I'm already in the bean club, and my sourdough is fed. It seemed like a good time, then, to become a tinned-fish person.

These sardines were an impulse buy from Real Good Food—my no-longer-secret source for flour and rice—which imports them directly from Matosinhos, Portugal. My thinking was, since there's no visiting a wine bar at the moment, let alone the Mediterranean, why not have a healthier, more nutritious alternative to charcuterie at home, not to mention a more ocean-friendly option than most fish?

Conservas Pinhais is a 100-year-old artisanal producer that gets each morning's catch cleaned, cooked and canned on the same day. The sardines come spiced or not, in good-quality olive oil or tomato sauce. The seasoning mix in the spiced sardines is salt, cloves, black pepper and laurel, with dainty slices of carrot and cucumber, plus a single piri piri pepper, crammed alongside three fairly significant chunks of preserved pilchard.

My wife's review was, "Tastes like tuna but more fishy," but it's also pretty mellow, and more tender than oily, at least compared to anchovies. Real Good Food owner Jim Dixon recommends using them in pasta, as part of a composed grain salad, or mixed with soft cheese as a dip. But I had mine on Triscuits alongside Pennsylvanian Unique Pretzels, and the mix of spice and fat and salt and crunch was perfect.
Recommended. 

BUY IT: Real Good Food, 935 NE Couch St., 503-987-0828, realgoodfood.com. $7.