June 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts June 1998 Current Issue
June 1998
Short Cuts:


Along with other revitalized trends of yesteryear (cigars, martinis, bell-bottoms), caviar is hip again. Importers of the delicate eggs report steadily increasing sales, restaurants are seeing a surge in demand, and those looking to capitalize on the trend are opening caviar bars in cities like Las Vegas and New York, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Why the rush on roe? In today's fast-paced world, it seems more people are going out of their way to relax and indulge in life's small luxuries. And this is one of the finer things that won't cause cancer or offensive odors, or leave a lingering headache or upset stomach the morning after.

Connoisseurs say the world's best caviar comes from three types of sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, bordered by Russia and Iran. Beluga, from the largest sturgeon, is a very large (pea-size) egg. This rare caviar, light to dark gray in color, has a sweet, delicate flavor - and a hefty price tag (4 oz., $129 to $196, based on prices from three importers). Osetra is nutty or fruity in flavor, with large brown to gold-colored eggs. (4 oz., $75 to $95) Sevruga looks and tastes a lot like beluga, but with smaller eggs that range in color from gray to black. (4 oz., $65 to $75).

"Caviar really speaks to hedonism," says Philip Kendall, vice president of food and beverage for Hyatt Hotels Corp. "Everybody knows it's expensive, so it makes an incredible statement." Kendall says caviar is ideal for smaller, celebratory events. To stretch it for a crowd, he suggests drizzling caviar cream sauce over a main dish, such as fish, breast of duck or even pasta.

Caviar should be served very cold, ideally in a bowl set on ice, with buckwheat blini, toast points or unsalted crackers and traditional garnishes: lemon wedges, sour cream, minced onion, and hard-boiled egg whites and yolks.

Search the Internet for the word "caviar" to find importers and specialty shops.


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