5.280 Black Sturgeon Caviar with Mini Pancakes

Cycle 5 – Item 280

12 (Sun) October 2014

Black Sturgeon Caviar with Mini Pancakes

2.5

at Real Food Restaurant

(Crowne Plaza)

-Central Administrative, Moscow, Russia-

solo

Mission to Russia (Day 2)

In Moscow.  Here to provide technical/legal support to Member States from the Western Pacific Region at the 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).  Very exciting, both as the biggest tobacco control event of the year, and my first mission outside our region.

HOTEL

I’m staying at the Crowne Plaza.  Part of the World Trade Center, a business complex that also comprises office spaces, event facilities, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and other amenities.  COP6 will be held at various venues within the complex.

Real Food Restaurant (RFR) is a European restaurant.  Located in the Crowne Plaza lobby.  It’s the hotel’s central dining facility, serving buffet breakfast to hotel guests in the morning.  The menu offers many Russian dishes, along with a wide variety of Continental standards.

“Real Food Restaurant” seems to be the dumbest name for a restaurant ever.  Benefit of the doubt, I’m wondering if it’s just a poor translation of something along the lines of “authentic/traditional cuisine/gastronomy” in Russian.

Caviar is a dish of fish eggs.  Traditionally, only roe from sturgeon would qualify, but the term now is more broadly applied to roe from other fish.  The eggs are harvested, cleaned, and cured in salt.  Often served on toast or crêpe or pancake, sometimes topped with sour cream or crème fraîche, perhaps minced onion or scallion or parsley, maybe egg whites or potatoes – general rule: the cheaper the caviar, the more embellishment.  While the most prized caviar is beluga, primarily from the wild beluga sturgeon caught in the Caspian and Black Seas, prices ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 USD per kg, overfishing has depleted populations to the point of endangerment, prompting many countries to ban trade in the product.  Nowadays, so-called “ethical caviarists” encourage consumption only of caviar from sustainably farmed fish, including beluga.  In any case, caviar is claimed as a delicacy by many cuisines, most famously Russia.

The caviar at RFR was okay.   Served with mini pancakes and crème fraîche. The pancakes were quite nice, similar to English/American breakfast pancakes, but smaller and thinner and less sweet. I could appreciate the delicate balance of salty and sweet and sour, and kinda liked the feel of the eggs bursting with each bite.  But beyond that, I dunno, the caviar per se didn’t really taste like anything.  My third experience with the dish, always the same impression.  Millions of gourmands would seem to adore caviar as one of the all-time greatest delicacies, so I’m willing to concede that there may be more to it.  Given the cost, I hope never to acquire the taste.   Referred to as “black sturgeon,” I have no idea what species or what source (at the time, I didn’t think to ask).  3,000 Russian rubles per order (about 75 USD), each order enough for around 10 half-teaspoon dollops on 10 mini pancakes – don’t know how expensive that is, relatively, in the insane world of caviar.  In any case, caviar with a shot of vodka on my first night ever in Moscow, I was happy.

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also RESTAURANTS IN RUSSIA)

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