Friday 19 June 2020

Lay’s White Mushrooms with Sour Cream

The first thing to say about this Russian crisp is that it emphasises the colour of the mushrooms. Do you suppose there is another crisp featuring brown mushrooms? It’s quite possible.
The packet advertises a ФУТБОЛ (football) themed competition. With exciting prizes including yellow Lay’s branded hoodies and suitcases. 

I thought at first this must be to celebrate the 2020 UEFA European Football Championships (which happen every 4 years just like the Olympics). But in fact I think it is the Champions League, in this case with special reference to the ultra famous Lionel Messi. Although, having looked at pictures of Lionel online, I am not sure I would recognise him from this packet. Of course I pay little or no attention to football but I am aware that all football competitions have been somewhat scuppered by the coronavirus this year.
So what do we think of the crisp? Quite fine cut, quite pleasant. Not a flavour the Chef and I had ever encountered before... mostly I think because we don’t get the opportunity to try Russian crisp flavours very often. Or at all. Rather subtle and gentle as a flavour but I could definitely pick the mushrooms and the cream (but not that it was sour cream). 

It’s interesting that the British like very strong flavours in their crispy snacks (try this delicious Salty Dog Salt & Vinegar crisp for example, and Italians prefer something considerably more subtle like this Gusto Chipsburger crisp. The French fall somewhere in the middle, and I haven’t yet tried enough Russian crispy snacks to draw any conclusion. This particular Russian crisp definitely falls into the subtle category, but perhaps a stronger mushroom flavour wouldn’t be an improvement. 

Saturday 13 June 2020

Lay’s Strong Hunting Sausage

Right, let’s start by saying that I am pretty sure the flavour of this crinkle cut crisp is Hunting Sausage; not Strong Hunting Sausage. I think the strong relates to the “heat-ometer” shown on the packet.
According to the super useful, but not always tremendously accurate, google translate, this is a packet of chips (or crisps) for beer. 

I find it an interesting idea that some crisps are apparently created specifically to eat while drinking beer. This discriminates against people who don’t drink beer, or can’t drink alcohol. And gives the weird idea that you cannot enjoy this crisp without a bottle of beer. And, much worse, shows that this crisp is marketed at men. I really don’t approve of sexism in crisps. Yes, I am well aware that a lot of women drink beer, but the concept of beer chips seems definitely aimed at men. The strong flavour is another clue.
This packet of crisps, which I found on eBay (it’s amazing what you can buy on eBay), has lists of ingredients in Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyzs, and Georgian, which is a beautiful script but I did draw the line at trying to plumb that one into google translate. Sorry everyone. So, anyway I guess Lay’s sell them across a great swathe of what used to be the USSR.

I know I said it would be cheating to order fancy crisps online, but hey! this is the time of coronavirus so how else am I going to find an exciting crispy snack to taste test?

And after a great deal of effort (using the Cyrillic alphabet) I can tell you that the flavour is built with beef, onion, garlic, chilli, coriander and rosemary. At least, I think I can. I’m sure you lot imagine the Chef and I just prance about munching crisps the entire time. In face I seldom prance. And in this case I put in quite a lot of effort copying the very tiny Russian script on the packet onto my iPad in order to translate it for you.

And silly me. I had imagined the sausage would be made from the hunter’s bag. Perhaps with the deer or pheasant or boar he shot. But a little research leads me to think it’s actually a tasty snack the hunter packs in his bag to sustain him (or her) on the hunt. There are German and Polish versions of these sausages too.

The Chef seemed to enjoy these crinkle cut crisps but I confess I’m not that keen myself. The drips themselves are fine, but I wasn’t that mad about the taste. Perhaps that’s because I don’t drink beer? But I would like Tech Taste Tester to give his opinion: he is a big fan of meaty crisps which I usually am not.

A fascinating crisp flavour though. Not something that would occur to UK crisp manufacturers I imagine. But perhaps that’s because you don’t get simply squadrons of people rushing out to shoot wild animals in the U.K. the way you do in countries like Poland, Germany, Russia, or even Switzerland.
Photo by Tech Taste Tester (stolen off Instagram)

PS When the Chef and I escaped Swiss lockdown and made it back to London I was able to pass on the remains of the packet (about half) to Tech Taste Tester. I have now received his report. He says, “I can confirm these are pretty lovely crisps. The crunch is nice - the texture reminds me of some other crisps and maybe it’s non British crisps? Our crinkle is usually denser or something. The flavour is nice - not sure why there’s a STRONG-O-METER as they’re not particularly spicy/hot. One nice fact is they don’t make your hands smell awful which some meat crisps do.” So now we have the opinion of a meaty-flavour crisp expert.

Monday 8 June 2020

Tayto Salt & Vinegar (Republic of Ireland)

Here’s the final packet of Tayto crisps (and crispy snacks) from the exciting care package the Chef and I received from Ireland. So I thought I should take a look at the Tayto Website.
Where I found actual evidence that the Irish don’t care for what I always call Ready Salted as a flavour. They don’t make salt flavour crisps! Cliffs of Moher Taste Tester did tell me that its hard to buy salty crisps in Ireland. And, you know, why would she make that up? She wouldn’t. Of course not.

Plain salt flavour was just about the only kind of crisp you could get when I was a child so they hold a special place in my heart. And in fact, I often find I like the plain salted flavour best. So despite being of Irish extraction I confess I find this very weird indeed.

Anyhow. Onwards to the Salt & Vinegar flavour. The smell of vinegar is very strong but the taste of the crisps themselves quite gentle. A fine cut, a good crunch and a tasty crisp. I ate a few and the Chef ate all the rest. I think he enjoyed them.
And of course I mustn’t forget that Tayto run a theme park in County Meath, with rides and a zoo and visits to the crisp factory. Although, of course, I am writing this in the time of coronavirus and it’s not currently open. The wooden roller coaster named for Ireland’s great mythical hero Cú Chulainn looks absolutely terrifying. And it’s not very reassuring to read it’s not suitable for people with heart or back conditions, or pregnant guests.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Tayto Smokey Bacon (Republic of Ireland)

This Smokey Bacon potato crisp (or chip) from Irish crisp giant Tayto is a very good crisp.

The crisp itself has a lovely light texture, a nice crunch. But. Unfortunately the Smokey Bacon flavour is not particularly to my taste. Here’s a Welsh Smokey Bacon crisp from Taylors, or another version from Walkers which seemed to be surprisingly popular with the reluctant taste testers. But perhaps not with me. Or the Chef.

Bacon can be a good flavour for a crispy snack but I find myself less impressed by smokey bacon. I don’t really understand why it seems to be so popular.

At any rate, the crisps themselves are very nice so I dare say I might be pleased to try a different flavour.