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On Our Radar

Faces, places, treasures, and trends that caught our attention

Caviar Cognoscenti
December 19, 2022

By Charles Dubow

Photograph by Jim Henkens

When I was assigned to write about Pointy Snout Caviar in Millerton, my first reaction was “Wait? What? They make caviar in Millerton?” Were sturgeon swimming in Mudge Pond?

Not exactly. But for years from their base in Millerton, Michael Kline and Alexandra Du Cane have been sourcing world-class caviar and supplying the precious eggs to discerning customers across the country. I met the couple recently while Michael was working the phone trying to get several kilos of Israeli caviar through customs at JFK. “It’s like this,” he says, “The caviar is produced in Israel, packed and shipped this morning via El Al. Then it has to go through Fish & Wildlife, and finally a driver has to bring it to us where we then repack it.”

For much of history the notion that caviar would come from Israel, let alone Millerton, would have been risible. Caviar came from the Caspian Sea. Period. But that all began to change with the one-two punch of the Iranian Revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union. International treaties governing the fishing of sturgeon (also known as Beluga) were ignored and, tragically, as a result the Caspian became overfished and the sturgeon population practically wiped out. Sadly, that hasn’t prevented a thriving black market in Caspian caviar. “We wouldn’t take a grain from Russia even before the Ukraine invasion,” says Alexandra, the former founder of Alex Du Cane & Associates, an agency for fashion photographers. “All Russian caviar is illegal.”

Fortunately in the early 2000s there were great strides being made in the development of sustainable aqua-farming. Today sturgeon are farm-raised in more than 20 countries around the world, including Israel, France, Italy, China, and Uruguay. With this diversification of sourcing, however, quality control is no longer as guaranteed as it had once been. In the past, one could simply walk into a purveyor such as Petrossian, order an ounce of Ossetra and be confident that what you were buying was the best.

That’s where people like Pointy Snout come in. “Alexandra is widely regarded to have one of the finest natural palettes when it comes to discerning where to source caviar,” says Michael. “We’ve traveled the world and have extensive contacts in the business. So when we order caviar and sell it, you can be assured that it’s going to be fantastic.”

Jim Henkens

And make no mistake. This is real caviar, not the American paddlefish or hackleback roe that one sees in so many stores. These are rich, ripe, salty-sweet pearls of buttery goodness that explode in the mouth and make your taste buds swoon. But also expect to pay for such luxury. Their prices begin at $175 for 50 g of farm-raised “Siberian” sturgeon. Their most expensive offering? 1,000 g of Ossetra Reserve for $7,500.

Such quality is worth the price. Chef Jeffrey Thompson at The Wheatleigh in Lenox, MA, has been using their caviar for years. “I use Pointy Snout caviar because of the quality, consistency, and flavor of the caviar itself, and because of Alexandra and Michael who take great pride and care with the caviar and provide great service—which is hard to find these days.” —