Yesterday, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse in the Galleria upped its game from the mere luxury of oysters and escargot (OK, there was already a $155 shellfish plateau for four) to service fit for a Romanov. The upscale steakhouse debuted two different "premium caviar experiences," featuring two different grades of Osetra caviar. Both are served with toast points, sour cream, separate minced egg yolks and whites, and finely chopped chives. Royal Osetra retails for $125-per-ounce, but the good stuff, the elite reserve Osetra, is $175 for the same amount. Why the difference in price point? The latter variety, with its large gray pearls and nutty flavor, accounts for only five to 10 percent of all Osetra produced.
And like many of Houston's rarest edible luxuries, the caviar is brought from Europe to the Bayou City by distributor DR Delicacy. According to the two-year-old company's CEO and founder Diane Roederer, the elite reserve Osetra isn't her rarest fish egg in stock. That distinction belongs to the white ova laid by albino sturgeons. Even Roederer said she'd never seen the albino caviar before she began stocking it last year.
And there has been much to learn since she began her business in December of 2014. What began as merely a truffle importing business has grown to include sought-after foodstuffs from all over Europe and the United States. A few minutes into her chat with Houstonia, Roederer rises to greet a UPS driver carrying her latest shipment: edible gold and silver from Florida. It will be followed shortly by gold-laced salt from Spain. Just imagine those shimmering margaritas! DR Delicacy is the first distributor in the US to carry the most precious salt. She hopes to have it by Christmas so restaurants will be able to use it for holiday dishes.
Want some for private use? Not so fast. DR is more or less a one-woman operation and Roederer says she simply doesn't have time to expand into retail. However, truffle oil and dried mushrooms are available at Central Market and Roederer will meet soon with the store to pitch other products for their shelves.
But for now, if you want caviar, you'll have to head to one of the restaurants that serves it. "It's like bread in this company," Roederer says, her Gallic equivalent of saying it's the company's bread and butter. "We sell it like baguettes or croissants in France!"
Right now, Del Frisco's, Tony's and Steak 48 are the only Houston restaurants doing a devoted caviar service, but many others, including big names such as Kata Robata, frequently use the eggs in dishes. "Last Friday night I had to make an emergency delivery to Artisans!" Roederer recalls. The caviar and roe isn't all super rare. She also extols the virtues of American Hackleback caviar and French smoked trout roe.
But it's truffles that line most of the shelves of DR's GOOF warehouse/office space. Roederer gives Houstonia a tour through the black and white truffle creams, the pure truffle juice ("When we received it, we did truffle shots that morning," she remembers), the truffle oils made with none of the synthetic aromas that make most so noxious.
Currently the truffle honey comes from Tennessee, but one of Roederer's goals is to begin working with Houston farms and suppliers to make more of her products local. "There's no reason not to," she explains. "Texas has very proud citizens. There are restaurants that won't buy from me because it's not made in Texas."
But some things, like Rougié foie gras from Québec, is just too good not to import. DR's freezers are full of the lobes, as well as lobsters. When the door to the walk-in cooler opens, a waft of earth fills the air. There are morels and hedgehogs, trumpets and chanterelles at every turn. Those are brought here from Europe.
But Roederer sells California mushrooms like maitakes (often called hen of the wood mushrooms) and matsutakes to French businesses, too. Black and white truffles are individually swaddled in a paper towel to protect their subtle assets. "You have chefs who say 'Your truffles don't have a lot of aromas,' but they're used to the synthetics," Roederer says.
But more than enough are impressed. Many will come out in support on January 16 for the second iteration of DR's competition, The Truffle Masters. That evening, 24 restaurants, including BCN Taste & Tradition, Hubbell & Hudson, Killen's Steakhouse and La Table will compete at the Hobby Center for the title of 2017's "Truffle Master." Chances are, chefs will take advantage of far more of DR's delicacies than just truffles. Want tickets? Click here.