At a recent local market, I was advised by a good friend to buy some sardines from a producer who'd come all the way from St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (85), to the North of La Rochelle. These are Atlantic Sardines rather than the more common Mediterranean ones.
Every inch of the canning process is done by hand; a tradition that Conserverie Gendreau have practised ever since they started back in 1903.
Of course there's a lot of hype involved in the sale of every product, and Sardines are no exception. They claim to be the best (who doesn't), and have their cans illustrated by 'self-taught' local-born painter Suzy Ocadlik. The only difference between these and others, is that the fish are roasted for a while before being canned. They are, of course, in Olive Oil.
I recently surprised myself by making baked potatoes that were split in half, filled with a plump tinned Sardine, and with plenty of the Olive Oil poured over. It was stunningly delicious.
So, are they good? Indeed they are; there is a more pronounced flavour of grilled Sardine than in some makes. I'd give them 9/10.
The tins have a charm.