By JIM WILLIS
If your past few New Year’s Eves all blur together in a haze of champagne toasts and unrealistic resolutions, you may want to mark the close of 2013 in a way that really stands out. Cheri Scolari of Sickles Market in Little Silver tells PieHole that caviar is one way to really make your New Year’s Eve memorable.
“Caviar creates a great food memory,” says Scolari. You may not remember what you wore to a New Year’s Eve party, or even who you spoke with, but the experience of having caviar is so strong you’ll remember what you ate, Scolari says.
“That’s a food memory that you want to create,” she says.
Scolari says it makes perfect sense to enjoy caviar on New Year’s Eve. “It’s a celebration food for a special occasion,” she says. “It compliments the sweetness and the bubbles of the Champagne – the popping of the eggs and the bubbles of the Champagne are a good combination.”
But when a smallish tin of caviar can run more than most families are able to spend in a month on groceries, shopping for and serving caviar can be an intimidating experience, Scolari agrees that there’s a bit of an intimidation factor with caviar.
“I think the reason it has a bad rap is because there are some special things you need to do when you serve caviar. You want to keep it chilled. You don’t want to eat it with a metal utensil because metal reacts with caviar and gives it a bad taste”
Scolari adds that when you open a a jar of caviar, you want to eat the whole jar. It’s not something that you keep open in the fridge for a few days.
Haylee Brents, manager of Sickles cheese department walked PieHole through a range of price options, including an 8-ounce tin of some especially sought-after Ossetra caviar that would set you back around $900. But you don’t have to drop that kind of coin to have the caviar experience.
“If you’re just starting out with caviar,” says Scolari, “there’s no reason why you have to get the ossetra. You can get something that is more approachable and that isn’t at the high end of the price spectrum. Personally, I love the trout and salmon roe.”
PieHole likes Scolari’s suggestion of creating a New Year’s Eve “food memory,” so we asked Brents to put together a couple of different varieties of caviar for a hypothetical party of 10-12 guests for under $100.
Brents notes that 1o ounces of caviar would work for four to six people, with the smaller 10-gram jars serving about two.
“From the varieties that we carry,” says Brents, “I would start with the salmon roe. You get more bang for your buck. (4 ounces for $18). And then I would also serve a smaller 1- or 2-ounce container of traditional caviar. (1 ounce for $58).”
PieHole suggests adding some creme fresce and the pre-made blinis that Sickle’s carries to your cart as they make a good pairing with the fish eggs and champagne. With that lineup you’re creating a memorable New Year’s Eve for you and your guests for just under $100. You may not keep your resolutions, but you probably won’t forget the party.