Friday 26 December 2014

Brown Bag Crisps Lightly Salted

I've not seen these crisps from Brown Bag Crisps in Surrey for sale anywhere. I'm sure I'd have noticed the lovely plain packaging. Anyway, they came in a John Lewis Christmas hamper and I won them in the work raffle. Yes, really. I didn't have to go swapsies with anyone.

So. Natural & Delicious says the packaging. And indeed the ingredients are potatoes, sunflower oil and salt. Only. Suitable for vegetarians, gluten free and lactose free. About as natural as you can get on the crisp front. Which after all isn't very natural; there are no pans of boiling hot oil in nature even for cooking crisps in small batches.

But delicious? These are lovely crisps (shown here in my new Emma Bridgewater bowl); fine cut with a great crunch and beautifully cooked. But not enough salt for me. Yes, I know the flavour is Lightly Salted but this healthy option isn't quite tasty enough for me. You all know I love my salt.

So I tried them with my favourite sour cream and chive dip (only allowed on high days and holidays because it is so incredibly moreish) and they work brilliantly. Very very good indeed.

Other flavours (that I haven't seen) include Oak Smoked Chilli, Smoked Bacon and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar & Onion. I bet they're good.

Well done Phil & Viv from Brown Bag Crisps.

And because it's Christmas here's a photo of my lovely new earrings; the greeny brown cut stone baubles. Also dangling from the little fence on my bathroom shelf: amethyst and peridot drops from Australia, Redwood leaves and cones by Michael Michaud and a swirly Murano glass drop from Venice. If anyone ever asked what my style signifier is I should probably have to say dangly earrings.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Kettle Chips Sea Salt with a Hint of Rosemary

There are only four ingredients in these crisps. Which makes a change in these days of ultra complicated flavours. Potatoes, sunflower oil, sea salt and rosemary extract. And that's it. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans (again!).

 These are pale golden crisps. I'd say they look as though they are cooked in small batches (as it says on the packet) in really hot oil. And so you get a lot of wonderful bubbles in the crisp.

And they seem rather old fashioned. The crisps feel quite oily when you pull them out of the bag (just like crisps when I was young) and there isn't a vast amount of flavour dust. Which is great.

I think I have said quite often that although I'm happy to try interesting new flavours of crisp - and indeed, I frequently do -  in the end I often (not always) prefer a simple flavour. And this is a very simple flavour. It's a lovely gentle salted crisp with (as advertised) a hint of rosemary.

The Chef and I liked them a lot.

The packaging is nice and simple too.

Saturday 13 December 2014

KP Cheese & Tomato Christmas Crackers

An assortment of festive shaped crackers it says on the tub. Perfect for Sharing!

Mmn.... what you get in this tub of Christmas crackers is a selection of little biscuits; star-, Christmas tree-, and (presumably Christmas) bell-shaped biscuits - with a sort of cheese and tomato streusel topping.

I had hoped for great things from this new product. Because cheese footballs, which I love, come in tubs as do the terrific cheeselets (this year of course they are treeslets) and of course twiglets. All great tasty snacks.

Unfortunately although the cheese and tomato topping tastes quite cheese and tomatoey, and herby too, the biscuits themselves are characterless and dry. Which is a real shame.

So we were't that impressed. And neither were the reluctant taste testers.

I'm afraid these get a "could do better" rating. Suitable for vegetarians though.

Friday 12 December 2014

Kettle Chips Lime & Black Pepper

This seasonal flavour was presumably released in summer 2014 but I never saw them until November. It's strange that I never seem to discover the summer flavours until the end of the year. Christmas flavours, on the other hand, don't seem to hang around for so long.

I have tried a number of citrus flavoured crisps so I thought these might be rather good. But I'm not sure.

The crisps themselves have a hearty crunch and lots of really good black pepper taste. But the lime? I'm not so sure about the lime.

To me it tastes blue. I have slight synesthesia and some tastes like bitter lemon and these crisps are definitely blue. And I'm not mad on blue tasting anything.

When I was a child I used to describe pain by colour too. I had a particular orange pain which bothered me a lot. It bothered my doctor too. He was an old fashioned doctor who sat behind a great big desk with his back to a conservatory housing a handsome grape vine. He preferred pain to be sharp or stabbing or.... well, he didn't care for orange pains and did his best to stamp out such descriptions. I never got a proper diagnosis. He didn't like me much; I suffered from too many mystery ailments. And when I got chicken pox for the second time he was really cross.

Anyway, these crisps taste blue to me. The lime seems to be not a real lime but more of a lime flavour. Such as you might find in a boiled sweet or jelly. One of the reluctant taste testers thought of washing up liquid.

So, these crisps are OK but could do better. Not nasty or anything - no, no. But could do better. The bright green packaging is exciting though.

I have a friend who has much more interesting synesthesia than me. She sees each number in a different colour. Now that sounds a lot more fun than orange pains and blue tastes. I think I'd like that.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Burton's Daily Fish'n'Chips Salt & Vinegar

You know what? As a non fish eater I was very nearly put off buying these little fish- and chip-shaped biscuits because they are so carefully branded to look like fish and chips. When I tell people I don't eat fish they weirdly all suppose I must be vegetarian. But no.  I just don't like the taste. So I'm not attracted to fish style products.

However, I thought I'd be brave and try these little baked biscuits. And what a good thing because I think they are terrific. Absolutely delicious.

What you get is a bag full of little fish-shaped biscuits (with a little smiling face) and little chip-shaped biscuits (albeit a bit curved which is perhaps unusual in the average chip). And an amazing gentle but very yummy salt & vinegar flavour.

We all know that salt & vinegar can be very harsh but not in this case. I was really impressed. The Chef isn't a mad keen fan of salt & vinegar but he still thinks the biscuit part of these is very good indeed. The reluctant taste testers at work were very happy to eat quite a lot of these: one of them enthusiastically announced he would be searching for them to eat in the privacy of his own home.

And you get quite a lot in a bag because each biscuit it so small. So you end up eating more than you thought. Of course. Of course because each biscuit is so small, but more importantly of course because the biscuits are so good. Really, quite remarkably good biscuits with a lovely light crunch and not at all dry.

I think it's a 10/10.

The bag features a number of quite terrible puns and dreadful jokes. Somebody at Burton's Biscuits has put quite a lot of work into it. The brand was apparently well-known in the 1980s but cancelled in the early 90s. Here they are back again and what a good thing that is.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Jackpots Mature English Cheddar and Spring Onion

I've not tried Jackpots crisps before and I'm really rather impressed.

I picked them up at Tesco when I went to look for Christmas specials. And because the clever Mr Tesco had hidden his Christmas crisps in the Christmas aisle next to the chocolate reindeer etc, I paid extra attention to the usual crisp aisle. And found these.

And very good they are.

Initial aroma of crisp. Funny how so many potato crisps just smell of crisp even when the taste is really fancy. And I did wonder if I'd made the right choice with the mature English cheddar flavour. Spring onion can be quite harsh. But no. It's a lovely gentle taste. Cheesy and oniony but not too strong. Very nice. A little bit of onion after-taste but that's what you expect from a real spring onion after all.

Pretty crisps too; the skin has been left on. In some crisps this can look clunky or even grubby but it works well here. A variable crunch. Sometimes quite hard, sometimes not so much. But generally a rather good crisp.

The reluctant taste testers at work liked them too.

Jackpots crisps advertise themselves as a truly British company based in East Anglia. Apparently the family has three generations of experience when it comes to growing potatoes. But I suspect the potato venture is quite recent as they only have 5 flavours on offer. Suitable for vegetarians and gluten free.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Tesco Salted Caramel Crisps

Quite a handsome golden brown crisp. Not a bad crunch. Nice size crisps. So far so normal. But OK, we're here to discuss this exotic special Christmas flavour.

So, er, the taste? Well.... I have to say that we really didn't like these that much. The initial aroma on opening the bag was basically potato crisp. And after a minute or two it was... sort of sweet.

Sort of sweet eh? Yes, some people thought they could really taste the caramel but they thought it a dead weird crisp flavour. I couldn't really detect  caramel specifically. It could have been chocolate or something.  But basically it was more "or something".

As so often I poured out a bowlful for the reluctant taste testers at work. Usually I go back an hour or so later and refill the bowl. Not this time. Nope. I took home most of the packet. Which tells its own story.

Really not at all sure what Mr Tesco was thinking of with this crisp flavour. Weird.

Monday 24 November 2014

Pret a Manger Kale Crisps

Noble friend at work bought a healthy half size sandwich (you only get one) and a packet of Kale crisps from Pret. The lunchtime sandwich looked healthy but very tasty; and the crisps?

I'm not sure Kale crisps were created with me in mind. And noble friend wasn't that impressed either.

I wrote about M&S Kale crisps some time back. I wasn't that impressed. And I really wasn't that complimentary. Sorry M&S. And very sorry Pret but I wasn't mad keen on your effort either.

We tried them out on the reluctant taste testers at work and mostly they felt the same as we did.

The thing is that these vegetarian and vegan (my second packet of vegan crisps in a week!) taste a little bit yummy at first bite. I'm guessing it's the onions. But then you get get a crispy crunchy (good crunch by the way) taste of cabbage stalk. And then there are loads of little bits of cabbagey stuff left behind in your mouth.

I'm sorry. I know these are a healthy option crisp with healthy flax seeds and buckwheat and sunflower seeds. And no sugar. Not to mention kale is the healthiest food in the universe. And they come in a tiny 30g bag which can only be a good thing. And the picture on the bag is really handsome. But I can't bring myself to like them.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Phileas Fogg Louisiana Sweet & Smokey BBQ American Style Bubble Chips

I was in Tesco the other day looking for their Christmas 2014 crisps and because they were hidden in the special Christmas aisle next to all the chocolate reindeer and Santas I looked rather hard at the non-Christmas crisps. And I found these.

Interesting purple packet isn't it? And what distinguishes a Louisiana BBQ from any other I wonder? From reading The Pelican Brief I got the impression that everyone in Louisiana eats nothing but shrimp. No shrimp here. Obviously simply reading a book (and watching the film of the book several times) isn't exactly in depth research but I'm scrabbling around for a why or a wherefore on the naming of these crisps. Could it be that it simply sounded good?

I was a bit disappointed that these bubble chips weren't as bubbly as I was expecting. Like the Cheese & New York Deli Relish flavour these crisps aren't made from slices of potato but from dried potato formed into fairly regular oblongs. But with fewer bubbles. Although with just as crazily complicated a flavour.

So what have we here? A slightly sweet smokey flavour (not sure about the BBQ part), quite a lot of vinegar and something sour too. Like I said; complicated. And this flavour is created from clove, coriander, cumin, red chilli, onion, garlic and tomato. Not to mention the usual suspects natural flavourings and spices. And herb. Twice.

The reluctant taste testers at work seemed to like these quite a lot. Two bowls were noshed down really rather quickly and I brought the remainder home for the Chef to try. Like me he wasn't madly impressed. I think we have discovered through a lot of trial and error that neither of us really likes the over-complicated flavours.

Hmn... the last packet of Phileas Fogg crisps I had were made by United Biscuits, and Wikipedia tells me that UB owns the brand. But this packet says KP Snacks on it. I'm not feeling energetic enough to investigate further today!

Friday 21 November 2014

M&S Hand Cooked Lightly Salted Highland Burgundy Red British Potato Crisps

What a complicated name for a 40g packet of crisps! Remember all you fans of imperial measurements, 40g is a mere 1.41 ounces of crisp. Not a lot.

Here we have Marks & Spencer's Christmas crisps for 2014. 5% of the sale goes to Shelter which is a UK charity helping homeless people. Which is great but I rather wish it was more than 5%.

However, what do we really have here? Well, the potatoes are obviously stunning when you chop into them.  I've looked on the Thompson & Morgan website - they sell lots of plants and seeds, and in the case of potatoes: tubers.  And you can absolutely see that these crisps are hardly fiddled with at all. The factory has chopped up the Highland Burgundy potatoes and fried them.  So you get a fancy red crisp with a white surround. Actually grown for you by a potato plant. Hurrah!

Lightly salted? Yes. Quite tasty but for me, there could have been a little more salt. You know I like my salt. And quite a hearty crunch. So not a bad crisp at all.
Yup. Pretty good. So buy some soon and support Shelter.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Tyrrell's Hand Cooked Beach Barbecue

Well this is an odd flavour and no mistake! What is a beach barbecue supposed to taste of? Sausages that you take to the beach along with an elderly frying pan? Seafood - things in shells and other things with claws - that you buy from a seafront fishmonger, or even forage for yourself?

A smoky seaside special to warm the cockles (of your heart I suppose) says the packaging. And also Windbreaks at the ready! Here's a suitably smoky tribute to the jolly optimism of the English seaside barbecue. Chin up chaps, it might not rain. Well, I do wonder if the English seaside barbecue really is an English tradition? I guess maybe I know the wrong people because as far as I know none of us indulges in a beach barbecue.

Interestingly in French and German and Dutch and so on, the crisp flavour is called Summer Barbecue. Now I know quite a lot of people who have barbecues in their back gardens in the summer (spring and autumn too). Not the Chef and me because for some odd reason we like to cook and eat indoors; but the next door neighbours (very enthusiastic barbecue chef our next door neighbour - and I'm sure his wife encourages it) and a bunch of friends are at it all the time.

However... however, I don't think these crisps taste at all barbecue. The flavour is made from a mass of spices including chilli, smoked paprika, ginger, cayenne and cumin, with onion, garlic and tomato. And sugar and sea salt. Also the top favourite "natural flavouring". Naturally. So what you get is a mass of dark orange flavour dust on these very crunchy crisps. I felt there was so much flavour dust it was a little like eating a picnic lunch on the beach where so often you get sand in your food and on your face. So a little bit Beach Barbecue. But then we have the alternative Summer Barbecue name....

We quite liked them. But we couldn't work out what they actually taste of. Tasty. But it's a mystery taste.

Sky blue is quite an unusual colour for food packaging and works nicely with the bonkers picture of the donkey kissing that woman some time in the 1920s. And I very much like the scalloped top of the packet design. It's a little bit beach hut. I've checked the Tyrrell's website and none of the other flavours have this pretty trim.

These crisps are gluten free and vegan friendly. Vegan? That's very unusual. Amazing.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Weight Watchers Creamy Korma Poppadoms

One of my work colleagues has decided she wants to lose a little weight so she is snacking on Weight Watchers crisps. And today she kindly allowed me to taste test her crisp.

This is a square snack sort of squished into a bowl shape, with dark green and red flavour dust - mostly on the inside of the bowl. There's a lovely light korma taste which I thought was rather good. I only ate two of these but I'm pretty sure I would have eaten the whole packet given half a chance.

The korma seasoning seems to be made of sugar, buttermilk, salt, yeast extract, garlic powder and spices (coriander, cumin, ginger, cloves, cinnamon) plus the ever popular "natural flavouring", onion, red sweet pepper and parsley. Lots of taste then. And they are made with low sodium salt and lentil flour. Potato starch too, but I daresay the lentil flour is the healthy bit.

The crunch is quite hard. I'm guessing that this means you take longer to eat your little 16g packet, and the big crunch gives the sensation that you have eaten more than you thought. Sometimes however much you have for lunch you don't really feel satisfied... unless there was a good crunch with your lunch.

Not at all bad. I would certainly try these again.

Monday 17 November 2014

Walkers Baked Hoops and Crosses Roast Beef

Can you beat your friends at the noughts and crosses game?! asks the blurb on the back of the packet. Well, I don't know: usually the trick is to get your mark in the central square but if you're a bad player this doesn't always work. But this is interesting; I thought maybe this crispy snack was called "Hoops and Crosses" because no-one says "noughts and crosses" any more. But apparently they do say noughts and crosses. So, er, why is the snack called Hoops and Crosses?

OK. Call me ultra picky but I had to ask.

Anyhow, I bought a multi pack of these because I've never seen a proper packet. I've only ever seen multi packs. And in Tesco the multi pack was on special. So I got one. A bit dubious because beef flavour crisps are never my favourite, but in the spirit of research I'll try anything once.

And you know what? These are pretty tasty. I liked these little circles and crosses of wholegrain cornmeal rather a lot. Nice crunch, nice size snack that you can just pop into your mouth, nice taste too. A little bit sweet, and a little bit marmite or oxo cube. Not tremendously roast beef - maybe more roast beef with loads of gravy. But seriously tasty.

And I like the way the multi pack gives you a little 18g bag so you don't eat too many at a time. Although I opened two little bags at once for the reluctant tasters at work and the 36g was gone in no time at all. Which is obviously a good sign from the tastiness point of view. But I guess that however many little bags you get inside your multi pack it relies for healthiness on you not opening them one after another and eating them all at once. Yes, really and truly healthy eating is up to us.

I think maybe I'll look for other Hoops and Crosses flavours in the future. But try not to eat them all by myself!

This being a Walkers crispy snack we have an interesting take on the little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly. Yup. It's not a little guy at all, it's a cross and two hoops. Top marks for detail Mr Walker.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Deep River Snacks New York Spicy Dill Pickle

Spicy Dill Pickle? Very very spicy indeed. And yes, I know the packet says spicy but I'm not sure I was expecting quite such spiciness.

This is the last but one packet of crisps that lovely Friend from Buffalo brought from the United States. So having been scrunched up in her suitcase the crisps are a bit broken up. But I notice that the Deep River Snacks bag coped with the pressure in the baggage hold a lot better than the Lay's bags. It's definitely quite sturdy as crisp bags go.

These crisps are all natural, certified gluten free, kosher, with non-GMO potatoes and sunflower oil, no preservatives, no MSG, no trans fat and cholesterol free. And free of peanuts and tree nuts. Wow! Is there anything in this crispy snack? Well, yes; there's a whole lot of taste.

These are quite crunchy little crisps, rather a dark yellow with lots of flavour dust and scattered with teeny tiny snippets of (probably) dill. The flavour is made up of "extractives" of dill weed (not a word I have come across before), onion, garlic and vinegar, and of course the usual suspects: spices and natural flavour. I sometimes wonder why the crisp companies bother to give us any ingredients at all when what they so often tell us is "natural flavour".

Deep River Snacks seem to be very committed to helping a wide variety of charities, each associated with a different flavour of crisp: my packet tells me about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and their Light the Night Walk (in North America). Rosemary & Olive Oil flavour (which I rather fancy) encourages you to support Autism Speaks which is a charity I like the sound of. Peach Habanero Tortilla Chips are also associated with this charity. A combination of peaches and chillis I think? And potatoes of course.

The crispy crunch is a little hard but I'm feeling a little fragile today (glands or something) so probably I wouldn't normally complain about that. The thing that bothers me a bit is that the dill pickle taste (which I love) is almost obscured by the amazing spiciness.

But it's a very different packet of crisps from the norm and doesn't seem to be trying to copy anything else I have tried. And it looks like a nice company with carefully considered values. So I'm pleased to have tried this product.

Friday 7 November 2014

Kettle Chips Mature Cheddar & Red Onion

What giant crisps! Unfortunately I failed to photograph the huge crisps at the top of the packet, but take it from me they were very large. Really quite hard to force into my mouth, and a lot of them folded around each other to make great big parcels of crisp. They get smaller (but not extremely small) as you work your way down the packet.

And tasty too. Lots and lots of very cheesy cheesiness and not too much red onion. A pretty good combination. A great deal of tasty flavour dust, a lovely mature cheddar colour, and a great crunch.

It's really quite hard to know what else to say but we liked these a lot and I accidentally ate rather too many. Luckily I have been walking to work recently so let's hope the walking has cancelled out the effect of too many cheesy crisps.

This is what the packet usually looks like, although this advertisement features a piece of hand carved woodwork (lovingly crafted by Andrew Pearson) instead of an actual bag of crisps. You can read about Andrew Pearson and see some of his other work here. I really like the image of Erasmus trying out a laptop!

The bag I actually bought from Waitrose features a competition to win a handmade kitchen worth £35,000 (or £25,000 in cash). I'm not sure which I'd rather go for. Our kitchen isn't very old but we certainly didn't spend that much on it. And then again, £25,000 would be a nice little nest egg or several very grand holidays. Well, I have entered the prize draw but the results will not be available until June 2015, and I didn't win an instant prize from the pantry.
I think it said on the website that I need to keep the packet to confirm my unique code in order to win. But I can't help feeling that it might have gone a little rancid by next June. So I have scanned the whole bag instead. 
Slight update in the packaging in 2016. And another competition.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Vico La Classique Nature

Another packet of crisps from a motorway service station in France; they really are amazingly good sources of crispy snacks, but then so they are in the UK so I shouldn't be surprised. And maybe I wouldn't be so impressed at the shopping opportunities on the autoroute if I was ever allowed into a real supermarché or even one of the fabulous hypermarchés they have in France.

In the UK crisp varieties are immediately obvious to me (except when they randomly redesign the packaging); in France I have to think a bit harder. It's not always easy to pick new varieties of crispy snack without spending an age reading all the labels. And as we usually stop only to get fuel or for what is euphemistically known as a comfort break I'm not expected to take very long because otherwise we'd be late for our hotel or ferry. So I was a little disappointed that I had picked a slightly dull-looking packet of crisps.

But what can you do? Nature (that's what we used to call ready salted) is a classic flavour, and these crisps have been going for plus de 50 ans  or so it says on the packet.

Made in France with pommes de terres preservées, which could mean a protected or traditional variety of potato (I'm really not sure). We are invited to enjoy these crisps as an aperitif: VICO, le roi de l'aperitif it says on the packet. And, er, it is a bit strange how sometimes it is Vico, and sometimes VICO. I can't make out which is correct.

These rather dull-sounding, not very special looking salted crisps taste just fine. Lovely crunch. Terrific retro salted flavour. Very nice old-fashioned crisps. And tip top with dip. And they have the little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly on the back of the packet.

Thursday 30 October 2014

ROKA Cracker Snack

Cracker Snacks & Dip
Another little box of crispy snacks sent to me by the lovely people at ROKA in the Netherlands.

Oh dear. I feel really mean but we weren't awfully impressed.

Cracker Snacks are small square biscuits or crackers made with linseed, sesame seed, sunflower seed and oat flakes. According to the packaging there is 18% Gouda cheese in the mix too. You can see the cheese on the top, but you don't get a lot of cheesy taste - except there is a pretty good cheesy aftertaste.

These little crackers are not at all nasty. Let's get that absolutely straight. But they don't seem terribly exciting either. I must admit that I didn't try them in all the ways suggested by the packaging: to accompany my soup! (no), with pre-dinner drinks! (no), for decorating with my favourite toppings (no), as a tasty bite! (yes), for barbeques & picnics (no), and for snacking and dipping (yes - yes, I tried that). Yes, we tried snacking with a dip.

And what I got, what the reluctant taste testers at work got, was an overwhelming sensation of healthiness. These crispy crackers have quite a hard crunch and they do taste awfully healthy. I expect it's all the seeds.

I read, for example, that linseeds may help with heart disease, arthritis, PMS, and feeling calmer in times of stress. And if I'm not mistaken I remember a long ago plot from The Archers (for non UK readers it's a very long-running BBC Radio 4 soap: an everyday story of farming folk) where a character suffering terrible menopausal symptoms baked herself a cake full of linseeds and other healthy stuff, but half of the cake was eaten (ha ha ha!) by a greedy and dreadful old man called Joe Grundy (ho ho ho!) and wasn't he upset when he discovered what he'd eaten?

Well, well, perhaps these would be more fun if I'd spread hummus on them, or slices of cheese or I don't know what. I did provide a dip for the reluctant taste testers but although it helped, we were still left with that sensation of healthiness. And I'm sorry to say they are not (as advertised on the packet) irresistible.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Zweifel JouJoux Chips Nature

This is an interesting little 42g bag of Swiss crisps. It's obviously aimed at children (the under 10s) because it's called Joujoux: a small child's toy. And because you get a surprise in the bag. And because it has a cartoon potato crisp on the bag snowboarding (very Swiss) with a bag full of toys. The cartoon crisp is called Chipsli (also very Swiss).

What's a bit odd, though, is that the crisps themselves are quite normal salted potato crisps perfectly palatable to adults. In the UK crisps or crispy snacks aimed at younger children tend to be luridly coloured or shaped like monsters; often they taste pretty ghastly to adults. But these crisps are what you would expect of an ordinary sea salted crisp from Swiss crisp giant Zweifel: rather finer cut than the usual British crisp but very tasty and with a good light crunch.

However, what you get with JouJoux is an added extra; they come Mit Überraschun!, Avec Surpise! In our case we got a small plastic knight with helmet, sword and shield. There's obviously a story here because Chipsli (a crisp) and his friend Pia (possibly a red chilli) travel to Castle Rabstein and discover a princess, a knight and a crow.... I know this because of the little bit of blurb that came with the figure. You can get plastic figures of all these characters if you eat enough bags of crisps.

JouJoux have a webpage which looks as though you have to sign in, and oddly you have to be over 12. I see this is something to do with an initiative to stop younger children being affected by advertising (Swiss Pledge 2012) which is obviously a good thing, but it is a pity because these crisps are aimed at younger children. Although I am over 12 I didn't have to prove it and just clicked the J'ai 12 ans ou plus button to find Chipsli's adventures, and all sorts of other jollies.

There's a bee character called Maia (or Maja depending on whether you speak French or German) who has lots of friends available as rubbers for the end of your pencil, and there are stickers, tattoos, mini jigsaws and luminous stars. Also on the webpage there are comic strips to read. Gripping stuff.

I quite liked these. Perfectly nice (and not too madly unhealthy) crisps with fun surprises in the bag. And I accidentally ate nearly the whole bag while concentrating on the accounts at work.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Smiths Frazzles Crispy Bacon

Wow these are salty!

I love salt, I really do, but this maize-based crispy snack is the saltiest thing I have tried for a long long time.

What we have here is a crispy crunchy corn snack made to look like strips of streaky bacon. Except that the ones in the packet look a lot less like streaky bacon than the ones on the packet: there's a lot less pinky brown stripiness in real life (which in real life is beetroot red in places not pinky brown at all). But they do feature a pretty good bacon-style crinkle.

The packet tells me Frazzles have been around since 1975. And I don't imagine they have changed very much; they do have a 1970s feel about them. The bag is only 43g which has got to be a good thing. Even a massive fan of should not be eating very many of these at a time. Don't run away with the idea that I dislike them. But I wouldn't want a packet every day. Or every week really.

The Smiths brand is of course owned by Walkers (so the packet features a little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly). Walkers are owned by Frito-Lay, who are in turn owned by PepsiCo Inc. There are a number of bacon-alike crispy snacks out there but I'm lead to believe that Frazzles are the original.

Friday 17 October 2014

ROKA Cheese Crispies Jalapeño Peppers

Another triumph from the lovely people at ROKA in the Netherlands. Yet another astonishingly tasty yet delicate (and somehow awfully posh) crispy snack to marvel at and try terribly hard not too eat too many of.

Oh dear how easy it is to fail if you don't want to eat too many ROKA cheese crispies!

Just lovely. A lovely cheesy snack with a hot jalapeño bite.

The original cheese crispies are on my list of all time favourite crispy snacks which tells you how highly I think of them. I had not tried these before: they were part of the wonderful food parcel sent me by ROKA (who seem to like me because I keep telling the world how fabulous their products are). I saved the jalapeño peppers flavour for a special occasion and brought them out this week when we had a tea party for our lovely reluctant taste tester who is taking maternity leave.

OK, so they had to compete with a Colin the Caterpillar cake from Marks & Spencer (although I gather this has recently been made redundant by the new Piñata cake from Asda), and a number of other goodies, but everyone knows how good ROKA cheese crispies are. Plus, I brought half the packet home for the Chef and me. Because it would be a terrible shame to put them all out for the taste testers who were really concentrating on the present-opening activities of the maternity leaver.

We are trying not to eat these too quickly so just going downstairs now for a small snack. Always supposing the Chef hasn't eaten them all when I wasn't looking... Yum!

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Bret's Les Aromatisées Poulet Braisé

I remember years ago there used to be rather a good roast chicken flavour crisp I was very fond of. Only I can't remember who made it (this could have been 30 years ago so perhaps that's not so surprising). But then recently I tried two different roast chicken versions from UK crisp juggernaut Walkers and I wasn't impressed with either and I haven't yet found another UK chicken flavour crisp to try.

So, thinking of the Walkers versions,  it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I tried this French crisp.

Produced by Bret's of Brittany, found as usual at a French motorway service station, and tried by the reluctant taste testers at work and the Chef at home. And we thought these were rather good.

The initial aroma was not terribly tempting but, after all, most people don't sniff their crisps as though they were a glass of swanky wine (just me), so this is not too much of a hurdle especially as the taste is so good.

Crinkle crisps, obviously, a good not too thick, not too thinness of crisp with a good crunch, and a nice degree of very roast chickeny taste. In fact, we thought what we had here was a packet of crisps that taste of spit-roasted chicken. There is a definite hint of properly crunchy spit-roasted chicken skin. Which I don't eat because I don't like skin, but it does make the chicken taste good.

Although, "braisé" does not, of course, mean roast. It means braised. As in, fry lightly and then stew slowly in a closed container. Still tasty though.

Not suitable for vegetarians because these crisps do contain chicken meat powder. It's obvious really that crisps get their flavour from power. Because otherwise you'd have a small potato crisp with a lump of chicken (or cheese or whatever) gummed to it which would be silly. Or perhaps you'd coat your crisp in a chickeny gloop as chocolate digestive biscuits are coated in chocolate... But it is unfortunate that "chicken meat powder" sounds so nasty. And I really don't want to know how that powder is produced.

However, this is a very tasty crisp and if you have been disappointed by your local version of roast (or braised) chicken crisps, and you happen to be on your way to France, I recommend you try these.

Bret's are very keen on their local environment (good for them) and work with local Breton farmers not only to produce locally grown products but to reduce their impact on the environment. Perhaps because of this policy (food miles I imagine) you cannot buy their crisps in the UK. Or not anywhere I have looked (I've not been shopping in Cornwall recently....). Which is a mighty shame because loads of people here eat lots of crisps and you have to suppose it would be a good market for them.

Friday 10 October 2014

Jacob's Treeselets

Oh yes! Jacob's fabulous Cheeselets now come in tree form. Of course they do.

And they're called Treeselets. Obviously.

I've written about Cheeselets before of course, and they are one of my very favourite cheesy snacks. You can read about them here if you like, because, you know, I'm not going to repeat what I said about these terrific little cheesy biscuits in September 2013.

But hey! Now they come in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Can't decide if the Christmas tree form is a little bit brilliant or a little bit sad. Still ultra tasty though.

For scale, this little tree is sitting on the smallest size of post-it: 38 x 51mm. And I thought it would be appropriate to photograph the tub in front of my tree books.

I guess this is a Christmas 2014 special. We'll see if they appear again in the future.