Sunday, March 11, 2012

Let them eat caviar

Yes we're in a recession, so how about some caviar? Last week Mag Kirwan from Goatsbridge farm launched her new baby on the marketplace; a trout caviar. Having had a sneak taste at her farm a few weeks ago, I have to admit it's pretty damn good. A lot of people blanche at the thought of fish eggs rolling around their mouth, but generally if you like seafood or shellfish, it's just more of the above, only better.

Mag and her husband Ger farm trout in Thomastown in County Kilkenny. After selling trout roe to Polish and Eastern European customers, they figured trout eggs were an obvious but unexploited business opportunity. So they developed a caviar, with eggs harvested from their live two-year old mature female trout. These are really lovely fish. They dive about in their freshwater ponds looking the picture of health, and more importantly, they taste fantastic.

No surprise that the caviar is also pretty good - I ate it on a water cracker with no accompaniment. It has a subtle rather than strong fishy flavour, with a light saltiness and whisper of the sea.

Regular caviar comes from the sturgeon which is a fish that lives in various parts of the world but caviar by and large is harvested from black sea sturgeon. It's so expensive because sturgeons take decades to mature and are relatively scarce. Caviar from other fish have to have the prefix "trout" etc to distinguish it from it's crazy expensive cousin (the big lad pictured below).
If you fancy tasting Mag's trout caviar you'll soon see it on high end restaurant menus across Ireland and in speciality food stores. It's a great product and judging by the early feedback it's sure to be a huge success. If you're interested in hearing more on trout, my report on Goatsbridge farm (before the trout launch) and women in rural food businesses can be heard at the link below.

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