Fish Tales from the Deli Tin Man

Our Deli has a lot of sardine lovers and nobody is more excited about them than William Marshall. That’s a good thing because he’s usually the one who is figuring out how to get those little silver fish from their far away homes to our shelves on Detroit Street. I’m sitting down with Ari this morning at the Deli Next Door and Marshall (he goes by Marshall) comes by and Ari mentions that Tamar Adler, our special guest from last night’s Roadhouse dinner, is coming by the Deli in a few minutes for sardines. That gets a conversation going about all the special stuff Marshall and the crew have coming in.

Ari: What are you most excited about sardines?

Marshall: One thing is that we’ve got almost all the major areas covered. Don’t have Morocco yet but working on that. But we’ve got sardines from every other place you can get them. Right now, I’m learning how different diets and regions affect the flavor of the fish in the tin. That’s the next thing I want to conquer.

Ari: What’s coming in?

Marshall: Just got the Connetable in. That’s the oldest cannery in the world, from 1853. Took two months to find the importer. We’re also getting a really small, really special shipment from the Gonidec family.

Ari: I met with them on my last trip to San Francisco.

Marshall: Yeah. They always keep back a certain amount of each vintage that they sell, since, you know, sardines get better with age. The fish will actually outlast the tin they’re in eventually. If you’re storing them at home keep them in a cool, low moisture spot in the basement. Gonidec is sending us a tiny shipment of 36 different tins from between 2001 and 2008. I don’t know what we’re getting but I can’t wait. They commission a different artist to design their tins every year so maybe we’ll get to see every tin from the past decade. It’s coming on our March/April shipment from French Crossings.

We’re also getting something new from Ortiz—sardines in a glass jar. These are standing straight up and down. Some argue that this orientation speeds the aging process and keeping sardines like that was how it was done in before they were tinned. These are nice fat Spanish sardines.

Ari: I had sardines for dinner last night—the new Connetable. Got home from Tamar’s special dinner and opened a tin. Put some good oil from Majoub on the plate and some of their harissa on that and sardines on top. Looks beautiful. Green gold pool of oil with the deep red harissa and the silver sardines on top. A sprinkle of sea salt and marash pepper flakes and some Paesano toast on the side.

Marshall: Awesome. Gotta get back.

Ari: Tell Tamar “hi.”

If you’re a fellow sardines lover, Zingerman’s Deli is hosting a tinned fish tasting on Tuesday, March 20th, 6:30-8:30pm.