Welcome to our first installment of EFC: The Eat05 Food Championship, where we pit two local foods against each other–cage-match style. Our expert panel of judges eats, drinks, votes, then eats some more. All so you, our dear readers, know where to go and what to buy. The sacrifices we make, am I right?
Who makes the best linguiça on the Central Coast?
This weekend we set out to determine which local company makes the best Linguiça. Also known as Portuguese sausage, linguiça is a staple of Santa Maria style BBQ throughout the central coast. Therefore, its no surprise we have some local meat companies making great linguiça that's available in most grocery stores.
In this showdown, two San Luis Obispo companies–one old and one fairly new–attempt to win over our judges with their smoked pork.
In this corner, wearing the yellow label, is the local legend Cattaneo Bros. The Cattaneo family has been in the area for a hundred years, and they've been processing and selling meat products since 1947. That's right, Marty McFly probably ate Cattaneo Brothers sausage for dinner right before his mom tried to make out with him in '55.
And in this corner, wearing purple, is the relatively new Ray's Own Brand. Founded in 2003, Ray's has quickly gained a reputation for quality sausages and jerky.
Here's the real kicker: Ray's last name? Cattaneo!
Is there bad blood in the family? Is there a grudge going back decades because someone insulted someone else's sausage during Thanksgiving at the Cattaneo house? I have no idea, but I love a good backstory so I'm gonna say "yes".
Tale of the tape
Both linguiças are pork-based and almost identical in ingredients. As you can see in the image below, Ray's sausages (bottom) are a bit larger–by about 2oz per link.
In terms of price, Cattaneo Bros. also came in a little lighter with their linguiça selling for $5.68 per pound. Ray's on the other hand was selling for $6.98 per pound in the same store.
We grilled up both sausages, sliced them and served them to our judges. Mustard and aioli (what the cool kids call mayonnaise) were offered as optional condiments.
What our judges said
In additional to tallying votes, we noted some of the more important highlights from our judges. Here's some of what they said:
"This one is clearly better. It's the perfect linguiça."
"I like this one better. It tastes more like a local, homemade sausage."
"I don't like the mouthfeel. It's too mealy."
"This one is too salty."
And the champion is ...
With a final score of 9-3, the winner of EFC #1 and Linguiça Champion™ is: Cattaneo Bros! Congrats to the winner but its worth noting that, by the end of the night, there was no linguiça left at all.