Of all the foods that we associate with extravagant and luxurious lifestyles caviar must be up there with the best of them. But not just your run of the mill black stuff mind this is Almas Caviar that we are talking about.
Almas translates from the Russian word for diamond, related to the appearance of the glistening pale orbs; ranging from a light amber color to golden to almost white if from an older fish. They are harvested from the very rare albino beluga sturgeons when they are around 80 years old. These Caspian Sea sturgeons have remained relatively unchanged since the dinosaur era around 120 million years ago.
From the Persian ‘khag-avar’, or ‘roe generator’, caviar has been tucked into since at least 1100BC and is mentioned in Ancient Greek and Roman literature. But the almas caviar has always been prized. It was once the preserve of the Iranian Shah and anyone else found eating it would have had their hands chopped off. The Russian Tsars were also great lovers of the almas and it was they who introduced it to the European royal courts in the 16thC.
It is said that the older the fish, and thus the paler the caviar, the more exquisite the taste. Described as having an elegant flavor that is light and delicate but that is also subtly creamy. On crushing the eggs against the roof of the mouth they are said to release a perfume of the sea.
As with all caviar production, the price reflects the painstaking effort required to produce these jars of fish eggs. They begin by sterilizing all equipment that will be used during the process, next the sturgeon are caught and are thoroughly washed before being anaesthetized. Their egg sacs are removed and delicately opened to release the caviar inside and this is when the caviar experts’ knowledge is really called upon as they are graded according to the size, color and quality of the eggs. A soupcon of salt is added and they are left to drain before finally being packaged and manually sealed to ensure that the air is forced out.
But the scarce almas caviar or diamond caviar comes with a diamond price. It is sold by Caviarhouse-Prunies from Piccadilly in London UK in its very own 24 carat gold tin for the princely sum of just $25,000 a go. Even if you don’t go in for the extra expense of a gold tin it’s not cheap either, available online at londonfinefoods.co.uk for 7oz it is a mere $9,850. It seems it wasn’t the goose that lay the golden egg it was the albino beluga sturgeon.
Photos courtesy of Londonfinefoods, flickr tursitte and sturgeonaquafarm