Here’s a phrase you’ve probably never read before: cheap caviar. Alongside saffron and truffles, salt-cured sturgeon eggs are one of the world’s most expensive foods. Caviar is indelibly associated with high society, ritzy hotels, coupés of champagne and so on.
It also happens to be perishable, which is an issue if you’re an importer and just landed 20 kilograms of fine Italian caviar amid a complete shutdown of the local restaurant industry.
Such is the case for Friend & Burrell, a small 15-year-old company that supplies Melbourne restaurants such as Ides, Vue de Monde, Estelle, Movida, Sunda and Anchovy with “the world’s finest luxury food products”, including black and white European truffles, Iranian saffron, Papua New Guinean vanilla beans, Australian Paspaley pearl meat and top-grade jamón Ibérico.
In response, the company is steeply discounting the caviar shipment for retail customers. Tins of beluga, Siberian baerii, ossetra and white sturgeon caviar are now up for grabs at between 23 and 41 per cent off usual prices.
Entry-level is a 12-gram tin of nutty, smooth ossetra, available for $49 rather than $65. That’s enough for one person. If you’re buying for two people, 30 grams of pillowy beluga can be had for $129 rather than $199. And for those with serious cash, 250g of beluga is available at $789 instead of $995.
Everything in this shipment was sourced from Giaveri, a prestigious, family-run operation in Italy. The tins’ use-by dates range from late June to mid-July. Every order comes with two mother of pearl spoons, the traditional implement used for tasting caviar, because metal is thought to taint the flavour.
You could also go full rogue and eat your discount caviar with sour cream and chive Pringles, the way they do at Melbourne bar Milney’s. Just saying.
Place an order online by emailing Bryan Burrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Orders can be shipped nationally. A handful of shops in Melbourne are also selling Friend & Burrell’s discounted caviar on consignment: Magnum + Queens (South Melbourne), Georgie’s Harvest (South Melbourne Market), Boccaccio Cellars (Balwyn), Bill’s Farm (Victoria Market), Claringbold’s (Prahran Market) and Stocked Food Store (Toorak and Malvern).
Price list (last updated at 3.30pm, March 31 – many items now sold out):
Beluga/ Siberian Baerii
30 grams – $129 (was $199)
30 grams – $109 (was $149)
250g – $590 (was $895)