Thursday 25 June 2015

KP The Real McCoy's Ridge Cut Salt & Malt Vinegar

Another little 50g packet of road trip crisps from the wonderful motorway service station shop. Another little packet of McCoy's man crisps. And another packet of salt & vinegar.

I took this little packet of McCoy's Salt & Malt Vinegar crisps into work for the reluctant taste testers to try. And I rather wish I hadn't because they are pretty fabulous and I liked them a lot. And when you have only 50g to play with you don't really want to share.

These crispy crunchy crinkle cut crisps are just right. Quite a lot of vinegar sourness but not too much, and just the right amount of salt. And just the right amount of crunch. A very nice crisp indeed.
And as this is a road trip crisp here are some pictures of the Market Place in the pretty little Wiltshire town of Devizes. We stayed at The Bear in the room under the word Bear.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Tyrrell's Poshcorn Sweet & Salty

We seem to be on a bit of a popcorn kick just now, and today noble friend donated a tiny 12g bag (only 62 calories) of Tyrrell's Poshcorn.

I'm not certain exactly what qualifies this Sweet & Salty popcorn to be Poshcorn. It does come in a very swanky pink bag. So it could be that. And it is very nice popcorn with hardly any of those annoying little unpopped bits of corn that get stuck in your teeth.  So maybe it's that. Who knows?

Anyway, this is pretty good popcorn with a not half bad taste. Lovely gentle sweetness, not too much saltiness. So a very nice flavour. And only 62 calories in this little bag.

Of course if you buy this bag you also buy all the other little bags that come in the multi pack. But hey! you don't have to eat them all at once. If you buy a normal size bag you get a lot more temptation.

So let's avoid temptation and enjoy this tiny amount of popcorn.

Now I've had a bit of a rant recently about crispy crunchy snacks aimed at children, and the Real McCoy's range aimed at men, and wondered why there didn't seem to be any aimed at women. And I'm wondering now; do we think this Poshcorn is aimed at women? I'm fairly sure the answer to that question is yes.

Well, OK. I'll go with that. Only, why is the packet pink? And why is the number of calories printed on the front of the bag? Thinks.....

Really? I mean really? Do the marketers really think that women will only buy something that's low calorie and comes in a pink bag? That's so tragic. Plus, of course, it means that Tyrrell's don't expect to sell any of this Poshcorn to men.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Metcalfe's Skinny Popcorn Wasabi Glaze

Lulled into a false sense of security by our recent trials of Waitrose Good to Go Wasabi & Ginger Popcorn and Portlebay Popcorn Wasabi & Sweet Ginger, the Chef and I crunched into this packet of Skinny Popcorn without taking proper precautions.

Aaargh! Wow this popcorn is hot and wasabi-y. And green. I think it's a little bit too much for us so I shall take some into work tomorrow and see what the reluctant taste testers have to say.

The list of ingredients is written in a complicated way but the flavourings contain mustard. And, apparently wasabi pea seasoning (as if that's a thing). I mean, I know about wasabi peas but does that mean suddenly that's a flavour? And then the colour comes from chlorophyll, and curcurmin, herb (herb? what herb?), green pea extract powder, and wasabi powder.

I don't think the green colouring has really come out in the photograph which is a shame because this popcorn is pretty green. I put the bowl right next to a light because chlorophyll colouring often shows up better in artificial light but I guess I have failed here. You'll have to take my word for it.

Well the reluctant taste testers quite liked this popcorn. One of them said it was a shame that the taste was good at first bite but then didn't last. Obviously she was looking for more taste. The extremely senior volunteer taste tester ate half the bowl all by himself. They liked it!

We still didn't. But there you are.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Burt's British Hand Cooked Potato Chips Vintage Cheddar & Spring Onion

Another take on cheese & onion, this time from Burt's from Devon. Oh dear. I'm not that impressed.

The Chef isn't that impressed either; he said he hadn't noticed this was a flavour. Thought it was ready salted or something.


No this is a proper flavour carefully crafted by the lovely people at Burt's. British potato chips done just right says the packet. Hand cooked in Devon, real taste, proper crunch and made by real people. That's Burts. No MSG, artificial colouring, flavouring or hydrogenated fats. Plus gluten free and friendly to vegetarians.

Well yes. Good intentions all round.

And the crunch is good, the colour is good, the crisps feel right and Richard 4 seems to have done a top job on the frying front.

"Savour one of nature's classic combinations with the rich tangy flavour of this great double act". I know, I know, call me picky but I didn't feel this crisp flavour worked as well it might. Not cheesy enough and a little bit too much spring onion - only not really enough taste. I'm not sure what it is exactly but this crisp doesn't really work for me. I'm not wild about the packaging either.

And you already know the Chef didn't even notice this was a cheese & onion clone.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Co-op Fine Food Hopi Blue Chipotle Nachos

Hopi Blue Chipotle Nachos says the packet in English. And then Tortilla-Chips mit blauem Mais und Chipotle-Chilli  (German),  Tortilla chips au maïs bleu et au chile chipotle (French), and Tortilla chips al mais blu e al Chili Chipotle (Italian). Because everything in Switzerland comes in German, French and Italian.

I wonder why they are called Nachos in English but tortilla chips everywhere else?

The first trouble with these Hopi Blue tortilla chips is that they aren't blue. It would be lovely to think they were blue. But they're not. They're a sort of dried-blood dark red with small black and white spots. This is not an attractive colour; actually quite off-putting.

The second trouble is that you can't really taste much (any) chipotle chilli. Basically all you get is tortilla chip flavour. Which I find quite dull.

Nice big pointy triangles, the crunch is good and the chips do work well with a dip - provided it's the right dip (I tried two different dips and one of them was a disaster) - but otherwise I couldn't find anything special to say about them. 

This is a 150g bag that thinks quite a lot of itself. I'm not that impressed.

Friday 19 June 2015

Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws Sea Salt

This packet of Garden Veggie Straws caught my eye as I was walking to work this morning. It was in the window of the interesting kosher deli run by the Indian family which I had never been in. So in I went and bought them.

Because if you were an internationally renowned crisp writer how could you resist this packet? And I couldn't either.

These crispy crunchy snacks are made with potato flour, potato starch and corn starch. The colours come from spinach and beetroot powder which makes them look good (although sadly less exciting than on the packet - this photograph shows more colour than you really get) but doesn't seem to affect the taste much. There is some tomato paste involved too, but again I'm not sure you can taste it because they all seem to taste the same.

However, these crispy stix (I feel sure that must be the technical term) have a lovely light salty taste and a pleasant crunch.  Despite our disappointment over the colours and the lack of veggie tastes, we liked these a lot. The Dutch taste tester said she would buy them again, and even the extremely dubious tester said they were "inoffensive" which is something of an accolade.

We thought these would work really well at a party.

This 28g packet claims to contain 30% less fat than the leading potato chips. There are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, no transfats, no GMOs and no cholesterol. Certified kosher and suitable for vegans. So not very much to complain about.

And Sensible Portions reckon this packet is a sensible portion. So you can Snack Smart. Resist Less. And Snack More, Guilt Less. If you need to contact the Sensible Portion consumer department for any reason, their address is 4600 Sleepytime Drive in Boulder, Colorado. What a great name for a road.

Sensible Portions brand is owned by the Hain Celestial Group which has a portfolio of amazingly healthy sounding food and personal care companies. Which all sounds very fine. But this crisp bag is all on the skew. Which bothers me more than I like.

Thursday 18 June 2015

KP Discos Salt & Vinegar

D'you know, I don't think I ever tried Discos before. I thought maybe I had, but then I opened the packet and... I'm sure I should have remembered them. But I don't so I can't have.

This is another little packet of crisps (56g) from our road trip. Amazing eh? We should go away more often. Or perhaps go for a slightly random long drive.

So, Discos are flat round disks. Kind of like a smaller version of Pringles without the wave but with a slightly heavier crunch.

And considerably paler than Pringles. Extremely pale.

It's a wheat starch/dried potato combo, with wheat flour too, which I never would have known had I not read the list of ingredients. And I've got to say that wheat starch isn't the sexiest sounding start to a list of crispy snack ingredients.

However, tech taste tester declared these were his absolute favourites and he hadn't had Discos in ages, and noble friend said she just loved Salt & Vinegar so we opened the packet enthusiastically. Wow! This is an amazingly Salt & Vinegary flavour!! Really very seriously Salt & Vinegary.

Quite fabulous if you are a major Salt & Vinegar fan. Not if you aren't. I'm not certain about the texture though. It might be all that wheat starch.

I caught myself looking at the strange lightening strikes on the packet wondering why it features origami cranes. Well, obviously, if you look properly they aren't origami cranes (shame really) but the lightening strikes are a bit odd, And why is it called a grab bag? This is a recent innovation that I have yet to work out.

And as this is a road trip crispy snack here's us visiting Silbury Hill. It really does look just like a pudding basin from every direction.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Pom-Bear Cheese & Onion

At last another flavour of Pom-Bear.

I thought I would never find one. And especially I thought I'd never find one in a single packet because Pom-Bears almost always seem to come in multi packs. But guess what? I found this packet at a motorway service station. It's a wonder I ever attempt to shop anywhere else.

So another road trip crisp.

I have only ever tried the mysteriously named Original flavour before. I suppose it's the first flavour they created but calling it Original isn't very helpful. After all, it might be fennel flavour; it might be octopus. Although perhaps neither of these would be appropriate in a crispy snack aimed at small children, it would at least have the merit of being genuinely original.

In fact, as I remember Original is your basic salted. And now here we have Cheese & Onion. Which is, as befits this crispy snack aimed mostly at small children, a gentle cheese & onion with not too much flavour at all.

It's not a bad snack but not terrifically exciting either. The reluctant taste testers and I had no difficulty finishing the bowl I set out in the kitchen. We all admitted to liking Pom-Bears, but I suspect we all meant Original flavour. And it is Original I would buy again I think.

So there you go. Cheerful snacks (they smile), nice and bubbly in texture, good light crunch, but the flavour fades away into nothing.

Pom-Bear is a brand owned by German food giant Intersnack (great name if you're going to focus on crispy snacks) and I don't really know if these are manufactured in Germany or the UK.

And here's a great photo of Big Ben I snatched the other day when I was crossing the road in Westminster. How exhausting! I'm glad I'm not there every day. It's a battle crossing the road with 10,000 other people and a battle getting past those 10,000 people as they stop on the pavement to take  47 selfies each. But it was a lovely evening with beautiful blue skies and all that fabulous architecture was glowing in the sunshine. London at its best.

Saturday 13 June 2015

KP The Real McCoy's Ridge Cut Paprika

Still road trip! And another little packet of crisps from the motorway service station, this time 50g.

And lookee here!! The first packet of British crisps I've ever seen in Paprika flavour. New says the packet. So perhaps there were no Paprika crisps to find before.

Well, I have pondered this before without coming to any sensible conclusion but previously the ever popular Paprika flavour available in all sorts of European destinations just hasn't made it to the UK. And I really wondered why not.

It has now. Courtesy of McCoy's man crisps.

Yes: back to man crisps I'm afraid ladies. What is it with man crisps? We all know there are piles of crisps and crispy snacks aimed at children. And we know there are man crisps; McCoys if no other. But why aren't there any crisps aimed at women? It's a thought I may have to return to.

And anyway, in mainland Europe there are masses of Paprika flavour crisps eaten by everyone, so I don't know why McCoy's should appropriate the flavour for men.

However, not a bad ridge cut crisp with a great crunch. Not as sweet as many Paprika crisps I've tried.  Maybe less sweet to make them more manly? But in the end, pretty good. Not half bad for a first attempt.

And here are some photos of The Avenue at Avebury. Built about 2600 BC it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, owned and managed by the National Trust. Many buttercups this weekend.

Friday 12 June 2015

Burt's British Hand Cooked Potato Chips Sea Salt

Road trip! Yes, we went to Devizes for the weekend and stopped (as you do) at a motorway service station. And what do we know about motorway service stations? Of course - they're an excellent source of small bags of crisps.

So here we have a nice little 40g bag of sea slat flavour crisps from Devon crispeteers Burts. Seasoned, says the packet, with a pinch of Cornish sea salt for a truly tasty flavour.

These pleasantly simple crisps taste good, crunch well, look good, smell right, and are generally what you expect from a quality crisp. And that's what you get. A quality crisp.

The packet tells me that these crisps were grown in a field called Moundsmere. Absolutely free from MSG, artificial colours and flavourings, hydrogenated fat, and gluten. And vegetarian friendly. Great! I also know that my crisps were cooked by Richard3. Hurrah!

But I confess that I'm slightly surprised we don't get told the potato variety. Not that I really care, you understand, but I have become accustomed to finding that information on crisp packets. Especially this kind of crisp packet.

Never mind. A pretty good crisp.

Monday 8 June 2015

Poco Loco Crispy Salted Tortilla Chips

This must be the heaviest (and largest) packet of crisps I have ever bought. 450g! That's very nearly 1lb (one pound to anyone who doesn't read imperial measurements). The bag is giant and stuffed full.

I found these at the Turkish shop down the road. Some local people say the shop is run by Kurds not Turks. I've not asked (it seems intrusive) but they do have a great shop, open from dawn until very late indeed and just crammed full of stuff. And this packet was on such a high shelf I had to get a man to help me reach.

Although the Turkish shop sells a mass of fabulous pastas and spices and fruit juices and goodness knows what that you can't find anywhere else, they aren't terribly good at crispy snacks. But I hadn't seen this brand before so I thought I'd give it a go.

And why haven't I seen this brand before? Because it's from Belgium. I haven't been to Belgium but maybe I should because I found some very nice Belgian crisps in Switzerland. Well, you know, the international crisp market is pretty... international.

There were not so many reluctant taste testers in the office the day we tried these but I was impressed that the most sceptical tester of all really liked them. They are her favourite she said. And I think she was quite impressed.

Especially after I laid in some dip. Because you can't go wrong with tortilla chips and dip.

Very nice crunch, lovely taste - not too much maize in the taste but a good toasty flavour - and an acceptable level of saltiness.  Pretty good really. Yes, we liked these.

The only trouble is it's such a gigantic amount of chips. I mean, absolutely massive! If you are throwing a big party with a selection of dips then check these out. If it's only you... then maybe look elsewhere because you'll be eating them for weeks.

Unfortunately I don't have an A3 scanner so the top and bottom of the bag are missing but I don't think there's very much to miss. And here are some white roses from my garden.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Lay's Mix Sabor a Pizza & Extra de Queso/Queijo

The Dutch taste tester went to Barcelona the other day and very thoughtfully brought back this 170g packet of Spanish (and Portuguese) crisps for us to try.

I have read about Lay's Mix crisps on other blogs recently. They seem to be appearing all over the world except in the UK of course; we have Walkers Mix Ups instead. So pretty much a universal innovation then.

Although... when I say universal.... I've not seen many crisps featuring in SF films or TV shows (none!) so perhaps that's not quite the right word.

Anyway, the bloggers seem to feel that this new mix of flavours is a good idea. And indeed the reluctant taste testers made away with three large bowls of these crisps which is an enthusiastic response.

These are very nice crisps with a good crunch and a lovely deep golden colour. And there's the problem for me. The packet design indicates that it contains a mix of cheese flavour crisps (queso in Spanish and queijo in Portuguese) and pizza flavour. Apparently pizza is pizza or something very similar in every language I can read; I don't know how you say పిజ్జా which is Telagu for pizza, nor ភីហ្ which is Khmer (according to Google translate).
And that's a fine plan but I felt the cheese crisps, of which I only discovered two (rather tasty), were almost entirely overwhelmed by the pizza crisps. And once again with a pizza flavour crisp I wasn't that impressed. Somehow pizza crisps never taste of that really wonderful pizza you had in Rome - or what about Arthur's Pizzas we used to get on Oxford Street in Sydney? so good - but instead are like the thin floppy ones from the freezer cabinet in the supermarket.

And interestingly most of the reluctant taste testers told me they felt the pizza crisps tasted of cheap frozen pizza, but it didn't seem to stop them enjoying the crisps. Otherwise why eat three bowlsful?

Saturday 6 June 2015

Waitrose Good to Go Wasabi & Ginger Popcorn

The other day the reluctant taste testers and I looked in fear and trembling at the packet of Wasabi & Sweet Ginger Popcorn from Portlebay.  And when we tried it (oh so reluctantly) we discovered it was rather good.

Spurred on by that the Chef bought this packet of popcorn from Waitrose. In fact, not this packet because he ate the first one before I got to it (well... I had other crispy snacks on my mind). And now he's eating packet number three.

Because this is really rather good. Proper popcorn in a small 25g bag, lovely sweet gingery taste and a nice hit of wasabi. And quite interestingly it is actually wasabi.

You might not be aware that much of the wasabi in this country isn't wasabi at all but a combination of horseradish and mustard. Not being a wasabi - or Japanese food - fan I didn't know this until I read an article in the Financial Times magazine. Wasabi, I read, grows in shallow streams of spring water high in the Japanese mountains. And wasabi roots cost £250 per kilo. Wow! That's a lot of money to pay for popcorn flavouring. No wonder a lot of wasabi isn't wasabi.

Friday 5 June 2015

Lay's Stix Ketchup

I finally discovered the Polish shop in East Finchley recommended by one of the taste testers. And found this great packet (160g) of crispy potato sticks on special. Because they were almost at their sell by date.

What an amazing crunchy crispy snack! The Chef quite likes them (you know he is more restrained than I am) and I like them a lot. These teeny weeny chips have a good crunch and a great taste. Ketchup is a crispy snack flavour that seems to work very well.

Chipsy ziemniaczane o smaku ketchupu says the packet. Well, any fule kno that smaku ketchupu means ketchup flavour, but bear with me while I look up the rest of it on Google Translate as I don't speak much (any) Polish.... OK: potato chips flavoured with ketchup. Voila!

Kind of amazing that a word like ziemniaczane means potato though. Doesn't look very much like to the average English speaker.

And interesting to see that while some European crisps have text in many different languages (including English even if they're not sold here), Polish crisps have no truck with any language other than Polish. Although there is a sticky label with the ingredients in English added by the importer.

Anyway, an ex-taste tester from Poland tells me that people in Poland don't eat crisps (I may have mentioned this before). Obviously these fabulously crispy sticks aren't exactly crisps but... But they are definitely Polish. And if these are genuinely not eaten in Poland, Frito Lay Poland Sp. z.o.o. will be most disappointed.

I took the packet in to work and tried it on the reluctant taste testers. Even the most sceptical tester admitted they were tastier than she had expected. Indeed, pretty much everyone liked the taste a great deal, although we did feel that the teeny weeny chip shape does make them difficult to eat in quantity. But I think we all did our best.

The bag is an odd tall narrow shape with a printed zip showing where the bag should be opened Tutaj otwórz! and the helpful information that opening the "zip" will help you to share the contents. Although opening this zip would, I can't help feeling, cause the contents to spill absolutely everywhere.