Creating Your Own “Caviar Flight”
Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and for many that means enjoying caviar with someone special. We thought we’d share some ideas to stimulate those who want to do something traditional – and unique – to help celebrate. Interestingly, it isn’t easy to define what a “flight” of food – be it caviar, cheese, or wine and now even beers – technically “is” outside of a selection of multiple items of commonality . But one could assume that the word itself was selected for a more root meaning – a progression, like a “flight” of stairs. “Top Flight” suggests that the final selection would be the superior tasting selection. We reached out to our friend, the noted cookbook author James Peterson, for his insight: “A flight should increase in complexity and/or intensity of flavor. Or, put simply, save the best for last.” Jim’s view certainly supports this approach. Ultimately, caviar flights can be created based on preferences, availability, budget and creativity. A “flight” best succeeds in its appeal when there is some continuity of theme – and when the particular flavors are selected to compliment another food or beverage. Caviar Flights are traditional to the days when wild caviars such as Beluga were plentiful and inexpensive, and chefs and aficionados alike could compose a selection of multiple varieties to tantalize and showcase their different flavors and colors. We see them less and less on most menus these days, with caviar presented more often as an a la carte supplemental offering, or incorporated as a component or garnish with an actual dish. This should not restrain the “epicurious” from creating a caviar flight – the very point is to enjoy and compare different tastes. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful when crafting your selections:
1. Create a GroupingWhile certainly any caviar selections are welcome to most aficionados (and your budget may dictate your selections), it might be a more interesting experience to create a commonality among the caviars in your flight. Consider these options:
- Different Selections of the Same Species: for example Osetra Caviar. Different harvesters produce unique flavors, even when the species is the same. Try a combination. Or instead of caviars (eggs produced by a sturgeon) put together a selection of roes – Spoonbill, Hackleback, Salmon, Golden Whitefish, etc.
- By Country of Origin: create a collection of imported caviars, or select roes and caviars harvested domestically here in the U.S.
- By Color: build a visual effect by choosing caviars and roes of different colors, from the vibrant orange-red of salmon roe to the dark grey of Osetra or Siberian. Colored Tobiko (Flying Fish roe) are also visually stimulating.
- Farm Raised versus Wild Harvested: with the advent of the closure of most wild sturgeon globally, few choices remain here, but Salmon Roe, domestic Spoonbill and Hackleback roes are still taken from the wild – build a flight that includes some of these along with the farm raised Californian White Sturgeon and domestic Siberian caviars.