Great caviar should never be served without accompaniment. Traditional caviar service includes blinis, toast points, crème fraiche, and fresh lemon. Some creative appetizers add caviar to deviled eggs or roasted potatoes to great effect.
But in terms of simplicity and purity, there are few better pairings than caviar and cheese. The combination makes perfect sense.
You’ve already got the champagne and chilled, dry white wine – why not bring some cheese into the mix and offer a broader range of options for you and your guests?
Don’t worry – pairing caviar and cheese doesn’t require deep knowledge of either ingredient. There are a few key rules you need to follow to create pairings that work well in terms of taste and texture.
However, the more you know about caviar and cheese, the better you can mix and match different types and enjoy each bite to the fullest.
Here are some basic tips for pairing caviar and cheese, plus some extra guidance that will help you bring everything together on the plate.
Why Cheese and Caviar Work Together
Maybe you’re just learning the basics of caviar or taking the first steps on a journey of culinary exploration. Pairing foods is an important part of this education, and there are a few things that we can learn from the union of caviar and cheese.
For starters, caviar and cheese have two very distinctive textures that might not seem to go together. Still, this unlikely duo just seems to pair perfectly, as long as you follow some basic guidelines.
Caviar is known for its firm yet soft pearls, which “pop” on the palate between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. On the other hand, cheese tends to have a solid and consistent texture all the way through, even among the harder and softer varieties.
When matched up in a single bite, the dynamic textures of the caviar play against the smooth and chewy feel of the cheese, creating something totally new and unique!
Of course, there are hundreds of caviars on the market in the modern world and thousands of cheeses to choose from. Some caviar is known for more of a “crunchy” texture with smaller beads, while others don’t have the same amount of pop in each bite.
As a general rule, try to keep away from hard cheeses when pairing with caviar since you don’t want to chew or chomp excessively on your bite. Soft or medium-soft cheeses tend to work better and allow you to experience the caviar as a distinct component.
Wide Range of Flavors
Texture is just one part of what makes caviar and cheese such a great pair. The flavors you get from each ingredient are already quite powerful – imagine what you can expect when matching them together in a single bite!
Caviar presents flavor profiles like butter and cream, plus herbs, fruits, and mushroom, along with plenty of minerality and oceanic brine. Some caviars offer more robust and intense flavors, while others are “cleaner” and almost have the effect of cleansing the palate.
Cheese has perhaps an even more diverse spectrum of flavors to choose from.
You can find everything from light, bright, and sweet to heavy, smokey, and funky. Some cheeses are so pungent and stinky that they are hard to stomach, even for the most serious connoisseurs!
The key to picking a good cheese for caviar night is to find a flavorful yet mellow variety that will not overpower the main event. In other words, cheese is playing a supporting role for the caviar, and not the other way around.
Also, keep in mind that caviar and cheese tend to be served at different temperatures, adding another interesting dimension to the mouthfeel.
We’ll touch on some suggestions later on, but for now, find a cheese that forms a solid base layer of texture and flavor without overshadowing the shiny pearls of caviar that should remain in the spotlight.
Aesthetics and Experience
The visual arrangement and setup of caviar are crucial to the overall experience. Adding some well-proportioned slices or wedges of cheese can elevate things even further.
Fine cheeses, like caviar, are unique to look at and are quite fragrant as well. You can create a display that hits all five senses and make it an event to remember for your guests.
Cheese is also a more interesting component than a blini, toast, or roasted potato. It allows you to showcase both ingredients and offer a more dynamic experience for all. You’re already sipping champagne and scooping caviar, so adding some cheese is just the next logical step.
Caviar and Cheese Pairing Recommendations
Now that you’ve been convinced to buy some cheese for your upcoming caviar party, which types should you look for, and what pairings make sense?
Here are three classic matchups and some broader rules to follow:
Kaluga and Comte
One of the largest river sturgeon in the world deserves an equally big and bold cheese to pair with its caviar. Premium Kaluga caviar is known for large pearls, intense flavors, and plenty of pop with every bite.
French Comte, on the other hand, provides a mildly sweet flavor and exceptional melt-in-your-mouth qualities. If it’s good enough for French onion soup, it’s good enough for caviar.
Gruyere and Sevruga
Sevruga caviar has a reputation for being small but mighty and needs a strong cheese to complement the crunchy and flavorful pearls. Gruyere, which originates in the western regions of Switzerland, is up to the challenge.
Gruyere can be rather salty, but that is well suited for the heavy minerality and brine you can expect from Sevruga caviar. We recommend looking for a younger Gruyere that allows your caviar to shine through and not be overwhelmed.
Fontina and Ossetra
While you might not be able to find Beluga caviar in the states, authentic Royal Ossetra caviar is a close runner-up to the world’s best.
You will need a delicious Italian cheese like Fontina to get the most out of your Ossetra, and only a thin slice is necessary to get the full spectrum of flavor.
Fontina is melty, creamy, and dynamic: just like caviar. This is truly a decadent combo, so give it a try when you’ve got something to celebrate.
Cheeses To Avoid Pairing With Caviar
With these recommendations, you have an idea of which pairings work best, but there are a few combinations to avoid as well.
Steer clear of extra-pungent blue cheeses and varieties that you can smell from a mile away. These cheeses can be enjoyable in their own ways, but you don’t want to ruin the caviar experience by not being able to taste the subtleties of the flavors.
Also, stay away from extra-hard cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino since the salt and textures tend to be too much.
Finally, be sure that you sample the cheese itself before pairing it with caviar, rather than taking a wild guess. Caviar should be treated with respect! Give it the best pairing possible.
When Is Your Next Caviar and Cheese Night?
If you’re ready to experience the magic of caviar and cheese for yourself, start planning now! Find a gourmet grocer that will help you put together a basket, or source your caviar online from a reputable vendor.
Remember our tips and tricks to make the best pairings, and enjoy every bite.