Caviar is known for being one of the most lavish exotic foods out there, and Almas caviar is by far at the top of the fancy-food chain. Reaching up to $35,000 for just 2.2 pounds, it is the most expensive caviar and one of the top 10 most expensive foods in the world.
Almas Caviar is the egg (or, more accurately, the roe) of the rare, wild albino beluga sturgeon. This fish is only found in Iran in the cleanest and least polluted parts of the South Caspian Sea, and the caviar is collected when they are over 60. They can live up to 100 years and generally only spawn once or twice during that time.
History of Caviar
Contrary to popular belief, the official term Caviar is not simply “fish eggs”. While the roe (eggs) of other types of fish are certainly still considered a popular delicacy, they are not caviar. Caviar refers to salt-cured roe from wild sturgeons from the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. The word caviar originates from the Turkish khavyar, first appearing in English print in 1591.
The earliest record we have of caviar is from Aristotle himself, who wrote about Sturgeon eggs in the 4th century BC. However, it was Russia that truly turned the tide, launching caviar into the world of luxury. A single jar of caviar was the equivalent of 100 sheep in the 2nd century BC, making it an exclusive upper-classman delicacy.
However, there was once a time when America’s waters were full of Sturgeon. It was common for caviar to be served or even given out for free at bars and saloons, in an effort to boost sales by making the patrons very thirsty.
Then, in 1873 a German immigrant named Henry Schacht took advantage of this and started a caviar business fishing in the Delaware River in New Jersey. He began exporting all over the world, and by the 19th century, America was producing almost 90% of the world’s caviar.
Because of the caviar boom in the 19th century, sturgeon were fished to near extinction, which only increased their value. The lack of sturgeon also meant people turned to alternative fish roe for their caviar fixes, such as salmon, lumpfish, and whitefish. Many countries today have placed legal protection over sturgeon, including the US who, in 1998 closed all commercial fishing for Atlantic sturgeon.
Albino Beluga Sturgeon
Today, sturgeon farms are popping up all across the world. Countries including France, Italy, China, and the US are actively trying to preserve the population and maintain the world’s caviar trade. Each specific type of Sturgeon has a different process for preparing its caviar.
The Albino Beluga is extremely rare in the wild, only 1 in every 6000, so farmers have taken to genetic engineering to breed the fish artificially. The caviar from older fish is superior, so keeping them alive, happy, and healthy until they are old enough to produce can be challenging.
Beluga can reach up to 4-5 meters and weigh over a ton. Their Caviar has an amber glow to it, almost as if it’s burning on the inside. It’s been called the Gold of the Sea and is also sometimes packaged in pure gold only adding to its value. The word Almas comes from Russia, meaning Diamond.
What Does Almas Caviar Taste Like?
Unlike regular caviar or its fish roe cousins, Almas Caviar does not have the slightest bit of fishy taste or smell. Almas Caviar has been described as creamy, buttery, and slightly nutty. The rich flavor is due to the careful salting process. The texture should be fresh and bouncy, as each individual egg is sorted through for the best ones.
To maintain its flavor, Almas Caviar (and most Sturgeon Caviars) should never be eaten with a silver spoon. It causes the eggs to oxidize and as a result, taste like metal. Because of this, and to make it all the fancier, caviar is typically served with a spoon made of pearl or gold.
As one of the world’s most luxurious delicacies, it’s no surprise that the preparation, serving, and eating of caviar also comes with specific guidelines. For instance, you swallow caviar, don’t chew it.
Caviar is typically served in very small portions, and it’s important that if you’re at a party or large gathering you don’t make an exception to this rule. Just a few small spoons full of caviar is considered appropriate.
Typically served in a small glass or crystal dish on top of a bed of ice, it’s important that you very gently scoop the caviar out with a non-metal spoon. Any broken eggs should be discarded to preserve the flavor of the rest.
If Caviar is being served as Hors d’oeuvres, usually on canapes, it’s acceptable to use your fingers and place the whole thing into your mouth if you can.
Another tradition that has been passed on by caviar connoisseurs is taste-testing different types of caviar by placing a small pinch on the top of your hand, between your thumb and pointer finger.
How is Almas Caviar Served?
As stated above, caviar is typically eaten in very small servings. You’ll often see it as a topping for bread, toast, crackers, or served as a side alongside small potatoes, lemon wedges, or sliced eggs. Sometimes served with multiple kinds of caviar for tasting, this is where the etiquette comes into play.
Mother of Pearl dishware is commonly used to serve caviar, though gold is a more appropriate choice for Almas Caviar. Almas Caviar pairs well with an ice-cold glass of vodka, or alternatively, french champagne.
If you thought caviar in its general term was rare and luxurious, it’s obvious that Almas Caviar is even more so. The waitlist to be able to purchase even a couple of small spoonfuls at this time is 4-5 years, even if you had the money.
It’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the common folk, and even the rich don’t have the ability to get it in large amounts. It’s said that less than 10 kilograms are sold each year worldwide. At this rate, it really is rarer than gold.