Gone Fishin’ for Caviar

By on July 13, 2022

The notion to hang a Gone Fishin’ sign on the door and escape for a holiday has long been popular. Since 1951, to be precise, when crooners Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong recorded the song Gone Fishin’. So how about going fishing for caviar in New Brunswick? Now that’s a tasty escape from routine. For me, this adventure started the day I tasted caviar at Ottawa’s Restaurant E18hteen. Executive Chef Dave Godsoe had just launched a new seasonal menu that introduced the delicious roe from Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. One bite of this Canadian treat piqued my curiosity; seven months later I was on a fishing boat on New Brunswick’s Saint John River with Chef Godsoe and a very passionate biologist named Cornel Ceapa.

Out on the Saint John River looking for sturgeons with the caviar man himself, Cornel Ceapa, owner and operator of Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. Photo: Brigitte Hasbron

The notion to hang a Gone Fishin’ sign on the door and escape for a holiday has long been popular. Since 1951, to be precise, when crooners Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong recorded the song Gone Fishin’. So how about going fishing for caviar in New Brunswick? Now that’s a tasty escape from routine. For me, this adventure started the day I tasted caviar at Ottawa’s Restaurant E18hteen. Executive Chef Dave Godsoe had just launched a new seasonal menu that introduced the delicious roe from Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. One bite of this Canadian treat piqued my curiosity; seven months later I was on a fishing boat on New Brunswick’s Saint John River with Chef Godsoe and a very passionate biologist named Cornel Ceapa.

Sturgeon ceviche with balsamic pearls accompanied by Champagne during my Sturgeon Safari at Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. Photo: Brigitte Hasbron

Originally from Romania, Cornel, has a Ph.D. in sturgeon biology and, along with his wife Dorina and son Michael, he has transformed the caviar trade in this country by way of a sustainable aquaculture business, Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. Located at 30 Carters Wharf Road in Carters Point, New Brunswick, this unique family business sustainably and sells live sturgeon, caviar, sturgeon products and by-products all over the world. It also offers three tourism experiences that are a definite thrill for foodies.

I took part in the Sturgeon & Caviar Safari, participating in sturgeon harvest and research, touring the facilities and enjoying a multi-course tasting. It was really something else! Never would
I have thought I would be waking at the crack of dawn to get suited up in fishing attire to search for sturgeons in the Saint John River. It was incredible to see the prehistoric bottom feeders
and marvel at their shark-like characteristics. It’s a wonder that something so amazingly delicious comes from these docile creatures. We all held our breath, hoping for a mature female catch,
when the nets were being pulled up.

Over the course of several days, it was fascinating to see and learn how the prized pearls called caviar come to be. Aside from spending on the fishing boat, during this safari you also get to visit the Acadian sturgeon hatchery. Since it takes about 10 years for a sturgeon female to grow to a harvestable size to yield eggs for the production of high-quality caviar and sturgeon meat, the hatchery is vital for growing shortnose and Atlantic sturgeons.

Fresh New Brunswick oysters with a generous dollop of Acadian Wild caviar from Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. and some Champagne. Photo: Brigitte Hasbron

At the processing plant, you don hygienic attire to avoid cross-contamination in the processing rooms, where witness how the eggs are extracted from the caught specimens. Michael Ceapa is at work here and, remarkably, almost every single part of the fish is processed and sold: from the meat, caviar and by-products to the skin.

Once the caviar is extracted, Dorina Ceapa weighs the prized eggs, makes the caviar brine by adding salt to the eggs, and massages the mixture for an hour. Then it’s off to packaging. From river to shipment, it all happens in less than two hours. Now that’s fresh!

Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. produces three unique types of caviar: the Acadian Wild, the Acadian Green and the Gold. Each has its own exceptional flavour profile. I really enjoyed the Acadian Green for its buttery, nutty sea-salt taste. I also learned that only sturgeon roe may be labeled caviar with no additional identification. Roe (eggs) from other fish must include the name of the fish as well as the term “caviar.”

A prized lot of sturgeon caviar at Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. Photo: Brigitte Hasbron

Cornel Ceapa showed me the traditional way of enjoying caviar is to place a generous dollop of caviar on the back on  hand, between the index finger and the thumb, and give it a taste. This allows you to enjoy the round perfection of the eggs while also appreciating their colour and sheen. To be honest, it’s a lot of fun doing it this way.

My Sturgeon Safari was pure caviar bliss. Chef Godsoe and I enjoyed warm hospitality, delicious sturgeon and caviar-rich dishes and new experiences at New Brunswick’s picturesque Saint John River. For a taste of Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. caviar closer to home, it’s now available at Costco and in Ottawa you can buy it at Jacobsons gourmet store, 103 Beechwood Avenue. www.acadian-sturgeon.com

**This article was first published in the lifestyle magazine Fifty-Five Plus Magazine and was given permission to post on the author’s site.

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