I know, right? Eeww. And yet it totally works. At least the way they're serving it up over at Sourced in New Farm. I'm pretty sure these are the guys responsible for making sardines cool again. Or maybe just cool. I don't know that there's ever been a time before now when sardines were considered anything other than poor man's sandwich filler. They were a cheap source of protein when I was a kid and I don't recall any fond memories of them.
So maybe it was just perverse nostalgia made me try the La Cuca sardines on toast the first time I saw them on the menu here.
Turned out they were awesome. Nothing like the stinky garbage fish of yore. Two lighty toasted slabs of sourdough, a green salad and a cup of coffee. Breakfast of champions.
Next time I went, however, the menu had changed and the leaf was gone, replaced by a salsa verde. Or maybe pesto. It changes all the damn time. Damn them. The latest incarnation arrived with a strangely familar paste that I thought might have been some sort of capsicum dip.
It was a skinless salami. In fact the skinless salami I'd first tried over at Enoteca and which I'd seen subsequently at half a dozen other, mostly Italian, joints around town. Think of a hot, spicey salami that hasn't 'set' hard and isn't fashioned into a sausage. It usually comes in a little bowl and you spread it on chunks of bread, maybe dabbed with a little olive oil for moisture.
I would never, ever have thought of putting it together with sardines. But these guys did. (Tossed a little pot of confit garlic and some cherry tomatoes in for good measure, too). Thinking I was smearing a sort of pepper dip on my toast, I wasn't surprised by the spike of heat, but the 'meaty' flavours and mouthfeel did provide a momentary WTF interlude.
And then I inhaled the lot.
It was such a mammoth meal I didn't need to eat again until dinner. Only one caveat. The salami paste does not play well with white coffee. I'd have water or a long black if I was doing this again. But given how often Sourced switch out the elements of their sardine toast, I probably won't get the chance.