A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of attending a gourmet tasting at a new specialty shop and cafe in Royal Palm Place, Gourmetphile. My friend, Denise Righetti, owner of our local Savor Our City Food Tours assembled a concierge group to learn about, sample and indulge in some of the finest caviar on the market.
GourmetPhile is a gathering place for foodies, chefs and connoisseurs. Proprietors, Blair and Zhanna Leavell, welcomed us to their new specialty foods market and described how our evening would proceed, starting with an informal informational session and sampling of various caviars and sparkling wine, followed by a cheese and charcuterie platter and some sweet nibbles as well. Well, ok, twist my arm…
We were introduced to Joann Economou, an enthusiastic representative for Petrossian Caviar, who began our education with the basics… Caviar is the salted roe of sturgeon, of which there are 27 varieties. Though overfishing and pollution of the Caspian Sea have driven sturgeon to near extinction, sturgeon farming has allowed production to continue.
Petrossian has exacting standards on how to raise the sturgeon in order to produce the finest roe. Techniques like changing the water in the massive tanks every 10 days and moving the fish to larger and larger tanks as they continue to grow make the difference in texture and flavor. It’s this attention to detail that has gained Petrossian a reputation for exacting quality in an industry that is frequently fraught with imposters and wannabes. They are the largest importer of caviar in the United States, selling 50 tons per year.
The three varieties we sampled were:
Tsar Imperial Ossetra – with a nutty, fruity flavor and firm juicy beads. The color ranges from light to warm brown and the eggs are harvested from the most mature sturgeon.
Alverta President – come from mature white sturgeon farmed in the cold waters of Northern California. The eggs are a medium firmer bead with a beautiful golden brown hue.
Tsar Imperial Shassetra Schrencki – Farmed in the clear waters of Thousand Island Lake in China, the medium size eggs of this caviar are light to dark golden brown with a briny flavor of dry fruit and toasted grains.
We sipped an Argentinian Sparkling Wine as Joann continued her discussion on the specifics of appropriate serving ware for caviar (gold or mother of pearl – never silver as the roe will react with the metal and ruin the flavor) and various embellishments like creme fraiche, chopped egg and onions, not to mention traditional blini which act as a pillowy delivery method to get those precious eggs from your plate to your mouth!
The next sampling was of salmon roe and trout roe. The salmon roe had large beads with a firm texture that popped in your mouth. The flavor was slightly more briny than the caviar and I loved it.
The trout roe, with comparatively smaller beads than the salmon, still sported that gorgeous tangerine color and firm texture. With just a hint of fishiness in the flavor, my dining partners and I agreed that it was really fun to eat. Happily, the salmon and trout roe were both affordable options for a more moderate budget.
In addition to the caviar, we were treated to a goats milk brie with heather honey, truffle-veined aged cheeses with pressed salami and tastings of duck foie gras with amarena cherries. Yeah, this food blogging thing is tough…
After the tastings, I poked around the shop, which included gorgeous gourmet cheese displays, a separate wine room and fine chocolates room, as well as rows and rows of quality specialty and hard-to-source items. I’m definitely going back for some of the salmon and trout roe, plus those amazing amarena cherries. GourmetPhile is the place to shop for your foodie friends and relatives this holiday season – and you can order online — but if you’re close, I’d urge you to visit this East Boca gem!
There are so many delectable gourmet items to choose from, you’ll be hard pressed to make a decision, but be sure to use the card below to get 20% OFF your first purchase!!!