December is typically a time for indulgence — cookies, chocolate, bubbly — but this holiday season, people are dipping into something surprising. Caviar, the classic 1 per cent treat, is making a comeback — with a twist.
The craze kicked off in mid-November, when TikTok influencer Danielle Matzon posted a video about a snack: roe on a piece of Fitness Bread (a.k.a. dense rye bread) slathered in butter. The video itself isn’t terribly remarkable — two minutes of Matzon making the snack and enjoying it — but as of writing, it’s racked up more than 7.3 million views. The most fascinating thing about the trend is that it’s sparked an interest in how the delicacy can be matched with lowbrow snacks you likely have sitting in a cupboard.
Since that initial video, Matzon has paired caviar with nacho cheese Doritos, canned mussels and vanilla ice cream drizzled in truffle honey. (If you’re wondering about her caviar inventory, Matzon is a member of the Zaslavky family, which runs Marky’s Caviar in the U.S.)
David Schwartz, executive chef at Mimi Chinese and Sunnys (and co-owner of Big Hug Hospitality), says the kitchen at Mimi has seen a growth in interest of a shrimp toast topped with caviar, though he’s not sure if that’s related to the TikTok trend or the holiday season. “I’ve always been a big fan of the lowbrow highbrow technique when it comes to food,” he says.
Schwartz explains that there are two ways to approach caviar: “You either pair it with something to cut the fat and the richness, like shallots or chives, or you pair it with something equally as rich and luxurious.” The latter approach informs Schwartz’s take on shrimp toast: fried bread stuffed with Ocean Wise shrimp and topped with 30 grams of caviar.
Tempted to splurge on a tin? Cornel Ceapa runs the Saint John-based Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. and suggests asking to try a bit of the caviar before committing. “Caviar should have a complex flavour,” says Ceapa. “If something doesn’t have any flavour, or tastes kind of artificial, avoid it.” Ceapa also recommends buying a tin only as much as a week ahead of when you’ll need it, and finishing it within two to three days of opening. “It’s nutritious for us, but it’s also nutritious for bacteria, and any time it’s exposed to air it will oxidate,” he explains.
Most importantly, says Ceapa, caviar is meant to be an experience. Gather a group before you pop open a tin. “It’s nice to indulge and to share with people.”
Snack attack: Pairing recos from the pros
“Caviar is a subtle flavour and can easily get overpowered. A nice potato chip will give you crunch,” says Schwartz, who also enjoys pairing roe with a piece of fried chicken skin. San Carlo classic potato chips, $5.50, eataly.ca
Ceapa opts to eat his caviar plain, from a mother of pearl spoon or off the back of his hand. He follows it “a nice dry vodka.” Dillon’s vodka, $34.95, dillons.ca
Buttered toast — Fitness Bread or otherwise — is another classic base for caviar. Classic Rustic Bread, $6.50, eataly.ca
JOIN THE CONVERSATION