Saturday 27 September 2014

Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Groove Cut Crisps

Wow these crisps have a very exciting flavour. The ingredients include Reggae Reggae Sauce which is made with scotch bonnet chillis, garlic, spring onions, tomato puree, vinegar, herbs and spices. And then they added more tomato, pepper, pimento, lemon juice, nutmeg, parsley and cinnamon. Plus the ever popular "natural flavouring".

And they are described as medium hot (only two out of three peppers). Well, they are super tasty. I can certainly vouch for that.

Made by Burts Potato Chips in Devon under licence from Reggae Reggae foods. Suitable for vegetarians and gluten free.

This is a sensible 40g bag. Which is great because I'm not sure I would have ventured to buy a larger one; this sort of flavour is a little bit exciting for my taste.

I always prefer to try a new flavour in a small packet otherwise you can end up throwing perfectly good food away simply because you don't like it. Which is a terribly guilty thing to do. It's even worse than stopping reading a book because you aren't enjoying it although I'm a lot happier to abandon an unhappy choice than I used to be. Luckily I have the reluctant taste testers at work but even so some bags of crisps go into the bin. Thus the fate of Lay's Cappuccino crisps which we tried recently. But not these.

Now for something a bit different [it says on the vibrant yellow back of the packaging] I wanted to lively up crisps so I've created something a bit funky with a true Jamaican kick! With a dash of of herbs and spice my Reggae Reggae crisps are great to enjoy.

Quite dark; it must be all that seasoning, quite crunchy, quite ridgy, extremely tasty. Dangerously hot.

I'm afraid I had never heard of Levi Roots but he obviously gets about quite a bit what with all his music and the cooking and the food empire. Here's a handy wikipedia page to get you up to speed if you are as ignorant as I am, and here's his own webpage - if you check this out do not omit to choose a song; brilliant!

Put some music in your food!

Thursday 25 September 2014

Walkers Ranch Raccoon

What? Ranch Raccoon? What kind of a flavour is that for a crisp you ask? And well may you ask because raccoon is not your typical British flavour for... well, let's be honest, anything.

Someone called Robert suggested Ranch Raccoon (with sour cream from Dorset), and someone at Walkers obviously thought it would be a good idea for their Do Us a Flavour campaign. Interesting. If you would like to vote for this flavour by all means do but I'm not sure that I will. Sorry Robert.

Obviously no raccoons were harmed in the making of these crisps which has got to be a good thing. Because, although they are dreadful pests in North America, they are so charming with the food washing and the dear little hands.... It is a very weird idea though.

And I'm fascinated that the crisps are advertised as made with sour cream from Dorset. Which I am sure is delicious but it isn't exactly raccoon. The flavour seems to be mostly made of milk products and parsley. Hey ho. Vegetarian? Yup.

Anyway, I tried these on the reluctant taste testers at work and they were, for the most part, not mad keen. One reviewer said (and I totally agree with her) that these crisps taste of not very nice, rather fatty, roast beef sandwich made with roast beef that was left out all night. And yes, I know that is a very specific critique but we all are highly trained crisp tasters these days. There's a new member of staff starting next week; I shall have to start training him.

Verdict? Not mad keen. Which is a shame because we had high expectations.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Lay's Kettle Cooked Lattice Cut Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt

Another gift from lovely friend Lynn who packed them carefully in her suitcase when she came to visit from the USA. And I must say the lattice cut crisps survived the journey far better than the regular crisps she brought.

I don't think I have had lattice cut crisps before but I really like the texture. There's a very pleasing crunch and they feel good in the mouth.

And then there's the taste. A delicate garlic flavour and not too much salt. Pretty good. We liked these crisps.

Plus they work terrifically well with our favourite sour cream and chive dip. So what could be better than that?

Well... but the bag is giant! 198.4g (7oz) is a massive amount of crisps to buy at a time. Especially when the serving size is 28g (1oz or about 13 chips - very precise eh?). And actually, this is interesting (to me anyway); US crisp bags are quite different from European crisp bags. They're much more matte. I wonder why? I wonder what they're made of? And there's quite a bit missing from the scan of this bag. It was simply too long to fit in the A4 scanner.

The packet tells me all sorts of interesting things. For instance, the crisps are

  • Guaranteed Fresh! 
  • Lay's Kettle Cooked Lattice Cut potato chips - perfect for sharing and Crafted With Care
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Made with Lay's "signature potatoes"
  • From the FritoLay® Flavor Kitchen® 
and the brilliant information that they are Deliciously Indulgent. Take a moment to relax (it says), unwind from your day and savor right now - one delicious bite at a time.

What good advice.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Lay's Cappuccino

I think I've said before that sometimes the mind thinks it won't like something and the taste buds say "No, you're wrong; this is delicious". But sometimes the mind is right. Oh yes.

My Dear Friend from Buffalo was coming over from the United States and I asked her to bring some crazy flavour crisps that I knew I could never get over here.

Lay's (US for Walkers*) currently have a Do Us a Flavour (I mean Flavor) competition and they have chosen cappuccino as one of their new flavours. You can read all about it here.  Seriously??? Cappuccino flavour for a crisp?

We tried them at home. I wasn't impressed. Dear Friend from Buffalo wasn't impressed. The Chef took 3 and gave 2 back. He wasn't impressed.

I took them into work and tried them on the reluctant taste testers. They weren't impressed either.

You can sort of taste the cappuccino I suppose, although as I drink black coffee this doesn't really appeal to me, and there's a lot of sugar and cinnamon going on. They really tasted a lot more like a biscuit (or cookie) than a potato crisp. But what was really weird was that several of us thought these crisps tasted of coconut; which is not on this list of ingredients at all. And I don't like coconut at all so that didn't help.

Reasonable size, good crunch, the flavour dust is quite dark (all that coffee seasoning). No caffeine - is that disappointing? I can't quite decide if a coffee flavour crisp should include caffeine but I drink decaf instant so what do I know? Anyhow, we really thought the whole concept of a cappuccino flavour crisp was really wrong.

Sort of fun to try. Still wrong.

* In fact Walkers is UK for Lay's: you can only get Walkers crisps here it seems, but you can get Lay's all over the place.

Monday 22 September 2014

Walkers Pulled Pork in a Sticky BBQ Sauce

Another exotic and unusual crisp from the Walkers Do Us a Flavour range. Pulled pork in a sticky BBQ sauce: flavour with pork from Norfolk. Wow: it actually has genuine pork in the recipe. I get so fed up with crisp flavours that sound suitable for carnivores but are actually vegetarian. So, not suitable for vegetarians.

Quite a strong barbecue flavour and not a bad taste if you like that sort of thing. Which you'll know I don't really. There's a sort of sticky sweet flavour, and a smokey barbecue thing, but guess what? I really never noticed there was actual meat involved. You might suppose one would notice - but no.

As we know, Walkers are running a Do us a Flavour vote on six different new flavours. You can read about this here, and about Paul, who thought this flavour would be a great idea.

I have to say I'm not convinced. But then (a) I'm not mad for "BBQ" flavour, and (b) I seem to be the only person in Britain who has avoided eating a "pulled" something over the last year. Almost everywhere you go food is pulled. Which, and it took me just ages to discover this, means that it has been cooked really slowly so that you can pull it apart with forks. After all these centuries developing knife technology we have to eat food pulled apart with a fork now?

Well, you know, they're not disgusting or anything. But I really wouldn't bother buying them again. Sorry Paul.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Walkers Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup

Another Do Us a Flavour crisp flavour from Walkers, and the new "vote for" flavour was suggested by Sarah. Read about it all here if you want to know more.

OK, so this flavour, although it clams to be hot dog, is in fact suitable for vegetarians. So no hot dogs were harmed in the manufacture of these crisps. The flavour seems to be mostly tomatoes from the Vale of Evesham, onion powder and smoke extract (which never sounds terrifically appealing somehow).

Not bad. Usual Walkers crunch, fairly golden colour, very handsome crisps really, and a mostly tomatoey taste.

I'm sorry Walkers, and Sarah, but although there is nothing whatever wrong with these crisps I'm really not sure they merit being a finalist in a national competition. I wonder how often you have to look at the Walkers website to know that they will be asking for new crisp flavours for a competition? I have looked fairly often in recent months but never noticed anything so interesting. It's often quite tough to get past the images of Gary Lineker or the pages that look like this.

Well well, yet another crisp flavour that leaves us not terribly impressed.

Friday 12 September 2014

ROKA Cheese Puffs Gouda Cheese Olive

Here is definite proof that the brain doesn't know what it likes as well as the taste buds do.

I looked at these Cheese Puffs from the lovely people at ROKA in the Netherlands and thought well, I don't like olives, so I'm going to take these in for the reluctant taste testers at work to try.

I've eaten olives in Cyprus and Italy where they grow olives. I think I've probably eaten them in Sydney which has a mediterranean climate (warm wet westerly winds in winter they taught us at school). But I can never seem to fancy olives in the UK. The weather isn't right. Not even in a really hot summer. Or something. A friend tells me you sometimes have to practise liking certain sorts of foods and I think she's probably right. I guess for me that includes olives... and I haven't practised enough.

So I took these Cheese Puffs to work and what a mistake that was! Everybody just loved them. And so did I. But I only got one. And one to take home for the Chef to try. And he liked them too.

Remember, ROKA Cheese Puffs come in a plastic tray in a silver baggie inside a cardboard box so you don't get very many Puffs in each box. Which I can understand because they are fragile creations and need careful packaging so they don't fall apart.

I'm not convinced this crispy crunchy snack actually tastes of olives. But I can exclusively report that the taste is simply superb. There is certainly lots of yummy herbiness going on and I was too busy enjoying that to pause to consider the olives (or lack of the same).

We didn't heat them in the oven because we don't have an oven at the office - and I'm not sure putting them in the microwave would be a help. But if heating these Cheesy Puffs would make them better.... wow!

Yes, ROKA has done it again; another delicious crispy snack. Delicious delicious delicious.

Thursday 11 September 2014

ROKA Cheese Puffs Gouda Cheese Onion & Garlic

Posh Cheese Puffs from the lovely people at ROKA in The Netherlands.

These Cheese Puffs are a sort of cheese straw with lots of layers of fine pastry. Not that I ever managed to make a cheese straw this good. They come in a plastic tray in a silver baggie in a cardboard box. When I opened the baggie there was an amazing aroma of onion and garlic. Just delicious. The cheese is more subtle but the whole effect is fabulous.

The plastic tray protects the puffs which are quite fragile, being made of lots of layers of fine pastry, and I have to say they all survived intact despite a journey through the post.

But you don't get all that many in a packet which is a shame.

You can see from the photograph that each Puff is perforated in the middle "twin bites: breakable in the middle for double fun" it says on the packet. If you break them in the middle you can pop each half into your mouth without biting into the fragile pastry, thus avoiding pastry crumbs all down the front of your smart frock. Or, in my case (quite often), all down my cleavage (if you haven't got a cleavage you won't know how tickly that can be). So a clever design feature.

I opened the packet and put the Puffs in a bowl to take a photograph and the Chef and I tried one each. And we thought, well, these are quite nice and the taste is great, but they are a little bit dry. Then the Chef suggested that perhaps a glass of champagne would be the ideal accompaniment. Which is odd because he hadn't seen the packaging which shows a party and a man about to pour from a bottle of champagne. It also shows a very lavish cake but I guess that's another story.

I covered the bowl carefully and determined to try again. When I got home from work next day I found the Chef had accidentally eaten nearly all the Cheese Puffs and had decided they were rather better he had originally thought. He's picky and would not have grazed like this on a sub-standard snack. And I think he's right. Even without that glass of champagne.

I have to admit that we failed to read the TIP! on the side of the packet to stick the Cheese Puffs in the oven at 200°C or 400℉ for 2½ minutes. Oh dear; 2½ minutes isn't long to wait. That'll teach me to read the packaging first and I'll definitely turn the oven on next time.

I haven't tried them with a glass of champagne either. There is a bottle in the fridge but I have a friend coming to stay in a week and that's waiting for her to arrive. So I guess we have to try another packet together. And no doubt the Chef would complain if we left him out.

Definitely a crispy snack to try again.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Walkers Cheesy Beans on Toast

And here we have a second choice from Walkers Do Us a Flavour range: Cheesy Beans on Toast. This flavour was created by Emma C from Gloucestershire and you can read about her here.

I think the reluctant taste testers at work and I, and the Chef, were all a little bit disappointed that this wasn't such a good crisp as the Chip Shop Chicken Curry flavour.

On first bite you get a lot of cheese (cheddar from Somerset apparently), and then you get a great big whack of tomato sauce. I'm not convinced you can taste any beans though. And the aftertaste isn't the best.

Suitable for vegetarians, as they should be, with no artificial colours or preservatives. And it doesn't seem as though there are any tomatoes in these crisps. So where does the tomato sauce flavour come from I wonder?

And what's going on with the packaging? Each crisp has a different colour bag but the design is always the same. So far, so that's what you normally get. But the design shows a tomato, basil leaves (I think), pepper corns, a red chilli, star anise and half a fig. Half a fig? Actually in rather small print it says "images are for illustrative purposes only" but really! Unless you read the small print you're definitely going to think these crisps are made with fig which does seem a little odd. Especially when you don't usually add fig to cheese on toast. Well, I wouldn't.

Not really terribly impressed. Sorry Emma C.

Monday 1 September 2014

Walkers Chip Shop Chicken Curry

I have probably led a very sheltered and dull life, but I've never been to a chip shop for curry. In fact, I don't think I've been to a chip shop (except for at Bondi Beach which is a whole nother story involving fabulous potato scallops) since about 1980.

So here's me, a bit surprised. I thought you went to the chip shop for fish and chips or sausage and chips. So the idea that you go to the chip shop for a curry is a new idea. And actually I'm not mad for curry either so the idea of picking up a curry from the local chippie doesn't really tempt.

However, Walkers have created quite an impressive curry flavour crisp here. The usual Walkers quality crisp with just the right amount of crunch, these are rather more golden than usual; I expect it is the curry powder. Great curry aroma and very good curry taste.

And, really quite unusually, these chicken curry crisps actually have real chicken (Devonshire chicken powder) in the recipe. I've tried so many "meat flavour" crisps which are suitable for vegetarians that I was quite surprised to discover these actually have (a vestige of) meat in them. Obviously I can't say how much but there is chicken in the list of ingredients along with onion, cumin, apple, garlic, red pepper and chilli. Not that I'm sure I could detect chicken in the flavour. Maybe a hint, I'm really not sure.

I tried these on the reluctant taste testers at work and they were, for the most part, pretty impressed. Put it like this: the bowl I set out in the kitchen was emptied in no time at all. One of the taste testers went so far as to say this was a superb crisp and where could he buy them? And I took the last few crisps home for the Chef to try and he finished them no trouble at all. I got about two.

Not half bad. I hope Emma G likes them. Here's a link to Walkers website so you can vote for your favourite flavour if you fancy. Voting closes on 17 October 2014.

My only real gripe is that your fingers stink of curry after you've been eating them. But hey. That washes off.

And here's the little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly. I think the whole Do Us a Flavour range has the same design.