TODAY’S SPECIAL #7 / Minerva – Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil

Minerva - Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil
Minerva – Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil ©RFolgado

Today’s special is tuna! But not any part of the tuna…we are going for the best, the ventresca! In other words, the flesh from the tuna’s belly. This lovely can of Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil is from the brand Minerva. This brand is brought to us by Fábrica de Conservas – A Poveira, S.A., which officially started its activities in 1938.

Here’s a quick peek of their factory in Póvoa do Varzim, Portugal:

Minerva is “just” one of the many brands produced by this company: Ala-Arriba, Alva, Bela, D’Henry IV, Galleon and Taby, complement A Poveira’s portofolio.

The Minerva labelled products are, in my opinion, quite diversified and have astonishing quality. There are sardines and mackerels with many interesting ingredients such as pickles, curry, oregon, garlic, clove…specialities like sardines, mackerel and codfish roes, different sort of pastes and anchovies…the list is immense and eventually, I’ll get to write about many of them, but today I’m in the mood for some Dolphin-safe tuna.

In the package there’s a drawing of Minerva, the Roman goddess of handicrafts, professions, and arts, which is quite appropriate to represent a traditional product such as Portuguese canned fish. The Minerva goddess is also associated with war, so we can let our imaginations run wild and speculate that she would open a can of these goodies to celebrate a won battle.

Minerva

“I’ll have the tuna, please.”

Photo:”Minerva” (https://flic.kr/p/3gdnQ1) by Atomische * Tom Giebel / licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

By looking at this package I observe that every piece of information is both in Portuguese as well as in English. As for the chosen colours, it’s not my favourite scheme, but it’s nevertheless, pleasant and somewhat retro.

When taking out the paper wrap, I found a golden can in perfect conditions. Overall, and surely influenced by my personal taste, the Package Presentation earns a robust score of 4 out of 5.

Minerva - Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil: unwrapped can
Minerva – Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil: unwrapped can ©RFolgado

As for Easiness to Open, it’s a 2 out of 5: Minerva would call me weakling, but I don’t have the female warrior body type like she does. After some struggle I could finally see a very good looking tuna belly meat filling up the can. There were (what it looked like) 4 fillets inside, but when taking them out of the can I couldn’t really tell them apart.

Minerva - Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil: inside the can
Minerva – Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil: inside the can ©RFolgado

The meat was flaky, as it was supposed to be, and the flavour was fresh and light. The olive oil rounded up the experience nicely. Some parts of the meat were, however, a bit too dry.

Overall, I enjoyed this Minerva can of tuna, but from my previous experiences with this brand, my preferences still lie with their other fish products. Nonetheless, give it a try and if you feel like it, tell me/us your own opinion.


Evaluation summary:

  • Package presentation (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 4
  • Easiness to open (1 very hard – 5 very easy): 2
  • Quantity: 4(?) fillets
  • Flavour: fresh and light
  • Texture: flaky, some parts drier than others

Basic Info:

  • Manufacturer:  Fábrica de Conservas – A Poveira, S.A.
  • Type of Product: canned tuna
  • Tasted Product: Minerva – Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil
  • Ingredients (as described in the package): ventresca tuna (66.6%), olive oil (32.7%) and salt.
  • Nutritional Information (per 100g of drained product, as described in the package): Energy 878Kj/210Kcal, Proteins 24.9g, Carbohydrates 0g, Fat 12.3g (saturated fatty acids: 1.9g), Salt 1g.

Sources used in this post:

http://www.apoveira.pt/?language=42

Encyclopedia Britannica – Minerva

TODAY’S SPECIAL #7 / Minerva – Ventresca Tuna in Olive Oil

TODAY’S SPECIAL #6 / Briosa Gourmet – Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices

Briosa Gourmet - Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices
Briosa Gourmet – Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices ©RFolgado

Today I decided to try a different conserva! Neither with sardines nor with any type of mackerel or tuna, I chose one with garfish! Garfish is know in Portuguese as peixe-agulha or picas, and they are usually a by-catch species, often caught when fishing mackerel since they follow similar migratory patterns. Therefore, they have reduced commercial value and in addition, the colour of the fish bones tends to be a bit off-putting. They acquire a green tone due to an iron phosphate called vivianite. But worry not, as this can of garfish is perfectly safe.

The creator of this conserva, Briosa, is making a very good job in helping to change the scepticism towards this fish. Briosa is a company located in Figueira da Foz (Portugal) and they make cans of goodness not only with garfish but also with sardine, tuna and chub mackerel. They are quite young, since they started their craft in 1991, date the factory was inaugurated in the Figueira da Foz harbour. So the fish should be as fresh as it gets!

I think that made a very good choice with the packaging design. As you can observe, the design resembles hydraulic tiles, which is another antique Portuguese tradition. I find it absolutely lovely. It has the name of the product in English, Portuguese – Picas (Peixe Agulha) em Azeite Picante and in French – Petite Orphie à l’huille d’Olive piquante. The ingredients, as well as the nutritional information are also in the three aforementioned languages. For me it’s a 5 out of 5 for package presentation.

Briosa Gourmet - Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices: packaging details
Briosa Gourmet – Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices: packaging details ©RFolgado

The can was very easy to open, so nothing but positive remarks there. When opening it I found five pieces of garfish: one big chunk plus four smaller ones and a chilli pepper “smiling back at me”. The smell was quite delicate, mostly olive oil scent.

Briosa Gourmet - Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices: lunch is served
Briosa Gourmet – Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices: lunch is served ©RFolgado

If you are wondering how garfish tastes, think of atlantic horse mackerel. At least as for texture, that’s what reminded me the most. The meat is quite dry, but I noticed it more while eating the bigger piece. As for the promised spiciness, I found it quite hot.

This is a wonderful alternative to the sardine or mackerel, and I repeat what I wrote when starting this post: Briosa did a very good job!


Evaluation summary:

  • Package presentation (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 5
  • Easiness to open (1 very hard – 5 very easy): 5
  • Quantity: 5 pieces of garfish with very different sizes
  • Flavour: quite hot
  • Texture: very firm, bigger pieces tend to be dry

Basic Info:

  • Manufacturer:  Briosa Conservas de Pescado, Lda.
  • Type of Product: canned garfish
  • Tasted Product: Briosa Gourmet – Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices
  • Ingredients (as in the package): small garfish, olive oil, chilli pepper, pepper and salt.
  • Nutritional Information (per 100g, as described in the package): Energy 205Kcal/857kJ, Proteins 23.5g, Carbohydrates 0g (from which sugar: 0g), Fat 11g (from which saturated: 1.5g), Salt 1g.

Sources used on this post: 

http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=47&AT=garfish

http://www.soleshare.net/garfish/

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00217-013-1932-y#page-1

TODAY’S SPECIAL #6 / Briosa Gourmet – Small Garfish in Olive Oil with Spices

Today’s Special #5 / Conserverie Parmentier – Sardines with Provençal vegetables confit

Parmentier / Sardines - Légumes provençaux en confit
Parmentier / Sardines – Légumes provençaux en confit ©RFolgado

I would like to introduce you to Conserverie Parmentier – Sardines – Légumes provençaux en confit (the title of the post is my own translation of it to English…I hope I got it right!).

You might be wondering why am I writing about a French brand when I mentioned in my introduction that I would focus on Portuguese ones. Well, let me explain. In fact the production of these tins is outsourced to ESIP – European Seafood Investiments Portugal located in Peniche.

It was brought to my attention that this company is then owned by Thai Union, the world’s largest producer of canned and frozen seafood, which has been on the news not for the best reasons…according to the online newspapers, there are claims of workers being enslaved in Thailand on Thai Union fisheries.

So this is not the type of canned fish I usually write about, but since in the end it’s produced in Portugal, and hopefully with some nice Portuguese sardines, I say it’s part of the scope I’m focusing on right now.

It’s a pity that it says “Produced in Portugal” in such tiny letters…

Parmentier / Sardines - Légumes provençaux en confit - Can you find "Fabriqué au Portugal"?
Parmentier / Sardines – Légumes provençaux en confit – Can you find “Fabriqué au Portugal”? ©RFolgado

However, in general I found the package somewhat eye-catching due to the colours they used. I would have preferred to see some information written in English, rather than just a sticker with a questionable translation to Portuguese. Balancing the pros and cons, I’ll give it a 2 out of five.

Parmentier / Sardines - Légumes provençaux en confit: package detail
Parmentier / Sardines – Légumes provençaux en confit: package detail©RFolgado

Opening the can was quite easy. No biggie here. It seems a good quality type of can. So, on the category “Easiness to open” it’s a comfortable 4 out of 5.

When opening it, the sardines looked quite lush bathed in that Provençal sauce.

Parmentier / Sardines - Légumes provençaux en confit: open can
Parmentier / Sardines – Légumes provençaux en confit: open can ©RFolgado

Noticed how I called it sauce, instead of confit blablabla? I was expecting some pieces of vegetables, but it seems that the vegetables were cooked in confit style and then liquidised. The sauce was quite good though, with a delicate flavour dominated by the tomato. Could have been a bit more salty? Yes for my taste buds, but I guess it’s healthier this way.

The four sardines inside the can weren’t that easy to take out without breaking, so there goes the fancy food presentation. They also had some fish scales attached, which I personally don’t like so much. Some experts on canned sardines say it’s like popcorn kernels😛.

The sardines meat was quite firm, so this is a quite positive point.

In summary, I think there are several positive points about this can of sardines, but it didn’t really wow me. It’s not like I wouldn’t eat it again, but I’m certainly more interested in trying out some other brands first.


Evaluation summary:

  • Package presentation (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 2
  • Easiness to open (1 very hard – 5 very easy): 4
  • Quantity: 4 sardines
  • Flavour: delicate sauce with a predominant tomato flavour
  • Texture: firm

Basic Info:

  • Manufacturer:  ESIP – European Seafood Investiments Portugal (for Conserverie Parmentier
  • Type of Product: canned sardines
  • Tasted Product: Conserverie Parmentier – Sardines – Légumes provençaux en confit
  • Ingredients (as in the package, translated from French): sardines, water, tomato paste, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, converted corn starch, alcohol vinegar, yellow peppers, salt, sugar, dehydrated eggplants, dehydrated courgettes, dehydrated red peppers, garlic, thickener: guar gum, colouring: paprika extract, Provence herbs, spices. Might have traces of mustard.
  • Nutritional Information (per 100g, as described in the package, translated from French): Energy 208Kcal/864kJ, Proteins 15.9g, Carbohydrates 2.5g (from which sugar: 1.5g), Fat 14.8g (from which saturated: 5.4g), Salt 1g.

Sources used on this post: 

http://www.undercurrentnews.com/2015/04/23/thai-union-yellow-card-has-eu-customers-looking-elsewhere/

http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/25410/thai-union-group-government-discuss-labour-abuses-in-seafood-sector/

http://conserverie-parmentier.fr/

Today’s Special #5 / Conserverie Parmentier – Sardines with Provençal vegetables confit

In the Swim – April Edition Vol. 2

Photo:”sardine bento(u)” (https://flic.kr/p/p5akW) by chotda/ licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

“Tinned Gourmet”

The Elle Spanish edition featured several beautiful cans from Tricana, Minor, Prata do Mar, José Gourmet, Minerva, Porthos, Pinhais, Santa Catarina, praising these delicacies and their beautiful package designs.

http://www.elle.es/gourmet/top-gourmet/conservas-en-lata


“The tins invasion”

The Spanish newspaper El Pais published an article about how fashionable canned fish is nowadays and doesn’t forget to mention the high quality Portuguese products. They also write (though too briefly I must say) about the famous restaurant Can the Can in Lisbon, which prepares wonderful dishes with these Portuguese delicacies.

http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/03/05/eps/1425572426_510548.html


“One of the world’s best chefs always has canned fish at his home..what about you?”

Daniel Boulud, a multi-michelin-world renowned-french chef gave an interview to Yahoo food and when asked about the must-have food products at his home…he answered canned fish of course (that and salt, a selection of vinegars, some fancy oils, a bunch of different types of mustard and French charcuterie)! He even provided a quick recipe using canned fish.

https://www.yahoo.com/food/how-does-daniel-boulud-one-of-the-worlds-best-113736651726.html


“Gold Medal for Santa Catarina”

The brand Santa Catarina has already a nice collection of awards, but they managed to take home five more at 4th Concurso Nacional de Conservas de Pescado – Portugal (Canned Fish Portuguese National Contest), including the gold medal for the new Tuna Fillet with Pepper from the Azores.  Can’t wait to try it!

http://www.azores.gov.pt/Portal/pt/novidades/F%C3%A1brica+de+conservas+Santa+Catarina+conquista+mais+cinco+pr%C3%A9mios.htm?lang=en&area=ct


“Items we love right now”

Hopefully they keep loving them afterwards too! The Bela – Portuguese Sardines in Spring Water are in the list of the Cooking Light – editor’s picks!

http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2015/04/15/editors-picks-items-we-love-right-now/

In the Swim – April Edition Vol. 2

TODAY’S SPECIAL #4 / La Gondola – Sardines with Lemon

Today I present to you a very cheeky can of sardines from La Gondola.

La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon - Package
La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon – Package ©RFolgado

La Gondola is a company founded in 1940 by the Italian Carlo Lazzara that was later acquired by Portuguese investors. Around the time the “video killed the radio star” (the 80’s) this company located in Matosinhos – Portugal, decided to reinvent itself by diversifying the type of products offered and betting on quality. Good decision!…but now it’s easy to say it was:)

Paulo Dias, the actual owner, claims to use the fish and seafood when it’s at its best, processing it with traditional methods, pre-cooking the fish and only after cutting and canning it. Interesting fact, the cans of sardines remain for 6 months in the warehouse and are monthly turned to make sure that the precious olive oil bathes the sardines entirely. Like other gourmet canned fish factories, most of their production – around 90% to be more precise, gets exported.

Among their products portfolio comprised of sardine, Atlantic horse mackerel, chub mackerel, squid, octopus, tuna, trout, fish pâté and fish roe, I went for this sexy can of sardines with lemon. This can is a special edition with a package designed by Emilie Zubillaga, a contestant for the Concurso Sardinhas – Festas de Lisboa (in my own translation: Sardines Contest – Lisbon’s St. Anthony Festival). This is a contest organized by EGEAC, a Lisbon public enterprise for the management of facilities and cultural animation, where participants can send their designs for the sardines to be used during the festival campaigns. This sardine from Emilie and more from other talented designers were used in La Gondola packages.

As you may have noticed by now, I really like this special edition package. However, I have to make a remark…I know, I know…I’m picky, but if it’s a special edition, where’s the year?

La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon - Package detail
La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon – Package detail ©RFolgado

After some googling, I finally found out this sardine entered the Sardines Contest of 2011.

The rest of package is quite nice, maybe I would also like to see a more bright background on it, eventually a more glossy paper too. The name of the product, ingredients, and nutrition facts are in three languages: Portuguese, English and French. When removing the cellophane and paper, I found a beautiful can in excellent conditions. Adding it all up, for package presentation it’s a 4 out of 5.

La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon - Can
La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon – Can ©RFolgado

Opening it was really easy and no need to pull much harder towards the end, avoiding spilling the oil all over the place when the metal finally gives in. Perfection! 5 out of 5!

The can contained 6 sardines with slightly different sizes. This is good! It tells us it’s not one of those factories strictly selecting sardines by its size, generating waste and making the lives of fishermen harder than already is. These beautiful sardines had a pleasant aroma with some citrus notes. It was easy to take them out of the can without breaking them and on the bottom there were a couple of lemon slices.

La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon - Can after opening
La Gondola / Sardines with Lemon – Can after opening ©RFolgado

Then it was time to give them a bite. When tasting them one feels the good quality olive oil sweet flavour. The lemon was definitely there but it was not stingy – on the spot (at least on mine)! As for the meat texture, I found it slightly soft which gave me the feeling they were melting in my mouth as I ate it.

Honestly, when I finished the can I was wishing I had got more!!!


Evaluation summary:

  • Package presentation (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 4
  • Easiness to open (1 very hard – 5 very easy): 5
  • Quantity: 6 sardines
  • Flavour: well balanced citrus notes and sweet olive oil
  • Texture: overall firm, slightly on the soft side

Basic Info:

  • Manufacturer:  Fábrica de Conservas La Gondola, Lda.
  • Type of Product: canned sardines
  • Tasted Product: La Gondola – Sardines with lemon
  • Ingredients (as described in the package): sardines (70%), olive oil (24.8%), lemon (4.5%) and salt.
  • Nutritional Information (per 100g, as described in the package): Energy Value 240Kcal/1008kJ, Proteins 24g, Carbohydrates 0g, Fat 17g (of which saturated 3.5g), Salt 0.94g.

 Sources used in this post:

http://www.conservaslagondola.pt/

http://lifestyle.publico.pt/artigo/320001_sete-conservas-de-peixe-portuguesas-que-andam-nas-bocas-do-mundo

http://www.portugalfoods.org/catalogo/files/assets/common/downloads/page0072.pdf

http://sardinhas.festasdelisboa.com/en/emilie-zubillaga

TODAY’S SPECIAL #4 / La Gondola – Sardines with Lemon

Easter time at Loja das Conservas / Lisbon

Some went looking for Easter eggs I’m more the finding new types of canned fish type of gal.

My kind of Easter
My kind of Easter ©RFolgado

During this Easter I had the chance of visiting the “Loja das Conservas“, which is a shop located in Lisbon’s downtown. Here you can find many different brands of canned fish and seafood. Actually, there are two of these shops in Lisbon: one in Rua do Arsenal 130 and another one in Praça das Flores 62. I visited the first one and I must say I found it really cool! They have many different Portuguese brands represented and a lot of variety to choose from! The employees are really nice and speak several languages, so if you’re a foreigner in town I’m sure you’ll feel welcomed at this shop. Your only difficulty will be to calculate how many cans you can pack in your luggage. I booked a whole bag in my Ryanair flight just for it…well that, and couple of nice bottles of wine;)

Note that by saying foreigners are welcomed at this shop, I don’t mean it’s for tourists only! Not at all. I felt at home navigating through the shop. The employee who was taking care of me underlined that the objective of these shops is also to make sure the Portuguese people get to know these exquisite products.

As you may have read in a previous post of mine, high quality canned fish manufacturers export most of their production. Mainly due to the above average price of the products. One important information about this shop is that they do not overprice their products in spite of their location, which is for sure inviting for everyone. Slowly but steadily things are changing and Portuguese are starting to appreciate much more quality canned fish. Initiatives like this one from the ANICP – Associação Nacional dos Industriais de Conservas de Peixe (National Association of Manufacturers of canned fish) definitively play a big role.

So, if you’re in Lisbon, Portuguese or not, and like canned seafood, visiting this shop is also well worth a visit! Well, not exactly…either you like canned seafood or not, you should give it a try, since you might find other interesting surprises as well! You can even can a secret message for you loved one…Isn’t that cool?

Easter time at Loja das Conservas / Lisbon

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How to navigate these waters?