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Wednesday, November 30, 2005



Ooooh, naked anchovies! I'm going to have to take a trip down to Bi-Rite. Those sound like the perfect holiday indulgence.


Oh, yum.

Where's the Bi-Rite?

Are you sure you're never naked when you eat the sardines?


I need to learn to love anchovies. Maybe BiRite should be my first stop.
thanks for the heads up on a new place to try shopping and a new way to think of anchovies.
Have you heard anything about the opening of 'Dosa' in the Mission.
Sounds like something you might be interested in, me too.
Slated for December I think.



Brett -

I love anchovies in oil when they are done properly, as the ones that you talk about. BUT ... I would say that in general, it is easier to get a salt packed anchovy that is good than an anchovy in oil that is good -- so I can understand Alice Waters, Judy Rodgers et al trying to get people to warm to the idea of anchovies in salt -- as opposed to telling them that they need to find one of only a few brands of good anchovies in oil. Just my opinion.

I eat them naked too. And ... have fun with all of the google searches that you just got yourself with that word. ;) You don't know how many searches I get because I once talked about "spanking fresh tomatoes". Those people must be disappointed.


Jennifer, you won't be disappointed! These anchovies are out of this world good.

Tana, Bi-Rite is, per square foot, the nicest gourmet store in the Bay Area. It's tiny, but everything they carry is first rate. It's on 18th St., between Guerrero and Dolores in SF's answer to Berkeley's gourmet ghetto. We should call it "gourmet block," with Bi-Rite, Tartine and Delfina all within 100 feet of one another.

Sam, you were just at Delfina Pizza and you didn't stop at Bi-Rite? If you've never been, your in for a treat. They carry Niman Ranch meats, Recchiutti chocolates, organic veggies (incl. from Mariquita), and they make decent prepared foods (the owner used to be a chef downtown). They smoke their own trout and make better confit than Boulette's. Outside of farmers markets, I do all my shopping at Rainbow and Bi-Rite.

I noticed Dosa too. I strongly considered that spot (the old Val 21) for my own restaurant (but decided it was too big and expensive for little ole me), but am very hopeful for good south Indian food in SF. We desperately need it. Mmmm, dosas, idli, sambar and coconut chutney!

Jen, of course you're right about AW's and JR's original intention. My goal with this post is to enlighten people about an amazing product that is relatively new to Americans. My concern is that people who have read the CP and Zuni cookbooks will avoid these oil-packed anchovies and will miss out on a superior product. My fear, too, is that if there is no demand, then stores won't carry the Spanish anchovies any more. (That happened at Bi-Rite, which was the only place to carry real Valencian horchata, made from tiger nuts. Nobody knew how good it is, so I was the only one who bought it. When it ran out, they didn't order any more). So go out and buy yourself a jar or three!


Brett - i didnt know about BiRite - but I do now.
thanks for the tip - i will be checking out.
I love rainbow too but go there less often because of the no meat and fish.


PS - and so WHEN and wehre are we going to see your new little restaurant?
Anything on the horizon...?


Sam, unfortunately the restaurant search has been fruitless and frustrating, with several near misses.


I love anchovies as much as my husband hates them. So I don't eat them as often as I'd like to.


Brett, I agree with you that oil packed anchioves are a notch over the salt packed, and of course with the statement that "The best anchovies in the world come from the Iberian peninsula", but disagree with the opinion that the ones from L'Escala are better than the ones from Santoña (Cantabria). IMHO the latter's top brands like Don Bocarte, Lorea, Sanfilippo are the finest in Spain wich it's like saying in the world.

And this year try to get as much spanish anchives as you can because next year there won't be no anchoives due to the biological stop ordered by the EU for fishing them last summer.


Nopisto, I remember reading something about a fishing ban when I was in Spain last year, but I didn't realize how strict it was. No anchovies from Cantabria! That's horrible news.

I'll take your word for which anchoa are the best! Both those from L'Escala and those from Cantabria are so much better than anything else available here. Of the brands you listed, the only ones I've seen in SF stores are from Don Bocarte, which I always buy when I visit the Spanish food supplier over in Berkeley, the Spanish Table (also available online). They are indeed even better than the Ortiz Anchoas del Cantábrico, which are not packed in Santoña, but in Ondárroa to the west in the Basque country.


It's interesting to note that you picked the same brand of anchovies as the people at 'Cook's Illustrated' as being the best anchovies available in the US. I've never tried the Ortiz oil packed anchovies but I might give them a try in the future... the problem is that althoug I love anchovies, I just eat so little of them over a year.


It's interesting to note that you picked the same brand of anchovies as the people at 'Cook's Illustrated' as being the best anchovies available in the US. I've never tried the Ortiz oil packed anchovies but I might give them a try in the future... the problem is that althoug I love anchovies, I just eat so little of them over a year.



Anchoas from Ortiz are nice, but you can even see the fishbones and truly great anchoas do not have any remaining fishbone. Don Bocarte is the real benchmark IMHO. Not only because they have all the fishbones removed, but because they use good quality extra virgin olive oil. And I think the cans do not include so much salt as other brands do. So you get pure anchoa flavor.

A suggestion to improve a good (but not outstanding) anchoa is to let the can warm out of the fridge (as a half-preserve, they have to be kept refrigerated) and then discard the olive oil included in the can and drizzle them with the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford.

BTW, another good way to serve anchovies is mixed with roasted red peppers. And perhaps some finely shaved cured cheese (Manchego?).

Best from Spain,



Magictofu, thanks for pointing that out. I did not see that issue of Cook's Illustrated. I don't always agree with their conclusions, but this time they got it right.

Nopisto, good advice. I had actually done just what you suggested, covering the Ortiz anchovies with olive oil from Siurana. You're right that the anchovies from Don Bocarte are not as salty and have no bones. I wish they weren't so difficult to find in the US. But from what you said earlier, they'll will be scarce everywhere soon.



just a brief comment to say that it was pisto (half the part of pistoANDnopisto dot com) who wrote the last comment ;-)



What did we do before the Internet? I've been reading the French Laundry at Home blog ( carolcookskeller.blogspot.com ), and feel inspired to try making the anchovy dressing for a dinner party salad. Never been a big anchovy fan (though a good anchovy-stuffed olive is heavenly), so I thought I'd better look up "salt-packed anchovies" to see if that would be something I could find at Safeway.

Which led me to your very helpful post on that very subject. Click, click, click and I have the info I need!



Lisa G

In my honest and humble ( yeah, right) opinion, people who THINK they don't like anchovies have just never eaten the right one(s).. or, the ones done RIGHT! All hail this mighty, salty, briny little wonder of El ( Il?) Mare!! Lisa in CT


hey, the BEST and i mean THE BEST here in spain, Check " Solano Arriola " or " Anchoas Emilia " from Santoña, Cantabria
12 out of ten, the best of the best,good anchovies are bigger than jesus here in spain, i tell you


PERFECT post Brett! Praise and pride to you for espousing the wonders of consuming those much maligned fury little fish. You covered the topic brilliantly. Nuff sed.

Venkatesh Iyer

Very Good Post. You have done a good job by covering the topic.

Nicholas Stockwell

I think it does depend or where you buy the anchovies from. I work for a top company called Select Europe and have found so many different types of anchovies and how they all taste different. I recon the best anchovy is a Moroccan anchovy, large fillets, very tasty and a lovely texture. Many i have found to be muddy, slimy and totally acidic. The Spainish, Italian and Greek markets are all now taking anchovies from Morocco, as the seas are not plentiful. I suggest you all try our anchovies as you wont be disapointed. My 12 year old daughter loves them and she is very fussy. Look out for a Fruits De Mer label.


One good plan is to take a handful of slat pack anchovies ouot, rinse off the salt, and then let them sit in good olive oil for a while. Quite a lot of European oil is adulterated with cheaper oils. Maybe all of it. But maybe not California oil?

Cesar Torres

Wow, after much Googling, I found this terrific entry on exactly what I was looking for: a good primer on oil-packed high-quality anchovies. I am trying to eat more ethically and sustainably, and though the cost of shipping these across the world is not particularly green, I can at least say these little bottom feeders are less harmful than the large predatory fresh species like salmon, tuna, etc. http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/recipe-of-the-day-salmon-burgers/


The best anchovie that I've ever eat is 'Lolín' anchovies. Incredible.

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