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February Caviar Tasting at Caspian Caviar

I have often been heard to remark how the over all quality of farmed caviar has improved over the last 5 or so years. Once upon a time, the quality of samples was a bit of a lottery. Recently, the samples have been consistently good, providing good competition across the range.

However, some samples we received earlier this month were a throw back to earlier, simpler times, when would-be suppliers could be discounted with ease. The farm lay further east than where we normally source and was situated in a lake, which was encouraging. The samples were generous and well packaged – so far so good.

First we tried the Oscietra. It looked good, if a little dark. Sadly it tasted rather like pond weed – distinctly muddy with a strange, vegetative undertone. Next up was the Siberian. It was surprisingly grey in colour which gave cause for optimism. It was the favourite of the samples, but not because it was good – it was simply inoffensive. I found it rather tasteless.

Last up was the Oscietra/Siberian hybrid, which sounded very interesting. Now, in most parts of the animal kingdom, a hybrid can go one of two ways: you either benefit from “hybrid vigour” or you end up with the worst of both worlds, such as when you cross a spaniel with a labrador. This fell firmly into the latter camp. Three of our five tasters refused more than their initial taste. Two bravely soldering on but the tin was far from empty when it hit the bin.

While we all tend to look for different things in our favoured caviars, it is re-assuring to know that there is still some genuinely bad caviar out there for the unwary.

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