If you’re a fan of caviare or smoked salmon then it’s quite possible that you’re also familiar with that thing known as the blini. For those who aren’t — and I was one of them so you may well be — a blini is a thin, dainty pancake of Russian origin which is very specific in size, depth and shape and thus not always easy to get a hold of, especially if you’re looking for a premium product. According to Alistair, the perfect blini should be as thin as possible, but still able to support caviare, for example, without collapsing en-route to one’s mouth. Designed to carry one or two mouthfuls, the ideal blini is between 5 and 7cm in diameter and slightly thicker than a standard Shrove Tuesday pancake. And if you don’t fancy caviare or smoked salmon then there are plenty of other options, like sour cream, jam, or even condensed milk.
According to James, The Fish Society has a long history with blinis, which started around 8-years-ago. The first product he found wasn’t very good – too thick – but the second supplier was much better. In James’s own words: “A few years ago we found the perfect blini, and it was from France. I actually met the guy whose company it was, when he dropped in on us while driving to Ireland with his family on holiday. We were too small to buy from him at the time – he wanted us to buy a few crates at a time – but he suggested we buy from his UK distributor instead, who’d happily sell us a few cases at a time. And these blinis really were fantastic. When I tried them on my blini-eating friends, they said they were the best they’d ever had. They were so special, and I remember that one of the ingredients which made them so was marigold flowers. We used to buy them in packs of 16 at a time, frozen, and then heat them up in the oven for 2 minutes.”
But last Friday, when I called James for our weekly chat, he explained to me that all was not well on the blini front. Up until the week before, The Fish Society had been receiving the same kind of product week in, week out for some years, but the last package that had arrived had contained a different kind of blini. Thicker and lacking the finesse of the previous variety, these blinis weren’t good enough – or more accurately, they weren’t the quality they were used to – and with that he set out to locate the original product. Except there was one big problem: the person James called at the suppliers had started working for them after he last ordered some blinis, and had no idea about the change in product. This Friday morning alone he’d spent 90 minutes searching for the supplier, and so far hadn’t had the slightest bit of luck. The information was somewhere in his email Inbox, but he couldn’t remember the name of the man who’d driven by all those years ago, or where he lived in France, or the name of the original blinis which were so delicious…
Which brings us to the final question: do you know the name of the blini maker from France who uses marigolds in his extra-special mixture? If so, James and co would love to hear from you, so please either leave a comment below or get in touch with him by emailing yourfishguyATthefishsociety.co.uk (please replace the AT with @).
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with more next week, and hopefully by then James might be a bit closer to locating these blinis!