Premium produce has always been a non-negotiable trait of Saint Pierre’s cuisine. Chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant has unveiled another luxury ingredient to accentuate his plates of pleasure: Royal Belgian Caviar (RBC).
What makes the artisan caviar different from other producers? Cédric Paquet, commercial manager of RBC, reveals an industry practice. "90 percent of caviar in the market come from a big traditional mother tin which goes to the distributor. When the distributor receives various orders from chefs and other clients, it will repack the caviar into smaller tins. The transfer will cause some eggs to break. RBC extracts the eggs from the sturgeon directly into the size of the tin that each client wants - whether it's a 10g, 250g or 1 kg tin - so there's no oxidised taste."
Most producers add sorbic acid to extend the shelf life of caviar, but RBC uses only salt. Its yearly production is also kept small (only five tonnes of caviar in 2018), so it doesn't come as a surprise that even the most seasoned gastronomes and chefs have not tried RBC caviar before.
Tasting is indeed believing and Saint Pierre’s special five-course caviar menu ($388) showcases five grades of RBC caviar as the star ingredients: Gold Label, Platinum Label, White Pearl, Osietra and Beluga. Start off with the Hokkaido scallops sashimi and tartare served with Gold Label caviar, Aomori apples and a moat of lait ribot. "The scallops and caviar provide sweetness and salt respectively, while Aomori apples brings freshness and crunchiness," says Stroobant. The second course, gamberro rosso or wild red prawn, finds an ideal match in the slightly nutty flavour and bouncy texture of Platinum Label caviar.
The most extravagant grade of caviar, Beluga, is delicate yet buttery, and is featured in the third course, a confit of Sanriku salmon in vanilla oil, poached blue lobster and foamy lobster espuma. White Pearl caviar, a rare variety from the Albino Sterlet sturgeon, stands out for its pearl-like hue, a contrast on a black base of squid-infused ika strips in a warm leek vichyssoise with roasted chopped hazelnuts. For Stroobant, the White Pearl caviar was a pleasant discovery. "I love the colour. It also has a reasonably fatty mouthfeel so you need a lean product like squid to balance it," he adds. The popular Osietra, whose shade can vary from olive to dark green, makes an appearance in the final course: anako and ankimo accompanied with watercress coulis; the latter's slightly bitter notes stand up to the fattiness of the caviar.
The caviar menu will be available upon request and with an advance notice of three business working days.