Meghan Frick, News-Topic

LENOIR — Go to a fancy restaurant in New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles and spread caviar on a cracker or sink your knife into grilled sturgeon, and you might have traveled a long way just to eat a Caldwell County native.

A nondescript cluster of red buildings in Happy Valley houses Atlantic Caviar & Sturgeon Company, a farm that this year will process about 3,000 sturgeons.

The company’s product list is simple, just two foods. There’s the sturgeon meat, of course: smooth cuts with a taste more like pork than catfish. But the real delicacy is the caviar, or eggs, from three species of sturgeon: Atlantic, Russian and Siberian.

“It tastes like the ocean – like taking a bite of the ocean,” Elisabeth Wall said Wednesday, spooning up a bite of black, beady caviar.

Wall handles media, marketing and sales for the farm, which was founded in early 2000. The first shipment of fish came in 2006, and they were harvested in 2012.

Since then, the farm has developed a lengthy list of clients. Some chefs buy directly, but the caviar especially is sold mostly through distributors – meaning you’ll find some Caldwell County food being sold in almost any major U.S. city you visit.

“Any place that’s buying fine caviar is probably buying mine,” Wall said.

Atlantic’s caviar will also be on the menu at a National Aquarium dinner in Washington, D.C., on April 24 as part of a series showcasing sustainable seafood options. [more]