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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Patagonia Provisions Seafood > Owner Review by Richard Lyon
PATAGONIA PROVISIONS SEAFOOD
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
August 15, 2020
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 74 years old
Height: 6' 3" [1.91 m]
Weight: 205 lb [(91 kg])
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains
I've been backpacking for half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Backcountry trips are often planned around skiing or ski touring in the winter or fishing opportunities in warmer weather.
Patagonia Provisions, which is related to the iconic gear company, currently offers three types of packaged seafood - salmon, mussels, and mackerel. Each of these comes in different preparations:
Salmon - Wild Pink Salmon, Black Pepper; Wild Sockeye Salmon, Lemon Pepper; Wild Sockeye Salmon, Original; Pacific Northwest Wild Sockeye Salmon
Mussels - Savory Sofrito; Lemon Herb; Smoked
Mackerel - Roasted Garlic; Lemon Caper; Spanish Paprika
Salmon is packed in foil pouches; Pink has two 4 oz/113 g fillets, Wild Sockeye one 6 oz/170 g fillet, and Pacific Northwest one 16 oz/452 g fillet. Mussels and mackerel come in 4.2 oz/120 g tins. All are precooked and ready to eat and said to be shelf stable until opened. All save the Pacific Northwest Wild Sockeye, which is lightly smoked, come with a sauce that is based on very high-grade olive oil.
And not just any olive oil - as might be expected from this environmentally conscious company, it's organic. Most of the other ingredients are organic as well. Patagonia Provisions also guaranties sustainable fishing and harvesting, and includes a short video on this subject for each product on its website. I recommend them all. As an example of the care Patagonia Provisions takes, here's a quote from the website about Sockeye fishing: "Our premium-grade, limited-supply Pacific Northwest Wild Sockeye was harvested off Lummi Island, Washington, using reef nets, an ancient selective-harvest technique developed by the indigenous peoples of the Salish Sea." That's attention to sustainability. The salmon comes from Washington or Alaska, the mackerel from the Cantabria region of Spain, and the mussels from the Galicia region of Spain.
The accompanying text on the website discusses nutritional benefits and is occasionally informative. I had no idea, for example, that salmon had salt pumps in their gills or that mussels were "secretly sexy."
Manufacturer: Patagonia Provisions, patagoniaprovisions.com
Listed weights above. I measured several and found that the listed weight meant the weight of the contents, not including the container.
Packaging: See photos above. If I tag each container with a marked strip of tape I have had no need for the cardboard wrappers when hiking.
MSRP: Pink salmon, $14 US; Wild Sockeye, $14 US; PNW, $40 US; Mussels $7 US; Mackerel $7 US. These are prices for an individual portion. Most products are available at a small discount if purchased in a quantity of ten. Various combinations are also available. Pacific Northwest Salmon is also offered in an 8 oz/226 g portion, MSRP $20 US.
Guaranty: "If you ever order Provisions and aren’t 100% satisfied, we will happily refund you in full. In other words, we’re proud to stand by the flavor, nutrition, sourcing and quality of everything we make."
FIELD CONDITIONS and OBSERVATIONS
Let me begin by describing my standard dining practices when backpacking. All my life I've enjoyed good food, at home and in restaurants. I like to cook for myself and friends. One reason for my preference for base camp backpacking is the opportunity for real food, i e, something neither freeze-dried nor dehydrated. Often my pack weight and waistline have suffered because of this.
A couple of samples of the Patagonia Provisions salmon prompted my first purchase. Earlier this year I bought the Salmon + Mussels Box - three varieties each of salmon and mussels [MSRP $59 US]. Most of the contents I consumed as lunch on day hikes from May through August, in fine and foul weather. When hiking I tend toward light midday meals, so on the day hikes the packed item was lunch, though I might add an energy bar or slice of baguette. I also included a salmon pack as dinner on a couple of overnights in Yellowstone National Park after the Park re-opened in June. Dinner is my main meal when backpacking, so I added some freeze-dried vegetables, rehydrated in camp, to the menu.
Now to get to the main point - every one of these seafood products was utterly delicious. Not just good - exceptionally good. So tasty were they that I now occasionally consume my favorites as lunch or cocktail snacks at home. Without exception each was moist and perfectly seasoned or accompanied. The spices, seasoning, and sauce complemented the seafood, never hiding or overwhelming its distinctive flavor. Other than freshly caught trout I have never had such a meal in the backcountry, at least when I had to pack it in on my back. Seafood generally and salmon in particular have been personal favorites for decades. These products are the best-tasting canned or packaged seafood I have ever eaten.
I do have favorites among the products, notably Lemon Pepper Sockeye, Pacific Northwest Sockeye, and Savory Sofrito Mussels. This last product is wonderful - plump mussels awash in a sauce of mussel broth, sherry, olive oil, bell peppers, onion, spinach, and undisclosed spices - all organic, of course. [Sofrito is a culinary term in Spanish and Italian that refers to the chopped basic vegetables and spices that are cooked first to make up the base of many soups, stews, and sauces.] But these choices turn on personal taste, not the quality of the product. I like and enthusiastically recommend all of them.
The packaging has pluses and minus for backpacking. The tins are solid and easy to open with a tab on the top; the foil packets are stout and require scissors or a knife to open. I haven't had one punctured by a sharp object in my pack. The downside is that the tins are slightly heavier than paper; also the used containers, foil or tins, cannot be burned and therefore must be packed out. And the used containers, like their contents, are messy. The sauces that ensure the seafood remains moist are thick and sticky. I must take care not to spill the sauce on my fingers, especially when eating salmon from the packet. These are not finger foods; a fork or spoon and a napkin are advised.
As noted, I think the portion size of all but the Pacific Northwest Sockeye is about right for a trail lunch or as a main course supplemented by a vegetable or salad and a sweet at dinner. The Pacific Sockeye will serve two or three and the 16-oz/452 g package is a bit large to store in my backpack. Patagonia Provisions says that any of the seafood products can be eaten by itself or as part of a more complicated meal; one of its combination packs includes complementary grains.
The only unfortunate news to report is that these products' quality comes at a price. $40 per pound [about $88 per kilo] is about twice what fresh sockeye fetches in my local markets. But I think it's worth it. I intend to keep indulging myself with these wonderful morsels. They're so tasty I may try out some of Patagonia Provisions' other offerings - at this writing, buffalo jerky, soups, and snacks.
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