The sweet spot, when it comes to buying caviar, is quality that costs less than $100 an ounce. This season there are several options for sturgeon varieties like transmontanus (white sturgeon) and baerii at that price, and some for less than $50. At those prices, you can forget genuine osetra. Passmore Ranch sells Circle 41 ($49 for 30 grams, about an ounce), which is dark, nicely textured and assertive like sevruga. Passmore Select ($94) and Ranch Reserve ($129) are both more buttery and lush. The company also sells crunchy, bright orange steelhead (trout) roe ($13) that comes in flavors, including an appealing mirin variety. An ounce is a satisfying portion for one and about enough for two. This is the first year the fish farm, near Sacramento, has sold its caviar retail; previous supplies only went to chefs.
Passmore Ranch caviar, passmoreranch.com.