Growing up in Cayman, my early knowledge of caviar extended to the little pots you could get in the supermarkets for around $10. The contents had a strong aroma and enough salt to significantly lift a person’s blood pressure.
It was only when more restaurants and resorts popped up that I literally got a taste of what the good stuff was like. Where was the black residue I was used to … and that somewhat bitter aftertaste? This was creamy, nutty and delicious!
Once in a while I’ll treat myself to “proper” caviar when I’m eating out. It is usually presented in its container atop a mountain of ice, surrounded by itty bitty granules of egg yolk, egg white, chives, red onion and so on, with another small bowl of crème fraîche. You even get a special spoon with which to convey the precious cargo to your blini. I may, or may not, have strongly considered licking the container clean in the past. When you’re paying that much per fish egg, you want your money’s worth.
Up until recently, it has been difficult to buy caviar as a person on the street. Restaurants have either sourced their own or buy direct from suppliers. Now, Caribbean Beverages Cayman is importing caviar that can be bought by the public.
Owner Tibor Hollos, a veteran of the restaurant industry, has been working on setting up his caviar importation side of the business for the last four months. There is extensive paperwork to be completed in order to import the luxury item, and now everything is in place, he is ready to launch.
“I felt there was a gap in the local market,” Hollos says, “and I now have a quality supplier from Germany – Imperial Caviar – that allows me to sell everything from Baerii to finest Beluga.”
The first order arrived earlier this month and has already sold out, now that restaurants and markets are aware of the availability. Hollos says it takes approximately two weeks for orders to arrive once they have been placed, so if you are planning to dazzle some party guests, bear that in mind.
As of now, the company is bringing in four types of high-end caviar: Beluga, Ossetra, Imperial Gold and Baerii. Hollos is also ordering fish roe such as trout and salmon, if you want to start easy before diving into the heady caviar market.
Hollos delivers to customers to make sure their purchases are not compromised by the heat. A jar of Beluga left in the car for five hours is a terrible idea.
Once you have bought your caviar, how do you serve it? The first crucial thing to remember is that you are not supposed to use a metal spoon. There is talk, whispered behind closed doors, that certain metals can affect its taste; something you don’t want to risk when you’ve forked out a fair bit of change for that wee container. Mother-of-pearl spoons are the traditional method of serving and will be approved by all. Use plastic spoons only when desperate.
Caviar is usually placed delicately upon a toast point or blini. As my eyes were swimming at the recipe for the latter, I nearly considered a toast point for my Imperial Gold. Thankfully, Kirk Market sells pre-packaged blinis that just need to be put in the oven for four minutes. My kind of convenience.
I also wondered how long it would take me to chop all of those accompaniments (egg, onion, chives) within an inch of their lives. This time, Chef Frederic Morineau, executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, stepped in with calming words. “You don’t have to serve good caviar with all that extra stuff,” he confided. “Just a bit of crème fraîche.”
Thank goodness for the French.
To learn more, contact Tibor Hollos at 924-7472 at Caribbean Beverages Cayman or visit www.caribbeanbeverages.ky.