I can talk about sardines for hours and I'm glad to know that here are friendly ears! But, most of all, what I prefer is to taste them !
One of my favorite french ones this year : La Perle des Dieux au fromage de chèvre et aux herbes de Provence. (2008)
Found them on the net. Had a nice chat with the factory lady glad to meet Docsardino, the "man from the sardine museum" !
She's inventing new recipes for her sardines all the time and she's a real passionaria…
First of all, these are real sardines (sardina pilchardus walbaum), the only ones that really deserve the name of sardines. They're coming from Vendée, so they are different from the Britanians. Why? would you say, as Vendée is only a few miles distant from Britany ? They are sardines captured south of the Loire estuary. So they're feeding southly in the sands, when britanians are feeding northly in the rocks. Northern sardines have a more pronounced taste of seaweeds and are more muscular, southerns are younger (the place is cool for babies), a bit more fatty and smoother. There is an ancestral hate between Vendeans and Britons, may be it's because of the sardines they eat !
There is only one sardine factory in Vendée, the cans are sold under different names but always bear The FR 85- factory code when most of Britanians bears the FR 29, FR 22 or FR 56 codes. FR 13 is the only mediterranean factory.
I must say the label on the can is not that nice… I suppose this is still a test lot not worth yet to get a printed can…
Even if the sardines are disposed in the white way, opening the can doesn't give the nice shot I was waiting for. The sardine bellies are a little skinned, il could be better.
But first of all it means that these sardines were fried and not steam cooked, and that's for the best.
Looking at the way the head is cut, it also shows that it has been handcut. (Looking at a headless sardine is an experience that you can compare to the art of cutting flowers in ancient Japan, the strike of the scisors is like a sword shot on a stalk ! As they are stretched and then retract, machine cut sardines always let a few extra milimeters of spinebone going out of the body, not giving a neat headcut. And you know headcutting is another real french skill !!!)
Vendean sardines are canned only when they are very young. So you won't find a two sardines can as it is often the case with spanish, portuguese ou morrocan cans… Young sardines are better when they are let olding in the can. The flesh smoothes and becomes "confite" alowing the synthesis between the calcium of the bone and the different minerals of the olive oil to be transfered in the flesh. Remember olive oil is a natural fruit juice. Sardines are transsubstantied in this mystical process…
So only one star for the label,
three stars for the display,
but five on five for the handcraft,
and most of all five on five for the super taste.
There is a real surprising match between goat cheese, herbes de Provence and sardine. A must discovery !
This was fine with a glass of red Burgandy wine, a 2006 Savigny-les-Beaune to be precise, even if it would have been better with a white average dry Muscadet grown on the Loire banks.
It is also to be noticed that once in a plate these sardines still look fine and appetizing.
Next time, I'll test the smoked chorizo sardine can.
And as I will be for a week vacation on the island of Noirmoutier in Vendée, I'll meet the lady, visit the factory and will probably bring back a whole truck of novelties !
Reviewed by Philippe ANGINOT