USA On-line Caviar Tasting
Bailliage of Washington DC
Washington, DC, November 18, 2020
Thanks to the Caviar Company of San Francisco
" a wonderful evening which was delicious, entertaining and educational "

We welcomed the holiday season in grand Chaîne style with an evening focused exclusively on caviar and Champagne. Over 30 members and guests gathered on Zoom as Petra Bergstein of San Francisco’s The Caviar Company led us on a fascinating, indulgent exploration of eight caviars.

The Caviar Company shipped their delicacies overnight directly to participants. The Bailliage shipped a bottle of Champagne from its cellar making this a geography-free event. Members, family, and friends in locations ranging from Florida to Washington State were thrilled to share a memorable evening in the best Chaîne tradition of “camaraderie of the (virtual) table.”

Bailli Judy Mazza opened the evening warmly welcoming guests, including new members who had joined during the pandemic. She gave a special welcome to Bailli Délégué Bertrand de Boutray at his home in Seattle, and Cheryl Kenny, Bailli Provincial of Southwest, in Houston.

The Caviar Company was founded in 2015. Purveyors of the highest quality caviar sustainable sourcing is central to their business. Petra Bergstein’s expertise and passion for caviar was evident as we journeyed through the tasting. Her presentation was delicious, fun, and informative about the history, rituals, and modern business of caviar.

Before we opened the first caviar, Vice-Échanson Ellen Kirsh introduced the 2012 Le Mesnil Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs she had selected.

With flutes filled Petra began with a quick lesson on caviar tasting. Traditionally it is placed on the back of the hand using a mother-of-pearl (or other non-metallic) spoon. Metal can taint the flavour. The caviar is closely observed looking for a uniform egg size. A portion of caviar should be from one fish, even if it is the same species. Texture is central to the enjoyment. One should break the eggs with the tongue on the roof of the mouth rather than chewing with the teeth.

Petra shared the history of accompaniments to caviar, which was first shipped from Russia to Paris before the advent of cool transportation. Strong accompaniments - for example, capers, onions, lemon - were needed to mask the spoiled product. However, while traditional, today these will overwhelm good caviar. She also explained that the tradition of chopped egg originated (and persists) as a way to “bulk up” a small quantity of caviar. For this evening, at least, there was no need for that!

The tasting proceeded with four pairs of caviar.
- Hackleback and Paddlefish
- Classic White and Royal White Sturgeon
- Siberian Sturgeon and Kaluga
- Russian Osetra and Imperial Golden Russian

Petra answered numerous questions sharing insights. The Caviar Company caviars are unpasteurized containing only the eggs and salt necessitating proper refrigeration and prompt consuming.

At the end of the tasting, Bailli Judy Mazza thanked Petra for a wonderful evening which was delicious, entertaining and educational.

Article based on a detailed write-up prepared by Bill Babash, Vice-Chargé de Presse