A mysterious delicacy

love-opera-victoria-bakerOne of my favorite local places for fish is Bon Ton Fish market in Greenwich. Though I’ve purchased their fish and seafood before, I only just recently learned of their history.

They first opened in June 1902. Coca-Cola had just come out, the first Rose Bowl game was played and Bon Ton was delivering clams on the half shell to local residents. That’s a pretty cool piece of history.

Started by the Koellmer Brothers, having been open for one hundred and seven years they can certainly say their business has stood the test of time. To this day they are still providing some of the best seafood in the area. Log onto their website for more info at www.bontonfishmarket.com

I’m something of a seafood fan and one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures is a little known delicacy called “bottarga.” Bottarga is silver mullet roe originating in countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Using sea salt, the roe is cured and dried to perfection, then waxed to prevent further drying and exposure to light. Waxing also prevents contact with foreign matter.

For the novice, Bottarga appears bizarre, odorless and may look like a flat waxed sausage. But once the wax is removed, it is the most intensely delicious product of the sea you will ever taste.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with bottarga. I know it’s a little weird. Most kids like pizza and chips, I had more obscure tastes. To me, it’s much better than caviar and can even surpass the truffle. The good news is it’s cheaper than both. But I should warn you, it’s a love it or hate it kind of flavor.

It’s also the kind of thing you must grow into. Most recipes recommend grating over pasta, which is a classic Italian dish. But I am such a diehard fan that little flecks of the magical stuff are not enough for me, I like to cut a large piece and eat it like a piece of candy.

Some people call it the Caviar of the Mediterranean as the ones from Sicily and Sardinia are believed to be the finest, but the history of bottarga is far more illustrious than its present. The Phoenicians enjoyed bottarga and there were even traces of it found in the Egyptian pyramids. Then the Greeks and the Romans used it both a food for refined palates and a precious good for trade or gifts.

Bottarga is becoming more of a trendy food, seen on adventurous menus but still not quite widespread. I haven’t seen Bottarga at the Bon Ton Fish Market yet, but maybe I’ll put in a request and see if I can satisfy my cravings for this mysterious delicacy locally.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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