Receiving a last minute invite to the Emirates Palace, a phrase we never thought we’d be saying a year or two ago (#UAEProblems). Out and About UAE found ourselves at a VIP caviar masterclass at the hotel’s signature restaurant Sayad.
Sayad translates as ‘fisherman’ in Arabic and there is seemingly no place better suited to host said caviar masterclass. Much like the palace itself the venue is a space of elegance and sophistication. In keeping with it’s underwater theme, fishtanks full of light bubbles and roaming fish fill the walls, highlighted by subtle turquoise lighting, floral blooms in blue and sealife inspired mosaic floors.
Having always been perturbed by caviar, a daunting item associated with the super rich. We’ve been known to enjoy the odd mouthful every once in a while (usually at brunch) but in all honesty we had no idea the correct way to eat it or how to differentiate the quality of the product. Luckily for us, the charismatic Nicholas Narsavidze was on hand to demystify these delicate pearls. Narsavidze is a partner at AmStur Caviar – one of the world’s leading caviar purveyors – specialising in these opulent delicate pearls of ‘gray gold.’
With free-flowing Laurent-Perrier champagne and a delightful cold almond soup topped with caviar, we settled in for an informative masterclass. During this informal talk we learnt that the majority of caviar is traded from Georgia on the black sea but the brand that Nicholas and the team at Dubai’s AmStur (American Sturgeon) represent, comes from an ancient species of sturgeon (over 175 million years old) found only in West Coast America, from the Aleutian Islands to central California.
Hearing Narsavidze talk so passionately about caviar certainly provided us with a new found respect for the dish and we learned some interesting facts. First off, how do tell a good tasting caviar? It should never be fishy, muddy or have a strong metal taste. Instead, premium caviar should have a light buttery flavor that seemingly melts in the mouth. For this to happen it’s imperative that the white sturgeon from which this caviar’s produced is raised within its natural habitat. Changing this can have dramatic repercussions on the flavor and the quality of the product.
With these fine pearls selling for tens of thousands of dollars, Caviar remains a culinary treasure. So how does one correctly eat caviar? The majority would expect it upon a blini (Russian pancake) but this is not necessarily correct. Instead, a small mother of pearl teaspoon of caviar should be placed on the basal joint of the thumb. As the skin slowly warms the cured roe, it allows the orbs to separate. So placed in the mouth, consumers should not focus on the flavours. Instead, try and pop each individual pearl with the tip of the tongue, before breathing heavily through the nose. This should provide a lucious explosion on the palette and once you’ve sampled good caviar, you’ll certainly be able to recognize the elements that make it special.
AmStur caviar is supplied to 35 high-end hotels and restaurants in the United Arab Emirates and is currently only available in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. The caviar is graded on a number of qualities, with the Imperial being the rarest for its smaller golden pearls, of which only a small amount is made each year. The Select has an amazing flavour that’s more nutty than buttery and far more robust. While the Empress (our personal favorite) is the world’s first organic black caviar deriving from sturgeon raised in their native habitat.
With AmStur’s rich caviar only currently available via premium account (restaurants), these caviar connoisseur’s have promised that a retail option will be coming soon to their website. Representing luxury caviar direct from the farm to the table and delivered by your very own caviar chauffeur, knowledgable in everything caviar – from the correct storage options, to how it should be consumed.
Caviar can be intimidating and thanks to Nicholas and the team at AmStur we have found that the delicacy is far more accessible than one would imagine.
If you’re interested in learning more. AmStur and Sayad Restaurant will be holding public caviar masterclasses on the 6th and 20th October 2016. Starting at 6:30pm, these classes will be followed by a four-course dinner with grape pairings.
The price per person is AED 450++. So why not treat yourself to the ultimate caviar experience and become better acquainted with the world’s most renowned delicacy. For reservations please call: 02 690 7999
Location: Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi
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Hours: 6:30pm – 11:30pm
Phone: 02 690 7999
We were invited to the masterclass at Sayad. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, with the exception of first and last which were provided by AmStur.