We recently had a brunch with friends who like pickled herring and a 'herring tasting' was proposed for some time in the future. I admit my heart sank...I haven't been able to find prepared herring I've liked for a while and I've never prepared or pickled my own.
The most impressive herring experience I've had was having raw matjes on a slice of bread with onion in Leiden at the time of the Ontzet. I also used to like the herrings from the tubs at a store formerly at York Mills Plaza - but they're not there any more. I recently retried the Abba herring jars from Ikea (which will do in a pinch), and some "Solomon Gundy" from a Loblaws (which was too vinegar-y). The jarred rollmops of the world always seem too sweet. What does a herring-loving lady do?
A business jaunt took me to the wilds of Mississauga where I found an abundance of herring at Starsky's supermarket. There were many kinds and I should have bought a great many more varieties to try, but being conservative, I left with only one - and BINGO! - it's become a new favourite.
It's the Lisner brand 'Bosmanskie herring' [bosun's style - labelled herring fillets in oil boatswian (sic) style on the translation sticker] from Poland. I wish I had bought the large size of this!
These seem lightly pickled then rolled up and placed on a bed of onion. They are speckled with spices which are very mild, but DO add a lot besides a strange look. The overall taste is quite a lot fresher than most pickled herring. They do not taste too sour or too sweet. I could eat these forever.
Second runner up is from a Sobey's supermarket (I believe I also saw it at Starsky's). Golden Herring fillets in wine marinade is a standard chopped squares of herring a sweet/sour vinegar with onion - a Solomon Gundy sort of herring and a decent one. It's a product of Canada.