Monday, 18 June 2018

The Food Doctor Popped Crisp Thins Sour Cream & Basil

I had to go to the Royal Free the other day for a blood test. The blood nurse at my surgery is on maternity leave and goodness knows when she'll be back so no-one not at death's door (not me any more) gets to have a blood test close to home.

Anyway, I wandered into the handy hospital shop to see how healthy or otherwise the snacks on offer might be. Some of them definitely not (because they're on offer in any handy shop), but these might be different.

These crisps are owned by a company based in (I hesitate to say made in) Harley Street in London. Those of you not from the UK may not be aware that Harley Street (not far from Oxford Street and at 90 degrees to Baker Street of Sherlock Holmes fame) is where all the expensive private doctors hang out here in London.

So obviously some doctor with an interest in the power of nutrition has started a crispy snack business. What a good idea. They are on a mission to make balanced, healthy and wholesome foods that'll do your mind and body good it says on the packet. This crispy snack is nutritionist approved... a dose of goodness in every bag.

Except... are they tasty? Would I buy these crisps again?

Well, erm, no. No I wouldn’t. The crunch is OK but it’s soya and corn not my favourite, potato, and the taste is... sort of more like a pasta sauce than a crispy snack. Or so some of the reluctant taste testers thought.

It’s a shame though, because I’m guessing most of us would be happy to eat healthy crispy snacks if only they were as tasty as a normal (unhealthy) snack. But let’s be honest. None of the the healthy snacks the reluctant taste testers and I have tried are anything like as nice, as tasty as the traditional unhealthy varieties. Part of the problem is that baked snacks are almost never as tasty as fried, and messing about with traditional much loved flavours is never a good thing.

A good try. But not for us.

Friday, 15 June 2018

M&S Rainbow Veggie Tasters

I finally found what my local branch of M&S did with their crispy snacks. Hidden round where they used to sell frying pans. Perhaps they have a healthy eating plan for customers which involves buying fewer crisps because we can’t find them; although maybe not producing any might work better.

We know M&S make fabulous cheesey puffs (slightly confusingly called cheese tasters), and here they have produced a vegetable version, a rainbow veggie version. Beetroot and goats cheese. Carrot and cumin. Spinach and black pepper. Quite complicated flavours.

And not maize but rice snacks. Baked not fried. But that’s the way things are these days; we aren’t allowed to have unhealthy fried stuff. More's the pity.

Not sure this crispy snack is really to my taste. I did eat the whole (quite small) packet but I’m not sure I would buy another.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Lay's Pickles

Another Dutch crisp bought by Noble Friend on her recent visit to Amsterdam.

I was pretty sure Noble Friend would like this crisp because she is a massive fan of joopje sauce crisps and pickles is not unlike that very Dutch flavour. But I was pleased it was different enough for me to enjoy (I don’t really like joopje sauce). Tech taste tester compared this to a Monster Munch flavour... although without the furry child-friendly shape and texture and I think he liked it too.

Lay's crisps have quite a light crunch, so yes, not very like Monster Munch at all.

In French (on the back of the packet) this flavour is called Moutarde Pickles and in Dutch Aardappelchips met Piccalillysmaak. Which slightly begs the question: where does Pickles come from? Interesting.

Mnnn.... good said Cliffs of Moher taste tester as she crunched past me on the way out of the kitchen. I think we can say this was a success.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

M&S Fire Roasted Chilli Tortillas

Gasp! Cliffs of Moher taste tester has been eating crisps unknown to the rest of the taste testers without telling anyone.

Not even giving me the opportunity to taste a crumb or photograph the packet. And I only found out because I chanced to take a photocopy while she was eating her lunch.

Fire Roasted Chilli Tortillas with baked in pieces of red bell pepper and jalapeño chillis. Sounds a bit complicated. Tastes fabulous. I bet these tortilla chips would be tasty with a dip too.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Co-op Fine Foods Vegetable Chips

When the Chef & I were in Switzerland we were invited to supper with a French (actually from Alsace so possibly German) friend and her son who is half Corsican. Both of them spend a lot of time in Switzerland, and both of them spend a lot of time in Peru where they run trekking holidays which I suspect are not for the faint hearted or the dilettante tourist. And I wouldn't be able to cope at all because so much of Peru is very high and I am not at my best at altitude.

If you had asked me to name anyone who wouldn't eat crisps I would have bet on Alsatian friend. And I would have been quite wrong. Because she introduced us to a fine packet of vegetable crisps from the Co-op. And very nice too.

In fact, not just very nice but delicious. Once again I'll remind you that I don't normally buy vegetable crisps as potato crisps keep me plenty busy, but in this case I think I would make an exception. And anyway the Chef liked them so much he went out and bought 2 more packets so we could try them again.

Parsnip (weirdly called panais in French), sweet potato, carrot and beetroot.  And I enjoyed them all. As always a duller crunch than you get from a potato crisp but not too dull, and really, very tasty.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Sarriegui Patatas Fritas Con Sal

Managerial taste tester and his wife stopped at a Hackney pub for a drink on a very hot day and by chance discovered this Spanish crisp. And being mightily impressed they bought a packet for me and the reluctant taste testers to try.

This is a very simple crisp. Very finely cut and rather smaller than I was expecting, these crisps taste mostly of crisp: not one of the overexcitable flavours that manufacturers favour nowadays. And the reluctant taste testers were quite taken with the simplicity.

Architectural taste tester (she who hardly comments) loved this crisp. Like an old fashioned crisp she said.

But Managerial taster tester wasn't so impressed on second tasting and wondered why this crisp seemed so familiar? Taste tester from the New Forest discussed it seriously with him and they finished by deciding it reminded them of Pom Bears. Really? Are they sure?

I can honestly say I had quite forgotten we had tried this crisp before. And below you can see what we thought in February 2016
Another packet of crisps from the wonderful Fortnum & Mason.

It occurs to me that you may not know what Fortnums is. You may not realise the shop was opened in 1707 and is as much a tourist attraction as a shop. Although it is a proper shop and sells many wonderful and desirable things. Shopping at Fortnums online is fun, but to get the full flavour you really need to go there in person.

Fortnums is only just around the corner from Buckingham Palace. You can visit both in one day: the Palace in the morning followed by lunch at Fortnums. I know it can be done. Plus you can then go across the road to the Royal Academy or just go shopping in the Burlington Arcade. A great day out.

Anyway, this is a pretty wonderful crisp. A lovely fine cut crisp, a beautiful crunch, a little bit oily by British crispy standards, but not too much salt; just enough really. And because the crisps are rather oily you get a lot of salt stuck to the inside of the packet. Just swipe your finger around the inside of the packet and lick it.... yum. A real old fashioned crispy experience.

Not surprising that the crisps are a little oily perhaps as they are made with 60% extra virgin olive oil, and 40% sunflower oil.

I think most of us liked this Spanish crisp a lot. Certainly we found it difficult to stop eating them.

Although... as the crisps were so fine cut there were quite a lot of broken crisps at the bottom of the packet. And Tech taste tester said he could not help thinking he was looking at a bowl of cornflakes.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Crunchips Chilli & Lime X-Cut

Here's another packet of crisps from the little shop in Golders Green that stocks lots of European snacks. This one I thought must be Polish because we've tried Crunchips from Poland in the past Green Onions but actually these crisps are from Germany but I had forgotten about the Spare Ribs Roasted (great name) also from Germany.

This is a crinkle cut crisp with loads of flavour dust and a good rich colour. I'm not sure why German for crinkle cut should be X-cut... it seems a bit odd but it's obvious what that means.

And it turns out Cliffs of Moher taste tester was so enthusiastic about this crisp she had me describe in detail where the shop I bought them is. I hope I got it right. I do remember I’d just emerged from an annoying session with my bank (they cancelled my card twice in two weeks because they said they couldn’t contact me - which was a big lie) and I know where that is. The trouble is, typical me, I didn’t look at the name of the shop.

As I often do I took some crisps home for the Chef to try. What is this crisp supposed to be? he asked suspiciously. Chilli and lime I said. That explains it, he said thrusting the packet away. Not for him then. Not really for me either. The crunch is good, the chilli hit is good but I don’t much care for lime as a flavour. But look, Cliffs of Moher loved this crisp.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

M&S Assorted Popcorn 6 Bags

This turquoise packet contains 6 little packets of popcorn: 2 sweet (in a red bag), 2 salted (in a blue bag) and 2 sweet & salty (in a shocking pink bag).
Why salted, but sweet & salty? Who knows? Who cares? Well, anyway, I'm not sure that popcorn is Marks & Spencers' forte. Over the years we have taste tested a whole slew of crisps and crispy snacks from Marks & Spencer and some of them have been great, and some of them haven't, but I don't recall any of them being... well... meh.
Perfectly OK. Just not very thrilling. Not very exciting. I think this popcorn, these popcorns deserve more flavour. A bit more oomph.

And, I don't know. Call me picky if you like, but I don't know why M&S chose these colours for the packets. Turquoise, pink and blue I get. But the red doesn't work for me at all. And somehow this multipack of popcorn didn't pass the thrill threshold either.

Slightly Red Haired Bristolian kindly donated this popcorn as part of a taste testers' night out (or in my case, in) watching season 3 of Shetland. Yes, you too can buy Shetland on DVD, send out for pizza, taste test some popcorn and be just like us. But I wasn't that impressed with this selection.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Ethiquable Chips Pomme de Terre Blue Varietes Anciennes du Perou

The second packet of Peruvian crisps the Chef and I discovered, much to our surprise, in the very nice cafe between Geneva Airport railway station and the airport itself.  It's very civilised at Geneva; you take the train to the airport, and no mucking about with waiting for a bus or struggling through the rain, you simply transfer elegantly from one to the other. Huzzah!

Anyhow, this little packet of crisps from Peru was not entirely what the reluctant taste testers were expecting (except they had already seen the red version).

The bite is very soft compared to what we would normally expect. And the taste is a very gentle salted, with a lot of potato . Quite unusual really. Normal potato crisps don't really taste of potato do they? And Managerial taste tester (who it turns out was reading this blog at the weekend, I can't think why) noted I said he hardly ever commented (which is true), so he commented.

And what he said was, these crisps looks like fruity bird mess. What? Well, you know when the birds have been at the blackberries and their poo goes all purple? Well, that's what he meant. And I think we kind of agreed!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Lay’s Wokkels Paprika

Well, this is exciting. Noble Friend has been to Amsterdam and brought back some packets of crisps for the reluctant taste testers and me to try, and what fun; Wokkels are crispy spirals.

Cliffs of Moher taste tester was much struck by these crunchy spirals and I must say I thought they were very good too. Strangely not very tasty (which you know I like) at first bite, and then a hit of paprika. Very nice. Lovely light crunch, I think Cliffs of Moher would have liked more on the paprika front. But hey ho, it’s a pretty good snack.

I always wonder if spiral crispy snacks are going to have a hard inner er... spine?.. the way spiral pasta does. But in some mysterious way extruded potato copes with the shape better and you don’t get a harder core.

Apparently all the reluctant taste testers in the building (quite a lot of us work part time) really enjoyed this crispy snack. They all got snacked up quite quickly,

Apparently Noble Friend’s Antique Fan friend delights in pointing out suitable sources of crispy snacks for us to try so I mustn’t forget to thank him too.

And extra thanks to Noble Friend for the Van Gogh Museum bag. I’m so pleased she enjoyed visiting the museum.

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