Linguica taste-off: Fernandes vs. Barcelos
- Melanie Wong Dec 22, 2009 06:53 PM
Recently I stopped by 9 Islands bakery in Rohnert Park to re-stock on linguiça. My favorite brand has been Fernandes since first tasting it at SF’s Grubstake some years ago. But I’d heard about Barcelos, which uses celery juice powder to cure rather than nitrates and has no added MSG. I was happy to find both here for a taste-off.
Barcelos comes in mild, medium and hot spice levels in one-pound packages for $5.99. I chose “medium”, chunky-style.
For Fernandes I picked the “caseira” or homemade chunky-style made with red wine. Packed in random weights and priced at $4.99 per pound, this has a traditional cure with nitrates and MSG.
Both are fully cooked and produced in Tracy, CA. Here’s what the Fernandes vs. Barcelos packs look like.
Tasting them cold just cutting off a slice, there’s not much difference in taste between the two. But sautéing them in a pan to warm them up amplifies the differences between them.
Fernandes has more substantial chunks lending a chewier, denser mouthfeel. The firm fat is in bigger pieces too. Every flavor component is more pronounced: salty, smoky, savory, paprika, tangy wine notes. A little bit goes a long way.
Barcelos is “chunky” too but has more ground meat in the mix than the Fernandes. The flavor is more considerably more subtle and less salty and smoky. I liked the less fatty mouthfeel and cleaner finish.
Fernandes “Caseira” is still my favorite, especially for frying up with some eggs when you want a lot of flavor punch. That said, I liked the taste of the Barcelos too, and would buy it again when I feel I need to cut back on nitrates and MSG. It worked well in caldo verde (Azores style kale and linguica soup).
I’ve reported on Santi’s and Wolfsen’s linguica in the past, which are also worthwhile products. Santi’s is made with heritage breeds and has less visible fat. A few months ago I had some Neto’s from Santa Clara as well and put it in a distant last place. Here’s how I’d rank them.
1. Sao Jorge Fernandes “Caseira” homemade-style
3. Wolfsen’s “Old World Style” smoked
4. Barcelos “Medium, Chunky-style”
9 Island Bakery
1 Padre Pkwy, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Have you had and have ranked Goulart's? Used to go to the Goulart factory in San Jose especially to buy their hand chopped linguica (not available in the markets).
Neto's plain breakfast sausages are good. They used to have Friday lunch time BBQs. Tried a Calabreza patty sandwich and really liked it. They also sell a variety of sausage meats in 2 lb frozen rolls.
I have not tried Goulart's, but would love to especially when you mention hand-chopped. Grubstake in SF uses Fernandes, but the owner also recommended Goulart to me. I noted on the website that it also makes chourico and you can buy at the factory.
Neto's has opened a new restaurant in Santa Clara that has a more extensive menu in addition to grilled sausage.
And I need to make a correction in my original post. The Fernandes is not fully cooked as sold.
1277 E Saint John St, San Jose, CA
Alas, Franco Dunn, who made the linguica and other sausages under the Santi label, has parted company with them ... or them with him ... for some reason.
Has has made regular appearances at the Santa Rosa Friday farmers market, sometimes with his friend Bruce Aidells, but wasn't there last week. Maybe taking a holiday vacation.
I had a holiday reunion with "LikeFrogButOOOH" at Santi in Geyserville on the last day of lunch service. We had a chance to ask the owner what the story was on this. He said that there just wasn't space in the Santa Rosa location for Chef Franco's operation, as wrong as that felt to him. I've since learned that the salumeria-salsicceria has found a new home at Scopa in Healdsburg. Dunn was supposed to be back at the Santa Rosa Saturday farmers market today - did you see him?