Monday 31 October 2016

Bénenuts les inCRAquables Goût Barbecue

Here's another weird crispy crunchy snack from Bénenuts.

All the reluctant taste testers really rather enjoyed this snack despite most of them telling me they thought it looks like deep fried caterpillars.

Well, I guess there's a gap in the deep fried caterpillar market then.  Aren't people weird? You'd think if they can see a deep fried caterpillar instead of a crispy snack made of maize flour and teeny weeny bits of potato they maybe wouldn't attempt it. Apparently not. Because quite a lot of these little crispy "caterpillars" were crunched down in no time at all.

A vote of confidence I think.

And not too much barbecue in the taste. Just quite a tasty smokey bacony... tastiness.

The packet tells me this crispy snack is une forme amusante et unique. I think we noticed!

Sunday 30 October 2016

M&S Christmas Blacksticks Blue Cheese & Figgy Pickle Hand Cooked Crisps

Oh my goodness! why do they give crisps such bonkersly long names these days?

Really. Do you want to read all that text before you decide whether or not to purchase a packet of crispy snacks? I suspect not. However, obviously the reluctant taste testers and I had to try this new crisp from Marks & Spencer.

I'm not sure we were that madly impressed. You don't really get a taste of blue cheese. Tall taste tester is a blue cheese fan and he was disappointed. Which seems a  shame as M&S are advertising Blacksticks Blue Cheese which to be honest with you I had never heard of but it really is a cheese. Yes, a real cheese with its own playlist on Spotifiy! Since when did cheese makers have their own playlists like that? I am seriously behind the times.

And then the Figgy Pickle. This is weird. Kind of sweet, kind of sharp, so you end up with a sort of sweet and sour flavour. Honestly we didn't dislike this crisp; we just found it a bit odd. The flavour is a bit too complicated for us.

The Chef ate quite a lot of these crisps but I sometimes wonder if his crisp munching is a sort of absent minded grazing that goes on when I am at work. Who can say? Not the Chef. But annoyingly he doesn't get any fatter.

One thing we did think. This flavour smacks of Tescos rather than Marks & Spencer. But I cannot quite put my finger on why. Oh, and the crisps are a lot pinker than this photograph shows - and a whole lot pinker than the pack shot shows.

Obviously a limited edition for Christmas although the packet does not say so explicitly.

Update: Tall Elegant and Dutch taste testers have now had the opportunity to try this crisp. Dutch taste tester was extremely unimpressed. Tall Elegant taste tester said the thought the taste was utterly disgusting! So I am afraid this cannot be described as a wholehearted recommendation.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Walkers Roast Chicken & Mayonnaise Flavour Potato Crisps

This here 40g packet of crisps from UK crisp giant Walkers (Lay's in disguise) is one of their new range of sandwich filling flavours. Sorry? What? Yup, a new range of crisps - limited edition I expect - of crisps flavoured with your favourite sandwich (or sarnie) fillings.

I was thinking that this is a bit mad; I never eat roast chicken & mayonnaise sandwiches. But wait... I do sometimes make myself a toast sandwich and fill it with cold chicken and Helmans with a spot of lettuce to pretend I am eating something healthy. Which is pretty exactly much the same thing. Although the mayo in this case is Heinz not Helmans which we always have in our fridge.

Is this turning into one of those snappy interviews you get in the weekend newspapers: one of the questions always seems to be what do you always have in your fridge? Most of the interviewees seem to have nothing but Champagne and some frightfully expensive cheese. If you are interested we do have Champagne in our fridge, but also white wine and fizzy water; lots of cheese - Cheddar, Emmental, Gruyere, Parmesan, Mozzarella, maybe some Brie or Tomme; Helmans of course; garlic and onions without which I cannot cook dinner; eggs; salad when the Chef is in residence; and probably cold meats. If I am lucky there will be Viande Sechée the fabulous dried beef (for want of a better explanation) from the Valais in Switzerland. Only we usually eat it very quickly because it is so good. If you want to know more here's a YouTube video explaining how to make it. Next question: what's the best present you have been given recently? Er....

So what did the reluctant taste testers think of these crisps? Well, I gather that Dutch taste tester has already tried several of these new sarnie flavours and liked this a lot. She and Tall Elegant taste tester thought the chicken taste was very good. Noble Friend and Slightly Red Haired Bristolian really weren't keen: I wrote "oh no!" on my handy post-it note to remind me what they said. And Tall taste tester and Discerning Architectural taste tester bizarrely both thought the taste was ham and quite liked that. Weird.

A mixed response. I thought they were rather good. Quite a realistic chickeny taste. Not bad at all although I am not certain I can pick the mayo in this crisp.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Carrefour Croustillants à la Cacahuète

A little bit like a Nik Nak (in shape), a little bit Bamba Peanut Snack (in taste), this crispy own brand snack from the Carrefour outside Reims is a whole lot peanutty.

Los of peanut taste, a slightly dull crunch and they do stick to your teeth rather. But they are quite moreish. So if you like peanut flavour (a lot of people do) you may find this a very tasty snack.

The reluctant taste testers made no mistake over this flavour and ate quite a lot of these knobbly little sticks. Well... I can't think of a better way of describing them. And then the chef ate what was left over. He doesn't always.

I rather like the orange/magenta combo on the packaging.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Beigel & Beigel American BBQ Flavoured Snack

No I really have no idea what the difference is between a BBQ flavour and an American BBQ flavour. Especially when applied to a kosher crispy snack made in Israel. If you know better than me do let me know.

The reluctant taste testers and I have already tried onion and felafel flavour snacks from Beigel & Beigel. We liked them both quite a lot. Not so mad for this American BBQ flavour though.

The flavour was not so much an intrinsic part of the snack as a sauce added later. Some of the taste testers thought perhaps brown sauce. Noble Friend suggested teriyaki sauce. I rather agree. Definitely could do better.

Don't you find it odd that if you have 3 or 4 or 5 somethings to try the last whatever it is will almost always turn out to be the least successful. I always used to find this with library books. I expect there is a Law to cover that. Probably a corollary to Murphy's Law. Don't forget; if you know better do please let me know. Anyway, this crispy snack was a perfect example.

If Beigel & Beigel make more flavours of crispy snack I hope to find out soon. Because obviously if they are bought at a different time they are not affect by the above Law.

Monday 24 October 2016

John & John Sea Salt & Black Pepper

I think it was last weekend that the Chef & I tried these tasty sea salt & black pepper crisps I found in a motorway service station near Beaune. The reluctant taste testers and I had tried the other two packets so it seemed only fair to give the Chef a chance to try this flavour which I know he usually enjoys.

A fairly hard crunch but a lovely salt and pepper flavour - very nice indeed. I can't even remember if we tried these with a dip but if we did I am sure it worked very well: guacamole maybe?

It remains a mystery why these crisps are made in the UK for a German company and marketed in France. Weird.
Another beautifully subtle packet design.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Lay's Saveur Jambon Braisé

You may have noticed that I'm always a bit unsure about ham flavour crisps so I only picked these up in the Carrefour outside Reims because I was fairly certain Tech taste tester would enjoy them (he enjoys meat flavour crisps). Also I was sure we hadn't tried them before... so you know...

It turns out they are pretty tasty. And very hammy. A surprisingly genuine hammmy taste. Not at all fake. Excellent. Most of the reluctant taste testers were happy to crunch into several bowlsful and even the Chef quite liked them.

As so often with Lay's crisps they have quite a light crunch (the Chef says he prefers something a little more crunchy - but he might prefer something lighter next week -who can say?). But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you fancy a ham flavoured crisp I suggest you give these a try.

The packet is quite pink!

Saturday 22 October 2016

Co-op Irresistible Hand Cooked Lightly Salted Crisps

Last night the Chef & I went to Tate Modern to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibition. It was the penultimate Friday of the show (late night opening too) so rather crowded, but the Tate has very large rooms and it wasn't too hard to get up close to all of the paintings. And the photographs and books on show too.

Anyhow, on our way back to Southwark tube station we dropped into a branch of the Co-op and found this great own brand crisp.

Just lovely! Great crunch, perfect saltiness, and nice colour with the red skin of the Lady Rosetta potatoes left on. A fabulous crisp. Well done the Co-op.

Although, I see these crisps are manufactured in the UK for Co-operative Group Limited. I don't know who made this crisp but it's a top job.

We also tried them with Sainsbury's Soured Cream & Chive dip (yes, there was a small branch on the route back to the tube station) and that worked extremely well.

All round deliciousness.

Thursday 20 October 2016

M&S Christmas Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Rolls

So we tried the Maple Bacon tortilla rolls the others day. And now here we have the Cinnamon Sugar version. Interesting. Because for about the first time ever the sweet version seems to be a whole lot better than the savoury version of this crispy snack.

I can only suppose that the tortilla base is the same in each case (because why complicate things?) and somehow the Cinnamon Sugar version is rather wonderful. It's an OK crispy snack on its own - very nice surgery cinnamon flavour, good crunch - but I can't help wondering if it wouldn't be a rather fabulous addition to an apple pudding. Maybe even a crispy base for a pudding?

Hmm.... that leaves me with plenty of cookery thoughts.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Belin Triangolini au Sesame

Obviously I picked up this crispy biscuitty snack because it is triangular (hence Triangolini) and not because it was a tie in product with the 2016 Euros (football/soccer). The tournament was held in the summer but luckily for Belin, the French team did OK.

But I guess you can buy this crispy snack even if there is no football on the horizon.

And what did we think? Well, it's an OK crispy snack. A little bit of sesame flavour, a little bit of salt, not a bad crunch. But I thought they seemed a little bit overcooked.

They weren't that popular with the reluctant taste testers and I can see why. OK is about right. However, the Chef, as ever, thought to try each little triangular biscuits snack with a spot of butter. And you know what? That makes a whole lot of difference.

Not super exciting.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Carrefour Fantômes Saveur Jambon Fromage

You discover me today feeling very fat and rather guilty. Because I ate about three quarters of this 75g packet of fantômes all by myself. And fantômes are light and airy which of course means they weigh very little indeed so you get loads and loads in each packet. 

I've got to say I was a bit dubious about this crispy snack. I mean, the pink packaging didn't exactly fetch me. But I've said it before, and will no doubt say it again, don't judge a crispy snack by its packet.

Because this French snack is very tasty indeed. Very very tasty. I set out a bowlful and Dutch Taste tester and Tall Elegant taste tester were quick to say how much they approved. It seems everyone else approved too as the bowl was emptied by mid-morning. And never got refilled because I was too busy eating. The Chef didn't get any at all.

Lovely light bubbly texture with a perfect crunch, great ham and cheese flavour and a friendly ghost shape.

Definitely a five star crispy snack. Fabulous.

Are you going to be anywhere near a Carrefour anytime soon? Grab a bag and try these out for yourself.

Monday 17 October 2016

M&S Christmas Maple Bacon Tortilla Rolls

This is an interesting shape for a crispy snack. It's new to me so obviously I had to try it out.
And with what result? Well, I didn't terribly like the almost barbecue-like taste. I didn't feel these little tortilla rolls tasted of maple bacon. And you know I often don't like barbecue as a flavour.
However, most of the reluctant taste testers have no issues with barbecue as a flavour and in fact Slightly Red Haired Bristolian taste tester was particularly keen. She tells me she just loves barbecue flavour.
I think the main issue was that the rolls are rather dry. You could combat that in a heartbeat with a dip of course but you shouldn't have to.
The tortilla rolls are also rather brittle so there were quite a lot of broken bits in the packet. But the tortillas have to be fine or by the time you'd rolled it up it would be impossible to bite through. So I guess that's just something you have to put up with.
Not bad. And certainly different.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Vico Crazy Craq Barbecue Maniac

Barbecue Maniac is a very odd name for a crispy snack flavour don't you think? Very strange indeed.

Vico Crazy Craq crispy snacks have a really good texture. The squirly design is wonderful and the bite just what you would wish for. The reluctant taste testers and I have really enjoyed the Strong Cheese flavour, and the Spicy Lovers flavour too.

I wasn't so keen on Barbecue Maniac (I'm really not mad for the barbecue flavours) but that didn't stop the rest of the reluctant taste testers enjoying this crispy snack. They most of them like barbecue flavour a lot better than I do.

Un max de Craquant, says the packet. Un max de goût Barbecue. Un snack totalement Vrillé.

If you like barbecue flavour crispy snacks I think we can highly recommend this very nice French product. Bought (obviously) at the Carrefour outside Reims. Oh, and made with 8% peanuts which don't seem to affect the barbecue taste at all.

Saturday 15 October 2016

Zweifel Erdnüsse

I think we bought this little packet of Zweifel peanuts in the little bar on the train. The day we took 12 different trains, a funicular and a paddle steamer on the Brienzersee. That's the kind of fun day out you can have in Switzerland without getting too stressed.

We only had to run for one train and that was because our first train was uncharacteristically late. Someone standing on the platform shouted "Dépêche toi" at the Chef and he started to scuttle, and then to run to catch our connection. I started running too and I was thinking "oh no I'm running at altitude" (a lot harder than running at sea level as I'm sure you know). The Chef tells me it was only 500m but Wikipedia tells me it is a whole 658m above sea level. Which seems a lot when you live at about 85m above sea level. Actually I wasn't expecting our house in London to be so high: you can discover so many exciting facts online. The flat in Switzerland is at 1500m. I wouldn't dream of running there.

For some reason this packet of Swiss peanuts was manufactured in Belgium. The world of crispy crunchy snacks is always full of surprises.


Friday 14 October 2016

John & John Suffolk Cheddar & Chives

What a strongly flavoured crisp. This faux British crisp seems to have been created for the German market so I am sort of surprised the cheese and onion is so... so strongly flavoured. But maybe that's what the great German public expects.

Maybe they say to themselves "so British" in a strong German accent the way the French and French speaking Swiss do (in a strong French accent obviously). Only a true German speaker can advise me on this.

Anyway, quite a nice thickish cut crisp, quite a hard crunch, very strong flavour: not bad really. The reluctant taste testers hoovered up this small bag pretty quickly but I found the flavour a bit strong for my taste.

I bet someone laboured long and hard on this deceptively simple packet design. It really is very nice indeed. Well done that someone.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Bret's Saveur Chocolat Piment

Honestly, how could you resist? Chocolate and chilli flavour potato crisps. Gotta try these yes?

Well obviously. But what you get is not a potato crisp that someone has carefully grated chocolate on to create a gorgeous effect. You get a crisp with such a dark brown flavour dust that Dutch taste tester was afraid she was being asked to try Marmite crisps (she hates Marmite), and others thought it was beef or ... I don't know quite what. But no-one looked and thought aha! it's a chocolate crisp.

The crisps do smell of chocolate. Potato and chocolate. Weird eh? And they kind of taste of chocolate but only if you expect them to. With a little bit of chilli heat to follow. I have to say the reluctant taste testers were not that impressed, and nor was the Chef. But I think they would all have been disappointed if I had left these crisps on the supermarket shelf in Reims.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

The Doormen Salted Peanut

These are the peanuts you get in the Club Class lounge on P&O cross channel ferries (Dover to Calais and back again). Pretty good perfectly plain salted peanuts. With your Club Class ticket you get a free cup of coffee or a free glass of champagne. I think the champagne works pretty well with a packet of peanuts; the Chef eats his peanuts with a cup of coffee.

Sometimes the channel is flat and blue and sparking in the sunshine. Obviously other times it's brown and grim and choppy and I get seasick. But everyone knows that champagne and peanuts help with seasickness!

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Soffle's Rosemary & Thyme Pitta Chips

I confess I am not mad about pitta chips but I saw this little packet in the wine shop at Waddesdon Manor and felt sure that the reluctant taste testers and I should try it out. I mean, how can one resist this fascinating design? What are the birdies clutching in their beaks? Rosemary, obviously, and er... watches. Presumably because a naive drawing of thyme looks far too like rosemary.
Not very many in this 60g packet (but pitta chips are a lot heavier than potato crisps), a little bit hard in the bite department, but lots and lots of herby flavour. The reluctant taste testers weren't quite sure about this crispy snack but Senior taste tester told me he felt they were growing on him. Anyhow, they all got eaten.
This is Waddesdon Manor. Amazing eh? Not in darkest France but an hour from London and a fascinating place to visit.

Monday 10 October 2016

Tsakiris Chips Oregano

Monday taste tester went to Crete and extremely kindly brought us back a packet of oregano flavoured crisps to try.

Actually, she isn't really a taste tester. She's almost always on a 5:2 diet and one of the diet days is aways a Monday so she doesn't get to try any of the exciting and exotic crispy snacks we might be attempting. Not even one. Very self-controlled.

I gather that this packet of crisps burst in her luggage on the flight home. I expect it swelled up like a balloon as some packets do and then had nowhere to go. But I don't think that affected either the texture/crunchiness (Monday taste tester clipped the packet shut fairly sharpish) or the flavour of these tasty Greek crisps.

Rather small crisps and much finer cut than some. And an interestingly simple flavour. You know how some UK crisp manufacturers seem determined to produce a five star restaurant menu type flavour of crisp? Here we have a simple herb. And while the crisps themselves may have been made on mainland Greece, I'm sure you could pick oregano fresh in Crete if you wanted.

100% Φυσικη Πατατα says the packet ριγανη. Which means something about potatoes and then oregano. Yes, if you want to learn a foreign language you need to read more food packaging. Although you may miss out on the finer points!

I haven't been to Greece for ages; 1981 I think. I was in Athens and Delos and Olympia and Delphi... all over. I'm fairly certain we never tried any crisps (I only remember buying postcards and flip-flops and a tiny icon) so I don't know if the Greeks prefer finely cut crisps. In gigantic 200g packets too. But why not?

Sunday 9 October 2016

M&S Fizzy Fangstastic Popcorn Orange Flavoured

OK so Tall Elegant taste tester discovered a truly weird Hallowe'en product at Marks & Spencer. Fizzy orange popcorn. Really? Apparently yes.

No tricks just treats says the packet.

Only this popcorn isn't very fizzy and it isn't very orangey. So it is a bit of a trick. At least, the flavour seems to be a bit changeable: some bits of popcorn have a lot more taste or fizz than others. This is something you might expect because it does happen quite a lot. Trouble is, the popcorn isn't really top notch so I thought it was a little disappointing. Not nearly enough lovely light puffy kernel and rather too much of the kernel skin.

I didn't say much to the reluctant taste testers but as always they made up their own minds. Not much of this popcorn got eaten so I draw my own conclusions. This weird flavour was never going to be a favourite for the taste testers. And the popcorn isn't very fangtastic (quite apart from anything else: no fangs). It doesn't even smell very orangey.

Hey ho. You can't have everything.

Friday 7 October 2016

Purina Bakers Whirlers with Tasty Bacon & Cheese Flavour

This is not so reluctant taste tester Frieda. She was testing bacon & cheese flavour Whirlers today.
The pack claims these chewy twists of bacon and cheese flavour yumminess are irresistible. And that does in fact seem to be the case. Frieda was pretty impressed and the tasty morsel lasted not so long as a chocolate éclair. 
Frieda was rather taken with Whirlers. She spent a long time pointing at the bag which was sitting on Noble Friend's desk. Not so reluctant taste tester Honey likes them a lot too.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

M&S Spirit of Summer BBQ Jerk Jumbo Coated Peanuts

Another packet of peanuts? Well, apparently yes.

Tall Elegant taste tester provided them as a Friday afternoon snack. As I said the other day M&S are getting rid of their Spirit of Summer stock and I expect she found these with the weird nuts & cocoanut combo that seems to have been vastly reduced.

I found the BBQ Jerk coating on these nuts seriously hot. and not particularly BBQ. But possibly (I've never had it) they lean toward the Jerk part of their flavouring.

Dutch taste tester took the remains of the pack home with her enthusiastically but history does not relate what the Vinyl Collector thought. Maybe she ate them all before she got home?

Perhaps not the flavour for me, and probably no longer available, but this style of coated nut may be just the thing if you like nuts and lots of hot spices.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Sarl la Ducal Chips Artisanales Aux Herbes de Provence

Hand made in a village in the Ardeche this a is a fabulous packet of hand cooked crisps with one major flaw: they don't taste of much.

Yes this is a fabulous crisp with great texture, wonderfully cooked and very nice to eat. Yes, we loved the crunch. But oh dear.... the Herbes de Provence are seriously lacking. These crisps should taste of rosemary, thyme, marjoram and savoury. And they don't really. Not very salty either.

The reluctant taste testers tried these and liked the crisp very much. Not so impressed with the lack of taste. The Chef and I tried them at the weekend with a dip. Very nice.

But you shouldn't need a dip; that should be an optional extra.

You might say that the reluctant taste testers and I have tried so many highly flavoured crisps over the last 3 years that we can no longer appreciate something more subtle. That's not the case. We frequently prefer the subtler and plainer flavours of crisp. Here we simply have a crisp with too little taste. It's a pity, because as I said, the texture is wonderful.