Saturday 28 February 2015

M&S Reduced Fat Lightly Salted Crisps

Noble friend bought s multi-pack of these reduced fat crisps for her crunch at lunch and gave me one of the 25g packets to try. "They're really good," she said, "you can't tell they're reduced fat". And I think she's right.

I'm always suspicious of reduced fat foods. They frequently taste more greasy than full fat foods, and if you aren't careful you find they are full of sugar.

But these crinkle cut crisps seem to be made of potatoes, sunflower oil and salt. So no sugar. And the sunflower oil is a special kind called Sun Kernel which contains 30% less total fat and "at least 30% less saturated fat" than typical crinkle cut crisps. Hmmn..... typical crinkle cut crisps eh? I wonder what that would be?

Anyway, someone seems to have gone to quite a lot of trouble to make these crisps a lower fat option. Someone in Denmark I suppose; because that's where they are made.

Very nice crinkle cut crisps, good crunch, pretty good levels of saltiness and generally tasty. We approve.

Friday 27 February 2015

Walkers Originally Smiths Salt & Shake

I suddenly saw these crisps on the shelf in Waitrose and had to buy them. Perhaps they've been selling them for ages but I don't usually look at the multi-packs. These crisps leapt off the shelf at me, and what a blast from the past!

The original style add-your-own-salt crisps. Just like when I was very small. Except when I was small the salt came in a little ball and the blue waxed paper that held it was twisted tightly to hold the salt in. These days you get a square package (still blue) with sealed edges. It's not quite the same but I guess it works in the same way.

Of course, one day someone in a crisp factory invented "Ready Salted" crisps and there was no further need for the little blue twists of salt. I think we all missed ferreting around in the crisps to find the salt and shaking it into the packet, but we got used to the ready made version.

I can remember at least one attempt some years ago to reintroduce the DIY salt but for whatever reasons it didn't seem to last very long. Perhaps everyone was mad for whatever flavour was fashionable at the time and didn't fancy the retro crisps.

These days the crisp market has exploded so much with so many flavours, even the so-called "naked" (no added flavouring) crisps. So I guess that these salt & shake crisps cover two markets: some people like naked crisps so they won't want to add the salt, and others like salted crisps so they can.

These are nice crisps. Nothing fancy but a good colour, a good crunch and a pleasant saltiness (if you add the salt). Only 24g in a bag too, which is always a recommendation for me. The packet describes these crisps as Best Ever, and they are pretty good. I handed out a small packet to everyone around and I think we all enjoyed them.

And it's good to see that the ingredients are potatoes, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and salt (in sachet). Nice and simple.

Following my discovery of these retro style crisps, the tall taste tester and I had a fun trip down food-memory lane. If you search for Crest Bear 'Teddy Bear' Advert  you'll find one of the most memorable commercials of my childhood. Cresta was a brilliant frothy (not fizzy) drink. There was something deeply fabulous about it, even the way it turned your saliva solid..... (I'm pretty sure it was Cresta that did this). My favourite was blackcurrant but the strawberry flavour was pretty good too. Cresta was promoted by a superbly cool polar bear in dark glasses, given to impersonating Elvis or shouting out "Rimsky Korsakov!" at the drop of a hat. His catch phrase was "it's frothy man'. Brilliant stuff.

Whatever it was that made Cresta so great was probably frightfully bad for you because sadly they don't make it any more. Of course this has nothing whatever to do with crisps but you know how memories breed other memories. And you might find the Cresta commercial rather fun if you've not seen it before.

I'm not terribly impressed at the little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly on this packet. Walkers! What are you thinking? This really isn't good enough. So to spare Walkers' blushes I'm not going to show it. Oh alright then. Here it is.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Kettle Chips Sour Cream & Sweet Onion

I had hoped for something more interesting but basically what we have here is cheese and onion flavour.

It's a bit of a disappointment really. Especially as (and this shouldn't make a difference but it does) the packet is such a pretty colour.

I know. The fact that the packet is such a lovely green shouldn't influence they way I look at a packet of crisps. Don't judge a book by its cover etc etc. But I was led astray.

So there we are.

The aroma is really lovely, the crisps have a good crunch, the sour cream does that weird thing at the back of your palate (don't ask me how - it just kind of does), and the sweet onion is very sweet.

But the after taste is pretty much cheese and onion. True, it's a gentle cheese and onion but a bit sweeter than usual. Suitable for vegetarians, absolutely nothing artificial.

Not bad. Really, there is nothing whatever the matter with these crisps, but not very special. The reluctant taste testers and I were not that impressed. Sorry Kettle Chips.

Great packet though. Love the green!

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Blair's Death Rain Ancho Chili Cheeseburger Cauldron Cooked Potato Chips

Wow! You weren't expecting a brand of crisps called Blair's Death Rain® were you? It sounds a little bit heavy metal and not what you were expecting from me.

Well, I have to tell you I was browsing the very dangerous (you never know what you'll find yourself buying next...) and I came across these crisps from New Jersey. What to do? Obviously I had to order some and this is the first packet the reluctant taste testers and I tried.

Feel Alive! says the packet; and I think we kind of did.

These are Cauldron™Cooked Potato Chips containing no MSG and no trans fats. However, yes to kosher, and yes to heat and flavour. The creator, who signs himself Your ChiliPal is obviously mad about flavour and describes himself as a Passionate ChiliHead. He's determined that anyone who opens one of his bags of crisps is going to enjoy the contents. Open the bag already!!! Fun and passion await you!!!

Possibly too many exclamation marks going on here but I have to admit these crisps are rather fabulous. And there is a whole lot of taste.

Blair's American made spuds are the most flavorful and without question the hottest, most furious chips ever created on planet earth. So now you know.

Quite a hot chilli aroma from the packet; smallish, rather dark crisps, very nice crunch and a hand cooked look to the crisps; and a great taste. The more you eat, the hotter they get - even though these are only described as medium hot. And a fabulous taste of cheeseburger too.

Most of the reluctant taste testers liked these a lot although noble friend wasn't mad keen. I have to say they were a bit hot for my delicate taste buds (which obviously I have insured for a vast sum) but I still thought this a great crisp.

Check out Blair's Death Rain snacks and sauces here. They've got a heat meter and everything.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

KP Hula Hoops Puft Salted

Here's another flavour from Hula Hoops Puft: salted flavour wheat & potato rings.

Salted perhaps, but not terribly salty.

Nice gentle fried crispy aroma, nice gentle salty taste, nice crunch but not very exciting. Very pale colour. I do rather feel they would be better with a bit more colour but that is a minor quibble. They do taste OK - it's just all a little quiet.

The reluctant taste testers polished off the bowlful (2 little bags) but we weren't mad for this crispy snack.  Quite nice. Inoffensive. But rather bland. That's possibly the best description. Sorry chaps; I think I'm damning this crispy snack with faint praise.

To be honest I think I prefer the original Hula Hoops.

Monday 23 February 2015

Mr Trotter's Proper Potato Crisps

Look at these posh crisps! Noble friend went out to lunch at Harvey Nichols (lucky her) and promised me she'd take a look in the food department. Which she did and brought these back for me and the reluctant taste testers to try.

Well, quite apart from anything else, the packet design is just fabulous. Although I can't help feeling the smartly dressed pig (presumably Mr Trotter himself) doesn't exactly encourage vegetarians: these crisps are approved by the Vegetarian Society.

It looks as though Mr Trotter started out making pork scratchings but has moved on to crisps and beer (chestnut beer) and even T-shirts. The website tells you all about the pork scratching aficionados (see Four Little Piggies) who started the company, and you can order online too.

We rather liked these crisps. Darker than your average crisps, with the skin left on for added - sorry - fuller flavour, each crisp is fried by hand in rapeseed oil before Mr Trotter's original seasoning is added for extra oomph.

Yes. Interestingly the flavour is not defined. It's simply Mr Trotter's original seasoning. And it is certainly tasty. Mmmn.... salty, yeasty, umami. Nice. Not a great aroma (some crisps don't) - but a very good crunch.

The bowlful at the office did not last long.

I think I may have spotted a packet at Fortnums when I was buying something else. Very posh.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Pipers Crisp Co. Anglsey Sea Salt


Just lovely crisps. Yum!!

Nothing fancy when you open the packet; the aroma is nothing to write home about... but... then I took a bite.

What a fantastic taste. Very simple salt and fried potato. Nothing more. Delicious. Great crunch too. And together you get a wonderful crisp. What could be simpler and better than that?

You really don't need anything more than. Just a terrific taste and a great crunch. 10/10.

And I like the simple 40g blue packet too. It tells me that Anglesey Sea Salt is harvested each day from the Menai Strait and is Britain's only Protected Designation of Origin sea salt. What can I say? It's certainly very salty tasting salt.

I found a bag of Pipers Spicy Tomato crisps at Luton Airport a while ago. In fact it was March last year. How time flies.

Anyway, I think it might have been at Benugo (where I had a very tasty toasted bacon sandwich), because I found this bag at Benugo in the Great Court at the British Museum. Where I shared another tasty toasted sandwich with Noble Friend after taking in the amazing Assyrian sculptures.

And here's my new table lamp because I promised Betsy.

Friday 20 February 2015

Ten Acre Hand Cooked Crisps When Hickory Got BBQ'd

I hardly got any of these crisps; only about 2 out of the whole packet. I put out a bowl at work and before you could say Jack Robinson the reluctant taste testers had noshed them all down.

Which has got to be a good sign.

Barbecue (BBQ) is never my most favourite flavour but this is a gentle version, sweet rather than smoky, and very pleasant.

Lovely crisps. They have a nice hand made look to them. I think the flavour is OK too, but it's hard to tell when you only get 2.

Thursday 19 February 2015

KP Hula Hoops Puft Cheese

The packet tells me that Hula Hoops Puft are new. And I confess that I've not seen them before.

Puft. Honestly! Anyway, what you get is a sort of puffed up version of the original Hula Hoops we know so well. And somehow, because this crispy snack is puffed it seems to be much larger than an ordinary Hula Hoop.

You get a huge waft of (rather processed) cheese when you open the bag and the taste is pretty (processed) cheesy too. Lots of dairy products in the ingredients although I suspect that much of the flavour comes from the dried onion, garlic and tomato listed on the packet. And of course the colour comes from paprika as so often.

I was expecting the texture to be softer - like a cheese puff or a Quaver - but in fact they have a good crunchy crunch. Not as hard as regular Hula Hoops obviously.

The packet describes this as a hoopy snack. Which takes me straight back to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Hey you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who knows where his towel is. Or words to that effect. Ah, how the mind can be dragged back to 1978. Mind you; Douglas Adams would have struggled with his predictive text when writing that today.

Not bad. But I think I will stick to regular Hula Hoops next time.... although I do have some Hula Hoops Puft Ready Salted to try.

Friday 13 February 2015

Ten Acre Hand Cooked Crisps The Amazing Adventures of Salt and Vinegar

And another 40g bag of crisps found at the local bakery. Ten Acre give their flavours interesting names so this isn't merely a bag of salt & vinegar crisps. No. It's a bag of "The Amazing Adventures of Salt and Vinegar". Which you must admit makes a change from the norm.

I tried these hand cooked crisps on the reluctant taste testers at work and we rather enjoyed them.

It's light, delicate version of salt & vinegar with not too harsh a taste. We liked these.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Ten Acre Hand Cooked Crisps How Chicken Soup Saved the Day

So the tall taste tester was in the Market Place the other day and dropped by the local bakery to see what he could see. And what he could see was not the other side of the mountain (sadly we don't have any mountains because this is North London and we only have hills), but a whole range of crisps he had never heard of before and neither had I. I rushed round the next day and stocked up. And here's one.

Parev (suitable for people who keep kosher), HFA approved (suitable for moslems) and vegan (so suitable for both vegans and vegetarians). Gluten free and MSG free. My goodness, what more could you ask? Except this is a chicken soup flavour so sadly no chicken.

Ten Acre Crisps are hand cooked with love, and packed with crunch says the packaging. I must say that they do look hand cooked.

Made in Manchester by Yumsh Snacks Ltd. And with a rather fabulous and slightly crazy website; it's worth checking this out even if you never looked at any other crispy website (some of them are more fun than you might suppose).

Fine cut crisps, a light golden colour and a light crunch, lots of flavour dust. And the taste? Well, to be honest, not terribly chickeny. It reminds me a little of some instant chicken noodles I used to buy (vastly superior to those that come in a pot but still pretty instant) and enjoy some years ago.

Well, I guess the flavour is chicken soup and not chicken. And I do find them quite tasty. Just not quite what I was expecting.

Friday 6 February 2015

Zweifel Snacketti Paprika Shells

Snack mit Kartoffeln und Paprikapulver. That sounds rather fancier than Snack with potatoes and paprika powder, doesn't it?

I think I would rather describe these as paprika flavour shell-shaped potato snacks. Which means the same thing but somehow sounds better.

Strong paprika aroma, very strong paprika taste (quite hot), lots of paprika flavour dust and a massive crispy crunch that could probably win awards if there are any for sheer crunchiness. An all round crunchy paprika-fest.

Very shell-shaped with great ridges and a wonderful scoop; I should think they would work tremendously with a dip.... although the taste is very strong so you'd need to choose your dip quite carefully.

These are great crisps with a fantastic crunch. Perhaps not mad about the flavour.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Bénénuts 3D's Bugles Goût Fromage

Another thoughtful present from the Chef's kind daughter and son-in-law. From a French motorway service station. Again. Of course. They have great shops and you never know what you're going to find.

Bugle-shaped (so genuinely 3D). Tasting a bit cheesy. From France.

Nice cheesy aroma on opening the packet. Nice crunch, and a pleasant light cheesy (not a recognisable cheese obviously) taste. The shape works really well and the crunch is very good.

But here's weird: the aftertaste is sort of mushroomy. Which is a bit strange. And it wasn't just me. Several of the reluctant taste testers reported that they felt just as I did. Which, well, is a bit odd.

And you can kind of tell from what I have written already: this maize-based crispy snack is nice. Nice, but nothing fantastic. Although the shape and crunch do work well.

Bénénuts is owned by Pepsico France. But then they own so much.

And while I am writing about crisps (because, you know, that's something I hardly ever do) here's a link to something fun I picked up on recently. Star Wars crisps. Yes, you read that right: STAR WARS CRISPS. If you are a Star Wars fan click on the link.

Sadly these crisps aren't real. At least, I doubt they are. My goodness: if you ever see a packet I shall be staggered and expect you to send me a sample!

These faux crisps have been around for a while but I thought I would draw them to your attention in case you might be interested. A fun idea. And why hasn't a major crisp manufacturer picked up on this and pitched it to Lucas Films?

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Too Good Snack Poppé Saveur Paprika

OK, so this exciting offering was a present from the Chef's daughter and son-in-law and purchased, so they claimed, because son-in-law was very taken with this little 25g packet being labelled "version pocket".

This bag of crisps does of course come, as is traditional, from a French motorway service station.

What about version poche? I mean, since when was pocket French for pocket?

Personally I rather like snack poppé. Not obviously a French expression but presumably meaning a popped snack. And, er, Too Good? Sorry: Too Good as a French brand name?

Yes, yes, French is going to the franglais dogs just as fast as English is going to hell in a handbasket. And how very annoying: I had always thought that going to hell in a handbasket must be from Hamlet. But no. This expression first appeared in Samuel Sewall's Diary in 1714 (according to the internet). And you don't really care about that do you?

Philistine! (sorry).

Anyhow, Too Good is obviously a healthy brand of healthy snacks in France. Made in France with Love it says on the website. But on the packet it says fabriqué au Royaume-Uni. Make your mind up. They also do roasted seaweeds!

And if you look at the right place on their website you can find an explanation of "Le popping", and some information about how this crispy snack is sans friture ni tralala huileux. (Oh boy I am really struggling with the predictive text today).

Nice aroma on opening this small packet. Nice oniony taste - the paprika doesn't shine though. Not a bad crunch from this combination of soya and potato. It also includes tapioca, and milled flax. Interesting. Just not a massively exciting taste and unfortunately it has some celery in. Which of course I try to avoid.

The packet says PPK. I wonder if this stands for Post Punk Kitchen? I really don't know.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Belin Croustilles Cacahuète

Another fabulous crispy snack from French company Belin owned by Kraft Foods France (says the packet). But the Belin Croustilles Gout Emmental seemed to be owned by Mondelez International and no mention of Kraft Foods at all. Oh the weird and wonderful world of crispy snacks.

This packet I found at the local Budgens. Amazing. Well done Budgens. What a thrill.

So this maize-based crispy snack is sort of twig shaped. Sort of like Twiglets, sort of like Nik Naks. Sort of not.

It's got a pleasant softish bite and this flavour tastes (of course) of peanuts. Not at all sweet and only a little bit salty, peanut flavour Croustilles are rather good.

The reluctant taste testers liked these a lot. The bowl I set out in the kitchen didn't last any time at all. One of the pickier testers thought it a "grown up" taste.

A nice soft crunch and a great big peanut taste. What's more to say? It wasn't quite what we expected but we liked them a lot.

According to the packet there's a goat's cheese version. That would be fun to try.

Monday 2 February 2015

Belin Croustilles Gout Emmental

Here's a truly cheesy crunchy maize-based snack imported from a French motorway service station by the Chef. And very nice too. And did I mention extremely cheesy?

You know how often you try a cheesy snack only to find it tastes of some fantasy cheese that would be spurned by any self-respecting cheese waiter? Especially a cheese waiter in a swanky French restaurant. Trust me, cheese waiters have a sneer that would quell the grandest of wine waiters.

Not these crunchy sticks of crispiness. You can taste the dairy. There's definitely some genuine cheese happening here even if it's only 2.9% Emmental. Although I have to confess that noble friend found it more Dairy Lea than dairy.

However, most of the reluctant taste testers liked these a lot and there were none left over. Always a good sign.

Berlin appears (from the packet) to be owned by Mondelez International but I couldn't find any mention of Belin on their website which features brands like Cadbury and Toblerone. Maybe I wasn't looking in the right place. I must say I'm not terribly impressed: so many crispy snacks nowadays have quirky little websites designed to draw you in and tell you all about the other flavours you haven't discovered yet. Which I like a lot.

There is a Facebook page for this crispy snack.... but I'm not impressed by that either. Indeed, I see there are two Facebook pages: Croustilles de Belin (326 likes) and then Apéro Belin which is advertised on the packet and scarcely exists at all. No likes. No photos at all. It's very odd.

However, I did like the cheesy taste and soft crunch of these Croustilles. Very nice.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Zweifel Snacketti Ketchup Fries Flavour

Another triumph from Swiss crisp giant Zweifel. I find I sometimes like their Snacketti crispy snacks, and sometimes I don't so much. But these are really good.

This is another extruded potato snack, and has a smart square shape with a hole down the centre. You can just see all the way through. It's quite a lot like the very nice ketchup flavour Bulgarian snacks Kubetti I tried recently: only I think better.

And they have a  load of lovely dark red ketchup flavour yumminess all over them. I thought the red was a bit much when I opened the bag but it was, in fact, just right. Just right and fabulous. Delicious smell when you open the bag too.

The reluctant taste testers really enjoyed these. Techie tester was particularly impressed, and he's a big fan of tomato flavour crispy snacks. Two bowlsful were snacked down in no time at all which meant I didn't get very many. Probably just as well I can see it would be easy to nosh down the entire packet. It's always better for my diet when everyone likes the crisp offering.

Imagine the best ever sausage inna bun you ever had, all sloshed over with the best ketchup. Only with a great crunch. Imagine a bag of Snacketti Ketchup Fries.