Caviar has come a long way. Once considered an extravagance, it's been spooned in recent years alongside everything from tacos to fried chicken. But caviar hasn't evolved much from the sturgeons's perspective, until now.
Traditionally, the only way to get caviar has involved killing a fish. But German marine biologist and professor Angela Köhler has developed a way to harvest the sturgeon's eggs without harming the fish, resulting in what she calls "correct caviar." It's sold as Vivace Caviar at Dean & Deluca and through California Caviar Company, a company that specializes in selling sustainable caviar to chefs and home cooks, for $125 an ounce.
In addition to the feel-good factor, chefs swear by the taste of Vivace.
"One of the selling points is that pop," says chef Peter Armellino of the Plumed Horse in Saratoga, California. The eggs are firmer and keep their shape better than traditional, thanks to a mineral bath designed by Köhler that prevents the eggs from getting mushy, a common caviar complaint.
"Then the flavor hits you—it's not too briny, with a little bit of butter on the finish," says Armellino. "Combine that with the feeling that you can enjoy [Vivace] guilt-free, and you have a win-win."
Wes Holton, the executive chef at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas calls it "the future of caviar." We call it a great reason to celebrate.
"Caviar is great for parties or just making dinner that much more special," he says. Holton suggests topping potato pancakes with crème fraîche, a squeeze of lemon and some roe. "One of my favorite ways to eat caviar, which I had on the morning after my wedding, was with scrambled eggs and chives," says Armellino. "That was pretty much the start of my honeymoon."
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However you serve it, keep this in mind: "Caviar is a very delicate product. It doesn't like to be handled too much," says Armellino. When serving, go the traditional route and use a mother of pearl spoon. It won't just make you look fancy—it will taste better, too. Pearl doesn't react to and change the taste of caviar the way metal can, explains Armellino. Plastic works in a pinch if you're fresh out of pearl.
And though we're happy to embrace a new method for obtaining the treat, both chefs encourage a classic pairing: with Champagne. Some traditions are worth preserving.
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