You may find caviar for sale at many different locations, from online retailers to gourmet boutiques to local specialty stores. Caviar is one of those foods, however, that requires special care and precise handling. If the vendor does not take the proper steps, you may come home with a tin of roe that is broken, mushy or otherwise unpalatable. In order to be certain you are purchasing quality caviar to serve to your guests, there are several factors to watch for as well as many you should definitely avoid.
A good way to choose a place to buy caviar is to ask people you trust for referrals. This might include the chef at your favorite gourmet restaurant or your favorite epicurean friends. You can also ask at your favorite specialty shops that do not carry caviar. If they are known for quality and specialty foods, they may be able to point you to a reputable retailer who abides by the same standards that they do.
When you find a vendor who sells caviar, do not be afraid to ask questions. Some beneficial inquires include: From where do you purchase your caviar? How long have these tins been in the store? How do you handle and store caviar? Avoid processed caviar kept on a store shelf, as it will not be of the highest quality. Opt instead for fresh caviar and make sure that it has been refrigerated at all times. If the retailer informs you that they freeze the tins during the shipping or storage process, head for the nearest exit. Caviar should never be frozen, as the taste and texture will be compromised.
Finally, try it for yourself. Take a tin home and try a bit by spreading a small amount on a blini or the backside of your hand where your forefinger and thumb meet. If it is not up to your standards, return it promptly to the vendor. A reputable retailer may allow you to sample it in the store as well.