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June 17, 2013

Caviar

As taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caviar 

Salmon roe (left) and sturgeon caviar (right) served with mother of pearl caviar spoons to avoid tainting the taste of the caviar.Caviar, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, is a product made from salt-cured fish-eggs of the Acipenseridae family. The roe can be "fresh" (non-pasteurized) or pasteurized, with pasteurization reducing its culinary and economic value.[1]

Traditionally the term caviar refers only to roe from wild sturgeon in theCaspian and Black Seas[2] (Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga caviars). Depending on the country, caviar may also be used to describe the roe of other fish such as salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish, whitefish,[3] and other species of sturgeon.[4][5]

Caviar is considered a luxury delicacy and is eaten as a garnish or a spread. In 2012, caviar sold for $2,500 per pound, or $3,000 to $5,500 per kilo.

Terminology

According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, roe from any fish not belonging to the Acipenseriformes species (including Acipenseridae, or sturgeon sensu stricto, and Polyodontidaeor paddlefish) are not caviar, but "substitutes of caviar."[7] This position is also adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,[8] the World Wide Fund for Nature,[9] the United States Customs Service,[10]and France.[11]

The term is also used to describe dishes that are perceived to resemble caviar, such as "eggplant caviar" (made from eggplant or aubergine) and "Texas caviar" (made from black-eyed peas).Ossetra caviar, salmon creme fraiche, potato shallot croquette, basil oil, egg whites and yolks

Varieties

The four main types of caviar are Beluga, Sterlet, Ossetra, and Sevruga. The rarest and costliest is from beluga sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Wild caviar production was suspended in Russia between 2008 and 2011 to allow wild stocks to replenish. Azerbaijan and Iran also allow the fishing of sturgeon off their coasts. Beluga caviar is prized for its soft, extremely large (pea-size) eggs. It can range in color from pale silver-gray to black. It is followed by the small golden sterlet caviar which is rare and was once reserved for Russian, Iranian and Austrian royalty. Next in quality is the medium-sized, gray to brownish osetra (ossetra), and the last in the quality ranking is smaller, gray sevruga caviar.

Cheaper alternatives have been developed from the roe of whitefish and the North Atlantic salmon. In the wake of overfishing, the harvest and sale of black caviar was banned in Russia in 2007 but resumed in 2010, limited to 150 kg (330 lbs).

The Bitch is Back: History of Veuve Cliquot Champagne


clip_image001Back in 1982 or so I noticed a sign at Mustards restaurant in Napa Valley reading “The Bitch is back.” When I inquired as to the meaning, I was told that after an absence of six months, Veuve Clicquot Champagne was once again available in stock. That was my introduction into “Widow” Clicquot’s wine.

Now leap-frog a few months: I was watching the movieCasablanca for the thousandth time when, low and behold, I focused on this scene: Claude Rains, playingCaptain Louis Renault invites Paul Henreid playing Victor Laszlo to sit at a table with Conrad Veidt playing German Major Strasser…Captain Renault orders for the table….”Waiter, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, 26.” Now, champagne that stars in one of the greatest movies ever needs to be taken seriously.

But let’s digress for a moment. Champagne can only be called Champagne if it is from Champagne, France, period; all others are wines with their “noses” pressed firmly against the window overlooking the wine wishing well. Grapes from Corinth grapes from the Champagne region are not used for making Champagne. Corinth grapes are small seedless grapes that were tagged Champagne grapes becausclip_image003e they were once depicted in a photo alongside a Champagne glass.

Generally the grapes used to make Champagne are Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Champagne grapes are never used for making champagne.

Now, back to Veuve Clicquot. As you might have gathered veuve is French for "widow," and Ms. Clicquot, maiden name Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, became a widow in 1805 after her husband François Clicquot went to the great vineyard in the sky.

Madame Clicquot made strides in establishing her wine in royal courts throughout Europe, notably that of Imperial Russia. By the time she died in 1866 Veuve Clicquot had become both a substantial champagne house and a respected brand easily recognized by its distinctive bright yellow labels.

clip_image005Since 1987 the Veuve Clicquot company has been part of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy group of luxury brands and today owns a controlling interest in New Zealand's Cloudy Bay Vineyards.

But with so much fine Champagne waiting for me to open, why I am focusing on Veuve Clicquot? Easy, for without her input we might never have had champagne. Widow Clicquot is credited with the process of disgorgement refinement that made Champagne-making both efficient and economic. Allez, the riddling rack was born. This allowed collecting the spent yeast and sediments in the neck of the bottle.

The riddling rack was on an angle with circular holes, and the rack allowed a bottle of wine to be stuck sur point or upside down. Every day a cellar assistant would gently shake and twist the bottle (a process called remuage) to encourage wine solids to settle to the bottom. When this was completed, the cork was carefully removed, the sediments ejected, and a small replacement dose of sweetened wine added.

Now, along with that fine Bordeaux in my ever-expanding picnic, pack an ice chest with a great bottle of the Widow’s labor and I can only hope you have 2 glasses…

Until we drink again.

(c) Mo Sussman

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