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Valentine’s Day Treats

Pair champagne and locally-sourced caviar for a romantic evening at home.



Champagne and caviar—tiny bubbles and tiny eggs—are making a California comeback.

Once primarily a Russian luxury, sturgeon caviar is now a local specialty, with Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, one of the largest and most respected domestic producers, processing and packing sturgeon caviar at its headquarters in Concord.

The fish are sustainably raised in the Sacramento Valley, but the quality smacks of the Caspian Sea—nutty, buttery, and velvety smooth. This Valentine’s Day, creating a memorable moment can be as easy as popping open a bottle of bubbly and a small tin of premium caviar.

Enjoying the roe straight is the purest experience, but piled on warm blini—thin mini pancakes—with a dollop of crème fraîche is the most decadent. (Whole Foods Market sells ready–made blini you can quickly crisp in the oven.) And for anyone who might be squeamish about eating salt-cured fish eggs, this method goes down like butter.

Champagne and sparkling wine—and rosé in particular if you’re planning a Valentine’s Day toast—pair well with most California sturgeon caviar.

If you choose ultrapremium sturgeon caviar (most local brands run between $50 and $200, but you can pay as much as $400 per ounce), you’ll want a finer wine with tiny, soft bubbles and a yeasty richness. But you can still indulge in the luxuriousness of roe and a modest rosé for about the price of a dozen long-stemmed roses and a box of chocolates.

So say nyet to the Caspian Sea and adieu to Gay Paree, and double down on California for caviar and bubbly. The delicate domestic duo is now affordable, sustainable, and available at your upscale grocers, including Whole Foods Market, and online. tsarnicoulai.com, wholefoodsmarket.com.


Best if Served …

In line with California’s culinary ethos, the higher the quality of an ingredient, the less you should do with it.

When serving the best sturgeon caviar, stick to a spoon. But quality caviar can also shine on a delicate, lightly salted cracker, potato chip, or slice of Persian cucumber with crème fraîche and a sprinkling of chive.

You can also use sturgeon caviar as a garnish for bisques, blini, corn pancakes, ceviche, or salmon tartare. (Use ultrafresh, fine-diced salmon with minced shallots, fresh dill, salt, and extra virgin olive oil.)


Pairing Suggestions

Enjoy your California sturgeon caviar with a California sparkling rosé. Some favorite local producers include Schramsberg Vineyards, Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, and J Vineyards and Winery.

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