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

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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:P.

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

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

How to navigate these waters?

Dear readers,

To easily navigate this blog just click on the symbol on the right upper corner.

fishintin blog navigation

You have the Starters where you’ll find the About page and the Disclaimer.

Then you have the On the Menu, where you can select the post category you wish to read about: In the Swim  is my personal collection of news about Portuguese canned seafood; the Today’s Special are all the tastings I’ve made for this blog; the What’s in the can?  are posts with interesting facts and figures about the different types of fish you can find canned; Floating are posts such as this one and experiences somewhat related to canned fish.

After that you’ll find the Fresh Posts with the latest postings, and right below, the links to the different social media networks I’m connected to:

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Happy reading!

How to navigate these waters?

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 pinhais.pt website
Snapshot of pinhais.pt 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:

http://www.dn.pt/inicio/interior.aspx?content_id=992080&page=1

http://www.portugalfoods.org/catalogo/files/assets/common/downloads/page0047.pdf

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

Today’s Special #2 / Minor – Small Horse Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Minor - Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Minor – Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce ©RFolgado

In today’s special I would like to share with you my experience with a product from Conserveira de Lisboa, Lda.  But first let me give you a bit of background information.

The Conserveira de Lisboa is a very interesting shop in the Lisbon’s downtown which first got its official name in 1942. They are a family owned business which stands for the traditional trading of their unique brands of canned fish: Tricana, Minor and Prata do Mar.

Their shop is now part of the Lisbon tourist route, featured for instance in the Lonely Planet guides, also in the Guide du Routard and in the Dumont ones. It also caught the attention of the international press appearing in well renowned newspapers and magazines such as the Monocle, The Guardian, Zeit and the New York Times.

It’s no surprise that this company has had such good reviews. It’s partly explained by their investment on the traditional appearance of both the shop as the products, as well as by their focus on the clients. The manual work executed by Dona Manuela carefully wrapping each can (“up to 600 a day”) tells us a bit about it:

From their three brands I decided to go for Minor (admittedly because it has a cat on its cover). This brand focuses on small fishes, such as the atlantic horse mackerel, chub mackerel and sardines. From this brand portfolio I selected the atlantic horse mackerel in spicy tomato sauce, because I usually enjoy these preparations with different sauces.

Minor - Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce, package details
Minor – Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce, package details © RFolgado

Besides liking the cat on the package, I really like the whole retro look of it. The company logo printed on the side brings together the themes of fish and Lisbon. In addition, it’s quite nice that they put the name of the product in three languages: Carapauzinhos em Tomate Picante – the Portuguese version, Small Horse Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce – its translation to English and Petites Épinoches à la Sauce du Tomate Piquant – for the French name. The ingredients and nutritional information are just in Portuguese though.

When I removed the paper wrapping from the can, I was a bit surprised to see some rust marks. Since they were close to the top reentrancy zone, where the can is less resistant, I was concerned that my snack might have been compromised. However, the can didn’t look bulged nor was it leaking, so it seemed safe to proceed. I wondered if eventually this can was transported together many others, wrapped in plastic, exposed to somewhat cold, and then when transported to the inside of the shop I bought it from, the plastic was removed before the package had time to acclimatize and condensation formed, concentrating on those spots…would that condensation be enough to start forming rust? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m just speculating here.

Minor - Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce Package
Minor – Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce Package © RFolgado

I trust that this kind of defects don’t happen so often, so I don’t feel it’s fair to give it too much weight to my already subjective evaluation. So let’s put a number on it: it’s a 3 out of 5 for Package Presentation.

Then it was time to pull the ring and take a look to what’s inside. I had to pull a bit harder towards the end, but no big deal. In “Easiness to open” it’s a steady 4 out of 5.

Minor - Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce, inside the can
Minor – Spicy Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce, inside the can © RFolgado

At first I saw 4 good looking mackerels on the rich tomato sauce. I started taking them out, and there where another 4 beneath. Although there were so many mackerels inside, each one was whole, which I see as a sign of good fish handling. Additionally, it wasn’t difficult to remove them from the inside without damaging them.

The fish was firm and I couldn’t notice any fish scales. As for the flavour, the sauce was rich, meaning that it had somewhat a deep flavour like the one you get from a good homemade tomato sauce. I also found it salty and averagely hot.

In summary, I liked it and I think it makes a very nice meal by it self with some bread, some salad on the side and perhaps a glass of Rosé wine.

Cheers!


Evaluation summary:

  • Package presentation (1 very poor – 5 excellent): 3
  • Easiness to open (1 very hard – 5 very easy): 4
  • Quantity: 8 atlantic horse mackerels
  • Flavour: rich, salty and averagely hot
  • Texture: firm

Basic Info:

  • Manufacturer:  Conserveira de Lisboa, Lda.
  • Type of Product: canned atlantic horse mackerel
  • Tasted Product: Minor – Small Horse Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce
  • Ingredients (as in the package, translated): atlantic horse mackerel, vegetable oil, tomato, piri-piri and salt
  • Nutritional Information (per 100g, as described in the package, translated): Energy 209Kcal/875kJ, Proteins 26.4g, Carbohydrates 0.8g, Fat 13g
Today’s Special #2 / Minor – Small Horse Mackerel in Spicy Tomato Sauce