Wednesday 28 February 2018

Golden Wonder Animal Adventures Cheese Flavour Snack

I spotted this completely new to me crispy snack at the Post Office where I was buying more Bobby’s snacks for the girls at work.

Let’s take a look. Obviously aimed at small children; it features Leo the lion, Ellie the elephant and Marcel the monkey. I was just thinking that Marcel was a pretty odd name for a monkey, but wasn’t he a character in Friends? And anyhow I was brought up thinking Zephyr was a normal name for a monkey. Not read the Barbar books? Well then, you wouldn’t know what I’m on about.

Also obviously this is a Pom-Bear snack in disguise. I don’t remember what Pom-Bears are made of (this is a dried potato, maize starch and tapioca snack) but the texture is quite similar. The crunch is soft and slightly bubbly.

The flavour is not very cheesy. Actually there’s not a lot of cheese in the recipe. But that doesn’t seem to matter. The gently savoury taste is very...... tasty.

The reluctant taste testers seemed to quite enjoy this snack. Even ultra picky “that’s not a crisp” Senior taste tester admitted he had eaten too many and must stop.

I liked the elephant shape best.

Oh look at that! This Golden Wonder crispy snack comes from Bobby’s, makers of many fabulous crispy snacks. Well done Google for showing me that. I wonder why they’ve used the Golden Wonder brand? Well, that certainly explains why they were in the same rack with the Bobby’s products in the Post Office.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Miss Vickie's Jalapeño

A Canadian crisp from Miss Vickie based in Cambridge Ontario. I wonder if there ever was a Miss Vickie? I’d say perhaps yes if this was an old established crisp making company, but since it advertises itself as crafting crisps with care since 1987 I suspect not. 1987 seems a bit recent for a Miss Vickie.

I was, as ever, a bit dubious about the flavour but taken in small quantities I found I really liked it. In fact, all the reluctant taste testers seemed to like this crisp. But they all advised caution. Irish taste tester took a large crisp without asking the flavour and felt there should have been a warning sign. This is not a massively hot crisp but the taste does creep up and hit you if you aren’t careful. Maybe a sour cream dip would work well?

Tall Elegant taste tester thought there was too much salt but no-one else remarked on it.

The styling of the packet is unusually retro with a sort of lace edging to the cream band at the top and a watermark image of an old Canadian farm in pale grey. The packet says proudly kettle cooked in Canada with farm grown potatoes. Sorry. Farm grown? As opposed to what? I do like the bright green though. It’s quite unusual.

And I notice that (because it’s Canadian you get both English and French) the English kettle cooked is translated as cuites a la marmite in Canadian French. In French French this would be chaudron. You learn quite a lot of languages from crisp packets.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Vico Monster Munch Goût BBQ

This French Monster Munch crispy snack is nothing at all like the UK Monster Munch. Actually I have no idea why it's called Monster Munch at all. A better name might be Ghoulies and Ghosties because these crispy snacks just look like cheerful ghosts. I do wonder how these totally different crispy snacks come to have the same name. Especially considering that Monster and Munch aren't actually French words.

And the texture isn't anything like the UK version of Monster Munch either. Tech taste tester thought it's more Pom Bear really. And you know what? He's absolutely right. Never tried a Pom Bear? Give them a try.

But that doesn't mean this isn't a good crispy snack. Not a bit of it. I really like them, and the reluctant taste testers do too.

The reluctant taste testers and I have essayed Vico Monster Munch in Salted, Spicy and Ketchup. And here's BBQ.

Very tasty - that is, not too tasty but rather nice. Not too BBQ-y if that's a word. Always a nice texture too.

And proved to be very popular with the reluctant taste testers. Nice. I thank that's the word.

Monday 19 February 2018

Far Far at Dishoom Kings Cross, London

We went out for lunch to celebrate the Chef's birthday and chose Dishoom which is a chain of restaurants based on old Irani cafes in Bombay. I like the food because it’s gently spicy without being too hot for me.

And as a starter the Chef ordered Far Far. Which is basically a crispy snack. The Dishoom version is tubular but I gather they also come in squares and sticks and lattic shapes and stars and.... I have no idea how you’d make them because it seems you buy a packet of what looks rather like dried pasta and then fry it in oil.

According to our waiter Far Far are flavoured with chilli and mango. I don’t think I could distinguish any particular flavours but the colourful ones seemed tastier than the plain pale yellow ones. The menu described them as a sort of carnival of snackery, halfway between crisp and cracker, colourful, lemony, salty. Not sure I could pick the lemon but I did like the crunch.

I dare say you get Far Far at all sorts of eastern-style restaurants, and quite likely many of you crisp fans out there know a lot more about this Far Far than I do, however I don’t often (if ever - but who knows what the future may bring?) go for an Indian, so discovering Far Far was a pleasant surprise for me.

But why, and this applies to everything in life, do you always get more of the dull plain ones than the fancy colours? Life, eh?

Saturday 17 February 2018

Chio Minions Maisstangen/Sticks de Maïs Gesalzen/Salés

This interestingly vegan crispy snack has Universal Studios' minions (or should that be Minions?) on the packet. And Minions, as you see, is the name of the snack. Considering how loud and shouty the Minions are (I’ve only seen clips not whole films) it is a bit odd how subtle the packaging design is. I can’t help feeling if this were a UK snack the packaging would be a whole lot gaudier.

I haven’t seen this crispy snack from Chio before so I don’t know if they’ve always produced a snack like this but called something else. It’s quite a common style, and the reluctant taste testers and I have seen a number of different versions, as I dare say you have too although usually cheesy, so you’d think they might have. Although having said that, this is not as orange as most crispy snacks of this type usually are. In fact they are downright colour free.

And fairly taste free too. Not even particularly salty (and of course the flavour is salt). That sounds like a really bad thing but maybe not.  All the taste testers said this snack tastes of nothing much... but couldn’t stop eating it. Almost all this huge packet got eaten with no trouble at all: always a sign of a successful crispy snack.

I feel there is a slight design problem here; this snack looks more like a packaging material than a snack. The reluctant taste testers fully agreed with that. But again, it didn’t stop them snacking enthusiastically.
A surprisingly successful snack.

Chio is owned by Intersnack Switzerland so it’s anybody’s guess why it’s made in Austria. Ours not to question why. Well done Intersnack because the plastic packet is recyclable, but less well done because the snack is cooked in palm oil.

Ich einfach unverbesserlich or Moi moche et mechant which I’m guessing is German and French for Despicable Me.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Michel et Augustin Sablés Apéritif au Beaufort AOP et Pointe de Poivre

Another little crispy snack discovered in another French motorway service station and luckily when I had the choice of two different flavours from Michel et Augustin I chose the right one. Because we have already tried the Pitas au Romarin.

This is basically a little shortbread biscuit flavoured with Beaufort cheese. It's a delicate flavour but rather delicious, and the texture is very nice indeed. I thought this a very tasty snack and Guardian des Bisses taste tester who happened to come round agreed.

I noticed that you can buy these crispy snacks at Co-op City in Sion (in Switzerland) but then I read the website and discovered that you should be able to buy these crispy snacks in England, including quite close to where we live in North London. And in English this savoury snack is called  Mini Savoury Shortbreads Beaufort Cheese with a pinch of salt. I shall have to look out for them.

The website features all sorts of weirdness including how to graffiti a cow design with lichen and moss; which appears to be quite a thing on YouTube (who knew?), and fascinatingly you can move all the little articles around like one of those flat plastic puzzles we always got in our Christmas stockings. That's under the Random Acts of Kookiness section.

Croquez la vie!

Incidentally they also make cookies (biscuits) and, coming soon, mousses.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

A Visit to Sion in 2017 (Switzerland)

This is the crispy snack shelf in Co-op City in Sion (which is the capital of Canton Valais) in the French speaking part of Switzerland. The Co-op has quite a big food department downstairs, and upstairs they sell pots and pans, and bedlinen, and a surprising number of scented candles.
This is one of the largest packets of crisps I've seen for a very long time... and such a large pile of them too. Zweifel Nature (basically what we used to call ready salted). A really fabulous crisp but I don't think I would buy a packet this huge. Not even to please the reluctant taste testers.
There are lots of crisps in this photo from Swiss crisp giant Zweifel; can you spot the fabulous Provencal flavour which is one of my absolute favourites?

But you can also see lots of packets from UK crisp company Tyrrell's, and those Eat Real Lentil Chips? I can buy those just across the road from the office. There are Pringles tucked up in the top right corner too. 

I always find it odd that in France and Switzerland you can buy crisps from all over the place (Belgium, Spain, the UK) while in the UK it's almost entirely UK made crisps for sale. Of course here in North London I have access to a vast array of kosher crispy snacks, some of which come from the United States, and others from Israel. Then there are the local "Indian" corner shops selling loads of spicy snacks, the local "Turkish" shop, which may be Kurdish, and sells snacks from Eastern Europe, and the myriad Japanese shops. Plus Polish... don't forget the Polish shops and there are lots of them.

But I think you get my drift. For the most part the crispy snacks available in Britain are British. But since we are obviously invading the continent with British crisps it seems a shame we can't get continental crisps here.

Sunday 11 February 2018

Soffle's Pitta Chips Cheese & Spring Onion

Most unusually Managerial taste tester brought in this packet of Pitta Chips which he purchased in Dalston or wherever it is he lives in a far flung part of London that I have never visited.

People who have only visited London for 5 minutes to see Big Ben and Harrods probably have no conception how vast a place it is (like other massive cities of course), and how the different parts have wildly different characteristics. The area just 10 minutes walk from where I live has a completely different feel from the area 15 minutes drive in the other direction, both completely different from here, and as for Dalston: it might just as well be in another country. So Managerial taste tester was very surprised I had seen this brand of crispy snack before.

Actually it was at Waddesdon Manor which we visited together. No NOT a secret tryst: it was a work day out looking at architecture - and there's enough and to spare of that at Waddesdon. And it was a different flavour Pitta Chip.
Turns out I don't like Pitta Chips. I think the texture is too hard and the flavour too floury. I don't really get it at all. And the only one of the reluctant taste testers who claims to like them is Slightly Red Haired Bristolian. So not all these chips were eaten during the course of the morning (always a sign of popularity). Pretty packaging though.

Friday 9 February 2018

Bobby's Big Snack Onion Rings

Following the amazing success of Bobby's Curry Sauce Potato Snax, what could be a better snack to tempt the reluctant taste testers than another offering from Bobby's? Bobby's.... best taste around! says the packet. And this is a pretty tasty onion flavour snack.

Obviously not much could rival the Curry Sauce Snax but this was reasonably popular. The rings are quite big and fairly orange... but that's OK. The aroma and taste are properly oniony but I thought the texture a bit dry.

Noble Friend said she's had better onion rings and I think she's probably not wrong. But if this is all you can find don't turn up your nose. Give these onion rings a try.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Organix Goodies Mini Cheese Crackers

This little packet of tiny cheese crackers comes from a Kids' Snack Box from Supplair UK Ltd. I got it on a EasyJet flight from Geneva to London Luton.

I have written before about how your taste buds don’t work so well at altitude. Frankly these little biscuits taste of very little in North London. I can’t imagine they taste any better on board the plane.

Also included in the Snack Box: a Kinder mini choc bar; an orange and apple oaty bar: a bag of strawberry yoghurt flakes from Fruit Bowl; an Andros Fruit Me Up Apple drink and a packet of coloured pencils.

Inside the box there are puzzles to keep your child busy, but disappointingly nothing to colour in except a join the dots duckling (no I didn’t join the dots - the answer was obvious) and there’s an annoying sticky label over the place to write in how many clouds you can count. Plus you need an adult to tear the box open carefully because it doesn’t come apart that readily. Snacking fun for young travellers says the box. I'm not too sure.

I understand that snacks for little children are bound have less salt than snacks aimed at me, but these cheese crackers are scarcely cheesy. I didn't find these very appetising (perhaps I crave the junk the packet promises isn't in this snack?) and I can't guess how a small child would react.

I notice that the larger of my local Waitrose branches sell Organix products but I don't think I'll be rushing out to try.

Monday 5 February 2018

Walkers Oven Baked Fusions Spicy Tomato & Herb

I’ve seen this new crispy snack advertised, so when I spotted a packet naturally I picked them up.

Hmmm... the packet is very richly coloured which made me wonder if the flavour would be very strong. And indeed that is the case. I don’t know if that’s deliberate packaging design from Walkers but somehow it makes sense.

So strong, so herby, is the flavour that I didn’t really like these very much. And Tall taste tester commented adversely on the taste, so I thought that was that.

But no. Cliffs of Moher taste tester said she liked this crispy snack; Slightly Red Haired Bristolian did too; and Jam Maker taste tester was a big fan. Pizza Marguerita she said with enthusiasm. Well, it takes all tastes doesn’t it?

The packet tells me this is a light and crispy potato snack bursting with flavours: they got that right! The trouble is I don’t much care for crispy snacks made from potato flakes. Almost every time a proper potato crisp is better, and what is it with the weird hexagonal shape?

So not for me but I can point you in the direction of some keen fans.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Bobby’s Limited Edition Curry Sauce Potato Snax

It’s a well-known fact that I’m a very fussy eater. So guess what? I really don’t like curry or curry sauce.

Having said that, I saw one of those silly lists on Facebook the other day. You know: “50 books to read before you die - how many have you read?” (usually about 6 as I'm a very picky reader - what? no point in starting a book I know I won't enjoy) or “most people have been to at least 37 of these countries...” and in this case “how many of these 50 foods would you refuse to eat?” Let’s see... erm... 9. That seemed pretty picky to me. And then I noticed that my friend Alan had posted 43. He wouldn’t eat 43 out of 50 foods! Amazing. Impressive.

So maybe I’m a bit less picky than I thought. But still the flavour of this crispy snack was not for me.

However... I have to tell you that this was probably the single most successful snack I have ever taken into the office. So successful that I had to revisit my supplier (the local Post Office) and buy six more packets that very same day.

Cliffs of Moher and Jam Maker taste testers, Slightly Red Haired Bristolian and Noble Friend were all mad for the flavour while Tech and Senior taste tester commented very favourably on the texture. Jam Maker taste tester comes from the North and has curry sauce on her chips so she is something of a connoisseur. A great success. 

And I must confess that the lovely 3D lattice design is rather fabulous. In another flavour perhaps I’d be a fan myself.