Filed under: Dining
Beluga may be the well-known star of caviar, but the White Sturgeon roe peddled by Tsar Nicoulai Caviar is the choice of the green generation. Founded in 1978 by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Mats and Dafne Engstrom, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar raises its fish sustainably in Northern California instead of depleting the endangered ranks of wild sturgeon, as many purveyors in other countries do.
With the help of researchers at the University of California Davis, Tsar Nicoulai has developed a proprietary tank-farming system to raise its fish. Water is pumped from local aquifers into a four-acre hydroponics pond topped with a bloom of natural plankton algae and flanked by a year-round crop of vegetables, creating a mineral-rich environment free of mercury, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals often found in international waters.
March of 2004 marked the opening of the Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Café in San Francisco as a complement to the company's delivery business. Customers across the country can have fresh caviar shipped to their doorstep via Tsar Nicoulai's website; celebrity chefs from Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles to Charlie Palmer in New York are frequent customers. Tsar Nicoulai Caviar's online operation offers caviar, roe, smoked delicacies and an array of caviar accessories.
In light of recent U.N. and U.S. bans on wild caviar from the Caspian and Black Seas, Tsar Nicoulai seems poised to profit from the switch to sustainably harvested roe. Though the West Coast may never produce roe with the glamour and glitz of Beluga, many restaurateurs are turning to Tsar Nicoulai's California State Ossetra as a cheaper, cleaner, greener alternative to its Caspian counterpart.
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