Caviar Commandments — How to Buy (Without Going Broke) and Eat It

Hint: Drop that fancy spoon.

Photo: Emily Hagen

As caviar becomes increasingly sustainable and accessible, we're thrilled to ditch the old ways — Champagne, stuffy white tablecloths, and mother-of-pearl spoons. Instead, we're following the guidance of our favorite restaurant pros on how to embrace caviar as a choose-your-own-adventure that's as fancy or quotidian as you want it to be.

1. Thou Shalt Purchase Sustainable Caviar.

Choose caviar from farmed sturgeon, which Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch deems the best choice for sustainability. Not sure where to start? We're big fans of Pearl Street Caviar's Ossetra Caviar ($77 for 30 grams) and Island Creek Oysters' Sterling Two Color White Sturgeon Caviar ($150 for 50 grams).

2. Thou Shalt Not Assume the Most Expensive is the Best.

Quality is not necessarily determined by cost; where and when the salty fish eggs were harvested is a much better measure when sizing up the best caviar. The purveyor should offer information such as country of origin, species, and year of harvest. Your source should also reveal details about the water quality, and whether growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides were used.

3. Thou Shalt Give Up Thy Mother-Of-Pearl Spoons.

"A pocketknife works just fine [to serve caviar], as does a bag of chips," says Michael Passmore of Passmore Caviar. Most people already have perfect utensils at home that are unlikely to impact the taste of caviar: Stainless steel, glass, wooden, and even plastic spoons will get the job done.

Caitlin Bensel

4. Thou Shalt Treat Caviar As a Condiment.

Caviar's briny flavor plays beautifully against other foods, adding a saline pop. Chefs are putting it on hot dogs, egg salad sandwiches, and even pancakes. New York City–based restaurateur and owner of newly launched CaviAIR, Ariel Arce, likes to keep a tin in the fridge and scoop it onto roast chicken or crispy potatoes.

5. Thou Shalt Look Past the Champagne-Caviar Pairing.

Arce suggests exploring caviar with dry, crisp white wines like Trebbiano. She's also fond of pairing it with sparkling teas that capture the essence of flavor without much sugar, like Minna's Citrus Black Tea ($28 for 12 cans).

Caitlin Bensel

6. Thou Shalt Eat Caviar for Dessert.

Gramercy Tavern pastry chef, Miro Uskokovic, garnishes desserts with caviar: "I finish almost every dish with a salty component, and caviar offsets sweetness well." He suggests trying it on vanilla ice cream or with white chocolate.

Got Caviar Questions?

Call the CaviAIR hotline to chat with Federico Guillermo Arce Jr., Ariel's dad and a caviar aficionado: 844-4-CAVIAIR.

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