France makes caviar comeback with Siberian sturgeon

Tue Mar 2, 2010 7:52am EST
 
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By Claude Canellas

BIGANOS, France (Reuters Life!) - French caviar is back on the menu thanks to Siberian sturgeon who now live near the Gironde estuary close to Bordeaux.

At Biganos in the southwest of France, near the Arcachon bay known for its oysters, one firm aims to produce high-end caviar by providing a good life for Russian sturgeon.

The Moulin de la Cassadotte started in 1993 and now makes a tonne of the fish eggs per year out of the total French production of 20 tonnes, almost exclusively in the Gironde area.

"We could make some 5 to 6 tonnes of caviar per year but we will limit it to 2-2.5 tonnes," said Jean-Pascal Feray, chairman of the firm. We made it our goal to make the best caviar possible for the luxury market," he added.

The small black Gironde fish eggs are used by such top chefs as Thierry Marx in Paulliac, the Pourcel brothers in Montpellier, 'father of light cooking' Michel Guerard at Eugenie les Bains, and Alain Dutournier in Paris.

The firm has 70,000 sturgeon living in natural conditions in clean, controlled ponds around the Gironde area rather than in the large fish tanks used by some caviar-makers.

Locals say that in 1916 a Russian princess travelled in the area and saw fishermen feed sturgeon eggs to ducks and chickens.

Telling them how to make caviar, she started a golden age for the estuary where Atlantic ocean water mixes with the Dordogne and Garonne rivers.   Continued...