How To Build A Caviar Bar For New Year’s Eve
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love an excuse to get gussied up and celebrate. Add in some intention-setting, plus some serious sparkle, and I’m sold. New Year’s Eve is my kinda party.
But as I’ve become an Elder Millennial, the hype of a NYE night out has worn thin, especially in L.A., where a tickets climb from $150+. Plus, I feel like it’s always amateur hour out there, both in the club and on the road. So I figure, why not take that cash and put it towards a real treat? Whether you’re spending the night with friends or just your partner, building a caviar bar is a great way to celebrate — without having to deal with those damn Uber surges.
I’ve been going to the Petrossian in West Hollywood for years now, and am always blown away by the sheer volume and variety of caviars that they have available. (You can also purchase an even more extensive selection in their online shop.) Seriously, it’s so much more than just sturgeon roe. The GM of their WeHo location, Christopher Klapp, literally knows everything about caviar, so I figured I’d share some of the bits of wisdom he’s instilled in me over the years to come up with crafty caviar bar for NYE.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is not to take building your caviar bar too seriously; this stuff has been harvested by Russian fisherman since the 12 century, and it was once considered peasant food, so try not to be too hard on yourself. It’s all about celebration and fun! So, here are my tips on building the NYE caviar bar of your (and your guests’) dreams:
Get crafty with your base. Sure, blinis are bomb. (And Petrossian makes it super simple with their pre-packaged versions that come in sets of 12.) But instead of being super precious with what you serve your caviar on, get creative. Let me tell you, one of life’s greatest pleasures and high-low mashups — aside from fried chicken and champagne! — is caviar on Ruffles potato chips. Have a mini waffle iron? Take a tip from this New York Times Cooking recipe and make some savory cornmeal waffles with sour cream and top it with caviar. The only piece of advice in to reign it in and keep the flavors of your starch simple. Which brings me to my next point…
Be minimalist with the accoutrements. The subtle nuances of caviar and other roes really shine through when using bases like the ones we mentioned above, and while many folks like to garnish their blinis with eggs and chives, the real experts say its best consumed straight, no chaser. Just a simple blini, maybe some creme fraiche. That’s it. (Again, Petrossian has excellent ready-made creme fraiche, but if you want to make your own, there’s a great recipe at The Splendid Table.)
Try pairing with vodka instead of champagne. While I’m all about an excuse to indulge in some bubbles, the best and most traditional way to enjoy caviar is with a flute of fine vodka. The two really are a match made in heaven, and you’ll find that the fruity, clean flavors of the vodka really come through when paired with the decadent, briney caviar.
4. Experiment with a variety of roes. Of course, we all love osetra. But there are some truly delicious varieties that will add not only a variety of flavors, but a visual interest in a variance of colors, too. I love the smokey sweetness of trout roe, but you can also try salmon roe, pressed caviar, or even Petrossian’s unique chocolate caviar, too. Eater just did a really handy guide on the various types of caviar and how to buy them here, and it’s a really nice primer to help you bring some variety to your caviar bar.
5. Don’t use metal spoons. This is really the one hard and fast rule when it comes to caviar. Silver is highly reactive to caviar, and it really impacts the taste. Instead, go with a mother of pearl spoon. You can even use wood or plastic! There are some really cute plastic silverware options out there at restaurant supply stores, and I scored some gold colored ones recently that are perfect for entertaining. Plus…less dishes!