Beluga Lout

As I said yesterday, cameras were officially banned at last night's gathering. However it appears I was the only one who paid attention. Bah. Accordingly, I have no pics of the lobster au champagne, the beef Wellington, the stuffed quail or the vast selection of desserts.

Worse, I have no photographic evidence of the "carousel of appetisers" at the moment. Every table had a rotating centre piece loaded with 10 plates holding smoked salmon, Russian salad, sushi, odd plates of unidentified meat (I'm assuming it's a "Russian thing"), tomato and mozzarella... and on one magical disc, a dish - about a decent dessert bowl size - of caviar, circled by charming little dishes of the trimmings, from finely chopped chive to egg white, egg yolk and a soured cream gently flavoured, I'd say, with horseradish.

We know a story or two about caviar in our house. Mrs L was brought up cheerily wolfing the stuff down, not realising what it was or what it cost: her father received a large tin every year from a grateful client. It's the one food stuff she's an expert in, and don't dare pass off the French stuff as the real thing. She'll know. And I've seen waiters been made to crumble under her withering glare: think Paddington hard stare increased by a factor of 10...

Anyway, whenever funds allow around Christmas, I trudge to Selfridges and buy her a little tin. For various reasons, the price of caviar has increased dramatically in the last couple of years and, while I know Beluga is the preferred variety, it's outlandishly expensive and approximately double the price of Oscietra. Last year, for example, the Oscietra was around £80 for 28g. The Beluga was about £180.

Is it worth it? I didn't know. When you buy 28g and it's the other half's favourite food, you don't get many little eggs to share around. Last night however, all bets were off. That bowl was heaped. Plus after a small seating mix up, we'd already made a serious dent in the caviar before getting moved to a new table and a whole new bowl. Having done a little research this morning in terms of dessert spoon quantities and Beluga prices I reckon - gulp - that I did somewhere in the region of £1100 quid's worth. Obscene? Undoubtedly. But it was the opening gala for for the Mardan Palace in Antalya and given the "cabaret" was hosted by Sharon Stone and Seal, featuring Richard Gere, Monica Belucci, Paris Hilton and performances from some Turkish and Eastern European stars (including one in the single worst hairpiece of all time) plus Tom Jones and Mariah Carey, moderation didn't seem to be the watch word.

So is it worth it? No. In this current climate, when the world's in the state it's in - and thank you Sharon for reminding us earnestly at every opportunity about what we should be doing, because I take all my moral guidance from actresses who've flashed their front bottoms in major motion pictures - spending a moderate month's salary on a single plateful of sturgeon roe is clearly obscene. But my god it's delicious. Salty, but not too salty, slightly creamy in texture, but with a distinct bite... like Mrs L my mouth is now watering at the thought. I won't be fighting her for the spoon this Christmas morning but, like the rest of last night's event - and Tom Jones is, frankly, a fucking legend - it's a memory that'll take a long time to fade.


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