw here, you can find all of these items at your local Whole Foods.
If you would like to purchase these beautiful dishes, visit shihotakaheshi.net.
Do you serve caviar at your holiday parties? Let me know in the comments below!
This blog post was sponsored by Whole Foods. I received payment and product to write this post. All thoughts are my own.
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