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The Best Gift Ever

December 21, 2009

Here is a little something you may not know about me.  I’m a bit of a hoarder.  I like to hold onto things.  This causes some problems, especially since some of the things I like to keep are foodstuffs.  Just this weekend I had to toss a bunch of expired Carnation Malted Milk.  Sniff.

My sister, the brilliant woman that she is, found a solution to this.  Knowing my long-held childhood penchant for Astronaut Ice Cream, she wanted to get me a pack for a gift.  But instead of buying me one, she bought two.  “One to eat, and one to save,” the card said.

This was not the best gift ever.  But it was pretty close.

The best gift ever achieved a similar function, but with a different approach.  And as opposed to the astronaut ice cream, it may have a broader appeal – although its appeal may be limited to true food lovers.  And here’s the best part.  You can still get it to your loved ones in time for Christmas.

One word: caviar.

Mrs. Fussy and I got this as a wedding gift from a dear friend of ours.  The gift came in stages, with caviar spoons preceding the arrival of the fish eggs by several weeks, to increase our anticipation.

But then the caviar came via FedEx Overnight.  It was professionally packed to arrive cold and fresh.  Our friend was very generous and gave us a tin of osetra and another tin of beluga.

This was a great gift for several reasons.
1)    Because it is perishable, it must be consumed quickly.
2)    Fine caviar is a rare culinary treat.
3)    We wouldn’t buy it for ourselves.
4)    It brought two nights of decadent pleasure.
5)    We still remember them to this day.

Over the course of our fish-egg orgy we came to realize that we much prefer vodka as a pairing with caviar than champagne.  Champagne and caviar has a nicer ring to it, but the bubbles are just aren’t up to the task.

Maybe now you will say, “But Daniel, aren’t you always talking about the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, and don’t they say to avoid caviar?”

Yes and yes.

But they do also say that domestic farmed sturgeon caviar is a good alternative.  And with that, I offer another suggestion: Tsar Nicoulai Caviar.  They are the self-proclaimed “Pioneers of Sustainable California Caviar.”

And from what I can tell regarding their holiday shipping policy, if you order on Monday the caviar will be where you want it on Wednesday.

I’m guessing any food lover on your list would be delighted to receive an ounce of their Select caviar. Tsar Nicoulai quotes Thomas Keller as saying the Select is “Intensely flavorful with a refined and smooth finish. It is the best farm-raised caviar available.”

Just make sure to remind the recipient of this gift about the vodka versus champagne thing.  Or maybe they’ll have more fun figuring it out for themselves.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    December 21, 2009 11:17 am

    I thought beluga was totally illegal in the U.S., no matter what its provenance.

    • December 22, 2009 1:49 am

      We have been married for quite some time. The story above predates any laws that would have made our treat contraband. Glad we got to have some when we did.

  2. December 21, 2009 12:12 pm

    I am a huge fan of the indulgent food gift for very special occasions. I’d absolutely consider caviar a treat to receive, lucky!

    Another special-occasion suggestion for those who eat pig (not everyone, I know): pata negra, which became legal to import to the U.S. a couple years ago. A scant few ounces of the fabled Jamon Iberico de Bellota recently were a very luxurious and memorable treat.

    • December 22, 2009 1:52 am

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s stunningly good. But I may be a bit more hesitant to try and buy this meaty masterpiece via mail order.

      • December 22, 2009 10:34 am

        Really? Is it pricing or quality? I do think the markup is on the silly side, but I had a good experience with La Tienda.

      • December 22, 2009 11:34 am

        The concern is quality. This is from the La Tienda site:

        Each week a local company slices our Iberico hams to ensure the thinnest, most delectable slices.

        I’m sure it’s delicious. But slicing cured meat is an art (maybe my cousin should write a guest post on the subject). And I believe it should be eaten as soon after slicing as possible. Plus the idea of having this precious meat being impersonally sliced in quantity isn’t terribly appealing to me.

      • December 22, 2009 12:13 pm

        Totally concede the point re: the superiority of on-the-spot/artisan slicing (and I’d love to read a guest post about it… officially submitting my request to put it on the to-do list, please!) However, I don’t know of any shops around Albany that carry & carve pata negra. And importing the whole leg–or buying 2 tickets to Spain–pass beyond my reachable luxuries at the moment. Until then, no regrets. It was still a transcendent tasting experience.

  3. Annie permalink
    December 22, 2009 7:24 pm

    Is that ‘brilliant’ sister, in the ubiquitous British sense or in the American sense of ‘genius’? It seems even the hoarded astronaut ice cream should still be edible, as it must have a shelf life at least as long as the twinky.

    Ok, I’m off to one-up whoever gifted you the caviar… bastard!

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