Regal berries, delicious pearls for the palate – Caviar has been a signature dish on the royal table since the ancient Greeks. As with any of nature’s delicacies, a healthy respect for the fish that produce caviar roe is essential. Quality starts with the sturgeon.
At Friend & Burrell we are uncompromising on both quality and sustainability – we wish to savour the delicate flavours of caviar for years to come.
As a result, we exclusively distribute Caviar Giaveri (Osietra, Beluga/Siberian and pure Siberian) – a true connoisseur’s caviar – where Russian art meets Italian taste. Caviar Giaveri meets our high standards for excellence in taste as well as in their farming methods and roe extraction.
Choosing Caviar Before purchasing
It is important to consider where caviar is sourced and how it is processed. It is not just a matter of taste; there are environmental implications.
Simon Friend’s background (he hails from a fishing family) and experience in importing seafood has been a major asset when it comes to choosing prime caviar. He explains that the best way to raise farmed sturgeons is in ponds installed next to a natural source of spring water. The Caviar Giaveri farm is situated next to one such natural water source – in fact the same source as Aqua Panna water. This ensures that there is fresh spring water entering the sturgeon raceways and that all water used is filtered before being discharged to avoid pollution.
Permanent access to such fresh water makes a significant impact on caviar quality – the sturgeons are healthier and live in an environment that is not dissimilar to their wild origins. Remember, sturgeons are an endangered species. Safeguarding their future is paramount to caviar availability – farming is in fact essential to the species survival.
All the sturgeons bred by Caviar Giaveri are of Russian origin, including the famous Huso huso (Beluga), the extra fine Acipenser persicus (Osietra), and more common Acipenser baerii (Siberian). Sturgeon farming and sales of caviar are also protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
Both Friend & Burrell and Caviar Giaveri strictly adhere to CITES regulations in order to protect the species.
From Farm To Maturation Sturgeons can take 6 to 12 years to develop and produce roe. But their breeding cycle can last decades (this varies according to the type of sturgeon) and at the Giaveri farm, this is monitored carefully. Sturgeons that have produced eggs are selected and further screened by ultrasound – no invasive methods are used.
Thanks to both technology and experience, the operator can accurately identify the size and colour of the eggs and then evaluate, on a caseby-case basis, whether to select the fish or not for the next phase of caviar production. If the sturgeon has been selected for egg extraction, this involves first shelling the eggs by a special manual technique and then laying them into customized sieves where the meticulous process of washing and cleaning off all impurities takes place.
The resulting eggs are shiny and clean like pearls. Once extracted, they proceed to the delicate salting process, called “Malossol”.
The salting process at Caviar Giaveri involves a traditional Russian tradition and is a family secret. We know that only certain, carefully selected salt is used – and only a little of it. Salting is obviously used for the natural preservation of the eggs and to better characterise
After many years of prohibition, the king of hams, Jamon Iberico Bellota, from the most famous producer in Spain, Joselito, is now available in Australia.
Whilst there are many different types of Spanish jamons, ham that is labelled ‘Bellota’ is the best. Bellota is Spanish for ‘acorn’ and is the main part of the pigs’ diet during the fattening period.
The Art Of Tasting A Joselito
Before starting to carve a Joselito ham it is very important to become familiar with all of its different parts:
- Maza: the thickest part, meat infiltrated by fine fat veins.
- Babilla: much leaner, thus, slightly drier.
- Codillo: fibrous and intermingled with fine tendons, but very sweet and scented.
- Punta: with a concentration of salt superior to the rest and with a more noticeable aroma.
Moreover, you will need a useful “jamonero” made of wood or metal on which you will place the ham. You will also need two knives.
- Cuchillo de jamón: the classic one. Long, narrow and flexible, with a rounded end and perfectly sharpened in order to cut very thin slices.
- Cuchillo auxiliar: to open the ham and remove the hard crust.
The Carving Step-By-Step
- A complete incision should be made around the “codillo” (knuckle), from where you should start removing the tough crust from the piece.
- You will remove, little by little, the external fat that covers the ham until you arrive at the reddish meat, leaving a layer of fat of approximately a finger-thick.
- The ham will be first carved around the “babilla”, that is to say, the narrowest central part.
- You should always carve uniformly.
- As you get deeper, you should remove the fat from the side part of the ham and keep it for later use to conserve the ham.
- The carving area will be getting wider as you deepen and approach the bone.
- In order to preserve the ham, you should cover the cut with the fat you had reserved. Then cover it with gauze or a cloth; in this way, you will prevent the ham from getting too parched.
- Once you arrive at the bone, you will proceed to turn the ham over and start carving the thickest part, that is, the “maze”.
- With the same fat you used to cover the ham, you will rub the cutting surface when you finish carving. The fat of the ham is the best protection.
- As you approach the bone, the carving will be getting more and more intricate but you can still get much ham from these fine parts.
Osietra Caviar – The Iranian style caviar
Origin: Italy – Farmed
Fish: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii sturgeon Caspian Sea native sturgeon
Caviar: Osietra – Malossol – Unpasteurised
Colour: Light brown to brown green
Size: large 2.8mm
Texture: Very firm to firm juicy grains
Notes: Nutty with marine notes
Available in 30 and 250 gram tins
Beluga Caviar – the most exclusive
For the first time since 2008 fresh Beluga caviar is available again on the Australian market
Origin: Italy – Farmed
Fish: Hybrid Husso husso & Acipenser baerii Sturgeon
Caviar: Beluga/Siberian Malossol – Unpasteuriezed
Colour: grey to dark grey
Size: very large 3mm
Notes: slightly salted, fresh walnut, cream.
Available in 30 gram tins
Siberian Caviar – The russian style caviar
Excellent value for money authentic Russian style Caviar
Origin: Italy – Farmed
Fish: Acipenser baerii sturgeon (Siberian Sea & Volga native fish)
Caviar: Siberian – Malossol Not pasteurised
Colour: Light grey
Size: medium 2.6mm
Texture: Medium soft to firm
Notes: Fresh walnut & hazelnut
Available in 30 and 250 gram tins
All caviars are farmed and sourced in sustainable Sturgeon farms in Europe. The Osietra and Beluga/Siberian caviars are farmed in Italy.
All caviars are imported in accordance with the national and international standards. It means that it will be imported under a valid CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) issued by the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
A copy of the export and import CITES can be provided to retailers and venues.
The Ibérico Black-Foot Pig
The Ibérico pig is a descendant of the wild boar and is the last remaining free-grazing breed in Europe.
The following features are what define an Ibérico pig and differentiate it from other breeds:
> Fine, long hindquarters
> A long defined snout
> Forward pointing ears, with a tendency to flop forwards over the eye
> A high, arched ribcage
> Capacity to infiltrate large quantities of fat in its muscles
> A tendency to fatty flesh
The Ibérico Pig’s Natural Habitat
The Ibérico pig’s habitat is the pastureland known as the ‘dehesa’. The dehesa, an ecosystem halfway between forest and grassland, is one of the most typical and beautiful features of the Iberian landscape.
The acorn, which is the fruit of Holm, Cork and Gall Oaks, is the basis of the pigs’ diet, and these oak woods make up the pastureland.
The pigs thrive and grow in the dehesa. They feed from it and contribute to its conservation thanks to the success of Ibérico pork products.
It is in southwest Spain where we find the acorn-bearing dehesas and the Joselito ranches. Joselito raise and fatten up their own herds, having 100% control over the production process from beginning to end.
Born and raised in the countryside, these pigs stay in the dehesa until they are ready for slaughter. Rearing starts when the piglet stops relying on its mother for food, with the piglet weighing approximately 10-12kgs. This continues until it weighs about 23kgs.
Rearing and feeding are entirely traditional with a diet based only on natural products. As June and July approach, the pigs’ diet is restricted in order to start controlling their weight and the levels of fat.
During the fattening stage, known as the ‘montanera’, the pigs graze freely and feed on acorns found beneath the trees. This particular diet reaches its peak between the months of November and January (the acorn season), and is complemented with fresh grass, roots and aromatic herbs.
The constant exercise taken by the pigs as they search for acorns throughout the montanera is one of the determining factors of the excellent quality and the tenderness of the meat. (Plus, the exercise distributes the fat throughout the muscle giving the meat the marbled effect typical of a good ibérico product.)
The animals chosen for the montanera, are the most developed and mature animals, for two reasons:
> Having stopped growing, any food the pigs eat will turn into fat. Due to their diet this will be primarily made up of acorns and it is this that gives the end product its distinctive flavour and aroma.
> The animals are strong and capable of surviving the autumn and winter months in the open countryside.
The long and slow curing process sets Iberian ham apart from all others. It usually starts at the coldest point of winter so as to be able to take advantage of the gradual increase in temperature leading up to late summer. During the winter months, cold mountain winds blow onto the hams while in direct contrast, during the hot summer, the hams sweat and shed a significant proportion of their weight in fat.
It is not until the following winter that the final slow process of ageing takes place in the dark silent cellars. Here, the darkness, humidity and temperature are perfect for the completion of the curing process, allowing the hams’ unique flavour and aroma to develop fully.
The Secret Of The Taste
This comes about as a result of the combination of four key elements:
> Cárnicas Joselito own large areas of land where they breed stock of guaranteed origin.
> The natural, balanced diet is the key to the exquisite sensory quality of the meat.
> The production and curing process is traditional and therefore typically slow.
> Only the best hams are selected, uniform in their supreme shape and excellent aroma.
Fratelli Galloni S.p.A. is a specialized Italian company that has been producing high quality Parma prosciutto since 1938.
Among the 200 ham producers belonging to the “Consortium of Parma Prosciutto”, Fratelli Galloni S.p.A. has always distinguished itself by using the traditional processing methods as a means to safeguard the high quality of real Italian prosciutto: the salting is still carried out by hand, the smearing is repeated twice, or even three times if necessary, and the ageing takes place in cellars where ventilation is almost completely natural.
The raw materials come exclusively from selected farms, growing “mature” heavy pigs of national breeds , fed naturally and subject to the most rigorous health controls. This ensures the product they obtain is a large-sized prosciutto, suitable for a long ageing (at least 24 months instead of the 12 months minimum required for Parma prosciutto) and having the lowest possible salt content. Along with that they also feature the sweetness, fragrance and taste identifying the very best Parma prosciutto.
Thanks to its rigorous work and tight controls, Fratelli Galloni has been given the permit to export to countries like the United States and Japan, known for the strictness of their health regulations. They are the first exporters of Parma prosciutto to these countries.
Galloni’s customers are high quality delis and renown restaurants in Italy and abroad, such as “La Corte Di Montenapoleone” – Milan; “Harry’s Bar” – Venice; “Villa D’Este” – Cernobbio; “Harrod’s” Department Store – London; “Balducci’s”, “Citarella’s”, “Grace’s Marketplace”, “Dean & Deluca” and “Cipriani” – New York, and many of Australia’s very best restaurants.
For futher information please visit the Fratelli Galloni website.
Vanilla planifolia is indigenous to Mexico, where it is pollinated by native humming birds; however when transplanted to other parts of the tropical world, the orchid blooms are pollinated by hand. This handling, along with the extensive time taken for drying and processing, makes vanilla expensive.
Vanilla is presently grown in quantity in Madagascar, Tahiti, Indonesia, Mexico and Mauritius.
We have sourced from New Guinea the very best vanilla we can find – 18.5 cm long, plump, pliable and juicy, dark chocolate brown/ black in colour and with an intense vanilla aroma.
The beans are sold in 250gm, 500gm or 1kg packs – Buy now!
Jamón Serrano (literally sierra (mountain) ham) is a dry-cured Spanish ham, which is generally served raw in thin slices, similar to the Italian prosciutto, and is a source of great pride among Spaniards. From time immemorial in the mountains of Spain, they have rolled fresh hams in sea salt and hung them from their rafters to cure. The fresh hams are trimmed and cleaned, then stacked and covered with salt for about two weeks in order to draw off excess moisture and preserve the meat from spoiling. A year to eighteen months later the jamones are ready to mount on special stands that are designed so that anyone can stop by, carve a few paper-thin slices, and enjoy an impromptu snack – perhaps with some manchego cheese.
It is unlike the smoked and salty Virginia country hams, which have to be soaked and cooked. And it is even significantly different from Italian prosciutto, which is cured for a few months with a coating of lard. The Spanish jamon Serrano has distinctly more flavour, and significantly less salt than country ham and less fat than prosciutto.
Jamón Serrano is more than a delicacy in Spain; it is a normal part of every family’s life. Every tapas bar and neighbourhood café has their own hams. During the Holiday Season there are literally hundreds of them hanging from the rafters of major food stores for the holiday shoppers.
What is the appeal? Jamon Serrano is a flavourful, natural ham, cured in the country air. This extended curing transforms the ham, imparting a deep flavour and aroma. This lengthy curing also means it is much less fatty and has a firmer bite than Italian prosciutto. You can serve it sliced paper-thin with cheese and olives, or use it to flavour your favourite Spanish recipes.
The secret to jamon lies in its curing, recreating the effect of traditional techniques. This tradition is kept alive in rural areas where in early winter, family and friends gather to slaughter their livestock in preparation for winter months. The hams are placed in sea salt for a brief period of time – approximately one day per kilo – and then they are strung up. They are allowed to experience the changes of temperature as the seasons progress. The drying sheds (secaderos) are usually built at higher elevations, which is why the ham is called mountain ham.
The right time to eat them is when an experienced ham-master inserts a long splinter of cow bone and whiffs the jamon, like a connoisseur of wine who sniffs the cork.
With a wonderful aroma, subtle flavour, and vibrant colour, saffron adds its characteristic flavour and colour to any dish. Sold by the gram, saffron is the most costly spice in existence.
Saffron is a native of Southern Europe and cultivated in Mediterranean countries, particularly in Spain, Austria, France, Greece, England, Turkey and Iran. The total world saffron production (2004 figures) shows that Iran produces over 90% of the world’s crop. Annual production in 2004 was roughly 197 metric tonnes, broken up as follows: Iran 185 tonnes, Greece 5.7 tns., Morocco 2.3 tns., Kashmir 2.3 tns., Spain 1 tns. and Italy 0.1 Tns. Much saffron is re-exported and Spain is a large importer and then exporter of Iranian saffron.
Producing saffron is labour intensive, hence the high price. In a good crop, each plant typically produces several flowers. The stigma or female part of the flower is the actual source of saffron and is carefully picked by hand. Then the stigmas are dried and transformed into pure saffron.
The stamen is the masculine part of the crocus and is half the size of the stigmas. When dried the stamens are yellow, and this colour in the spice is a giveaway that the saffron is of poor quality and has been padded – the lighter the colour, the more “filler” there is. True saffron however has a rich red colour.
A “blend” of stamens and stigmas is often found in both the thread and powdered forms of saffron. Not only is there little culinary value in this padding, but they can dilute the flavour and colour of a recipe.
Friend & Burrell Iranian Sargol Saffron
We import the finest saffron available anywhere in the world, Iranian Sargol, which is 100% pure saffron. It is made up of the red stigmas which have been cut and separated prior to drying. Stigmas cut this way provide maximum flavor, aroma and natural dye in cooking and baking.
There are three features that one must look for in quality saffron:
- Saffron threads (Stigmas) are all red (no gold or yellow).
- Saffron threads should be dry and brittle. Moisture shortens the shelf life and quality.
- Saffron aroma is fresh, fragrant and strong. Not musty.
Available in 15gm tins – Buy now!