Much to the delight of frequent flyers, the coveted Caviar House & Prunier has opened at the Frankfurt Airport. The chain that started the concept of the airport seafood bar in the 1980s is fast catching the fancy of European travellers, who are willing to pay top dollar for a premium experience as they prepare to fly. Believe it or not but here visitors will be served seafood in authentic silverware. The menu offers a taste of products for sale along with a selection of the finest wines. Each meal is also accompanied by postcards describing the dish. This exciting trio of food, wine and table art at the store is bound to entice even the sceptics.
It’s no secret that airport bars and restaurants do not take service and quality too seriously. Since passengers know that they’ll be getting complimentary meals on the flight, eating at the airport has never been a priority. With the launch of the first seafood bar in the early 80s at the UK airport, however, Caviar House and Prunier has taken the food service concept to a different level. Positioned as a ‘luxury fast food’, they serve smoked salmon, lobsters, oysters and of course caviar in less than 20 minutes! Over 30 items are available on the tasting menu and you can order three, six or nine dishes for $30 per three dishes. Each plate also comes with a nutritional guide along with a recipe for how to make the dish at home.
The Right Consumer
Once considered an indulgence of the royals, caviar is now gaining popularity among a younger audience who know their fish-roe and truffles, as well as they, know a McD burger. The company aims to target such customers who are open to exploring new flavours while travelling. With the response they’ve received at other airports, there is a clear demand for a higher food experience across the entire passenger spectrum ranging from business to economy travellers. While the new outlet doesn’t provide a meal, the sophisticated food tasting concept entwined with storytelling is designed to introduce customers to affordable luxury food.
Quality over Quantity
At a time when most food retailers emphasise on volume rather than quality, Caviar House & Prunier focuses distinctly on customer experience where smell, taste, sound and touch play an important role. There are plans to invite celebrity chefs from Germany to present food at their 19-seat outlet. A specially-designed app for the outlet will be launched soon that will keep patrons updated with the weekly tasting menu, chef of the month and options to make a reservation.
What is it about caviar that makes it so enticing? The salt-cured fish eggs have a huge fan following all over the world. People are willing to pay up to $35,000 for a kilo for the finest eggs of an albino Beluga sturgeon, known as the white Almas caviar. ‘Almas’ means diamond in Russian—and the colour of the egg is nearly translucent, reflecting light. Its nutty taste and visual appeal make it highly coveted—so much that earlier it was reserved only for the Shahs of Iran and no one else could have it.
The Beluga caviar, immortalised in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball, sells for around $7-10,000 a kilo. Extracted from the best Beluga sturgeon found in the Black and Caspian Sea basin, it is currently considered critically endangered. Its soft and large eggs range from dark to light gray—the lightest colours are the most sought after and come from older fish. Ever since its population went down, wild caviar production is banned almost everywhere in the world. Now, the beluga caviar is mostly farm produced.
The golden Sterlet caviar mostly made of small eggs comes next on the quality scale and is equally rare followed by the brown Ossetra or Russian caviar that has medium size eggs. Cheaper alternatives include the salmon roe, which is orange in colour and the platinum caviar that is derived from sturgeon hybrids.
How to enjoy caviar
Every caviar aficionado knows that the distinctly acquired taste of these tiny pearls isn’t for everyone. But where their opinions differ however is on how best to try it. Some swear it tastes best right out of a tin, others prefer to eat it with a hot potato or on top of a pasta. While the royals left a legacy of eating caviar in silver spoons, almost everyone agrees that it is not the best pairing as there is a risk of oxidising the eggs that come in contact with the metal. Wood, mother of pearl and bone are far better options.
For those who don’t want to pay a steep price, there is a cheaper alternative for $2,220 a kilo in the form of snail eggs. The tiny white eggs that resemble caviar already have a huge market and may well be the next gourmet frontier. But for those who love the rare black pearl, the authentic caviar will never go out of vogue.