The tiny spoon sparked a series of events.
When it arrived in the mail it took a backseat to the other fabulous items in the box Lynn had sent.
Remember my sister-friend, Lynn, from Costa Rica? She and her husband, Lucas, are now working out of Abbott Labs’ facility in Columbus, Ohio, but, she still travels for business.
“Vietnam?” I cried. “You’re going to Vietnam for work?! I’m jealous!”
On her return, she texted me and Isa (our other sister-friend from the Costa Rica days) to watch the mail for some fun goodies she picked up for us. Isa also repatriated and now lives in New Mexico where she is starting up a travel business promoting cruises, air and more…camel? Isa is good at everything so she is bound to come up with some fun stuff.
Anyway, the day it arrived I got excited about Christmas in July! There were all sorts of goodies – including a gorgeous scarf, a fur wine carrier which Lynn’s daughter, Shannon contributed thinking that if she bought one for her mom, her wine-sisters had to have one, too. Shouldn’t everyone have a fur wine carrier?
There was a little spoon nestled inside the fur bag. It was nice. It was cute. But…ummm, it seemed kinda random. Oh well, I fill up a little dish with salt and plunge the spoon into the center. So there! Done.
Lynn texted, “Did you ladies find the little spoon inside your fur wine carrier? It’s for caviar!”
Of course, it is! How could I not know that?! Soooo, you say caviar, I think Beluga! I was whisked back to the time when I was married and my sophisticated husband often took me to Fleur de Lis in San Francisco for dinner. We always started with caviar. The good stuff. I can still see the exquisite crystal serving bowl chock full of ice, the accompanying condiments of creme fraiche, finely chopped onion, chives, and hard-boiled egg. I can see everything except the spoon.
I went to Wikipedia and found out!
Caviar spoons are traditionally made of inert materials such as mother of pearl, gold, animal horn, and wood.
There is a custom that caviar should not be served with a metal spoon, because metal may impart an undesirable flavour. Some food experts point out that caviar is stored and sold in metal tins and therefore any effect of metal on caviar flavour is a misconception however, others point out that silver is reactive, and may affect caviar flavour.
Caviar spoons range in length from 3 to 5 inches and have a small shallow bowl that may be either oval or paddle shaped.
Well, la di da. Now I have to go get some caviar to go with the spoon. I have the perfect occasion in mind. Traditionally, I plan an evening at Santa Cruz Shakespeare with my son, Tyler, and his wife, Colette. We start with a picnic before the performance. Last year we enjoyed a dinner of escargot, chicken piccata, and eclairs for dessert. This year, I will add caviar to the menu as a starter before the escargot.
We can’t skip the escargot due to a variety of reasons, one of which has to do with the Costa Rican movers amalgamating my stuff with Lynn and Lucas’ and not telling us they did so. My carefully packed boxes were dismantled by them and the contents randomly placed into the boxes they were packing for the Riveras. When we unpacked I kept an eye out for my special vintage escargot set. We never found them.
I ordered a replacement from eBay but it isn’t the same. I keep thinking the original will turn up. I will, most likely, die thinking that.
So, I set off on my quest for caviar. Now that Amazon has purchased Whole Foods, I went there first looking for a bargain. Nope! One ounce of Beluga starts at a hundred dollars and goes up from there.
I went to a local Gourmet Market here in Santa Cruz. I didn’t expect them to have it, but I thought they might know something. They did. The nice man told me about a company in San Francisco called Tsar Nicoulai. I went online, found it, and was prepared to drive ninety miles to the city to get it. As I read the fine print, it said it cannot be bought on premises and must be purchased from a retail outlet such as Whole Foods in Capitola. Bingo! I jumped in my car to drive the few blocks to the store. I was hyperventilating.
I found the smoked fish display case and my heart soared! Who needs Beluga when you can get Tsar Nicoulai for prices ranging from fifteen bucks to a hundred. If you take the middle of the road and get the forty-dollar version, they even give you a Mother-of-Pearl spoon! Not that I would use it – I have my own special one that Lynn carried all the way from Vietnam.
I took my treasure from the cold case and trotted over to the check-out counter. The young lady at the register picked up my items (yes, items. I got a salmon one in addition to the traditional black one) scrunched up her face and said, “Eeuuww! This stuff is disgusting. I tried it here once when it ran out of shelf life. It tasted like a mouthful of ocean water.”
I laughed, “Yes, it is an acquired taste. You probably don’t like oysters or cherrystone clams either.”
She smiled and agreed. But, she added, “Oh, but I do like sushi!”
I happily paid my bill and then remembered I had seen some caviar on the shelf at Cost Plus. I got the brilliant idea of a blind taste test. I bought two jars, one for $5.99 and one for $6.99. I will make the traditional blinis that the caviar is served on, prepare the condiments, blindfold the kids when they come for the Shakespeare picnic and see what happens. Can’t wait!
And to think, it all started with a little spoon stuffed inside a fur wine bag. Leave it to Lynn!