26 February, 2008

Fishy Delights 11: Brunswick Holmes Sardines

Sometimes when I buy a product, my expectations and the actual experience are so widely at odds with one another that it's like I've been the victim of a "bait and switch" scam. These Brunswick sardines are a pretty good example.

Normally, when I buy canned sardines, I expect the tins to contain several small fish. Expensive "premium" brands might pack twenty delicate little fish (in two layers) into the tin, while some of the deep-discount cheap brands will use bigger and coarser fish (maybe four or five) to fill the tin. On occasion, I've had a few really unpleasant surprises, where there might be two or three fish packed with the scales still intact. Bleeurgh.

But even finding three or four really big sardines in the can would have been less startling than what I actually found when I pulled the ring on these tins, each of which contained two gigantic segments of pilchard.

That picture on the left shows what was in the can labeled as packed in "Louisiana Hot Sauce." The "sardines" are sitting on the plate - two massive cuts from the body of a good-sized fish.

Now, as disconcerting as that photo may be, I have to say that the fish itself was of very good quality, mild-flavored and tender, with no scales or nasty "intestinal surprises" lurking within the body cavities. Unfortunately for those who enjoy a spicy lunch, the "Louisiana Hot Sauce" wasn't much of anything - kind of a mildly-paprika-flavored thin sauce without much body or kick that certainly didn't have much in common with any hot sauce I've ever tasted.

Still, I couldn't complain. At 65 cents per can at the local Big Lots! job lot store, the Brunswick sardines were a bargain, and there are plenty of fishy recipes calling for sardines as a "mix in" ingredient where they'd be perfectly adequate.



Unknown said...

Found this post after Googling "Brunswick Holmes" out of curiosity. And I totally agree with every word - bought at my Big Lots as well, surprisingly good quality (the description of the Lousiana Hot Sauce is spot on) and perfect for something needing sardines like a soup or quick sandwich. Win!

Anonymous said...

just found em at some store dollor general or something i always forget the name.but they was 55 a can whcih is the cheapest i saw sardines in a long time.they was huge lol never saw em this size before but they was so good i aite em straight from can soon as i rest up im going to ride back and get the rest of the cans they have

Anonymous said...

I also buy Brunswick Holmes sardines at Big Lots, usually for about 75 cents a can. Quite variable in size, with 2 to 5 per can depending on lot. But the mustard and the hot sauce tins are surprisingly good. I keep several at the office for quick lunches. But I have to go to the park across the street to eat them due to wimpy coworkers.

Unknown said...

I loved them as well. I had been buying the Beach Cliff in Mustard Sauce for 1.39 a can. That was the best price around. They all have 3 little sardines in each can. I stopped in Big Lots to see if they had any and they have the Brunswick Holmes cans for .75. I love them. I am going to go back and buy a bunch more.

Anonymous said...

I, too, buy Brunswick Holmes sardines (in mustard sauce) at Big Lots. I use them mainly for a "light lunch" (with crackers)prior to going out for dinner. I might also use them as a "light dinner" when I've dilly-dallied too long to eat a normal meal. I think they're excellent -- tho I'm not an expert on sardines, and I wouldn't think of buying any other kind. A bargain! I've not found any others that I like more than these (even at higher prices).

Anonymous said...

I also am a connoisseur of Brunswick Holmes sardines. And Big Lots is also the place I purchase them for 75 cents. I was disappointed today when I opened a can to discover not as much fish as usual. The sardines were packed as usual but this can had more than 3/4" space between the fish and the side of the can. The label indicated the same weight as the cans I had left in my cupboard. I am complaining to Brunswick.