Corporate Flight Attendant Training 101: Caviar Service
This is a post by guest author Dietmar Duller, founder and course leader of Training Solutions. Dietmar was asked to contribute to this blog because of his expertise in business aviation flight attendant training in the Middle East and Europe. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Dietmar’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
Eating caviar is common among owners of private jets and business aviation passengers. As this luxury food item is quite expensive, corporate flight attendants should know how to store, prepare, and serve caviar with the correct utensils, corresponding accompaniments, and beverages chosen to enhance the delicacy’s flavor and the passengers’ enjoyment.
The following is an overview of what you need to know when serving caviar:
1. What is caviar?
The term "caviar" is used to describe the world’s most expensive eggs from the sturgeon fish. The eggs constitute about 10% of the female’s body weight. After they have been removed from the fish, they are washed, sieved, and soaked in brine before being drained and packed into tins.
The best and highest-quality of caviar, representing 90% of the world’s production, comes from the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake, located between Europe and Asia, Russia and Iran. These regions are also the main producers.
2. What are the different types of Russian caviar?
All types of caviar are named after the female sturgeon, and the three main caviar types are:
The Beluga is the largest sturgeon, which produces the largest and most fragile grains, taking twenty years for the female to mature and produce eggs and giving the sturgeon a weight of up to 2,205 lbs. (1,000 kg). The Beluga sturgeon produces the world’s most expensive caviar.
Sevruga is the smallest and most productive sturgeon. It takes seven years for the female to produce its eggs, which are dark gray or black in color.
Osetra is usually the caviar with the best quality and is easily found. The osetra sturgeon produces evenly-sized, golden fish eggs. As Osetra caviar comes from deep sea levels, it has a strong and nutty, yet still mild, taste.
3. What does "Malossol" mean on a tin of caviar?
Often you will also find the term "Malossol" on Russian caviar tins. It means that the caviar has been mildly salted.
4. How do I store caviar?
Caviar has to be stored in the refrigerator. The ideal temperature is between 32 and 39°F (0 and 4°C).
Never keep caviar in the freezer at a temperature lower than 25°F (-4°C) as freezing will affect the taste and may destroy the delicate texture of the caviar.
Caviar is often sold in sizes of 4.5 ounces (125 grams) and 9 ounces (250 grams), but can be sold in larger quantities.
Unopened, a container of fresh caviar may be kept in the refrigerator for up to eight weeks. Once opened it is highly perishable and should be eaten right away.
5. What utensils do I use for serving caviar?
In order to get the real taste of caviar, you have to use special utensils. Caviar knives and spoons are often made of mother of pearl, horn, or wood. Some may even be 24-karat gold.
Silver and metal utensils must be avoided as they can oxidize, affecting and contaminating the delicate flavor of the caviar.
Caviar spoons are used to take the caviar out of its container, and caviar knives are used to put the caviar on toast or "blinis" (small Russian wheat pancakes).
6. How do I serve caviar?
Caviar can be served in the metal tins it comes in, and each type of caviar comes in a differently colored tin. You will find Beluga caviar in a blue tin, Sevruga caviar in a red tin, and Osetra caviar in a yellow tin. Most people prefer to have the caviar served cold in the tin or in a glass jar. In either situation, the container is placed on a bed of crushed ice.
Below are some general serving tips:
a. Remove the caviar from the refrigerator 15 minutes before eating. The lid should be removed only at the last moment.
b. Caviar can be presented in the tin it’s packed in, and most people like to have the tin served in a glass bowl on a bed of crushed ice.
c. Common accompaniments include sour cream or creme fraiche, hard-boiled eggs (yolks and egg white should be chopped separately), finely sliced shallots, parsley, and blinis or sliced toast.
Russians eat caviar with sour cream and blinis, while Eastern Europeans often eat caviar with potatoes and sour cream.
Caviar can also be served with many other food items such as on canapes, on a soft-boiled egg, or on oysters. Purists will eat the caviar by itself to enjoy the taste of it.
Caviar should never taste fishy or overly salty. Connoisseurs of caviar look for shiny, fine-grained egg globules.
Caviar service should be simple and elegant.
7. What beverages do I serve with caviar?
Ice-cold vodka, preferably from Russia, is the classic accompaniment with caviar, but many people also drink dry Champagne. The passenger’s choice of beverage is a matter of personal taste.
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