Saturday 28 November 2015

M&S Thai Green Curry Sticky Rice Chips

Here is another packet of crisps selected by the history graduate taste tester. Another packet of "complete dinner flavour" crisps. Thai green curry - I guess that's a flavour - but sticky rice? Surely that's rather more a texture than a flavour?

Does sticky rice taste appreciably different from any other kind of rice (obviously discounting any flavouring which might be added to the rice)? Not being an aficionado of Thai food I can't answer that. But I can report that the taste testers were dubious about sticky rice as a flavour. History graduate taste tester says he usually has jasmine rice anyway.

Having said all that, we quite liked this crispy snack. Quite tasty.

Quite a pleasant light curry taste. But I can't say that I noticed the baked in rice grains. I guess maybe I wasn't expecting that until - too late - I read the packet. The chips are made with rice flour and maize flour, so why the extra rice I wonder?

As so often with a shaped snack there seem to be more broken bits in the packet than you get with a packet of crisps. Or perhaps with a shaped snack the breakages seem to matter more. I'm not sure why but that does seem to be the case.

Pretty green packaging.

Friday 27 November 2015

M&S Eat Well Smoked Salt & Mixed Pepper Pea Snaps

Ever hopeful I thought we might try this flavour of Pea Snaps.

The Green Chilli Lime & Coriander flavour the reluctant taste testers and I tried the other day was not nice. But M&S have brought out two other flavours so they must believe someone will like these allegedly healthy Pea Snap crispy snacks.

I am not convinced. The reluctant taste testers are not convinced. The Chef is not convinced. Oh dear. Will anyone be convinced?

I read salt and pepper on the packet as I queued at the checkout the other day. But salt and pepper is not what I got.

I mean, we have cayenne pepper, white pepper, black pepper, pink peppercorns and capsicum extract. That's a lot of pepper. On top of that there's ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and star anise. That's a whole lot of flavour. And then we have the smoked salt.

And yet you can still taste the peas.

The initial crunch seems light but not bad, only the crispy snack immediately becomes a mushy snack and melds itself to your teeth. And the flavour is downright weird. And the aftertaste is sort of fatty. Greasy. I don't know what.

Are marrowfat peas super healthy? If so I think we are all going to need a lot of educating to get us to like them.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Tayto Salt & Vinegar (Northern Ireland)

This is the third little packet of Tayto crisps from the multi-pack I found in Tesco.

This is a retro style Salt & Vinegar flavour; quite strong but not so strong your tongue curls up in horror. And a little bit sweet too. Not a super exciting, wow! this is the best Salt & Vinegar flavour ever, but pretty good nonetheless. And in a 25g bag which I always appreciate.

Tayto crisps are the Tall Taste Tester’s childhood crisps. He assures me that the singing potato on the packet is in fact Neil Sedaka. I much prefer my Guys & Dolls idea. And I understand that the Tayto packet used to be clear. I wonder when that changed?

Wednesday 25 November 2015

TUC Cheese Sandwich

I absolutely adore these cheese sandwiches from TUC.

The TUC crackers are pretty good on their own; very good crunch, nice golden colour, 18 little holes on the glossy top side and chamfered corners. And a great sprinkling of salt. Very nice indeed.

But two crackers sandwiched together with a cheesy paste? Well, it's true genius.

Of course, the cheesy paste is 100% fake food. Cheesy something squished to a tasty smush. And paired with the salty crunch of the TUC crackers... it's genius. Again.

But it's probably best not to enquire into the ingredients too closely. Suffice it to say there are three different vegetable oils listed but only 5% dried cheese, and also glucose syrup. Despite the website listed on the packaging I conclude that this is not a healthy crispy snack.

But I knew that.

TUC crackers seem to be made by Jacobs Bakery based in the fabulously named Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire (I've always thought it was a great name for a place) in England (so British). But TUC is a registered trade mark of General Biscuits Belgie SA (and therefore Belgian), and seems also to be a registered trademark of United Biscuits (UK) Limited (and thus British). Confused? I am.

But whoever makes this crispy crunchy cheesy snack I don't care. It's terrifically tasty and seriously good. Yum!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Bluebird Burger Rings Full On Burger Flavour

The Dutch taste taster came back from her New Zealand holiday this week with a packet of New Zealandish crisps. Pretty good, she thought, and I reckon she was right.

I have never tried a New Zealand crispy snack before (unless without realising when I've been in Australia although I suspect not) but these are pretty good.

I asked why this Bluebird packet has a penguin on it. Nobody seems to know. And in fact Chips of New Zealand call it "Bluebird's iconic unexplained penguin". Perhaps unexplained, but could the penguin be a little blue penguin (hence Bluebird) which is native to New Zealand and Southern Australia? Although, having said that, the penguins on Bluebird crisp packets do seem to be styled rather more on the Penguins of Madagascar than any bird you might spot along the New Zealand coast.

The Dutch taste tester says that she and her husband and other travelling companions actually preferred the chicken flavour crinkle cut crisps made by Bluebird, but apparently this puffy circular crispy snack is the snack to go for if you are a Kiwi. And tech taste tester was thrilled because he's been to New Zealand and learned to love Burger Rings then.

Don't let the munchies get the better of you! says the packaging, take one bite of these tasty snacks and let the full on burger flavour take over!

I guess Keep New Zealand Beautiful is the NZ version of the little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly.

We liked these a lot. There's a nice light crunch, lots of flavour dust and a great savoury flavour. None of us thought Burger Rings tasted of burger. Not any burger we've ever tried. But honestly, we didn't care at all. Because we all loved this crispy snack.

Our only real complaint was that we had just the one bag to try. But... I find you can purchase this crispy snack on Amazon and I daresay other sources are available.

Monday 23 November 2015

Ten Acre Hand Cooked Crisps Pastrami in the Rye

Here's another packet of gluten free, dairy free, MSG free, vegan, hand cooked crisp company Ten Acre. Discovered in one of the local kosher delis by noble friend.

Hand cooked with love packed with crunch says the packaging. But what a disappointment.

Having tried a bunch of other flavours from Ten Acre we were expecting something rather good here. You know, a crisp that actually tastes of pastrami. But really they don't. And although I don't live in New York City which I take to be the spiritual home of the pastrami on rye sandwich, I do live in North London where there is plenty of pastrami available. And it doesn't taste much like this.

Oh, don't run away with the idea that these crisps are nasty. In fact they taste pretty good. There's lots of spicey flavour: paprika, nutmeg, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper - and once again the mysterious addition of carob to the list of ingredients. And then there's mustard.

Sorry Ten Acre. From my point of view there is far too much mustard involved.

If these crisps had been called Spicy rather than Pastrami in the Rye I think the reluctant taste testers would have been fairly happy with the flavour. But they do fail to taste like pastrami. And is there supposed to be a taste of rye bread here? I'm not sure I could detect it.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Migros Jumpy's Sour Cream

Here's a new flavour of the fabulous kangaroo-shaped crispy snack from Germany. And I only just noticed it isn't spelled Jumpys but Jumpy's. And oh no! I failed to photograph them.

Oh well. That's not the end of the world. You can see roughly what they look like here in my 2013 first encounter with Jumpys. Except add in a sprinkling of little herby bits on each tiny kangaroo. There are some larger than life images on the packaging too.

If we buy them again I can add a photograph later.

And in fact it was quite interesting looking back. Because the first packet of Jumpys doesn't have an  apostrophe. I wonder why that was changed? Plus, that crispy snack was made by Chio. These Jumpy's today seem to be made by Migros.

So Migros is a Swiss (and French) supermarket chain but I can't discover this product on their website. And in any case I'm pretty sure this packet was bought at a Co-op (which is a different Swiss supermarket). Truly the world of crispy snacks can be confusing at times.

Der Kartoffel-Snack mit Sauerrahm-Geschmack, der auf der Zunge hüpft! The sour cream flavoured potato snack that jumps on your tongue! And despite being made in Germany the packet features all the info you need in German, French and Italian; all the major Swiss languages.

Very tasty for a miniature kangaroo-shaped snack although I think I prefer the original Sunny Paprika flavour.

Oh look at that. The Chef just admitted to having a small stash of Jumpy's. So here's the photograph. Each little kangaroo is about 25 x 27 mm (toe to tail x height). That's about an inch not at all square.

Friday 20 November 2015

Walkers Sensations Poppadoms Lime & Coriander Chutney

Amazingly this crispy snack comes highly recommended by the extremely skeptical taste tester. Yes really. And indeed she kindly donated this packet which I understand she found in Sainsburys.

"The freshness of zesty lime and coriander leaf leads you into the sweet creamily rich taste of curry" says the packet. Does it indeed?

This crispy snack has a lovely light crunch and a zingy lime taste over the chilli heat. Very tasty, very nice indeed. And quite hard to stop eating.

The extremely skeptical taste tester admits she bought a packet to bring in to work the other day. And accidentally ate the whole thing before it could leave her flat. So I think we were lucky to get the chance to try this second packet. But do admit; that is the best kind of recommendation.

It's interesting that here the lime & coriander works really well but in the previous crispy snack - the M&S Green Chilli Lime & Coriander Pea Snaps - it really doesn't.

The Chef thinks the poppadoms look quite nice too. And that can't be bad.

Thursday 19 November 2015

M&S Eat Well Green Chilli Lime & Coriander Pea Snaps

The Extremely Skeptical taste tester looked into the little green packet (only 21g) and asked "Are these made of grasshoppers?".

Well, no. However avant garde you may consider the recent adventures of the M&S crisp development department, I don't think they would go so far as to try to tempt the residents of North London with insecty snacks. Or not without some massive advertising campaign to tell us all we will be missing out on the latest trend if we don't get our act together.

So, not made of grasshoppers. But made of marrowfat peas. Which is a different sort of pea from your petit pois or garden pea. Marrowfat peas are not picked young like garden peas but left (I gather) to mature and dry on the plant. And then traditionally they are cooked for ages to make mushy peas to eat with fish & chips or with pies. I come from the wrong part of the UK to appreciate mushy peas so I've not tried them. And probably won't.

In any case, these marrowfat peas have suffered some sinister change in the manufacturing process and here they are  mysteriously extruded into pea pod shapes. Green pea pods. And actually the crunch is pretty good. Light, but good.

But the taste! Oh dear.

Seriously, what were they thinking? I mean, I would have been prepared to give these a go if they tasted of salt & vinegar or something, but I guess that wouldn't be healthy enough. Instead we have green chilli, lime and coriander. And I'm not sure that's the taste combination for me.

When you open the packet the aroma of lime and coriander is overpowering. I've always found coriander a little tough to appreciate, and these crispy Pea Snaps aren't helping the cause. Really, it's a very odd taste.

I'm left wondering what it is about these snaps that qualifies them for the Eat Well range? Is it the peas? Because if so, can we have them with a better flavour please. Is it the flavour? Because if so, why can't we just have a potato snap? Is it that they taste so weird we don't eat so many? Because if that's the case I'm afraid we'll just go out and eat something unhealthy instead.

Honestly, I'd be delighted to give a good review to a healthy crispy snack. But somehow almost all of them are a bit too weird.
These little Pea Snaps are a bit greener than the photograph shows. It's been so very dark here recently that unless I rush into photographer mode as soon as the sun comes out (not always possible) I have to make do with artificial light. I don't think the sun came out at all today, in fact it was nearly dark by tea time. And we aren't even into December!

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Cofresh Hot Chilli Flavour Potato Spirals

What a fun crispy snack this is from Indian style snack specialists Cofresh.

I always enjoy an interesting shape and these spirals are certainly an interesting shape. With a terrific chilli taste - not sweet chilli which doesn't really work for me but seems amazingly popular as a flavour these days - but simple chilli heat. Think Hoola Hoops but spiral shaped and with a much more grown up taste.

I liked this crispy crunchy snack so much I can't think of a vast amount to say. Weirdly I usually find miles more to say about the crisps I don't like. Extra weirdly my posts about crisps I don't like are usually far more popular than the posts about my favourites. So not many crisp fans will read this.

But I'll say it again; I liked this crispy crunchy snack a lot.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Tesco Finest Feature Flavour Smoky Braised Ribs & Ancho Chilli

Well, there's certainly a lot of flavour dust on these crisps. Unfortunately it is not entirely clear to me, nor to the reluctant taste testers, what the flavour dust actually tastes of.

As so often with Tesco crisps these are quite large, nicely cooked and with a great crunch. But aside from the smoky flavour and the chilli heat I think that none of us was able to identify a taste of braised ribs. Or any kind of ribs.

Actually I am somewhat at a disadvantage because I've never eaten ribs so I don't know what they taste of. But let's take a stab in the dark and imagine probably vaguely meaty?

The aroma is mostly barbecue and the ingredients include West Country beef extract; maybe that explains the marmite/bovril taste. And then there's carob flour. Now carob is a chocolate substitute so what is it doing here?

Not sure we could identify the meatiness. Not sure I would really recommend them.

Is it just me over-thinking things or is there a hint of desperation in the flavour development departments these days? I get it when they bring out a fancy version of, say, cheese & onion with a named cheese and red onions or chives (it'll be leeks next I dare say) and I get it when I try a crisp flavoured with tomato ketchup or actual marmite. I don't really get it when the crisp flavour seems like a whole dinner. Or, as I'm sure I have said before, like something on a menu in a restaurant. 

Monday 16 November 2015

Tayto Prawn Cocktail Flavour Crisps

This is another little 25g packet from the Tayto multi-pack I found in Tesco. And something of a disappointment.

As before I noticed that the Tayto crisps are very small. Which is fine. After all the size of the potato doesn't affect the taste of the crisp.

But the flavour. How can I put it? Very sharp tomato ketchup. That's how.

No prawns were harmed in the making of these crisps which are suitable for vegetarians. And you might think that they are suitable for healthy eaters because just like breakfast cereals they contain iron, thiamin and niacin. I wonder why?

On the other hand you might say they really aren't suitable for healthy eaters because of all the Disodium 5 Ribonucleotide and Sodium Diacetate etc. Surely these days a proper crisp doesn't need to be covered in chemicals.

Oh yes, and the tomato ketchup taste? Where does that come from? No idea at all. Unless from the mystery "flavouring" on the list of ingredients.

The reluctant taste testers were not impressed. The extremely senior volunteer taste tester ate one and a half bags (at the very least) all by himself. But I have to tell you that he'll eat almost anything. We don't think he's allowed crispy snacks at home.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Tesco Finest Limited Edition Brie & Cranberry Crisps

Although the packaging doesn't say so I imagine this Limited Edition crisp was launched with the Christmas market in mind. Tesco seem to be very good at producing Christmas crisps.  I wonder how long this has been going on? I have always enjoyed a packet of crisps but before I started writing this blog I don't think I noticed the seasonal flavours. Of course that doesn't mean very much but as I say, I do wonder when this seasonal crisp thing began.

Of course these crisps are large, of course they have a terrific crunch and of course there's a lot of flavour dust. Not quite so sure about the flavour.

Creamy French Brie with the tart yet sweet taste of juicy cranberries says the packaging (and I do quite like the packaging design). Well the recipe includes Brie powder and the oddly unspecific cheese powder. Plus cranberry juice powder, and dried blueberry flakes. Why the blueberry? I have noticed random added blueberry in other crisp recipes (don't ask me which ones because of course I can't remember) and it would be interesting to know why it is so important to add this fruit to crisps.

So anyway, the recipe does seem to have all the right ingredients. And I really do love a good Brie but I never would have thought to serve it with cranberries. Is that usual?

As I write I'm about to go downstairs for some crispy French bread and Brie but we don't have any cranberries (I don't think we ever have any cranberries) so I can't attempt this recipe / serving suggestion. Call me old-fashioned but I don't think I would if I could.

These crisps do taste kind of cheesy. But it's the wrong sort of cheese. I don't really think the Brie flavour works very well. Not convinced.

Made from Lady Rosetta potatoes grown in a field called Lime Kiln 3.

Saturday 14 November 2015

M&S Venison Red Wine & Juniper Hand Cooked Crisps

I was feeling a bit low the other day, coming down with a cold, and suddenly thought that probably the reluctant taste testers must be a bit fed up with the constant stream of crisps we've tried recently. So I didn't take any crispy snacks in to work.

Imagine my surprise when noble friend asked eagerly what today's crisp was and acted all aghast when I told her there wasn't going to be one.

So by chance I happened into the crisp aisle in Marks & Spencer at lunchtime and stumbled across this packet.

What? Venison crisps? Containing actual venison? Whatever next we ask (and not for the first time)?

As always with M&S these crisps are a good size with a great crunch and a good lot of flavour dust. And I think we all liked them a lot. The Chef certainly liked them; he wolfed down the half packet I took home.

We liked the taste, we really did. We just weren't sure that we could taste venison. Or juniper. What we could taste was a rich herby/spicy red wine yumminess. Lots of umami.

Pretty good.

Interestingly, when I read venison I automatically think red deer. But on reading the ingredients list in French I see the venison in these crisps is in fact chevreuil which is roe deer. Which I have eaten in Switzerland and find less rich than red deer. And I still think you can't taste the venison in these crisps.

Also interesting; Wikipedia tells me that originally Bambi was a roe deer but Disney changed him to a white tailed deer because that species would be more familiar to an American audience.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Walkers French Fries Salt & Vinegar

Here's another little packet of French Fries from a Walkers multi-pack.

Same shiny texture as usual, still long and thin (obviously), same gentle flavour (although the initial aroma was very strong), same entirely pretence form of crispy snack.

All the same I really can't help liking these a lot. Can you stop yourself from finishing the packet?

I bet you can't.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Tayto Cheese & Onion (Northern Ireland)

The people's choice says the packet. And it well may be.

I had heard about Tayto crisps. They seem to be some sort of Irish legend. Like Finn MacCool perhaps (no; not really). Anyway when I spotted this multi-pack in Tesco's world food section (where else?), obviously I had to buy it.

What a weird selection though. Cheese & Onion, Salt & Vinegar and..... Prawn Cocktail. What? No plain Salted?
And I have to say (sorry Tayto) I really do not admire the branding of this product. The colours are a bit too brash and (sorry again) I hate the cartoon potato. I hate the fact that a potato, that's Mr Tayto to you, is drawn to look like Frank Sinatra or Marlon Brando in Guys & Dolls. I mean, look at him: he's about to burst into song.

However, I have to stop picking holes in the design because in fact these crisps are every bit as good as rumour had it.

Rather small, in fact surprisingly small crisps, and a little pale in colour. But the crunch is wonderfully light, and the taste is superb. Brilliant.

The multi-pack bag was too long to fit in my scanner so you have to imagine another 40mm or 50mm of turquoise on either end.
And here's the 2016 60th anniversary packet which Noble Friend found at Fortnum & Mason.

Monday 2 November 2015

Walkers French Fries Cheese & Onion

Halloween was approaching fast when I bought this multi-pack of French Fries (along with several packets of chocolatey this and that and some lollipops) for the basket of goodies. And obviously I tried one of the little 18g packets of Cheese & Onion.

You get a surprising amount of French Fries for your 18g; well, they probably are mostly air, being nothing but extruded and puffed potato starch and granules. And they definitely are very thin.

So the reluctant taste testers and I tucked in.

Very tasty indeed.

It isn't a very obvious cheese & onion flavour. In fact somebody thought it was salt and vinegar! However I thought, and it seemed that everyone taste testing agreed, that this is a very tasty crispy snack.

With the strange shiny texture of packing peanuts it is plain that French Fries are a fairly pretence kind of food. History graduate taste tester said he'd never liked them. He didn't like the texture. I kind of know what he meant and can't blame him. But he tried them anyway and reported that now he "really rather liked them" and this packet had "changed his view".


And it does rather go to show that periodically you should try foods you don't think that you like just in case you find you've changed your mind.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Cofresh Jalapeño Flavour Potato Grills

Britain's favourite Indian snacks! it says on the pretty purple paisley packaging (very fetching). I can believe that. But I'm not so sure I believe in the mild & tangy label. More like quite hot & tasty.

So, quite hot & tasty and with a gorgeous light crunch.

I tried these deliciously light crunchy snacks on the Chef. He wasn't sure; thought the taste was more hot than tasty. But I left him a little bowl of these potato grills so he could try again if he felt like it. And fancy that! Apparently they are pretty good after all. At any rate, they all got eaten.

The tasty flavour dust doesn't really show in my photograph but I don't think these potato grills were as dark as shown on the packet.

At work several of the taste testers said they really liked these potato grills, and isn't the shape interesting? And the tall taste tester said they were perfect in every way: good taste, nice crunch, melt in your mouth.

Well really, what could be better? Tall taste tester asked where I bought them. Tesco in Finchley Central in this case, but I've seen Cofresh products in lots of places since I first discovered them.