Monday 31 March 2014

Pipers Crisp Co Wissington Spicy Tomato

I picked up these lovely crisps (made by farmers) at Luton Airport. A nice small 40g packet so you don't feel enormously greedy if you eat the whole thing, and if you don't like them then it's not too much of a waste. Except of course that buying anything at an airport is always expensive!

Anyhow, these are lovely crisps. The packaging is very simple; just two shades of tomatoey orange. Which is fine as the flavour is spicy tomato. Don't know what makes it Wissington spicy tomato though. Nice simple typeface. It's a simple smart design.

The crisps themselves are a little smaller than average which is no bad thing. I get a little fed up battling with gigantic sized crisps. And the crunch is just right. Quite a dark tomatoey colour and a terrific spicy flavour.

There is a little bit too much celery for me in the exciting selection of spices: coriander, cayenne, cumin, mustard, black pepper, clove, green cardamom, garlic and marjoram. Most unfortunately I am intolerant to celery so I couldn't eat very many of these crisps (don't want to swell up - best not really) but I do hope you will give them a try if you have the opportunity. They won a Great Taste Gold Award in 2010 and I'm not surprised.

The tomatoes are Norfolk plum tomatoes grown at Cornerways Nursery and (rather fabulously) pollinated by over 50,000 on-site bumblebees. I didn't know people farmed bumblebees but it sounds a great idea. They are such wonderful animals and we don't see anything like as many as we used to.

I'm going to look out for another flavour from Pipers Crisp Co. There are six more flavours to try so I hope to find one soon.

Very nice crisps. Top marks. Watch out if, like me, you can't eat celery. Otherwise.... What's stopping you?

Sunday 30 March 2014

Pai d'Oro Anellini Gusto Pizza

I can't remember now if we got these crispy maize rings in a supermarket in Stresa or Baveno, but I suppose it doesn't matter much as they're both on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy.  But I have to admit that I'm pretty disappointed with my first foray into Italian crisps. Especially as Pai seem to be sponsors of the Italian football team so you might hope their products would be tasty.

Well, you might hope because what we have here is "lo snack delizioso e stuzzicante". Yes….

This is quite a big bag considering it only has 35g of crispy maize snacks in it. But I suppose they are ring-shaped so you get a great big hole in the middle which takes up space but doesn't weigh anything. So top marks for the ring shape.

And the gusto pizza? No pizza I ever ate tasted like this, and the smell isn't pizzary either. Quite nice orangey colour to the rings but not a lot of flavour dust. They are quite (again with the quite) nice but not massively exciting. Like many maize-based crispy snacks the rings are a bit dry, but not terribly dry. I mean, these are OK but I wouldn't bother getting another packet. And if my pizza tasted as dull as this I wouldn't buy that sort of pizza again either. Sorry Pai.

Of course, my issues with the slightly pale taste could be that I am not an Italian. We will never know.

Obviously Pai say all sorts of grandiose things about their products, both on the packaging and on the not very impressive website (weirdly you have to download a sort of attachment to get any information) and they seem particularly proud of the fact that this snack is baked not fried. At least, speaking (or perhaps reading) not a lot of Italian, I am extrapolating from the many other packets of crispy snacks I have read so I expect that is what this means: "Infatti, graze alla cottura al forno e ideale per un break leggier e ricco di gusto".  Yes, these crisps are oven baked (technical term there) and are ideal for a tasty snack... I translate badly!

Don't forget to rispetta l'ambiente and throw the packet away responsibly.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Salty Dog Sweet Chilli Crisps

Salty Dog the hand cooked crisps that bite back! it says here.

Do they? Well, I don't know about the bite but these are pretty good crisps. I picked them up at Luton Airport (not much else to do other than shop for crisps and fob off men trying to give up their seats for me) at vast expense: £1.15 for 40g for goodness sake. Oh well, it is an airport.

Anyway, you may have read that I recently tried one of Mr Tesco's new offerings in the crisp department: Goat's Cheese and Sticky Chilli Jam. Which I felt were much too sweet. Ever hopeful I thought I'd try Salty Dog's sweet chilli offering. Not bad at all.

A little bit sweet but not too much so. Nice taste, nice smell when you open the packet. Not too big, not too small. A fair number of folded crisps but I'm not fussed about that. Good crunch. Quite a bit of jalapeño flavour going on and most of the crisps are a darker orange than your average crisp. Mmm. What a pity I can't try them on the reluctant taste testers at work but this test is being carried out in Switzerland and I don't think any of these crisps will be travelling home with me. 

I will be looking out for their other flavours, and they produce popcorn and nuts as well as crisps.

I very much like the packaging too. The little dog (a terrier called Ruby) features in three different poses on the packet and all over the website which, if you'd like to check it out, is And the colour combination of bright orange and shocking pink on silver works well with the chilli flavour. 

Salty Dog has been voted one of Britain's Cool Brands. You can buy mugs and the website advertises T shirts although as I write there don't seem to be any available. They also do car stickers and fridge magnets but I think you have to sell the crisps to qualify for these. 

We like these crisps. Woof! (as it says on the website).

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Tesco Finest Goats Cheese & Sticky Chilli Jam Crisps

I was pleased to find this "feature flavour" because I've been wanting to try goat's cheese flavour crisps. I know you can get them in Belgium (although these were described as simply chevre which I suppose could mean goat rather than goat's cheese... no, not really) and France but I've yet to see any to buy. I hope if I do come across them they will be better than these crisps.

The secondary description is creamy goats' cheese from Devon with sweet and sticky jam for a spicy kick. Well, yes..... sort of.

These are great big crisps. Some of them as large as the palm of my hand. A very good crunch and quite a lot of dark orange flavour dust. But the flavour. Oh dear. What a disappointment.

I can hardly detect the goat's cheese. There's a sort of faint breath of what is probably the cheese, a little like some of the sour cream flavours. And the chilli is almost entirely overtaken by the extreme sweetness of the jam. Which is very very sweet. I wasn't mad keen on the Spiced Bramley Apple flavour crisps which you can read about here. And I'm not much struck by these either.

It's an interesting time to launch a goat's cheese crisp. Both the Telegraph and The Guardian have published articles recently about the great goat's cheese shortage of 2014; read the Guardian article here. But perhaps "feature flavour" indicates a limited edition crisp? Possibly more limited than Mr Tesco was anticipating.

There is nothing at all the matter with these crisps except that I don't like the flavour. Call me picky but I don't get this thing for sweet crisps at all.

This packaging detail is charming though and I very much like the idea of a field called Angus. Is the next door field called Richard I wonder?

Friday 14 March 2014

Cofresh Chilli & Lemon Flavour Potato Grills

The nice newsagent at the bottom of our road sold me these crisps when I was adding credit to my Oystercard. They stock a slightly random selection of small bags of crisps and I never know what I will see next. But I really like that the packets are all small. This bag is 28g which turns out to be very slightly less than 1oz. A tiny amount of crisps so you don't feel too ghastly guilty about eating them all.

Really the way the supermarkets sell crisps does annoy me. Huge great big sharing bags or even huger multi packs of 6 or 8 or 10 bags of something. And what if you only want one small bag? Apparently they don't really care. And then we wonder why everyone is getting so fat.

So anyway, I'd not heard of Cofresh before but they appear to be based in Leicester (in the UK) and sell their products in the United States, Australia and New Zealand (from the nutritional facts / information printed on the bag), and France, Germany, Spain, and The Netherlands (from the languages the ingredients are printed in).  The oh so helpful internet tells me that Cofresh is the UK's leading Asian snack business. So good for them. And the Cofresh website tells me there are plenty of crispy snacks for me to try if I can find them.

I've called these crisps but I suppose it's more of a crispy snack. And weirdly they look like armadillos. Yes, all right, I expect it's only me but you know I can't help it.

Quite an unusual mixture of hard crunch and soft crunch - it depends on whether you're biting into a thick bit or not - with a delicate spicy taste. There's more flavour on some of the grills than on others, and you can see that some of them have a lot more orangey brown flavour dust than others. The smell is really nice and I think the label "Tangy" on the front of the packet is about right. I was pleased the spiciness was as mild as advertised and I really like these.

The packaging is pretty too. I like the yellow paisley pattern. Just going downstairs to check on the taste again... mmmn yes, very nice. Quite hot but not too hot and the lemon really works well. I'm enjoying these with a glass of Swiss wine.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Keogh’s Shamrock & Sour Cream

St Patrick's Day is approaching fast, so what better way to celebrate than with a packet of shamrock flavour crisps?

Shamrock flavour? Yes, really. And the shamrock is grown by the master shamrock growers (if that's a job description) who supply fresh Irish shamrocks to the President of the United States, and have done since 1952. Well, obviously you can't expect the President to manage without proper Irish shamrocks, can you? You can see President Obama accepting his shamrocks here.

I've not tried Keogh's crisps before but these seem rather good. Reasonably sized crisps with a good crunch, not too many breakages, plenty of flavour although most of it is sour cream with a hearty dollop of onion and garlic. As for the shamrock: well, to be honest I have no clue what shamrock is supposed to taste of. There does seem to be a faint aftertaste of that stuff they force on you in Chinese restaurants, you know, the seaweed stuff. I've always thought it terribly dull. Who wants deep fried cabbage anyway? There are plenty of nicer ways to eat it. (Yes, yes, I know; lots of people order it on purpose.) Anyhow, there seems to be a very faint taste of cabbage in the background if you concentrate very very hard so maybe that's the shamrock.

I took the bag in to work so the reluctant taste testers could try this unusual flavour. Most of them won't actually admit to liking them very much but I notice they managed to eat almost an entire packet. Several people said they thought the shamrock was a fiction "who on earth eats shamrock?" they asked, and in one case "what is shamrock?".

Some of the taste testers suggested the crisps are possibly cheese and onion in disguise. Although extremely nice cheese and onion. And I see that, along with the onion and garlic, there is cheddar in the list of ingredients. Parsley too, which may be the little herby bits. Where the Irish shamrock extract goes I don't know. Suitable for vegetarians though, and not chock full of MSG and other chemicals.

Keogh's is a family firm based in County Dublin. The family has been growing potatoes for over 200 years and now they are hand cooking Ireland's finest crisps on their farm. My packet of crisps was made from Lady Rose potatoes grown in a field called Ballamadun which I can pin point using the handy Spud Nav™ on the website and you can too. And my crisps were cooked by Darren. Thank you Darren.

I bought these crisps from the World Foods section in my local Tescos. Who knew Irish groceries would be sold alongside a selection of Polish or Caribbean foods?

And for those of you who really don't know, the shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland and is of course worn with pride on the feast of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, which is celebrated around the world on 17th March.


Tuesday 11 March 2014

M&S The Big Crinkle... Hand Cooked Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar

This was another crunch at lunch choice. And a good choice at that. Delicious.

I tried Tyrrell's Hand Cooked Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar crisps only the other day and now here we have another Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar crisp. This time with crinkles. The taste is completely different.

As a broad sweeping generalisation I usually prefer flat crisps to crinkles. Not always of course, and in this case not: these crinkles are brilliant. The taste is not too harsh, not too cider vinegary, a little bit sweet. I was licking the flavour dust off my fingers. The crunch is just right, the taste is just right, the size of the bag is just right. A little bit Goldilocks and the three bears.

And in fact the right size bag is quite unusual these days. So many crisps come in gigantic sharing bags or six packs it's hard to buy a small bag of something new to see if you like it or not. But it is a little weird that this quite small bag (55g) is described as a big bag.

No artificial colours, artificial flavourings or added MSG. Suitable for vegetarians. And the potato variety is Hermes. Pity about the packaging which I don't like very much but you can't have everything, or so they say.

This is a great crisp. And I'd almost eaten the lot before I remembered I needed to take a photograph. It didn't take long at all to finish the bag, and the reluctant taste testers at the office didn't get a look in.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Pringles Xtra Kickin' Sour Cream & Onion

"Uma explosão de sabor", "Barstensvol smaak", "Une explosion de saveurs", "Wybuchowy ładunek smaku" and sadly I cannot find a cyrillic font so you don't get what is either Russian or Bulgarian. Sorry about that.

I haven't bought a tube (can?) of Pringles for ages. I quite like Pringles but I always have this weird idea you have to put them into your mouth whole. I have no trouble biting into other kinds of crisp if they are too large to fit in all at once, but for some reason I have this thing about not biting into a Pringle. Only they are quite big. My mouth isn't really large enough - maybe I mean wide enough -  to fit in a whole Pringle comfortably so I struggle them in and hope I'm not going to cut the corners of my mouth. Which I have done in the past.

I know they are specially manufactured like this to fit neatly into the tube and thus prevent the usual breakages, but who has a mouth this wide? Why not make them a bit smaller, the tube a bit narrower? OK, yes, it's only me isn't it?

So anyhow, I tried this, er, "kickin'" flavour out of interest. And you know what? I have the same trouble with the size of the Pringle and the apparent smallness of my mouth, but this favour is rather fabulous.

It starts out all sour creamy (which is interesting as all the other creamy flavours I've tried have kept the cream taste to the end), and then there's the onion, and then there's a great kick of.... something hot. The list of ingredients includes the somewhat vague "flavourings". But the drawing on the front of the tube shows onion, spring onion and chilli. So I guess the kickin' part of the flavour is probably chilli. The real problem, of course, is that so much of the Pringle flavour comes from chemicals and not from real ingredients. Nowadays so many varieties of crisp trumpet the virtue of their real ingredients so a crispy snack crammed full of MSG is rather a disappointment.

I am interested to see that in French this savoury snack is an aperitif. Which to the English mind is a drink. Here I guess it is a crispy snack to go with a drink, although what drink I'm not sure; the taste is kickin' enough to defeat most drinks.

Pringles come in a number of weird flavours and this Huffington Post article has some very strange ones for us to consider. Read about them here. Old American Circus flavour anyone? I know. It makes sour cream and onion sound dreadfully pedestrian.

I mustn't forget to tell you that this crispy snack gives an Intense Xperience and is "Bursting with Flavour" which is pretty much correct. I think they taste pretty good. But I also think that all that MSG, disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate cannot be a good thing. Oh, and I never knew Pringles belonged to Kellogg's. did you? Yup. Proctor & Gamble sold the brand to Kellogg's in 2012. And these Pringles were made in Belgium.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Tyrrell's Hand Cooked English Crisps Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar

These Hand Cooked English Crisps from Tyrrell's are a very gentle variant on the usual salt & vinegar. It's not a bad taste; the cider vinegar gives a much softer flavour than malt vinegar which can sometimes give a very harsh flavour. No surprise perhaps, but it makes a bigger difference than you might suppose.

The crisps have quite a hard crunch; harder, say than your average M&S hand cooked crisp. And the potato skin is very obvious which is a nice detail. I don't know though. I'm not very excited about these perfectly inoffensive crisps and I can't work out why. I don't know what it is but I cannot summon up any enthusiasm. Very sorry Tyrrell's.

The most exciting thing about Tyrrell's crisps is the packaging. They have a very nice selection of black and white photographs and encourage their audience to submit silly captions. If you fancy entering their caption competition you can do so here.

Tyrrell's are currently running a competition. This bag offered me the opportunity to win my own theme tune. Or £25,000. Needless to say, I won neither!