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5 Things You Need to Know About Caviar
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Want to dine like a pro? Each month, we ask local experts to share the inside scoop about a particular food or beverage. Use their tips to eat and drink better, whether you’re indulging at home or in a restaurant.
Lindsay Howard loves when people get excited about sustainably raised products. After working as wine director at Island Creek Oyster Bar (ICOB) in Kenmore Square—where she curated a gorgeous list of bottles, many of which were organic or biodynamic—Howard joined the team at Island Creek Oysters, a leading aquaculture business based in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1995 by Skip Bennett, who later helped establish ICOB restaurants in Kenmore Square and Burlington. Howard, who sells to Boston chefs and retailers, is crazy about caviar, one of the company’s hottest delicacies.
1. Caviar comes from sturgeon. Everything else is roe.
“Caviar comes from sturgeon, a pretty awesome prehistoric fish,” explains Howard. “Otherwise, [eggs] are fish roe.” There are 27 species of sturgeon, she adds, and you might be familiar with prized varieties like beluga, osetra, and sevruga. But other species, including white sturgeon, are also in demand.
2. Happy fish can be raised on farms.
When you hear “farmed fish,” don’t assume the worst. ICO works with trusted partners like Sterling Caviar in Elverta, California, and Marshallberg Farm in Smyrna, North Carolina. Both undertake best practices that promote the health of the sturgeon. “They keep fish super happy and not under stress,” says Howard.
3. Quality caviar is expensive for a reason, but more affordable than ever.
ICO’s White Sturgeon Caviar is $95 for a 30-gram (approximately 1-ounce) tin. It takes five to seven years before sturgeon can produce caviar-worthy eggs. That’s a lot of care and feeding—even before eggs are harvested, salted, aged, and packaged.
4. Trust your palate to find a favorite.
Howard says flavors depend on the species of sturgeon and how eggs are aged. She loves that caviar can taste salty, buttery, nutty, earthy, or mushroomy.
5. There’s no wrong way to eat caviar.
Scoop caviar with potato chips, garnish a raw oyster, or place a dab on the side of your hand near your thumb and pointer finger and slurp away. “We want to make it more of an everyday luxury,” enthuses Howard. “Don’t be afraid to experiment.”
Purchase caviar online at shop.islandcreekoysters.com or at retailers including Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge and South End, and Bacco’s Wine + Cheese, Boston.