Laura has been in the business for more than 20 years and is widely recognised as one of the country’s foremost experts on the product. She founded King’s with her husband four years ago and has seen her business grow from strength to strength in that short space of time. I had never sampled caviar before and when Laura invited me to a specifically prepared tasting event at her head office in Middlesex, I soon realised that appreciating this rare delicacy was a real education.
“True caviar is essentially sturgeon roe and although some companies also produce the roe of salmon and trout this is not considered to be of the same standard. There are a number of varieties ranging from the modestly priced farmed caviars up to the very expensive wild varieties that originate from the Caspian Sea.
“Caviar comes from the Persian word Khaviar, meaning “bearing eggs” and refers to the salted eggs of the sturgeon, a fish that dates back to the Triassic period of history. One of the reasons why caviar is so expensive is because it can take years for the animal to produce its first clutch of eggs. In fact, the king of all sturgeons – the Beluga – only starts to spawn after 18 years!”
There is also a specific way that the food should be enjoyed, with most connoisseurs recommending that silver and metal bowls and any kind of utensils be avoided due to oxidation, which may give the caviar a metallic taste. If not eaten straight off the hand then wooden, glass, mother of pearl or – for the truly decadent – gold utensils should be used.
You can also enjoy caviar served as a canapé, on bread or even sprinkled on salad. There is no right or wrong way of enjoying caviar, other than ensuring it's the way that gives you the most pleasure.
“The 3 main caviar types each have a distinctive taste. Beluga has a subtle taste with a hint of walnut about it and the texture is soft and creamy. Sevruga is much stronger in taste – often credited as having a taste of the sea - although it retains the same texture of its more illustrious cousin. The Oscietra is brownish in colour with a more nutty flavour and has been likened to a mature Brie.”
With stocks of wild caviar heavily on the decline, what of the future - both for Kings and the industry as a whole?
“Interest and uptake of caviar is at an all time high in Britain and as the leading supplier of caviar to the UK we have a duty to ensure that our customers are aware of all the opportunities out there.
We are increasing our interest in farmed caviar and in particular stocking a wonderful Oscietra brand from Aquitaine in France. Compared to the wild, the taste is slightly more subtle, with a somewhat smaller egg but a consistent flavour.
Although we supply some of the UK’s biggest names, we also offer customers the opportunity to purchase from us directly, safe in the knowledge that we sell only the highest quality caviar.”
Those of you interested in learning more should logon to the King’s website at http://www.kingscaviar.co.uk where you will find all the information you need on caviar and how to order it.
George R Vaughan