Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Guest Review - Vinogirl - The Fatted Calf's Breakfast Sausage, Napa, California
I've have always liked a tasty sausage. I mean, what self respecting English person does not like a good banger? Well actually, my brother Thud had a phobia about sausages when we were growing up, after he had a nightmare about a maggot-infested sausage, so he didn't touch them for years. He will now, on occasion, suffer through a couple of Tesco's Finest traditional pork sausages. My mother has always liked a satisfying Cumberland, those extra long sausages hailing from what is now Cumbria, as she preferred the chunky, chopped meat texture. I seem to remember that my sister, La Serenissima, likes all sausages. Me, myself, I was always most fond of a nice chipolata (it also had the added bonus of sounding really funny when said with a Scouse accent). However, as a teenager I wasn't above making a quick sausage butty out of a common or garden Wall's pork sausage. I have since learned from reading Rate My Sausage that Wall's sausages are not the sausages they once were (sigh!). Sadly, now I live in America, the land of sausages consisting of nothing but fat. Consequently, I have deprived myself of sausages for years simply because I couldn't find a decent tasting US offering. That continued to be the sorry state of sausage affairs until I recently discovered The Fatted Calf.
Located in a rather trendy area of the city of Napa, The Oxbow Public Market, and utilised by locals and visitors alike, The Fatted Calf Charcuterie reminds me somewhat of the butcher shops of my youth (still to be found in the suburbs of Liverpool). Offering salumi, pâtés, cuts of meat and, of course, hand crafted sausages, The Fatted Calf uses only the highest quality natural ingredients including organic and hormone free meats. They even offer classes on making sausages. The shop itself has a befitting butcher-like decor, pleasant ambiance, very friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a tasty product line. I now regularly buy their Breakfast Sausages, hand made and varying in size, they consist of no more ingredients than pork, sage, salt, black pepper, and a hint of garlic (which was undetectable). No rusk or wheat fillers are used. Now, on to the sausages.
Whilst buying my links, I inquired as to the meat content and was told instead that the sausages contain 25% fat (I can do the math, as Americans are fond of saying).
Flavour and Texture:
Very tasty. These sausages were a hit with all of Vinoland's denizens. Meaty texture with nice subtle sage and pepper undertones. Really tasted like pork, which is always a good thing for a pork product.
Value for Money:
These are not cheap sausages, at $11.00 per pound (454g), the six that I bought cost $6.60. That's a whopping $1.10 per sausage - at current exchange rates that is approximately 69p per sausage. My six sausages weighed 270g (about 10 ounces). A little steep perhaps, but when you have endured sausage deprivation as long as me, you would probably pay twice as much for the promise of something edible. Besides, they are very agreeable looking sausages, big chunks of meat and highly visible chopped sage-leaf-bits. In this case value for money is entirely subjective.
I'm an Oxo girl myself, but these sausages gave off the most delicious aroma whilst frying. Vinomaker and the Vinodogs sat up to attention.
Shrinkage was quite considerable I'm afraid. From the original 270g, the six sausages shrunk down to 185g...you do the math! But, it's OK, that means most of that 25% fat cooked out and the resulting leaner sausages were healthier to eat. (The fat is now in the Vinodog's bowls as an evening treat with their dry food. You can thank me later girls.)
And that's it. Yum, sausages - the height of efficiency in butchering. Oh, and just let me go on the record here in saying that I am one English person that has never had a plate of bangers and mash - which most Americans think we eat all the time - so there!
Please join me at Vinsanity where I feel a Fatted Calf sausage and wine pairing coming on.