May 29 - Caviar from sturgeon farmed on an Israeli kibbutz is finding favour with gourmets around the world. Joanna Partridge reports.
It's a long way from this fish farm on an kibbutz in Israel to the tables of New York restaurants. But the caviar produced here has found favour with foodies. Caviar Galilee's Managing Director Yigal Ben Tzvi first started breeding sturgeon after a trip to Russia 20 years ago. But the business didn't take off until he decided to breed the fish for their eggs instead of their fillets. SOUNDBITE: YIGAL BEN TZVI, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CAVIAR GALILEE, SAYING (English): "In 2003, we had four-years old fish and we decided to keep them another six years, without nearly no income and it was a big risk but we were lucky enough and the prices of the caviar are very good." The farm breeds Osetra sturgeon, known for some of the finest farmed caviar The fish are ready for caviar harvest once the eggs are a pale, grey colour, says farm biologist Avshalom Hurvitz. SOUNDBITE: AVSHALOM HURVITZ, CAVIAR GALILEE'S BIOLOGIST, SAYING (English): "It starts here by selecting the proper female which has the body shape, the colour, the quality of the eggs which makes the future generation of our fish which makes the future caviar." The Israeli farmers have benefitted from a 2006 United Nations Convention which banned the export of caviar from fish in the Caspian and Black Seas. Kibbutz Dan now has around 70,000 sturgeon. They produced 3 tonnes of caviar last year, and hope to increase it to 8 tonnes by 2015. New York restaurant Daniel uses it because of its flavour - says Executive Chef Jean-Francois Bruel. SOUNDBITE: JEAN-FRANCOIS BRUEL, EXECUTIVE CHEF AT RESTAURANT DANIEL IN NEW YORK, SAYING: "It's very nutty and buttery and also because of its texture, you know, it's very crisp, firm eggs. We've been using it for about two years and a half, three years. It's a sustainable product coming from Israel, farm raise with very clear water, you know." The caviar's clearly a hit with chefs. But it's not kosher, so the kibbutz doesn't sell much in Israel - concentrating instead on export, so it can please global gourmets. Joanna Partridge, Reuters