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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ortiz anchovies....the dream finally realised

I finally get it (not that I'm paraphrasing Epicure, or anything). I really do. I finally understand what all the fuss is about.
I have been wanting to try the Spanish Ortiz anchovies for so damn long now. Every foodie thing I read raves about their meatiness, their sweetness, their general not-awful-like-a-pizza-ishness. So, a few months back, I hooked up with Plum and went on an expedition to Simon Johnston to spend a voucher I got for my birthday. Hmm - $150 at Simon Johnston doesn't get you very far! A 60g small bar of Valrhona was $10.
But I found me my Ortizs, just the regular size like you'd buy in a supermarket, and had a chat with the staff woman who said the best way to try them was just over some simple spaghetti with olive oil. So, at home today and at a loose end for lunch, I gave it a go.

Not one to just dump some mega-expensive anchovies on pasta, I pulled out some fine spaghettini. A simple dressing like this would be ruined by big, chunky pasta. Then I started by really slowly cooking a LOT of garlic in olive oil and butter. A small pinch of chilli. I didn't want the garlic to brown, so kept it as low as possible. While the pasta cooked, with hand shaking over the tin I opened the anchovies, carefully not spilling a drop of the platinum oil. Of course I had to have a taste - and yes, they are wonderful. Yes, they're soft and meaty and not crunchy and hard like the usuals. They're pinker and generally more appealing to look at. And they do have a sweetness to go along with the general anchovy saltiness. Now, when people said they were sweet, I was almost expecting them to NOT taste like anchovies, but the salty taste was still there. Yay! I love salt! I love anchovies! I love these expensive anchovies!
I melted just one into my garlicky, buttery oil. Threw the pasta into the pan and tossed it about, then added a few more achovies on top. Some of the anchovy oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to cut through it. Some cracked pepper. Then went outside into the beautiful sun, with a glass of chardonnay and enjoyed a rather excellent lunch.
The cost for my 50 gram tin of Ortiz anchovies?.....$15.
Have I left some for another occasion? You betcha.

*NB I saw them, as well as Ortiz tuna at the Spanish stall at the Borough market in London recently. About 7 pounds for the same tiny tin - expensive over there too!



  • yummy, your food looks lovely!

    By Blogger acaligurl, at 11/29/2006 02:59:00 pm  

  • I was reading this thinking I must try them, but $15 a tin? And once you've had the good stuff, it's very hard to go back ... I've already learned this lesson with butter, bread and jam! Must go and get some of those great vinegars we tried for summer salads too.

    By Blogger plum, at 11/29/2006 09:44:00 pm  

  • oooh that looks SO yummy! i just ate my lunch but now the tummy is roaring again.

    i've not tried their anchovies, but oritz tuna RULES i tells ya. i was in valencia last month and lugged a pile of tins back in my suitcase. it's the only souvenir i brought back coz it's so cheap there, whereas i recently saw a can in Harvey Nicks for £4. bloody hell!

    By Anonymous shauna, at 11/30/2006 12:31:00 am  

  • The anchovis look so delicious! So much more tasty than the anchovis your get in these tiny little glasses.

    By Anonymous Claudia, at 11/30/2006 02:26:00 am  

  • This is so interesting. I'll have to try finding some! Love all your posts on Italy, we are going there in July and I'll have to keep some of your tips.

    By Blogger Dianka, at 11/30/2006 06:53:00 am  

  • Acaligurl - thank you!

    Plum - I know! Now I've seen the view from the mountain, I don't want to go back to the ground, but I simply can't justify it all the time, and how often am I going to get to Simon Johnston?! You know, I'm yet to open the walnut oil we bought!

    Shauna - I saw the Ortiz tuna at the Borough market and was tempted by that too, but it's so damn $$$! Apparently there's a place not far from me that sells Sicilian tuna; pure white stuff (also known as crack. Ahem). Much cheaper!

    Claudia - they definitely are!

    Dianka - you'll find them at gourmet stores, department store food halls etc. But be prepared to shell out!

    By Blogger Niki, at 11/30/2006 12:30:00 pm  

  • The anchovies really do taste more meaty and have a stronger flavour.

    I think you now have a duty to try the tuna. I would love to hear waht you think about them. They look so beautifully white but I'm not sure that I could detect that much of a difference in flavour though- or maybe not enough of a diff for that price tag, anyway.

    Simon Johnston is a great store - did you go to the Toorak one or Fitzroy?

    By Anonymous cin, at 11/30/2006 10:57:00 pm  

  • Tins of Ortiz anchovies were £5.34 yesterday in Fortnum and Mason, a top London foodie store *not* known for low prices. (I was just Xmas shopping...)

    So, for London foodies, it might be worth investigating the food stores in some of the Spanish / South American neighborhoods of London - Harrow Road / Golborne Road or Stockwell / Brixton. If they have them in stock, that's probably the cheapest you'll find them in London as these are just ordinary neighborhoods.

    By Blogger denzylle, at 12/01/2006 12:51:00 am  

  • Oooh I'm so jealous. Two food bloggers at Simon Johnston. Wish I could have joined you both.

    By Anonymous Barbara, at 12/01/2006 04:40:00 pm  

  • Mmmmm! You've inspired me to pop over to Brindisa and get a tin or two of these!. I adore anchovies but have never tried the Ortiz ones - now I'd wondering why the hell not!!

    By Blogger Jeanne, at 12/02/2006 12:07:00 am  

  • I'd be interested in other opinions but the Always Fresh from Coles – $2.75 if I remember – are almost identical to Ortiz. i tasted them together twice. I think you'll find valhrona chocolate quite a bit cheaper in the UK too – your Simon Johnson voucher would go a lot further there.

    By Blogger Ed Charles, at 12/04/2006 09:26:00 am  

  • Cin - Hmmm, if you reckon there's not much of a difference, then I don't know if I'm keen to pay the amount! My godfather loves the Sicilian tuna he buys from some Italian delis, which I hope to try soon. We went to the Fitzroy store.

    Denzylle - thank you! Wish I could go shopping in Fortnum & Mason again...!

    Barbara - I wish too

    Jeanne - If you like anchovies, you'll love these

    Ed - oooh, very interesting. I'm making a trip to Coles a high priority!

    By Blogger Niki, at 12/05/2006 12:05:00 pm  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Colin, at 10/27/2009 02:07:00 pm  

  • i only just tried these last week during lunch at cumulus inc. in melbourne. holy moly they were sooooooo good! i had them in a cold green bean salad with thin slivers of raw radish, maybe 3 anchovies in total and a creamy mustard dressing. the flavour just explodes in your mouth!! i used to think salads were boring.. but not anymore! :D

    By Blogger Cathy x., at 6/15/2010 03:58:00 pm  

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