Jimmy Han, 41, a bar proprietor in Los Angeles, was at Coachella in April when he and 4 buddies determined to do a “bump” in a pop-up seafood restaurant — although not the type you might be picturing.
After ordering a seafood platter, he opened a gold tin of Regiis Ova caviar, poured a spoonful on his fist between his thumb and index finger, after which proceeded to lick it off along with his tongue, like salt after a tequila shot.
“Folks used to get excessive off of medication,” Mr. Han stated, laughing, as he crushed the fish eggs in opposition to the highest of his mouth. “Now, we’re getting excessive off the meals.”
Caviar bumps — by which a dollop of the fish roe is eaten (not snorted) off the again of 1’s hand — have develop into a decadent and naughty method to eat the expensive delicacy at sure eating places, modern bars, artwork festivals and different showy gatherings.
“A watch collector got here as much as me yesterday at Frieze and stated she noticed a video of me doing one on Instagram, and she or he wished to attempt,” stated Kristen Shirley, 37, the founding father of La Patiala, a luxurious life-style web site, who was referring to the artwork truthful in New York final month.
When Ms. Shirley entertains buddies at her condominium in SoHo, they drink Champagne and do caviar bumps across the kitchen island. “I like caviar bumps since you don’t need to put collectively an enormous cheese board and get all of the crudité,” she stated. “You simply want a tin and a spoon.”
As a self-proclaimed caviar connoisseur, she prefers the style that approach, too. “For those who put caviar on blinis or chips or put chives or crimson onion on it, it masks the flavour,” Ms. Shirley stated. “Why are you consuming one thing that prices $200 an oz. only for it to style like crimson onion?”
She could also be onto one thing. Caviar specialists say that that is how they’ve historically sampled roe. “Once you would go to the fishermen and take a look at 100 completely different cans of caviar to pick out which of them you wished, you wished a fast method to style the caviar with out muddling your palate,” stated Edward Panchernikov, the director of operations for Caviar Russe, a Michelin-starred restaurant on Madison Avenue that focuses on caviar.
Whereas Caviar Russe doesn’t provide bumps on the menu, different eating places see it as a novel method to promote the indulgent deal with.
Temple Bar, a retro jewel-box lounge within the NoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, added caviar bumps to its menu ($20) when it reopened final October. “It’s decadence on decadence however not unapproachable,” stated Sam Ross, a bartender and bar proprietor, who is likely one of the companions. “It’s the high-low factor you see at eating places proper now.”
Samantha Casuga, the top bartender at Temple, estimates that it sells about 10 an evening. “What’s going to occur is somebody can be like, ‘Ought to we do a caviar bump?’ and it feels a little bit naughty,” Ms. Casuga stated. “Then different folks see it, they usually need to do one, too.”
At Tokyo File Bar, a 12-seat izakaya in Greenwich Village, diners can order a caviar bump with sake for $20, although it’s not marketed on the menu. “We at all times have a ton of caviar round additionally, so this appeared like a enjoyable method to give folks a very good expertise,” stated Ariel Arce, the proprietor.
Ms. Arce, who additionally sells a model of caviar known as CaviAIR, stated that the rising recognition of caviar bumps (and of caviar generally) is the results of improved farming strategies, which has made the delicacy extra reasonably priced. Previously, caviar was thought of too costly to serve so casually.
“Wild caviar is totally unaffordable, however now China, Netherlands, France, Uruguay and the US have nailed the farming practices,” Ms. Arce stated. “Caviar now may be approachable and reasonably priced.”
Nonetheless, farmed caviar remains to be very a lot perceived as a luxurious that’s savored for particular moments. Josh Blum, a personal chef in Miami, who repeatedly hosts dinner events for celebrities, stated that caviar bumps provide a enjoyable method to break the ice. “At Components One this yr I gave one to Diplo,” he stated. “It was fairly humorous. I feel it was his first time doing it, and he liked it.”
“It’s so social,” Mr. Blum added. “It’s what I do within the kitchen to bond with somebody, as a substitute of taking pictures of alcohol. I can’t do this after I work.”