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Until Jan. 2, 25% of gross sales of caviar by Pointy Snout, based in Salisbury, Conn. (and packaged in Millerton, N.Y.), will be donated to an area food pantry. Annie Wayte of The White Hart in Salisbury serves the caviar on brioche toast rounds, with Hudson Valley creme fraiche from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. Photo by Eliza Hoyland​

Caviar as a Way To Usher in Good Fortune for the Coming Year

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve is coming up, a time when even those of us who think we’re pretty sensible are inclined to indulge in some superstition and wishful thinking. We will make resolutions and we will make toasts and we will eat “good luck” foods such as hoppin’ john or noodles shaped like coins —or caviar. 

Caviar is a lavishly luxurious food that Russians traditionally ate at New Year’s as a talisman, meant to usher in a year of abundance and good fortune. 

And you’ll need a fortune if you want to get some caviar — which is not inexpensive. But caviar, like sushi, is an indulgence where it pays to get the good stuff. If you mostly eat the day-old $5 sushi special from the grocery store, you haven’t really experienced the wonders of Japanese raw fish. If you’ve only ever bought your caviar in little glass jars at the grocery store, it might be a salty but enjoyable treat but it’s not really caviar — certainly not the kind that will signal to the angels that you’re hoping for a New Year of Great Benefits.

There ain’t nothing like the real thing

Shopping for caviar is tricky, if you’re not an expert. The world  is full of ersatz olive oil and truffles and even vanilla beans and peppercorns. Needless to say, the world of caviar is full of charlatans as well.

“Caviar is like diamonds or cocaine,” said Michael Kline, who lives in Salisbury, Conn., with his wife, Alexandra Du Cane; together they are the owners of Pointy Snout Caviar. 

The love story behind Michael and Alexandra’s meeting and marriage is a really good one; if you ever meet them, you should ask them to share it. But long story short, after notable careers in finance and fashion/photography/publicity, they are now semi-retired here —semi retired, but running a company that sells fine caviar that has been sustainably raised and cared for with the love and tenderness one might lavish on a precious baby.

Not everyone bestows that kind of care on their caviar, Kline notes, referring to the dark side of the luxury industry that he and Du Cane discovered after they started Pointy Snout in 2010. 

“Many heads of caviar companies have ended up in jail,” he said. “There is a slight menace to this business.”

For those of us on the consumer side of the equation, that menace translates to, “You can spend a lot of money for caviar that isn’t remotely what the label promises.”

Du Cane and Kline are the opposite of what seems to be the norm in their new professional world: They seem completely transparent and dedicated to their customers’ easy access to and enjoyment of their product.

“We love many of the traditions of caviar, the legacy,” Kline said. “But we wanted to take the intimidation factor out of it. We wanted people to have fun with it, not be afraid of it.”

The trigger that got them into this business in the first place was the realization that the caviar-producing sturgeon were being overfished and were in danger of extinction. So their other mission, in addition to providing delight, was to support farms that were sustainably producing caviar — and not only protecting the wild fish (by not capturing them) but also by releasing sturgeon that had been raised in captivity out into the wild.

Stepping gently into a new world

Kline and Du Cane are the best tour guides you could wish for on a maiden voyage into the world of caviar. Their attitude is not, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.” It’s more along the lines of, “No, no, don’t get that one, it’s too expensive for what you’re trying to do. Get this one instead.”

Which is not to say that they aren’t willing to sell you a kilo of their finest eggs. That is completely an option. 

But for those of us who are just looking to step up a rung from grocery store roe, they strongly encourage a small container of their less expensive Siberian caviar. Without going into exhaustive detail (feel free to ask them to explain), the fish that produce these eggs are raised on a farm in Uruguay that takes exquisite care of the fish; the eggs are sold without borax on them (which is technically illegal but somehow borax-treated eggs still manage to cross the border); and the caviar costs $150 for 50 grams. 

“Fifty grams is plenty for two people,”Kline promises.

“Or even three,” Du Cane adds.

They recommend that you eat your caviar right away once you’ve opened the tin. In other words, don’t buy a big container and plan to nibble away at it over the course of a few months.

“It’s not that the eggs will go bad,” Du Cane clarifies. But the quality will degrade. Like high-end wine merchants looking to develop loyalty in their clientele, Kline and Du Cane don’t want you to have a bad experience with their product. 

They want you to love it and realize that, if you’re going to splurge for a big occasion, then you should do it with Pointy Snout Caviar (which is named, in case you didn’t figure it out yourself, for the needle-tip proboscis of the caviar-producing sturgeon fish).

A benefit for an area food pantry

This all of course sounds terribly 1%, which is really the exact opposite impression of the one Kline and Du Cane would like to present.

They are now running a special holiday season promotion which is less of a marketing scheme and more of a heartfelt thank you to the community they have come to love and appreciate. 

“We want to do what we can to share during this season when so many people can’t afford to buy food, much less caviar,” Du Cane said.

Anyone who purchases caviar from the Pointy Snout website (or by calling or emailing directly) between now and Jan. 2 can enter a special code (the code is 2020). Kline and Du Cane will then donate 25% of the gross sale to the Corner Food Pantry. 

For normal shopping, you can purchase Pointy Snout at Guido’s in Great Barrington, Mass., and at Westerlind Pantry in Millerton, N.Y. But don’t do that for  your holiday season purchase; buy direct from Pointy Snout to activate the food pantry donation. 

To make it even more enticing, Kline and Du Cane will invite you into their packaging facility in Millerton, which is on South Center Street; or they’ll even deliver it to your house, if you live in Salisbury, Sharon or Millerton. You should take them up on that offer, because as long as this article is, it could have gone on for pages more; these two have a lot of stories to tell, about their interesting lives and about their beloved caviar.

To order Pointy Snout Caviar go to www.pointysnout.com; or email alex.ducane@gmail.com. If you order online be sure to enter the special code 2020 to activate the 25% food pantry donation; if you phone in your order (800-910-1760) be sure to mention that you’re an area resident and would like your order to trigger the donation.

 

This article has been edited. The original print article said the company was started in the mid 1990s; it was started in 2010​.

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