I have been buying products from “Fatted Calf” almost since they started production. However, unlike most of the posts on Chowhound my experience with their products has been a mixed bag. After an absence of more than 2 months I decided to try them again. Here is a description of some of the products that I tried over the course of last three weeks.
“Boudin Noir with Bramley Apples” – $8.00/lb. Links looked nice but tasted rather bland and were too dry. Addition of apples did nothing for flavor or texture. I do admit that it is v. hard to buy good “Blood sausages/Morcilla” in US especially if you tasted the versions made in Spain/Hungary/Poland but it is not impossible. I loved the “Morcela” made by “Moniz” Portuguese Sausage shop in Oakland (510-262-4940) that was sold (at one point) by the “Spanish Table” shop located in Berkeley. They were fresh, flavorful and inexpensive (~$4.00/lb directly at “Moniz”)...lately I called inquiring to buy some and was told that they had “problems” getting blood???...must be a "Halloween" thing.
“Pate Maison” - $13.50/lb. I had it before number of times and it was much better. This time it was way too salty and v. fatty. Bland, almost non-descript flavor.
“Duck Terrine with brandied currants” - $15.00/lb. Texture was OK but again very little flavor...yes, you could see the currants but you could not taste the brandy or the currants. Having said that and taking into account the prices my preference still lies with pates from “Café Rouge”.
“Beef Jerky” - $25.00/lb. If I’m not mistaken this is a relatively new product for them. My initial impression was actually positive...nice flavor profile, a bit of spice and smokiness...nice combination. Before purchasing I asked if the jerky was naturally smoked and was assured that it was...however, after having a few bites you can tell that “liquid” smoke was used. Not to say that there is anything wrong with using “liquid smoke” but I guess it does not go well with the whole “artisanal” notion and the price (at least not in my mind). Texture was v.dry and chewy since the jerky is made by slicing the muscles “with the grain”...not a big negative...just an observation.
“Breasola” - $35.00/lb. Again a new product for them. I bough a small vacuum packages sample that look quite nice. Well, what can I tell you...again no flavor and very “plasticy” texture which made me think...perhaps “humectants” were used to speed up drying?....I hope I’m wrong on this one???...but anyway, the price alone will make this “do not buy again” product. For my budget and my taste you can get very tasty, original, Uruguayan “Breasola” at the “Pasta Shop” ($25.00/lb) or a very good, domestic version at the “Café Rouge” ($20.00/lb).
“Kielbasa” - $9.00/lb. Sorry to report that this was the worst version of “Kielbasa” I ever had...and I had some bad ones. I broiled mine snausages and the links cooked out lots of water and fat...what was left was a non-descript “pulp” without any recognizable flavor...and at $9.00 per lb?....please.....
Long story short...not much has changed but the prices.....My advice is that more time is spent by the proprietors actually learning how to make the products and less time writing the silly “news letters”. Charging more...way more for their versions of the products is not going to bring more business or repeated business.
PS: I’m in no way associated with anyone mentioned above...