The Best Caviar To Try For First-Timers

Is there any food that can more simply signal a celebration than caviar? The simple, lightly salted spheres of sturgeon roe seem to exude sophistication. But if you've never had the experience of dining on the delicacy, how do you know which to try?

An online search for the best caviar will certainly yield you a seemingly endless number of results from sources that herald the mighty beluga caviar as being the very best. It may be a challenge to find out if that's accurate, though. For residents of the United States, it's been nearly impossible to purchase since 2005, when restrictions were put in place preventing the import of the product due to overfishing of the fish's home, the Caspian Sea (via NBC News). There is one place you can buy Beluga in the United States — Marky's — but it will cost you upwards of $830 per ounce or well more than $11,000 per pound. (via Robb Report)

Fortunately, there are other options for the caviar-curious, and one — Osetra — seems to be at the top of a few lists.

The best caviar for first-timers is Osetra

Wine Enthusiast describes Osetra caviar as "nutty and smooth," and House of Caviar and Fine Foods mentions that the flavor is reminiscent of walnuts. Bester Caviar notes that Osetra can likely attribute some of its popularity to the fact that its flavor is subtle. The flavor notes and texture all make Osetra an ideal option for a first-time caviar experience.

House of Caviar and Fine Foods lists Osetra caviar as the second-best type of caviar (after beluga). More specifically, Insider and Pearls of Caviar both list Marshallberg Farms' Osetra as the top American Osetra. Rated as a "Best Choice" for sustainability by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Marshallberg Farms practices sustainable sturgeon farming in North Carolina and receives high ratings in their reviews from experienced enjoyers of caviar to those who are testing the waters for the first time. One reviewer raved, "Outstanding Caviar, one of the finest, most exquisite Osetra caviars I have ever tasted. Buttery and smooth yet full of flavor," while another stated, "This was my fiancee's and my first time having caviar at all. We loved it. It was so creamy and delicious."

Pearls of Caviar describes Marshallberg Farms' Osetra in a way similar to reviewers on the farm's site, mentioning its richness and only slight brininess. He credits Marshallberg's farming practices — which allow for plenty of room for the fish to swim, the provision of a healthy diet, and the absence of antibiotics and hormones — for the rich end result.

While there are certainly a variety of brands of Osetra caviar on the market, Marshallberg Farms caviar is also credited for its consistently high quality (via Insider).

What to eat and drink with caviar

When thinking of caviar, the images that pop into your head are probably small delicacies speckled on top of creme fraiche-covered blinis or crackers covered with dark colored dots. However, there are many ways to enjoy caviar — both creatively and casually.

Graham C. Gaspard, founder of Black River Caviar, prefers the minimalistic approach of eating his caviar from a spoon but also espoused potatoes (think: mashed potatoes or potato chips) as a solid canvas for the food (via Town & Country Magazine). If you choose Gaspard's methodology, though, be cautious of the type of spoon — those made of metal can impart their metallic taste into the caviar (via Food & Wine).

Bonnie Morales, the chef/owner of Kachka in Portland, also prefers a no-fuss approach to caviar. In an interview with Saveur, Morales suggests pairing caviar with bread, pastas, and even scrambled eggs. Meanwhile, Marshallberg Farm suggests adding everything from deviled eggs or sushi to pizza or chowder. They even have a variety that works well for rimming your cocktail glass.

And speaking of drinks, a glass of something sparkling seems most common with caviar, and though vodka is traditional, you can get creative with your beverages, too (via Caviar Lover). Patrick Brown of Khavyar likes to pair caviar with sake or bourbon, depending on the type of roe (via Town & Country Magazine). Caviar Guide suggests a dry white wine if you're going to forego the bubbly, while Pete Slosberg, previously of Pete's Brewing Company, prefers a wheat beer (via Wine Enthusiast).

Whether you try it on its own or pair it with scrambled eggs, bread, or cocktails, caviar can be an accessible appetizer or addition to a meal — there's never been a better time to try it. If you do, try enjoying your caviar like Martha Stewart does.