Food is one of the great passions of my life. In Spain, conservas are a deep tradition but it’s also tied to important memories in my family. Everyone had their favorite, my dad’s were razor clams, my sister loved mussels, and my brother, tuna belly. We split our childhood between two houses and whenever we went to the house in the country, the first thing we’d eat were the conservas waiting for us in the pantry. In Spain, we enjoy tins, just as they are, as appetizers. I had also always found the object itself very beautiful. This nice little parcel that could fit in your pocket and go with you anywhere, and that the moment you open it, you could enjoy it right away. I always loved that.
We started Lata as 4 friends, and I had already spent years in the food industry with one of them, Vicent. We opened and own a restaurant together in Valencia, and he’s worked with some of the top Spanish food distributors and companies in New York. We never stop talking about food, and we make the selections for Lata together.
From the very start of Lata, we knew we had to up our game and it was very important that we got this selection process right. We’ve put a big effort into traveling and finding the best that’s out there, from big names to small independent canneries, always with only one goal - to find the highest quality. Instead of carrying a brand’s full catalog, we wanted to highlight only the top products from each company and share our favorite ways to eat them.
We had to first decide which brands to work with, and so far we’ve landed on 9 Spanish brands and 1 from Portugal: GüeyuMar, Conservas de Cambados, Don Bocarte, Espinaler, Cabo de Peñas, Jose Gourmet, Olasagasti, Portomuñios, Ramón Peña and Rosara.
Then we would sample the same product across each brand and select the best among them. One day, we tried all the mussels in pickled sauce, another day we tried all the octopus. Of the best, we would select 2 or 3 winners on two simple bases. The first and obviously most important thing is the quality of the product. The product is everything - where it is sourced from, how it is cleaned and prepared, at which moment of freshness. You can even see the artisanal care in the presentation, placing pieces by hand in the can, in every single can. It all matters, product lines are separated by quality and size because this is not just seafood, it is the finest seafood. The second basis is in considering its preparation - whether a specific seafood is better packed in olive oil or brine, if it lends well to more complex flavors, should be stewed with sauces, or if it needs to be enjoyed alone as it is. We would try everything in a head to head comparison and choose 2 or 3 options with variations to offer a small range in the shop. We take pride in making tough choices for only the finest products.
We never stop our search for top products. While in Northern Spain, we drove through different coastal villages and their local cofradías (fishermen associations) sampling ventresca (tuna belly). When we were in Alaska, we sought out local variations of smoked salmon. And we have a trip booked for Portugal in search of the best bacalao (cod) and sardines.
We’ve happily tried literally hundreds of cans and are proud to highlight almost 50 products, but it’s not over. We are adding a few new selections of unique specialties from countries like Denmark, Italy, France or the United States, and soon after from Latin America and Asia. This process is non-stop, it’s our passion to continue searching, researching, learning, adding to and refining our selection.
It’s our joy to discover unique products, discerning the best and sharing them with others. That’s why we have our Discovery Box, we hope that our customers trust us in our selections because we work really hard to find the finest tins out there. Each time we travel, we bring home a suitcase of cans to keep trying to improve our selection as much as possible. We really only have one goal - to offer the best of the best tins at the very best prices.