Where to Get Sustainable Freshwater California-Grown Caviar
When you think of the careers a former Marine from North Texas might possibly opt into, caviar farmer probably doesn’t spring to mind. But that’s what Michael Passmore, together with his wife Vandy, is doing at his 84-acre sustainable aquaculture farm near Sacramento.
Passmore had zero intention of producing caviar when he moved to California to pursue a law degree in 2005. But his neighbor happened to be aquaculture guru Ken Beer; soon Passmore had excavated eight ponds and was farming black bass, catfish, and, crucially, sturgeon. But, he says, “We never got into it to do caviar. It wasn’t exactly something I ate. But our chef customers kept saying, hey, you’ve got sturgeon, why aren’t you doing caviar? So we thought, well, why don’t we salt these damn things.”
Today, top chefs on both coasts serve Passmore’s caviar. Kyle Connaughton of three-Michelin-star SingleThread says, “The Passmores have such a commitment to quality and sustainability—it’s been incredible working with such a unique product made with such care here in California.”
Best of all? Last fall, Passmore started selling his sturgeon caviars and trout roes to consumers as well.
Passmore Ranch caviars and roes are available individually or through the ranch’s new Caviar Club.
Ranch Reserve, the top of the Passmore line, comes exclusively from estate-grown white sturgeon. It’s ultra-silky and gray-green in hue, with firm eggs that pop deliciously in the mouth. ($129/30 grams)
Passmore Select also comes from Passmore’s estate-grown sturgeon. More black than gray-green, these eggs are luscious and more buttery, with a bit broader, less saline flavor. ($94/30 grams)
Circle 41 white sturgeon caviar is sourced from sustainable partner farmers around Sacramento. Somewhat saltier, it offers excellent quality; it’s a great introduction to the Passmores’ work. ($49/30 grams)
Steelhead Roe's large, brilliantly orange spheres burst saltily on the tongue. Passmore offers four different cures right now—Classic, Mirin, Truffle, and Whisky—but plans for more in the future. ($13/30 grams)