Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Bottarga Ain't Peanuts, You Know
It is with a heavy heart that the Caviar Princess dips her pen (well e-pen) into the (e) inkwell to embark on the day's discourse with caviar aficionados, and general spectators, of current events and news surrounding culinary fish roe and its taste bud intriguing counterparts. In previous discussions I have made a few references to my preferred genre of caviar, Bottarga di Muggine. For those not familiar with the Mediterranean delight, Bottarga di Muggine is the air dried entire roe sacs of the Grey or Silver Mullet fish. By a number of accounts, Bottarga has been established as the most ancient of all forms of edible 'caviar'. Story goes that Hebrew tribes that resided in a number of seaside Mediterranean countries and islands, such as Egypt, Sardinia and Turkey discovered the especial culinary features of the roe of a diverse number of fish varieties, which were often discarded bythe presiding population.
Over a period of time the tribes - a number of which, who more often than not were nomadic, thus on the contance 'go' developed the process of drying fish and its would be offspring, an optimal source of nutrition, fish roe. The process stemmed from a number of variables, mostly related to the arid climate and continual travel, frequently through long stretches of land absent of vegetation.
In modern history Bottarga is many things to many people - referred to also as Botargo, poutargue or boutargue (French), botarga (Spanish), batarekh (Arabic) or avgotaraho (Greek αυγοτάραχο). It is most known in Mediterranean countries and is revered as a delicacy.
Bottarga is also processed from the roe or egg sac of tuna or sometimes the swordfish. The sacs are massaged by hand to eliminate air pockets, then dried and cured in sea salt for a few weeks. The result is a dry hard slab, which is coated in beeswax for conservation. It is largely present in Sardinian cuisine; its culinary properties have been compared to those of dry anchovies, though it is much more expensive and complicated in taste structure. Bottarga is often served as an appetizer, in a manner similar to caviar, or used in pasta and seafood dishes.
Perhaps the most defining feature of this classic and essential specialty food source is its presence in Sarda Mediterranean Direct - Sardalia Gourmet Line-Caviar Princess's repetoire as our flagship product. The item was initially brought into the US from Sardinia, Italy in 2001. Due to Italophone dual nationals such as Mario Batalli, and chef/reviewers such as Tony Bourdaine, Bottarga began to settle onto the palettes of food enthusiasts from coast to coast.
Well sadly, the Caviar Princess must report that after 8 years of steadily increasing interest and commercial satisfaction from innovative hotels and restaurants noted for fine dining, the FDA has decided to put the reigns on and not allow another shipment of Bottarga di Muggine into the country from Sardinia, for Sarda Mediterranean Direct et al because our HAACP documentation was not translated into English to within a given time period... yada, yada. Alas, our anxiously awaited prize will return to its Mother shores until the appropriate paperwork arrives on the right desk.
So it will be back to the drawing board for several more months at the very least. However, with perserverance, diligence and determination Bottarga will return to the plates and palettes of the distinguised lovers of caviar, and the best of fine food. We hope for your kind thoughts and well wishes in the interim.
Peace and prosperity,