When I think of caviar, I used to think of sushi. Those tiny, neon orange, glossy balls encasing sticky white rice are more of a visual decoration. At least, that’s what it seems, because they barely have a taste. When Janelle of CorkChronicles.com and I attended a Caviar and Champagne event during the NYC Wine and Food festival, my opinion about caviar started to change.
Shortly, after publishing our story about the event, the PR representative for Petrossian caviar invited me to a tasting. Let’s be honest: I don’t know much about caviar. When I told my friends about it, they shrugged their shoulders to the cares of the wind. It seems we all have tiny orange glistening balls rolling in our heads from eating lots of sushi. However, my palette was curious, for the champagne and caviar event was breathtakingly beautiful, and I’m not only talking about the Dream hotel. The watermelon with smoked salmon, sturgeon caviar and salmon roe hors d’oeuvres were impressive. The fried oyster on the half shell topped with caviar was dreamy. The experience aroused a curiosity to learn more about this beautiful and iridescent treat.
One mid-autumn day, I opened the grand doors of the Petrossian restaurant, located south of Central Park. In an intimate private room, I was warmly greeted by the other guests, especially Cythnia, the PR Representative for Petrossian, and Angeline of PinkMemo.com (by the way, I love that site). The host, Alex, the owner of Petrossian, would guide us throughout the tasting. The server graciously welcomed me with a Martique Martini playfully garnished with a Caviarcube®. Alex mentioned he doesn’t know of any caviar company having fun with their products. His comment set the stage for the event: We’re in for treat, because the tasting included Petrossian’s new products.
Four varieties of caviar were placed in front of us in Petrossian’s signature Eggxiting 12 gram glass jar: Kaluga, Tsar Imperial Ossetra, Shasetra and Special Reserved Alverta Caviar. Using the mother of pearl spoon, I gently tried the green jelly, a palate cleanser made with cucumbers, lemons and hints of ginger. We all swooned over this refreshing jelly. My first taste of caviar was love at first bite. The Kaluga was the perfect starter caviar for a novice like me. It was mild and buttery with a faint fresh saline taste. I immediately understood why this is a special treat for many people around the world. Each tiny, iridescent morsel lightly seduced and tickled my tongue.
The Kaluga caviar is farmed-raised and imported from China. Alex shared with us Petrossian is one of the few caviar companies regulating it’s own maturity process, soil quality standards and various saline ratios of their farms around the world, including Israel and the United States. Growing caviar is similar to the art of making wine.
The Tsar Imperial Ossetra was the next caviar to taste. It’s boldness was overwhelming, but it’s aphoristic taste was charming. Very round and sensual, the texture was firmer than the Kaluga. Out of all four varieties we tasted, the third species we tried, Shasetra Caviar, is what babies prefer. It has more salinity with a taste of a toasted grain. The final variety, Special Reserve Alverta, was my second favorite at first taste. After lingering on to it for awhile, my palate graduated into preferring this variety over the Kaluga. Grown in California, from white sturgeons, this caviar was buttery and nutty. Since, it’s grows in the United States, the quality is consistent and dependable. In a matter of a few minutes, I had become a lover of caviar.
The next tasting was a plate of smoked salmon. My love for smoked salmon is quite selective. Alex prepared a tasting of three varieties: Classic, Black Sea Spice and Dill Marinated Smoked Salmon. In the center of the plate was salmon roe. He then introduced a new product, Caviar Powder. Through a secret process, caviar is dried without artificial flavors or addictives. Use it similar to fresh black pepper in a grinder and determine the grind from fine to coarse. The next tasting was an impressive risotto, in which we enjoyed grinding caviar powder on top. It was immediately followed by miniature omelets wrapped with another Petrossian’s new product, Papierusse®. The Papierusse® is delicately pressed caviar, similar to pressed seaweed paper used in sushi.
Dessert was a simple, palate cleanser treat of creamy sorbets: Raspberry, tangerine and maybe lemon (forgot the last flavor). It was the perfect ending to an afternoon. Delighted, I left Petrossian and crossed the street for a short walk in Central Park. The day was mild. The cloudy sky whispered rain. The vividly colored leaves danced with a light breeze. I was absolutely delighted of having the second chance to savor caviar. It’s definitely seductive and the experience of the tasting was playful. Originally, I thought the caviar and champagne event was a once in a lifetime experience. This tasting was a bolder second introduction to better caviar. How could it be my last?