In an atelier on Rue de l’Arsenal in Paris, a bevy of chefs huddles together for a sumptuous caviar breakfast followed by a tasting of black caviar ‘à la royale’ style, licking briny pearls of Baeri, Kristal and Oscietra off the back of their hands. The French, after all, invented the ‘à la royale’ way of tasting caviar by first warming it on the hand, and at La Manufacture Kaviari, it’s no different.
Caviar production may have originated in Russia, and indeed the country became a major caviar trader by the early 20th century. But with the population of wild sturgeons in the Caspian Sea decimated by overfishing and poaching since the fall of the Soviet Union, the 2008 ban on sturgeon fishing in the Caspian Sea has spawned a globally decentralised industry of caviar aquaculture with Italy, France and China leading the pack..
Caviar from China accounts for about 30% of the world’s production, and its products inevitably land upon the tables of some of the most coveted Michelin-star restaurants around the world, including a clutch located as far east as Singapore.
At the three-Michelin-starred Les Amis, Singapore, which serves a staggering 180-200kg of caviar annually, a good 80% is a Kaviari-branded product named Kristal. A hybrid of Acipenser Schrenckii and Huso Dauricus sturgeon species, the sturgeons that produce Kristal caviar are farmed in China and selected with French expertise courtesy of Kaviari, a Paris-based caviar refiner and one-time exclusive importer of wild Iranian caviar in France. The Kristal caviar comes in dazzling shades of deep-golden to dark brown, with plump, briny and buttery roe that ends with a clean finish on the palate. Available year-round, it is French executive chef Sebastien Lepinoy’s preferred caviar for his classical French menu headlined by the all-time signature of ‘cold angel hair pasta with caviar’.