ST. ANDREWS , New Brunswick -- At a time when bans on fishing for sturgeon have been implemented globally to protect the species, an innkeeper in Atlantic Canada is about to begin offering caviar harvested from sturgeon grown at a local fish farm.
Guests at Kingsbrae Arms, a luxury hotel that Fodor's ranks among the 20 best in the world, will begin dining on home-grown New Brunswick osetra-style caviar later this month. Already, the five-star property's chef, Marc Latulippe , is serving locally produced smoked sturgeon as an appetizer.
``This is a nice marriage between science and commerce and luxury and demand," said Harry Chancey Jr., who along with his partner, David Oxford, has operated Kingsbrae Arms in St. Andrews since 1996. (Previously, they ran Centennial House, a luxurious bed- and- breakfast in East Hampton, N.Y.)
Years of dwindling catches in the Caspian Sea, combined with intense fishing pressure from organized black-market rings, prompted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species last month to block shipments of prized sturgeon eggs from Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan , and to significantly reduce exports from nations that harvest sturgeon from the Black Sea. Limited exports of sturgeon are still permitted from Iran.
The fish being served at Kingsbrae Arms are short-nosed sturgeon grown by Supreme Sturgeon & Caviar, a local firm and one of only a few in North America to specialize in farm-raised sturgeon. It has 50,000 of the slow-growing, prehistoric-looking fish living in tanks at its sprawling facility, and is about to harvest their eggs for the first time.
The caviar, which is expected to have a nutty flavor and a firm grain, will sell for about $1,100 per pound. Caviar harvested from wild sturgeon sells for as much as $250 per ounce.
``I am very excited about this," said Chancey, a former executive with the Public Broadcasting Service in New York. ``This is a classic farm-to-table story."
The locally produced caviar will join other local and regional delicacies, including clams, crab, lobster, mussels, salmon, and scallops, on the menu at Kingsbrae Arms, an 1897 hilltop manor where rooms run from about $700 to $1,175 per night.
Chancey and Oxford bought the property in 1995 after stopping in St. Andrews on a tour of the Maritimes . The picturesque charm and natural beauty of the town appealed to them, and they were struck, too, by its opulence . St. Andrews' estates are reminiscent of Newport, albeit on a smaller scale; the town is on a peninsula between the St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy Bay, south of Calais, Maine.
``Suddenly, I found myself thinking that maybe this was just the type of place we were looking for," said Chancey, who was tired of congested Hamptons summers.
The two extended their vacation, rented a cottage, and began looking at real estate.
``I remember standing and looking at properties in a real-estate agent's window and thinking to myself, `This is crazy. These prices are like East Hampton.' "
What Chancey didn't realize was that he was looking at purchase prices rather than the cost of full summer rentals.
Several weeks later, Chancey and Oxford bought an estate that had fallen into disrepair, began renovations, and started life over. In the 10 years since, Kingsbrae Arms has been called one of the world's most romantic places by Travel & Leisure, and has twice earned the grand award from Andrew Harper 's Hideaway Report , a newsletter for connoisseurs .
A few doors down from Hillcrest, the estate where Irving Berlin courted his wife, and down the street from the former Hiram Walker Estate, Kingsbrae Arms is surrounded by 27 acres of spectacular gardens and offers sweeping views of the Bay of Fundy, famous for having the world's highest tides, and Maine's rugged coast .
About 350 miles northeast of Boston, St. Andrews is distant enough to be considered off the beaten path, yet easily reached by car and plane. A number of airlines fly into Bangor, a little more than two hours away, and Delta flies non stop from Boston to Fredericton, New Brunswick's provincial capital, several times each day. Fredericton is a little more than an hour's drive from the town where streets are named after the children of King George III.
``You get a history lesson just walking around here," Chancey said. ``You feel the richness of history and it can't be ignored. Time didn't come through here and ravage the place."
St. Andrews is home to one of
St. Andrews has several other inns that cater to elite travelers, including the Rossmount and Windsor House , a restored 1798 sea captain's estate run by Jay Remer, a former auctioneer at
Kingsbrae Arms is unique because of its proximity to Kingsbrae Gardens, a horticultural masterpiece with more than 50,000 trees, shrubs, and perennials.
Each of Kingsbrae Arms' rooms has a fireplace , king-size canopy bed, and marble bathroom, and some have balconies that overlook the gardens.
``The balconies are a great place to sit and drink a glass or a bottle of champagne and while the time away until it is time to eat again," Chancey said.
Dining is a critical part of any stay at Kingsbrae, thanks to Latulippe, a Quebec-born chef whose menu starts with organic vegetables grown by his wife and can include anything from a six-course meal, each of which contains lobster prepared in a different way, to bison and crispy asparagus carpaccio, coffee-crusted caribou leg, roasted guinea hen, or roasted lamb crusted with espresso bean mignonette.
``Marc gets a couple of proposals from guests each summer," Chancey said. ``Women want to stuff him in a suitcase and take him home to cook for them."
Latulippe is eager to add local caviar to his enterprising menu.
``To gourmet diners, caviar is like diamonds ," he said. `` But what makes this so special is that there is no impact on the environment. We will have caviar, and a sustainable supply."
Contact Marty Klinkenberg, senior writer at the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, at email@example.com.