Monday 21 April 2014

M&S Reduced Fat Sour Cream & Chive

I tried these reduced fat crisps because they are from the same range as the fabulous Reduced Fat Buttered Baked Potato flavour crisps which you can read about here. But I'm not mad about them.

I never normally buy reduced fat items because I'm sure that reduced fat products are full of extra sugar and other goodness-knows-what. I'd much rather eat less of the full fat product. However, I was seduced by the exciting Buttered Baked Potato flavour which turned out to be wonderful (and really unusual) and then I noticed people in the office were eating this flavour.

So I thought I'd try it. Mmnn. Well, not so madly impressed to be honest.

These are crinkle cut crisps, quite a good size, not a bad crunch and nice little herby things (probably chives and parsley) strewn across the crisps. The taste is not nasty. Not at all. It's fine. It's just... I don't really know. The taste is fine. Not too much chive and as ever it's quite hard to detect the sour cream element, it's just the strangely greasy taste (or mouth feel - if that's a phrase) you tend to get with reduced fat products. I really don't like that too much.

Made with natural flavours, 30% less fat (than what exactly?), and suitable for vegetarians.

I can only suppose the picket fence packaging decoration, and the basket of grass (chives?) are supposed to make the product look more natural. But the bright green colour works well with the sour cream & chive flavour.

It's odd isn't it, and an oddity by no means confined to M&S products and I really do not want to be nasty about M&S who mostly produce brilliant crisps, that reduced fat foods often taste/feel greasier than full fat foods.

I don't want to be mean because the taste is fine. But the greasy mouth feel is not for me.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Lorenz Crunchips Green Onion

This 150g packet (really quite a large quantity of crisps) comes from the world food department in my local Tesco. These crisps are Polish and the flavour is "Zielona Cebulka" or green onion. Which I take to mean spring onion.

I bought them because I had never seen Polish crisps before and as regular readers will know I'll try anything once - even if it is only once. But I was a bit concerned that the flavour would be really quite harsh because spring onions have a very strong flavour.

But no. These crisps have quite a delicate onion flavour with a nice hint of caramelised onion too.

A reasonable size crisp (some very large) with quite a fine texture, and with a fair number of breakages in the bottom of the bag. Nice crunch and a nice golden crisp.

But what a gigantic bag! I suppose in Poland they may come in smaller bags. And I also suppose that Poles living in the UK may be so mad for these crisps they really feel the need of 150g of them.

The taste, as I said, is quite delicate. But just like real spring onions, the taste hangs around for a long long time. Not bad though.

I've had a look at the Lorenz Snack-World website. This is a German company although the website came up in English without asking me. They grow their own potatoes on land roughly the size of 7,000 football pitches! I don't know if "football pitch" is an internationally accepted standard for measuring (usually land) but it works pretty well in the UK. Obviously we start with "the size of a London bus" (as you do - but not for land), move up to football pitch, and then for larger areas we use "the size of Wales". Which presumably a German company would not think of.

Lorenz Snack-World seem to make a load  of different snacks including something called Monster Much which doesn't look anything like these UK style Monster Munch. And although I easily found a list of Crunchips flavours, green onion was not included.  But there is a fascinating flavour called "African Style"; I do wonder what that may mean?

The ingredients are in Polish, English, Russian (which starts with Картофел which has got to be Russian for potato because that looks like the German word for potato kartoffel to me), Kazakhstani (картоп) and Azeri (which says Kartof). Interesting.

I'm going to try these out on the reluctant taste testers at work. And they seem to be fairly popular.

Saturday 19 April 2014

San Carlo Piu Gusto Pomodorini di Stagione

So I think these crisps are seasonal tomato flavour.  This masterful translation is based on years of not eating quatro stagione pizzas (because I don't want artichokes or mushrooms on my pizza, or olives come to that). Google translate prefers "tomato season" but that doesn't sound like a crisp flavour to me.

This packet of crisps is one of the multipacco selection we picked up at the Carrefour supermarcato in Stresa. So it is also one of the piu gusto flavours; in this case it seems, with a mediterranean passion. And why not?

Well, the flavour is obviously tomato, but as so often I think it doesn't really taste of tomato but more of a high quality tomato ketchup. It's odd how difficult tomato flavour is to get right. I've tried a number of different tomato flavour crisps and not a one has actually tasted of tomato. Ketchup, soup, chutney yes; tomato no.

Interestingly the crisps seem to be rather larger than the lime and pink peppercorn crisps from the same multipacco. You'd suppose they would be made on the same production line with the same potatoes. Perhaps it was chance.

The packaging tells me that these crisps have been prepared with undiminished passion since 1936. But this is a simple and natural product with only three ingredients: potatoes, oil and salt. Oh, and then "at the end of cooking to give a hint of flavour sprinkle with the most delicious natural flavours: with taste become more" (Google translate again!).

Whether it is the mediterranean passion or the hint of flavour sprinkle, these are rather good crisps. Not a terrifically strong flavour but very pleasant.

Very easy to finish a small packet without noticing how many you've eaten. Oh, and I have another bag...

Thursday 17 April 2014

ICA Crik Crok Stick

We found these Crik Crok Sticks from Italian firm ICA at the supermercato in Baveno. And look! They seem to have their own radio station. How weird is that? Who ever heard of a brand of crisps with a radio station?

Crikey! I logged into and it really is a radio station. Well, OK, it's a website that appears to be a radio station. An unfortunately mostly plays the kind of music I really don't like that much (not really very surprised) and rather too loud.

While I was writing this the DJ was Emauele Carocci (the poor man is apparently on air from 15:00 - 20:00) and currently playing are Zedd feat. Mattew Koma and Miriam Bryant with Find You followed closely by Cris Cab with Liar Liar. Never heard of either of them. And then we got In My Place by Coldplay. At least I've heard of them.

As I've mentioned before, my Italian isn't the best so I'm afraid I can't make out why this packet of crisps should be associated with an online radio station.

Anyway, I thought these very thin sticks of potato very very old fashioned. They reminded me of the crisps we used to have when I was little. Quite a strong crunch, not very salty so not a lot of flavour, and very oily.

However, I tried them on the reluctant taste testers at work and they proved very popular. So at least they didn't go to waste.

ICA has a gripping website with loads of exciting Crik Crok crisps to read about. They come in flavours as diverse as Gold & Blue (speciality blue potatoes from France), Honey & Mustard, Ungarisch (possibly a Hungarian flavour like... goulash?), Surprise (like Kinder Surprise with a toy in - I think), Snack is Fun (what sort of flavour can that be I wonder?) and Bell'Italia which sounds rather good.

I feel cheated. I think we bought the dullest Crik Crok crisps around. Maybe next time we go to Italy we'll find something more exciting.

I can't believe I've listened to Radio Crik Crok the whole time I was writing this. Even the 8 o'clock news (in Italian) which seemed to mention Silvio Berlusconi quite often. And here's an interesting thing. You can like Crik Crok crisps on facebook (not unusual) but their page is rather dull. You can also like Radio Crik Crok which has a rather more exciting page and one of their friends is Forza Italia which is Silvio Berlusconi's political party. And guess what? There's a photo of the lovely Silvio taking a selfie. Of course there is. Does he eat Crik Crok crisps we ask ourselves?

Well well. You never know what you're going to find when you open a packet of crisps. Of course, you usually get potatoes in some form or other but you never know what else will turn up.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Walkers Squares Salt & Vinegar

What a great crisp! I really like these. Well done Walkers.

A lovely aroma of general crispiness together with a light and gentle salt & vinegar flavour make a wonderful crisp. Nice crunch too, not too hard; probably because they are made from potato granules and not slices of potato. Everything about these square crisps is just right.

There were very few breakages in this 27.5g packet although that does seem a slightly odd amount (it is 0.970033954 oz so that's no help) and only a few were curled up so what I got was mostly a bag of squares.

On the back of the packet Walkers say "Snacks with angles is where it's at, while the others sit in their packs all round and smooth, Squares are unashamedly different. Because they are the only crisps that let you bite off the corners, or build little crisp houses, before munching and crunching. Bet you can't do that with the round ones!"

Well, in the spirit of research I attempted to build a little crisp house. But failed. I tried really hard but I think I need something like cream cheese to act as mortar. But it would be kind of fun to build a little house.

As so often, Walkers have played with the design of the little guy who encourages you to throw your rubbish away; he is squarer than usual and is carefully throwing away a very pointy square packet.

Suitable for vegetarians, no artificial colours but they do contain MSG and sulphites. Slight irritation: the flavour is both salt & vinegar and salt'n'vinegar. Make your mind up guys.

Yum! These are just so good. 10/10.

This post is for friends who are searching for a really good low salt crisp. These may not qualify but they are delicious. And I've eaten the lot.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

KP The Real McCoy's Ridge Cut Thai Sweet Chicken

At last a small packet of McCoy's Ridge Cut crisps to try (they normally come in giant packets). I found these at the newsagent run by the amazingly cheerful man when I was putting credit on my Oyster card.

Interesting. For such a small packet (50g) some of these crisps are awfully big. And very very ridgy. And really quite crunchy too.

I'm not convinced however, that there is any chicken at all in this Thai Sweet Chicken flavour crisp. The ingredients include "Thai Sweet Chicken flavour" which seems to be made of sugar, salt, soy sauce, onion, garlic, chilli, various herbs and spices and MSG. But oh look! Suitable for vegetarians.

Also in the list of ingredients is contains a source of phenylalanine (in bold) which is a little alarming as you can find web pages where it is described as "by far the most dangerous substance added to foods today". OK... not what I expected to find in my crisps.

On the other hand, Wikipedia (once I got past all the very long words I never heard of before) tells me it is sold as a nutritional supplement for its reputed analgesic and antidepressant effects. Well, perhaps I need an antidepressant as I just photographed these crisps using a new camera which turns out to be useless with this computer and so the picture has vanished without trace and I've already finished the packet!

Hey ho. You all know what ridged crisps look like (maybe a little more orange than usual with lots of herby bits) and the camera goes back to the supplier tomorrow.

Quite nice crisps. A little bit sweet, a little bit hot. This flavour is OK. I'd probably try these again if it wasn't for the phenylalanine warnings. Surely there must be better ways of building a crisp flavour?

Oh yes, and I won't be entering the competition to watch this summer's footy in my local pub "recreated" in Rio. Frankly I can't think of many worse ways to spend my summer holidays (and anyway we don't have a local pub any more) but as always you lot out there are free to disagree with me.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Kambly Apéro Herzli Bio

Here's an interesting little heart-shaped biscuity salty snack from Swiss biscuit firm Kambly.

I found these in the local Co-op in Switzerland and indeed the smart metallic green packet also has the Co-op Naturaplan logo on it.

I thought the packet seemed sturdy enough to survive an encounter with the easyJet baggage handlers (obviously packed inside my suitcase...) and I was right. There don't seem to have been any breakages at all.

So I tried these crunchy biscuity snacks on the reluctant taste testers at work and after a little thought the team tucked in with a fair amount of enthusiasm. If I leave a bowl of crisps in the kitchen it's amazing how much grazing goes on during the day. Even crisps they claim not to like get eaten, but I think the taste testers really liked these little hearts.

As Very Skeptical taste tester put it, they must be healthy because they're full of nothing but air. Full of nothing but air and organic too.

But the taste? Well, they sort of taste of pretzel. Not very salty but with a little sprinkling of salt on and not very pretzelly but a gentle savoury something that is somehow rather good. And a nice light crunch.

I was a bit baffled when I opened the packet because, well, I don't know quite what I was expecting, but I don't think it was what I got. However, I find I quite like these little biscuits. And I love how they look. I know they are brown but it's a very smart brown. But not very like the hearts on the packaging which look more salty but less brown.

Time to sit back with an aperitif and enjoy a little bowl of Herzli.

Friday 4 April 2014

San Carlo Più Gusto Lime e Pepe Rosa

Mmmn these are good.

We found them in the Carrefour supermarcato in Stresa on Lake Maggiore in a multipacco which has six bags of three different flavours. So far so yum.

This is a light flavour - not too heavy - but a really good one. The crisps are not too large, with a good light crunch, and not too many breakages. I think they would work really well with some guacamole. And the taste is great.

But, look at the name. It says piu gusto. Which I think means more flavour, more taste. Which leads me to think that the two Italian flavours of crisp I have tried this week have a very slight flavour (from a British point of view) because that's what Italians expect and like. And that's why I thought them a bit dull.

These have more flavour, although not too much, and for that reason I think, I like them better.

Lots of sharp lime with a very nice heat from the pink peppercorns. This is a very simple flavour but I noshed down the whole 25g packet without pausing to think about it. Damn! I'll have to open another packet to photograph the crisps. Although, they don't actually look terribly exciting so there's not a lot to see. They look just like your average crisp. And none the worse for that. And not really a lot more to say. But I have another packet and I will happily eat that too.

So here's a photo of Lake Maggiore instead of a portrait of some crisps.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Amica Chips La Patatina Gusto Chipsburger

Honestly, how could I resist a "chipsburger" flavour crisp? You know the answer to that.

Let's start with the least obvious thing. The packaging is recyclable. Huzzah! And how unusual. Good for Amica Chips. But if you can't find anywhere to recycle, make sure you throw the packet away responsibly.

There's obviously an American influence going on here. The packaging has red and white strips and white stars on a blue ground. And the taste? Anything like an American burger?

Actually not bad. Not bad at all. I'll have another…

Perhaps it is an Italian thing for crisps to have quite a light taste. But I can definitely detect a sort of hamburgery taste here, complete with a little bit of mustard and some gherkin - you know, the bit nobody eats. The ingredient information is no help at at all. It just says "flavour to hamburger taste" in English which is a rotten translation of "aroma al gusto hamburger". The flavour could be made of anything. But let's be honest: I can't detect the taste of any chips. Of course this could be due to the fact that chipsburger is actually Italian for what we (the Brits I mean) call a burger, meaning, natch, a beef burger. Languages are weird aren't they, especially these days when sometimes words seem to be galloping out of control.

We are not told that these crisps are suitable for vegetarians so possibly the gusto hamburger actually has some sort of meaty ingredient.  The ingredients come in Italian, English, French and German and none of them is particularly forthcoming.

I think these are rather nice crisps. Smallish in size (especially compared to say, Tesco crisps and some M&S offerings, which as we know can be enormous), a light but good crunch and a pleasant taste. And that's what I think. The Chef says they don't taste of much and he shouldn't have to concentrate on the flavour and he's not that impressed.

But hey! I am (apparently) a food writer these days and therefore I do concentrate on crisp flavours. Not bad. This is a 100g packet so you get quite a lot of crisps for your money - and sometimes a bit too many -  but I'd try them again if I were back in Italy and couldn't find anything else more exotic looking. Well, you never know do you?