Long revered as a luxury food, caviar was first cultivated in Europe and North America during the late 19th century, when fledgling aquafarms were established. Today, sustainable aquaculture operations produce top-quality caviars, providing an environmentally friendly alternative to harvesting roe from endangered wild sturgeon species. Prized by chefs around the world, these premium caviars are every bit as delicious as the ones from wild sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea.
Each variety of caviar has a distinctive flavor and texture. Whichever one is deemed best depends on personal taste rather than on the size of the eggs or the price.
Some types of caviar are designated malossol, Russian for "little salt," because they are processed with just a hint of salt to elicit their superb flavor.
Refrigeration is essential to maintain caviars freshness: for up to four weeks in the unopened tin and three days once opened. Since deluxe caviar will spoil if exposed to temperatures above 40°F for more than a few hours, caviar should always be served from the tin or a small glass bowl, nestled in a large bowl of ice. (Displaying the lid nearby will help guests identify and compare each variety.) We recommend serving caviar with a spoon made of natural horn or mother-of-pearl because neither imparts an off-flavor or affects caviar's color. Avoid metal spoons, which impart a metallic taste.
The world's finest caviar is best enjoyed simply, with little adornment. We recommend presenting it with thinly cut triangles of toast points and unsalted butter or crème fraîche. You can also serve it Russian style with blini (tiny buckwheat pancakes) and sour cream. Avoid serving caviar with anything that will overwhelm its delicate flavor and texture, such as chopped onion, hard-cooked eggs or crackers.