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.


“I’ll have the tuna, please.”

Photo:”Minerva” ( by Atomische * Tom Giebel / licensed by CC 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:

Encyclopedia Britannica – Minerva

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

TODAY’S SPECIAL #3 / Conservas Pinhais – Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil

On this Today’s Special I would like to introduce you to a Conservas Pinhais product: the Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil. This can caught my eye in a shop in Berlin. I had no previous knowledge about the company nor about this particular product before. I chose it merely based on the fact that the package looked good, feeling I was in the mood for Chub Mackerel and assuming it was a quality product since it was being sold on that particular gourmet shop.

Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil - Package
Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil – Package ©RFolgado

Before opening this tin of goodness, I did some research about Conservas Pinhais and I gathered a few interesting facts to share with you here. For starters, this company was founded in 1920 in a fishing village in the north of Portugal named Matosinhos.

Conservas Pinhais proudly advertises both on their products as well as when asked about their production, to use mostly traditional methods, except for the cooking, sterilization and the sealing of the tins. This clearly entails a great deal of manual work and trust in the experienced hands of Conservas Pinhais’ 140 workers. The reason given by the company’s president Mr. Antonio Pinhal, for the persistence in artisan methods resides in quality. This way they can guarantee a good handling of their raw materials – which are also premium quality.

Conservas Pinhais realises that they sell at an above average price range but they also believe that they are supplying a top gourmet product. Unfortunately, for various reasons such products not always get the popularity they deserve in Portugal, and 95% of the Pinhais production is then appreciated outside the Portuguese borders.

Snapshot of website
Snapshot of website © RFolgado

You can notice the internationality of the can featured in this post: the product’s name is written in Portuguese “Cavala Picante”, in English “Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil” and in French ” Maquereau Piquantes à Huile d’Olive”. Not only is the name written in these three languages, but also the ingredients and the nutritional information. The company’s website is also written in the package, but in my last attempts to access it, it wasn’t available:(

Overall I find the package quite good. It has a classical design and it’s neatly double wrapped with paper and cellophane. Therefore, I give it a 4 (out of 5) for Package Presentation with thoughts of “perhaps I’m being too picky, just because I would like to see a more modern look”. I decided to stick to my initial feeling and promptly unwrapped it. The can was is excellent conditions, as it would be expected.

Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil - Package detail
Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil – Package detail ©RFolgado

Opening it was easy, I just had to pull a bit harder towards the end, carefully not to spill olive oil all over the place. I gave it a 4 out of 5 in Easiness to Open.

(Note: So far I only found one can, which I found “easy peasy” to open, and that was a tuna can manufactured by Santa Catarina.)

Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil - Inside the can ©RFolgado
Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil – Inside the can ©RFolgado

Inside there were three big good looking chub mackerels asking for a bite. The olive oil sauce contained some clove, bay leave, cucumber, carrot and a chilli pepper for that extra kick. It was easy to take them out of the can without any big fuss since the fish was firm.

Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil - on the plate
Conservas Pinhais / Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil – on the plate ©RFolgado

The chub mackerels tasted amazingly good. However, you should know that I absolutely love chub mackerel. Contrary to what many may say, I don’t think chub mackerel is something you just “give to your cat”🙂 It’s a very tasty fish, pumped with vitamins!

The package said spicy, and it was indeed spicy. Not like burning hot, oh my god my mouth is numb, but the right amount of spiciness, that you can still distinguish the complementary flavours. Nonetheless, if you want to go all the way, the chilli pepper is there for a reason.

In summary, if you like chub mackerel, you like it hot and you’re in for a high quality canned fish meal, go for it! You won’t be disappointed. Conservas Pinhais hip hip hurray!

Evaluation summary:

  • Package presentation (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 4
  • Easiness to open (1 very hard – 5 very easy): 4
  • Quantity: 3 big chub mackerels
  • Flavour: spicy and hot
  • Texture: firm

Basic Info:

  • Manufacturer:  Pinhais & Ca.ª Lda
  • Type of Product: canned chub mackerel
  • Tasted Product: Conservas Pinhais – Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil
  • Ingredients (as in the package): mackerel, olive oil, cucumber, chilli, carrot, cloves, black pepper, salt.
  • Nutritional Information (per 100g, as described in the package, translated): Energy 320Kcal/1326kJ, Proteins 20.9g, Carbohydrates <1g, Fat 26.2g (of which saturated 5.2g), Salt 1g.

Sources used in this post:

TODAY’S SPECIAL #3 / Conservas Pinhais – Spiced Mackerel in Olive Oil

What’s in the can? – Part 2

Remember my last post? The answer was Chub (“cavala”)!

One noticeable difference between the Chub Mackerel and the Atlantic Horse Mackerel is that the latter has tall and keeled scales on the sides, like sticking out a bit.

bigger fish to fry

(Photo:”bigger fish to fry” ( by jenny downing/ licensed by CC BY 2.0 (

And as you may have noticed the Chub Mackerel doesn’t have this characteristic. As you could see on the picture featured in the previous post, the Chub’s back is covered with oblique lines which zigzag and undulate.

In terms of size, the Chub Mackerel tends to be bigger. Although the biggest reported Atlantic Horse Mackerel was 70 cm long  vs. 64 cm for the Chub, in average, the Chub is around 30 cm long, while the Atlantic Horse is 22 cm.

The “value” people attribute to the Chub Mackerel tends to be lower than to the Atlantic Horse Mackerel. In Portugal, you often find Atlantic Horse Mackerel on the restaurants menus and seldom Chub. I remember my aunt from the Algarve buying “cavalas para dar ao gato“, translating it to English: Chub Mackerels to feed to the cat, like these would’t be any good for us humans because they are cheap fish.

“Chub Mackerel you say? Go and fetch them at once human!”

Chub Mackerel you say?
Pantufa ©RFolgado

Actually, this fish is quite rich in vitamin B12, which is good for your nerves and brain. By eating 100gr of it, you’ll get more than double of your daily needs. Atlantic Horse Mackerel is also pretty good in B12, since it has 7.2mcg of B12 per 100gr and you’ll need about 6mcg.

Good news: you can find either of these mackerels in a can too! With olive oil, with vegetable oil, in fillets, with or without skin, and the list goes on and on…

I’ll let you know about how they taste in my Today’s Specials.

Keep in touch, also to get to know more about What’s in the Can!

Have a nice weekend.


What’s in the can? – Part 2