as an accent. When Amalia Scatena at Stationæry put a lobster roll on the menu, she sprinkled it with caviar. Others have added the roe to mundane sides like mashed potatoes. Perhaps the trendiest way to enjoy caviar strips the etiquette completely. Known as a bump, the pricey product is simply dolloped on the back of the hand–no further ornamentation necessary. “If you have good caviar, that’s the way you want to eat it,” Keane says, noting that the accouterments of traditional service were able to mask imperfections in the fish eggs. On the other hand, she points out that the different types and grades of caviar pair well with a range of ingredients, much like wine. So the experimentation has spread to chocolate, caramel and ice cream. “People are getting really creative with it,” observes Marai Bolourchi, president of Tsar Nicouli, a sturgeon ranch The breakout food item of this decade has been around for a few thousand years. Caviar has long been synonymous with exclusivity and occasion, claimed by nobility and marked by ceremony. Traditional service calls for buckwheat cakes, finely chopped onions and chives, hard-boiled egg, creme fraiche and other effects, doled out on mother of pearl. But a new generation of diners have tossed rules aside in favor of “Caviar with sour-cream-and-onionflavored Pringles,” says chef Jonathan Rodriguez of Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette with an assurance that the pairing works well. “You can have fun with it.” While some aficionados argue that Lays, with its mellow potato savor, is the best chip for caviar service, while others side with Pringles for their structure. At Stationæry in Carmel, potato chips provide a crackle to go with the pop of caviar. At Salt Wood in Marina, Rodriguez chose a tortilla-style wedge. Deborah Keane, owner of California Caviar Company, a Northern California sturgeon farm, likes to fill Bugles–the cone-shaped snack–with the roe. “Caviar is really good on kiwi,” she adds. Such frivolity would have been unthinkable until recently. But suddenly caviar is valued as much for its versatility as its elegance. Mixologists replace the pimento stuffing of a martini olive with roe. Chefs are even using the delicate eggs 32 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Haven 2023-2024 All in a Roe Caviar has become an everyday indulgence thanks to creative chefs and California farms. By Dave Faries Dave Faries nic coury Left: Caviar service at Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette in Marina blends tradition with a bit of whimsy, with chips as the foundation. Below: Why not put caviar on a cannoli? caviar_23.indd 1 8/1/23 4:13 PM