Sunday 30 December 2018

O'Donnells of Tipperary Hand Cooked Crisps Irish Sea Salt

This a a hard to find crisp. Apparently the Irish don't much care for plain salted crisps (how weird can you get? It's my favourite flavour), but Cliffs of Moher taste tester’s mother tenaciously tracked a packet down for us to try. Apparently she visited just about every crisp emporium for miles around. In Ireland obviously.

And actually, I wonder why O'Donnells make sea salt crisps if the local crisp buying population aren't mad keen on the flavour? I guess I will never know the ins and outs of it.

Anyway, the reluctant taste testers fell upon this crisp like a flock of gannets. Or perhaps a plague of locusts.

Delicious. A lovely crisp. You don’t get much better.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Walkers Cheese & Cranberry

Here's another crisp from Walkers' Christmas multi-pack.

Cheese & Cranberry. Is that a thing? If it is, it's not a thing on my horizon so I will just carry on thinking it's a bit of a strange flavour for a crisp. Or an anything.

Hmmn... on the back of the packet it says here at Walkers we've developed a range of delicious festive flavours. What a treat! You've chosen the quintessential festive after-dinner treat. I haven't checked with a dictionary - actually I'm going to do that just now (see below).

So, not convinced that Walkers actually know what quintessential means. But anyhow the reluctant taste testers leaped right in and tried this slightly unusual flavour. And some of them weren't mad keen, but Slightly Red Haired Bristolian was very taken with this crisp. "I might have to buy some more," she said, even though she couldn't detect any cranberry.

I  couldn't detect any cranberry either, and I did think the taste was a bit sharp. I wasn't convinced by this flavour but I can introduce you to a fan.

  1. representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.

    "he was the quintessential tough guy—strong, silent, and self-contained"
    synonyms:typicalprototypicalstereotypicalarchetypalclassicmodelessentialstandardstockrepresentative, true to type, conventional;

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Walkers Christmas Multi-Pack 2018

Turkey & Stuffing, Brussels Sprouts and Pigs in Blankets in the Sprout Lovers Collection
Glazed Ham, Turkey & Stuffing and Cheese & Cranberry in the Sprout Haters Collection

If you haven't yet tried these multi-packs there may still be some in the shops. 
Actual crisps reviewed in other posts. 

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Walkers Brussels Sprout

This winter, this Christmas season, Walkers have decided to enliven this crisp market with a Brussels sprout flavour crisp. Spotted in Sainsburys by Slightly Red Haired Bristolian, and kindly donated by her, this is one crisp in a Christmas multi-pack.

Oddly (quite successfully) green, these crisps smelled wonderfully sprouty. Well, wonderfully if you like sprouts. I'm never quite sure whether I like sprouts or not, but I think I am sure that sprout is not a good flavour for a crisp.

The reluctant taste testers who like sprouts were, I think, quite impressed at the sproutiness. But I'm not convinced they actually appreciated the flavour. Those who dislike sprouts would not, of course, go anywhere near them.

Interesting. And a clever marketing move.

Merry Christmas!
"I shouldn't expect them to be green," said the Family Vegetarian... but they are. And she was agreeably surprised at the aroma/taste. But what a disappointment: no actual sprouts in these crisps!

Friday 21 December 2018

Zweifel Piri-Piri

Here’s a new (ish) option from Swiss crisp giant Zweifel.

Interesting. Now piri-piri is a hugely popular flavour (why does flavour sound more sweet than savoury?) in the UK. Possibly because of the enormously successful restaurant chain Nando’s. I haven’t been but a quick glance at the menu online tells me that practically everything they sell is flavoured with piri-piri including the puddings. Yes, alright, I’m exaggerating for effect.

But does Switzerland have something similar? Yes, I go to Switzerland quite a lot, but mostly a small village that doesn’t have any place that might offer piri-piri ( which is a word impossible to type on an iPad as the spellcheck clicks in twice each time I try). So I don’t know why Zweifel decided to try this new flavour.

Quite popular with the reluctant taste testers though. Tasty. Hot but not too hot. And you can’t argue with that. And as always the crisps themselves are high quality.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Tesco Finest Limited Edition Roquefort with Roasted Chestnuts Hand Cooked Crisps

Well, apologies are in order as I’ve been offline for a while. I caught a horrendous cold in France in September and, while it only lasted two weeks (only!), it left me feeling I didn’t fancy crisps. Or writing about them.

But taste tester from the New Forest noticed I hadn’t updated the blog in a while. She was very polite about it but I thought I ought to pull my finger out.

So. A Christmas special. Lots of people eat blue cheese at Christmastime don’t they? I’m not sure why particularly. Perhaps blue cheeses have historically ripened at this time of year? Or maybe it’s that blue cheese seems a bit fancier than any old cheese so why not eat it when you’ve stuffed yourself silly on turkey or ham. Actually, I have no idea what countries other than the UK think about blue cheese, and here’s the thing, Roquefort is of course a French cheese not the traditional British blue: Stilton.

And chestnuts? Also a winter delicacy. People make a stuffing for the turkey with chestnuts. They buy roasted chestnuts from market stalls. They sing about roasting them over an open fire.

So I suppose maybe putting the two together makes sense for a limited edition Christmas special. Except I don’t like either of these flavours so the combination sounds pretty grim to me. But you know me if you’ve read this blog before. You’ll know that thinking something sounds horrible doesn’t stop me buying it and trying it out on the reluctant taste testers.

Now then. Back to the taste tester from the New Forest. When she saw this packet of crisps she was extremely dubious. She expounded at length on how one year her family made a chestnut stuffing for their turkey, and how she didn’t like the taste at all, and how it infused the whole turkey with its nasty (her opinion, obviously) taste which was a bit of a disaster for her Christmas dinner.

But guess what? After a faltering start it turns out she quite enjoyed this crisp. Quite a large bowlful got eaten - as usual the taste testers lost no opportunity to disagree with me - and then the Chef ate the rest of the packet by himself. So once again, it’s just me.

I was in Tesco again a while after buying this packet of crisps, looking for something else, when a young woman with obviously severe learning difficulties approached me. She wanted help getting a packet off the shelf. She said her cat likes these crisps!

Saturday 15 December 2018

Well and Truly Crunchy Really Cheesy Corn Based Snacks

Where did I pick up this packet of Well & Truly crispy snacks? Oh yes, I remember, a swanky deli in Hampstead.

I had high hopes.

But. Just like one of those people on Escape to the Country who quite liked the house, there’s always a but. And I think mine is that I really prefer the cheap, the ordinary, the mass produced when it comes to crispy snacks. OK that’s excluding the fabulous ROKA Cheese Crispies which have never been cheap and I’ve loved them since I was 4 (You can see my thoughts on Cheese Crispies in the sidebar).

All natural ingredients, gluten free, 40% less fat than average cheese crisps says the packet. #haveitall. Better in every sense. We’re about positivity, not prohibition! Say no to sad snacks. Choose real snack satisfaction. Big on flavour. Colossal on crunch. Less fat. Vegetarian. No added sugar. GM free. And other positive stuff.

Except this isn’t a very cheesy snack. The crunch isn’t particularly crunchy and the cheesy flavour isn’t particularly cheesy. And the reluctant taste testers were no more impressed than I was.

Here’s the thing. The packaging comes across all English looking, but this crispy snack is made in Italy. Which could be the problem. Because almost all Italian crisps and crispy snacks we’ve tried had a whole lot less flavour than British snacks and crisps. I don't know why but it is so.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Snack Jack Broad Bean Snack Original Flavour

I wasn't looking forward to trying this broad bean snack. Noble Friend is very taken with the broad bean snack Habas Fritas that she has learned to love in Spain. She made us try the M&S version and was baffled when I announced myself extremely unimpressed.

So here we go. Actually a bit of a surprise. Not broad bean shaped like haas fritas but sort of crispy worms. Not the (I thought) horrid dull bit of haas fritas but a crispy bite not unlike all manner of maize or corn based snacks the reluctant tasters and I have tried.

And not a bad taste either although a little bit peanutty.

The one not so good element is that the snack is really dry. You know how some crispy snacks are mysteriously much dryer than others? I think this is one of those. Having said that, they are quite moreish. And I think would be a lot more moreish if tried with a drink. By which I mean a glass of wine or something.

Which makes it a bit odd that the packaging design seems to be aimed at children. For some reason I am always quite put off any snack advertised by a cartoon character.

Look, I don't really like a lot of  cartoons. There are exceptions of course. Yakari (a Franco-Belgian cartoon series about a little Native American Indian boy and his pony Petit Tonnere; books and TV in French), Sherlock Yak (a yak detective in a zoo with his assistant Hermine, an ermine; the books are in French, the DVDs of the French/German TV show sadly only available in German), and Grizzy and the Lemmings (not Canadian as you might suppose from the setting, but French and not really in a nay language at all) are my current favourites.

But a giant broad bean with white gloves and boots? What's that about?

And it does seem odd that a snack advertised with a carton bean should be a likely candidate for a bar snack.

Anyway, I think I can confidently say we rather enjoyed this crispy snack.

Saturday 8 September 2018

U Tortillas Roll's Goût Fromage

Ah yes, sorry French crisp fans, this is a very good example of weird French punctuation. In English I imagine we would say Tortilla Rolls. Which is what we have here.

The reluctant taste testers have tried similar crispy snacks from Marks & Spencer in Maple Bacon
flavour, and also Cinnamon Sugar. But that was back in 2016.

I think the basic tortilla here is slightly thicker than in the M&S versions which were very brittle. This is more like an actual tortilla chip. And in fact there were several flat chips in the packet that had escaped the rolling procedure.

New Forest taste tester agreed with me that while a perfectly fine snack, this would probably benefit from a dip. She thought salsa or guacamole, I thought sour cream. But either would be tasty.

Managerial taste tester said he couldn’t make up his mind if he liked it or not; and had another just in case he did. And perhaps another.

As so often, I took a few home for the Chef to try and he seems to have been quite taken with these crispy rolls.

The packet says Tex Mex but I can’t vouch for the accuryof that claim.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

U Mat & Lou Snacks Diablos Goût Jambon-Fromage

I'm not entirely sure who Mat & Lou are, but they may be the two blue creatures on the packet trying to disguise themselves with these devil masks.

Yes, devil mask shaped crispysnacks aimed (I imagine) at children. It’s a weird idea isn’t it?

Well, yes, but then the devil masks aren’t so different from various ghost and bat shaped (actually if you click on the link you’ll see why that’s a very bad example - not ghost or bat shaped at all!) or even scorpion shaped snacks the reluctant taste testers and I have tried over the past 5 years and I’m not sure I ever questioned whether or not they were suitable for children.

So anyway, here we have another Pom Bear style snack. Light and bubbly and with lovely light crunch.

Cliffs of Moher taste tester and I bumped into each other several times at the bowl of snacks. Very nice, we thought. Tall taste tester was also spotted snacking enthusiastically.

I wouldn’t describe the flavour as ham and cheese (Jambon-Fromage)  but I would say it’s a savoury taste and very moreish. I think we'd recommend this crispy crunchy snack from France.

Quite tasty opined the Chef, and he liked the cheerful devil faces too.

Saturday 1 September 2018

Rubio Pijo Patatas Fritas Tradicionales Finisimas

Posh Chips it says on the back of the packet, showing a potato wearing a bow tie. And Pijo, I gather, means posh. Although not perhaps in the politest way.  So there we go.

Apparently these crisps are made in the "Murcia style"; very finely cut, with nothing but potatoes and olive oil. Very simple and old fashioned.

Rather good.

The woman on the packet looks as though she really fancies herself. I think that's the point.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Regent's Park Lady Chips Melange Thai

Hmmn.... I discovered the packet of crisps in a French motorway service station. Of course I did. This is a packet of crisps purporting to be British, may even English. Regents Park is of course in London. And they are indeed made in the UK. But I can't help feeling this is a giant French con.

I don't really know what sort of mix of flavours Melange Thai is supposed to be, but I am pretty sure it includes lemongrass. Thai food is frequently described as fragrant and I think you could possibly describe these crisps like that. But not in a good way.

Like an old lady's bathsalts said Tall taste tester grumpily. And I can see what he means. There's not so much a taste here as a fragrance.

And as Cliffs of Moher taste tester pointed out; the crisps themselves aren't very nice.

Amazing crunch by lovely farmers it says on the packet. Very sorry but no.

This is a rare example of a crisp aimed directly at women. But Lady Crisps. Really?

Sunday 26 August 2018

Tasto Seaweed Korean Style Sauce

Here's another packet of crisps specially imported by Still a Student for the reluctant taste testers and me. All the way from Thailand. I'm really impressed she managed to bring home 6 packets of crisps without any of them exploding in her luggage (it's worth stuffing your crisps into a ziplock bag for the flight if you're worried about this scenario). I'm also impressed she had the room for 6 packets of crisps!

I'm told Still a Student has yet to sample any of these crisps, so here goes on the second choice.

This crisp was a great hit with the taste testers who like seaweed. Tall Elegant taste tester was very taken with the flavour but Cliffs of Moher and I were not. But then we aren't seaweed fans. Personally, I thought the taste was just horrid. Just like taking a mouthful of beach. But as I said, the seaweed fans amongst us enjoyed this 75g packet quite a bit.

I have battled with google translate, and I think I can assure you that Thai for potato มันฝรั่ง does appear on the packet. However, I am slightly hampered by knowing nothing of the Thai language or culture (no, I've not been), and the way the translation software takes out all the gaps between the words in my English text. Still, finding มันฝรั่ง is a bit of a triumph.

No, not for me but yes for others.

Apparently Tasto's signature crisp flavours are Crab Curry, Pla Sam Rod and Salt & Sour.

Thursday 23 August 2018

Entree Barbecued Crispy Pork Classic Rock Extra Crunch

I'm afraid I am struggling with this crispy snack. I don't know who makes it and I'm not sure which parts of the English text on the packet should be included in the name.

Still a Student is back for a bit more holiday work and has just been to Thailand. She hasn't seen any of us for a year, and some of us not at all, so what does she do but bring us 6 packets of crisps. Amazing!

Anyway, knowing nothing about the Thai language or alphabet, I luckily stumbled on a website that will sell me this square crispy snack. Apparently it's made of pork, oh wait a bit... it actually says that on the packet. How silly of us not to notice.

That will interest Slightly Red-Haired Bristolian who said it reminded her of pork scratchings which she loves but can't eat (much too hard) and she really liked the taste. Graffiti Artist (the Chef's son-in-law and actually a Chef) was also reminded of pork scratchings, and pork crackling too.

And one of the reluctant tastes testers said the texture reminded her of skin. Now we can see why.

Apparently this snack is made by an old and trusted Thai firm called Sor Khonkaen  famed for their pork products. I hope the website I've found has got this right! I put that name into google translate to see it in Thai lettering but could not find anything similar on the packet.

Not sure I was made about his pork snack. Not sure we were prepared for it. To be honest I thought it looked more like a breakfast cereal than a crispy snack.

Monday 20 August 2018

Walkers Max Strong Jalapeño & Cheese

These extra hot crinkle cut crisps from British crisp giant Walkers are described as being "perfect with beer".  I don't know about that as I only drink beer as a last resort, but it does seem that these crisps are (probably) aimed at men. The black packet, the beer glass shape in the middle of the O of the word Strong, and the go faster flames.

Now the reluctant taste testers haven't tried one of Walkers' Max Strong flavours (unless under their own steam and not reported back to HQ), but the Chef and I tried the Chilli & Lime on a plane to Geneva. I said then that I wasn't encouraged to try the Jalapeño & Cheese version. But apparently I forgot and here it is.

"Extra hot" says the blurb above an image of three red flames. And extra hot is right. Only two of the taste testers (including me) noticed the cheese part of the flavour. It comes first before the huge whack of chilli.

Tall Elegant taste tester choked at the first hurdle and coughed and spluttered to a glass of water. The rest of us managed a little better, and most of the 50g packet was snacked up.

I quite liked the flavour. As did taste tester from the New Forest. But we agreed we'd have liked it better if the heat had not been quite so intense.

They really are much too strong.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Cheetos Spirals Cheese & Tomato Ketchup

Wow! this is a giant in the world of spiral-shaped snacks.

The packet says chrupki kukurydziane o smaku sreow-ketchupowym which I take it means cheese and ketchup smaku... I mean flavour. Not because I have amazing Polsh reading skills, but because there's a drawing of cheese and ketchup on the packaging.

The texture of these would-be cheesy Wotsits from the Polish branch of Cheetos is basically expanded polystyrene. Which sounds awful but it kind of grows on you. It is a little like biting into one of those packaging peanuts but odd as that may seem, that can grow on you.

Not an especially cheesy crispy snack, and frankly not very tomato ketchupy at all, but I found I was really enjoying this giant spiral snack much more than I expected.

This photo was styled (because, you know, I'm an internationally renowned food photographer) in the same bowl as usual. So you can see what a great big snack this is.

I'd buy this crispy snack again.  Annoyingly although we only taste tested this snack yesterday (as I write) I cannot remember who ate all the spirals. I think it was Slightly Red-Haried Bristolian but I might be wrong.

And just in case this might influence your thoughts, the packet contains a leopard patterned moustache temporary tattoo. Of course it does.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Pringooals Match Day Edition Pizza Flavour

I guess this is a World Cup tie in tube of Pringles.

Just the same traditional Pringles crunch but a pizza flavour. Yes, it's that packet of mini pizzas you keep in the freezer for an unexpected influx of small children.

Tech tate tester put his finger on the flavour. He was at a family party recently and small children were catered for with just such a snack. The pizza not the Pringooal.

Really very tasty.

Sunday 12 August 2018

Michel et Augustin Sablés Aperitifs Pur Buerre et Sel de Guérande

This is an extremely buttery crispy snack. Little biscuits that perhaps look as though they should be sweet and not savoury. Perhaps that was the problem. The reluctant taste testers were not expecting a tomatoes and chilli in a snack that looked like this. So I'm thinking this wasn't popular because the little aperitif biscuits looked all wrong... for how they ought to taste.

I wonder how the taste test would have gone had I employed a blindfold?

It is intriguing how we expect a "crispy snack to taste savoury and a "biscuit" to taste sweet. If the "biscuit"tastes savoury we find it hard to cope. Which is silly.

An interesting snack.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Co-op Onion Rings

I never realised I liked onion ring crispy snacks until recently because I never eat actual onion rings. But I find the fake onion ring snack is actually pretty tasty.

And this is a good example. Slightly oddly made with maize, wheat and rice. But I notice that increasingly crispy snacks (as opposed to potato crisps) are made with an odd selection of ingredients. I wonder what task the rice performs in making this snack?

Good crunch. Good oniony taste. One of the reluctant taste testers thought the taste lingered too long - but really, what did she expect?

Not gourmet but tasty. I ate quite a lot. The taste testers all (mostly) ate quite a lot. None of these tasty onion rings made it home for the Chef to try.

But the Co-op is just round the corner and open late so he can rush out and buy some more if he feels fretful.

Monday 6 August 2018

Co-op Limited Edition Irresistible Hand Cooked Gourmet Burger Crinkle Cut Crisps

Blimey that's a great big long name for a simple packet of crisps!

Irresistible? maybe; Hand Cooked? I'm sure; crinkle cut? obviously; Limited Edition? well, who knows? Depends how popular this crisp flavour turns out to be.

And I'm not sure how popular a burger flavour crisp that don't really taste of burgers will be.

Cheeseburger flavour is easier to replicate than plain burger I think. You have the cheese, the distinctive mustard and the pickle. With plain burger flavour, which is what we have here, we seem to have just the pickle flavour.

Specially selected potatoes grown in Herefordshire, hand cooked in small batches (I wish I knew how small that actually is) and seasoned with Aberdeen Angus beef, Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, dill pickle and a hint of chilli says the packet. Why Monterey Jack I wonder? It's not a cheese you normally get in the UK.

This is a lovely crisp with a great crunch. Noble Friend told me she liked it because - well, "you know I like that flavour". Others of the reluctant taste testers snacked in quite enthusiastically so that only a tiny proportion of the packet was ferried home for the Chef to try. I was happy to eat this crisp... but disappointed that the flavour is mainly dill pickle.

Quite tasty. The Chef thinks "not bad" (you know how picky he is. But not burger flavour whatever the packet blurb tells me.

Friday 3 August 2018

Cheetos Pizzerini

Chrupki kukurydziane o smaku pizzy says the packet. Which reminds me of the Officer Krupke song in West Side Story.

Ahem... anyway, this is an interesting puffed triangle shaped Cheeto. Which is different. And another of these pizza flavour snacks that tastes oddly of cheap child-oriented frozen pizzas. Epic!

And it's one of those crispy snacks that you wonder why you're having another. And another.

It's a bit of a mystery that the local Turkish shop is suddenly stocking a bunch of Polish crispy snacks but that's great for international taste testing do let's take advantage now as I'm unlikely to visit Poland any time soon. I'm sure it's lovely but time is short and Switzerland is nearer.

Monday 30 July 2018

Osem Popco Butterscotch Corn Snack

This is popcorn. So why call it a corn snack? That seems odd.

Tech taste tester told me he doesn't do popcorn (fair enough) and not many of the reluctant taste testers seemed mad keen but the Chef has happily snacked down most of this 75g packet without complaint. Trust me: he complains if he feels the need.

I couldn't quite grasp why I didn't really like this crispy snack. The popcorn itself is perfectly fine. Nothing odd there at all; and some popcorn can be really bad. I think it must be the butterscotch. I was expecting toffee. No matter that the label says "butterscotch" in fairly large letters I still expected toffee flavour.

If I had been expecting butterscotch I think I'd have been happy. Expectations are weird aren't they?

Kosher for passover.

Friday 27 July 2018

TGI Fridays Potato Skins Snacks Baby Back Ribs

Well this is a strange one and no mistake.

It's a pretend potato skin (basically what you get when you bake a potato in the oven and scoop out all the tasty white flesh). And in many countries you eat the skin or throw it away - your choice - but it's not a dish that anyone would buy. But in the USA it seems to be a snack food. You take a potato skin and load it with grated cheese and bacon and stuff.

But this is a completely pretend potato skin. So pretend it's made with maize and tapioca (from the cassava root) as well as potato starch and potato flakes. And since it's an American product it's also chock full of MSG, dextrose, maltodextrin, potassium chloride and other non European stuff. So not a huge potato content it seems.

One of the reluctant taste testers told me that Baby Back Ribs is a Justin Timberlake song. That'll be Baby Come Back I think. But you can enjoy this interesting TV commercial  for Chilis Baby Back Ribs Sauce from Justin and NSYNC if you fancy.

I confess I din't like the rather dull bite of this not so crispy snack. And I wasn't mad about the flavour either but somehow the entire packet got snacked up.

Managerial taste tester, who as we know hardly ever comments, was not impressed at the design or shape of this snack. And I agree it is perhaps not the most alluring snack ever.

I confess I don't get why you would market a faux potato skin crispy snack. I guess it's just not to my taste.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Kettle Discoveries New York Deli with Pastrami, Dill Pickle & Mustard

Here’s another complicated flavour crisp from Kettle Chips (who you can follow on Instagram if you fancy).

Discoveries is all about exciting flavour combinations inspired by food from near and far says the packet. Like Broadway and yellow cabs, the New York Deli sandwich is an authentic part of the ‘Big Apple’ experience. Hmmm....

At first crunch I wasn’t sure I was going to like this crisp. And Slightly Red Haired Bristolian told me she really disliked it. But, as so often, a second try, and maybe a third, changes your mind and in the end I really found myself enjoying this crisp. I like dill so thought the pickle flavour was very nice. And actually the pastrami flavour works very well: actual pastrami is on the list of ingredients so these crisps are not suitable for vegetarians.

Quite to my surprise I really enjoyed this crisp but perhaps it isn’t a flavour for every day.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Snatt's Mediterraner Snack Tomate und Oregano

More of a biscuitty crispy snack than what we usually taste test, this brodsnack mid tomato und oregano (German) or pane con pomodoro e origano (Italian) or bread with tomato and oregano... bread? What an off-putting way to describe a snack.

So, more of a biscuitty snack. And very tasty with it.

I have been very slow writing up what the reluctant taste testers thought. And I hardly remember what they said. But I think it was pretty positive. But I know the Chef liked this Spanish snack very much. Hang about... this snack was made in Valencia (Spain) it says here. Why no Spanish text on the packet? That's a bit odd.

Well anyway. I thought this was rather moreish and so did the Chef and so I daresay we'll be seeking out another packet next time we are in Switzerland. Which is where I found this.