The sardines from Les Mouettes d’Arvor—the last standing fish cannery in Concarneau, Brittany—are fished seasonally by local fisherman along the northwestern coast of France. The fish are sustainably caught in the spring months, when the sardines are just the right size—not too fat and not too lean. Upon arrival to the factory, the freshly caught sardines are plunged into an icy bath of salt water, which preserves their firm flesh and makes them easier to scale.
After their ice bath, the fish are cleaned by hand and laid on racks to dry overnight. This process of drying helps maintain their shape and keeps their skin intact during the next step of the preserving process: frying. The sardines are fried in oil and then hand packed into tins with olive oil and a few slivers of fresh lemon. The lemon perfumes the oil as the fish ages in the tin, resulting in a firm, meaty-yet-buttery sardine with a subtle citrus flavor.
Ingredients: Sardines (75%), extra virgin olive oil, lemon (6%), salt.
About the Producer
Founded in 1959 by Jacques Gonidec and his parents, Les Mouettes d’Arvor is the only remaining fish cannery in the Breton town of Concarneau, one of France’s largest fishing ports. Working with fisherman along the northwestern coast of France, the Gonidec family specializes in sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
While the company has grown over the last 50 years—moving into a larger facility in 1990—the methods of preserving the fish remain the same. Everything is done by hand, the old-fashioned way, from curing the freshly caught fish in salty ice water to maintain its texture and flavor to cleaning, frying and canning.
Fun fact: the company is named after Jacques Gonidec II’s favorite football team, Les Mouettes d’Arvor (meaning “the seagulls of Arvor” in French).