Friday, 17 July 2009

Snail Caviar

No, you have not misread the title of this blog – it does read Snail Caviar. With the demise of the sturgeon there are quite a few alternatives out there, Avruga Caviar is made from herring roe and Danish black coloured Lumpfish Caviar is sold throughout Europe in small glass jars . A more expensive sturgeon caviar alternative, sold in Sweden and Finland, is the caviar from the vendace. In Finland caviars from the burbot and the common whitefish are also sold and in Scandinavia, a significantly cheaper versionof caviar, made from mashed and smoked cod roe (Smorgaskaviar or Sandwichkaviar) is sold in tubes as a sandwich filling. When sold outside Scandinavia the product is referred to as creamed smoked roe or in French as Caviar de Lysekil, named after the Swedish coastal town of Lysekil from which this type of caviar may have originated. However there is now a Snail Caviar – which are snail eggs produced by De Jaeger in France.

The French started eating snail eggs on a small scale in the 1980s, but the pasteurized product failed to catch on. Dominique and Sylvie Pierru revived the Caviar d'escargot (also known as Perles de France) by making it more pure and fresh in 2004. The Pieurru's have about 50,000 Gros-Gris (big grey) snails from north Africa, at their farm in Soissons, in the Picardie region north east of Paris. The company raises its snails in the open in outdoor pens on a nutritious diet of vegetation and cereal grains, resulting in plump, great tasting snails. Being hermaphrodites, all snails lay eggs, but at the slow rate of 100 a year. The eggs are conserved in a brine of fleur de sel de Guérande and essence of rosemary, before being marketed in 50g tins that cost £50 each - about the same as farmed sturgeon caviar.

The Pierru's recommend serving the caviar on a sliver of toast, at room temperature, lightly peppered with a touch of sour cream - and naturally a glass of chilled champagne. The taste – apparently - is reminiscent of ‘a walk in the forest after the rain, with the aroma of mushrooms and the undergrowth, with hints of oak leaves and moss’. People have described it has having the flavours of angelica and horseradish.

2 comments:

Christina said...

Hi Sue,
Thank you for this very informative blog !
I came across snail caviar last Christmas, I live in UK and was struggling to find some as apparently at the time, only Harrods were stocking it, but they don't generally have stock now.
I have found a company distributing it on the web in UK for De Jaeger, it's snail-caviar.co.uk , they have permanant stock and are cheaper than Harrods.
I have tried a few of the producers recommended recipes but prefer them best on blinis with a glass of champagne as aperitif.

Thierry said...

Dear Sue, I agree with Christina, this is a nice writing about Snail Caviar.
I am the owner of The Snail Caviar Company in London (www.snail-caviar.co.uk)
Can you please make contact with me via info@snail-caviar.co.uk?
Thank you
Thierry