Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ten Acre When the Chilli Got Sweet

It seems that every second bag of crisps I look at these days is Sweet Chilli flavour. OK, I'm sure I exaggerate but there do seem to be a lot of them about.

Ten Acre make nice little crisps, all kind of folded over (something to do with the hand cooking process perhaps?), a nice golden colour and with a satisfying crunch.

Some Sweet Chilli flavour crisps are much too sweet. You know, there will be a little bit of chilli heat but mostly quite a lot of sweet.

Not these crisps. Nothing spectacular, nothing fancy, these crisps have a nice hit of chilli which is slightly tempered by the sweetness; but not too much. A nice little 40g bag too. We quite liked these crisps.

Halal Food Authority Approved, Parev (certified by the Machzikei Hadass Synagogue in Salford (Manchester), and also suitable for Vegans; these crisps are ready for anyone. Unless of course you are religiously opposed to eating potatoes. Or allergic to them. How awful that would be.

Hand cooked with love, packed with crunch.

This scan isn't quite the right colour for some reason. The packet is really a lovely deep purplish pink with a lot of blue in it. I held the packet up against a Pantone colour chart on my computer screen, I took a photograph to see if the colour would be better and I scanned it more than once. How odd. What a shame because the packet is such a pretty colour.
And here's another blossom photo.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

M&S Guilt Free Snacking Sweet & Salty Popcorn

I don't know how they do it but M&S keep coming up with the goods when it comes to guilt free snacking. This Sweet & Salty Popcorn is a case in point.

Not too sweet, not too salty, but just tasty enough; this popcorn works very well for a crunch at lunch if you are trying to eat a healthy diet.

This 28g packet contains 137 calories.  The packet describes it as crunchy and moreish (marketing-speak for addictive) which is about right. The packet also says delicious treats, portion controlled, designed to help you count your calories.

Yes. But I sort of get the impression that if I don't eat the entire packet my portions won't be properly controlled. Oh no! We can't have that.

I can't eat too much popcorn (all that roughage is so unhealthy) but I do love it. There's something about those fluffed up clouds of exploded yumminess. Especially wonderful is microwave popcorn so you can enjoy the hot salty butteriness (or alternately hot buttery saltiness) in the privacy of your own home with the movie of your choice. But I suppose one must admit that this is a healthier option.






































And more blossom because there is so much this year and it seems a shame not to take advantage of it. This is Prunus 'Kanzan'. Rather a dull tree 50 weeks of the year but stunning in full flower.

Friday, 24 April 2015

M&S Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Hand Cooked

Look at that. I've just noticed that M&S have added a bit of information to their crisp packets: est. 1884. When did they do that? Obviously I've not been paying attention.

Anyway, here we have a little packet of crisps from the new Spring/Summer range for 2015. Newly designed bag. New little blue logo saying Tastes of the British Isles.

The potatoes are a variety I don't think I have come across before; Markies. The fabulous Potato Council Variety Database tells me it was bred by Agrico UK Ltd, and the parent breeds were Agria and Fianna. I love the Potato Council database. Surely almost as good as the FBI databases Abby's always looking at on NCIS.

Mnnn not a bad entry in the salt and vinegar stakes. A nice mix of sea salt and sweetness from the balsamic, and then a big hit of vinegar. Some of the crisps in this packet were huge and all had a good hearty crunch. This is another good crisp from M&S. Plus they worked very well with leftover sour cream and chive dip. You can't say better than that.
And here's some more cherry blossom I spotted on my walk to work the other day. This looks like a wild cherry tree so with any luck it will produce fruits to delight the local birds.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Pan Chips al Naturale

This Italian crispy snack was found in Switzerland, and I chose it simply because it looked so unlike most other crispy snacks we've tried.

Cotte al Forno (baked) says the packet, Golose sfogliatine croccanti (delicious crispy puffs). Baked perhaps, but not puffs. These little squares are in fact spectacularly flat. But then sometimes it seems to me that flat is very popular in Italy.

I provided myself with dip in advance because I thought these might need a little help in the taste department. It's a bit like eating a water biscuit  flavoured with olive oil (extra virgin of course) and scattered with salt. Quite nice in a slightly dull fashion.

I got sour cream and chive dip (my favourite) but in fact I might have been better to try hummus because these little squares or slightly-diamond-shapes remind me a little of the flat breads they serve at the local Turkish restaurant with the meze.

You know, the taste is sort of dull but I find myself rather liking it with or without the dip. Pretty good in fact. I'd really like to try one of the other flavours. Rosemary perhaps. Not so sure about the Bacon flavour... but I've been wrong before and probably will be again.

It's a shame these little squares are so fragile. An awful lot of them are broken and I don't think that has anything to do with their long journey to the UK. I notice that the tiny type on the front of the packet tells us that the product image is for illustration purposes only. So perhaps all this breakage is quite normal.

The back of the packet gives two websites for further information: www.onebreadfactory.it (which seems an odd name for an Italian company), and www.panchips.it. The first address defaults to the second, which truth be told does not give up much information except that there are six different Pan Chips flavours.
And because it is spring here's a photograph I took this week of some blossom. I don't know which of the many flowering cherries this is. It was planted by the side of the brook years ago and seems quite happy, but it's far too close to the great big weeping willow you can see in the background.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Smiths Bugles Nacho Cheese

We can't quite remember where we got this crispy snack made by Smiths in The Netherlands. Probably it came from a motorway service station in Northern France. But we can't be sure.

When I took these out of my bag this morning Dutch taste tester practically shouted "my favourite!" which was a pretty good response. And extremely picky tester was thrilled because they are just like the crispy snack she learned to love (and eat far too many of by the sound of things) in Thailand. Pretty much everyone in the office liked them a lot and, augmented by maternity leave tester who was back for a catch up day, we noshed down two large bowlsful.

So what have we got? Well, according to the ingredients (listed in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German and Finnish) this is a crispy maize snack flavoured with cheese. I'm not going any further than that because I don't speak any Nordic languages. Except of course it's always fascinating to discover things like the Finnish for carbohydrate is hiilihydraatteja. Who wouldn't want to know that?

These little trumpet shaped snacks are a favourite in the Netherlands I gather. And we have tried a French version from Bénénuts, and an Italian version from San Carlo but I don't remember seeing a British bugle. Or trumpet. I wonder why not?

A very cheesy aroma wafts from the bag, the bugles taste pretty cheesy and there is a satisfying crunch. Probably everyone will hate me but I feel there is a dull slightly mushroomy after taste. So I didn't enjoy them as much as I might have.

Having said that, everyone liked these a lot and I only kept a few to take home to the Chef.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Zweifel Secrets Dried Beetroots

A distinctly weird combination from Switzerland.

I took the bag in to work for the reluctant taste testers to try and almost without exception they told me how odd they thought these crisps are.

Some of them liked the dried beetroot but I must say I thought the texture was very strange. And maternity cover taste tester thought it was a bowlful of fried flowers! Well, it's true that the beetroot does look just like dried rose petals.

And as for the crisps.... Zweifel usually make very nice crisps. In fact, they make my very favourite crisps. In this case the crisps are the usual Zweifel fine cut with a light crunch. But the taste is sort of sour cream, a bit mustardy. Really odd.

Sorry Zweifel. We didn't like these at all.

The packaging is a nice beetroot colour. The crisp/beetroot combination looks pretty and works well with the packaging. But who eats these?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Pipers Crisp Co. Karnataka Black Pepper & Sea Salt

Yet another wonderful crisp from Pipers Crisp Co. from North Lincolnshire.

Black Pepper & Sea Salt is a classic flavour and the Tellicherry peppercorns used here are supplied by the Faiz family from their spice plantations in the tranquil Karnataka region on the edge of the Western Ghats of Southern India. The full bodied taste and robust aroma of Tellicherry peppercorns are preferred by chefs worldwide. Says the packaging.

These fabulous crisps have a great pepper and salt flavour, but importantly you can also taste the actual crisp. And you cannot ask much more than that.

Very tasty crisps. Nothing too fancy but a great taste. Perhaps Pipers have used this grey packaging to indicate how simple this flavour is. Or perhaps that's just me imagining things.


Friday, 17 April 2015

M&S Scottish Langoustines with Dill & Lemon

Well these hand cooked crisps from the new M&S summer 2015 range turned out to be amazingly popular with the reluctant taste testers. Amazingly popular.

I bought a packet yesterday but then put it in a food parcel to post to a friend in the United States (where obviously you can't purchase such luxuries), so bought another packet today at lunchtime and put out a bowl for the taste testers. And as the bowl was completely emptied before the senior taste tester returned from a site visit I put out some more.

Whoosh! All gone in no time at all. I confess I was quite surprised.

I was also surprised that these crisps not only contain prawns but actual langoustines "fished from Scottish waters". And real dill and lemon. So, you know, these are real langoustine flavour crisps. (I know: I'm suspicious. But so often crisp flavours seem to be manufactured out of dairy products and wheat. Or some combination equally unrelated to the flavour you are supposed to be enjoying.)

The potatoes are called Taurus and were grown in Herefordshire. The packet tells us that M&S crisps use a selection of varieties. It seems that they choose a different variety depending on the season.

The aroma on first opening the bag is quite sea-foody but the taste is really more crisp with dill and lemon. Quite a gentle taste. Mostly smaller than I was expecting, the crisps have a great crunch and a nice golden colour. The taste testers all liked these a lot and had many good things to say about them.

I don't eat sea food but (despite sea food anxiety) I quite liked them too. The lemon and the dill are really very nice. It's a great combination.

Brand new taste tester at work who hasn't had time to get used to free crisps in the office at the drop of a hat said langoustines are her absolute favourite food and she liked these crisps a lot. And that has to be a seal of approval.

The new summer selection of crisps are all part of a Tastes of the British Isles range. It's so new I haven't had time to investigate properly. But these crisps represent Scotland. Where my surname comes from. Even if I don't.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Lay's Saveur Poulet Rôti

Toujours aussi Savoureuses! Another crisp discovered by the Chef at a French motorway service station.

This is a very nice roast chicken crisp. Rather pale in colour and finer cut than the average British crisp with a light crunch. This offering from Lay's of France (part of PepsiCo France) has a terrific taste and seems to contain real chicken; albeit pulverised or reduced to powder in some fashion.

The crisps are scattered with tiny bits of green which must be either thyme or parsley. Or perhaps both. With a little onion in the mix it all combines to make a very good simple crisp. Simple and very tasty.

A good crisp for every day and none the worse for that.

I must say I was most surprised to find this flavour included at № 19 on a list of Top 25 Strangest Lay's Flavors from Around the World. This a list which features Hot Chili Squid (17), Lemon Tea (15), Lychee (12), Blueberry (6), Cucumber (2) and Garlic Soft-shell Crab (1)! Surely roast chicken cannot be considered a strange flavour for a crisp? I note the label is bilingual so possibly the roast chicken flavour featured here is Canadian rather than French. I've not tried a Canadian version so can't comment.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Vico Crazy Craq Strong Cheese

The Chef spotted these at a French motorway service station, and although he doesn't actually read this blog that often (I know! How annoying is that?) he didn't remember us trying them. And he was right. We hadn't.

The squirly shape of this cheesy snack made them easy to remember; or perhaps I ought to say, to not remember. Which he didn't.

We have essayed a few Vico products before but none, I think, named in Franglais. This twisty crispy snack is not in fact called Crazy Craq Strong Cheese, but Crazy Craq Strong Cheese** (and then in very tiny writing down on the corner of the packet just in case you couldn't work out what that meant) **Fromage Intense. We are left to work out for ourselves what Crazy Craq is supposed to mean. That's very crunchy to you.

Un max de CRAQUANT says the packet. Un max de goût FROMAGE. Un snack totalement VRILLÉ. Basically, great crunch, great cheesy taste, and a totally twisty snack. And that is indeed pretty much want you get.

We've tried twisty snacks before but none with such a good crunch. Techie taste tester was particularly impressed. Like me he'd taken a quick look and decided this cheesy snack would have a soft foamy crunch. But not a bit of it. There's a great crunch going on here.

And a great cheesy taste too. Yum. Probably frightfully bad for me but definitely yum.

The creepy little guy at the top of the packet is Professeur Vico. He advocates "Vicothérapie". Which seems to consist in eating Vico products. Well, he would wouldn't he?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Kettle Chips Thai Sweet Chilli, Lemongrass & Coriander

Maybe I bought these crisps because the packet is such a fabulous colour. Maybe not. But it certainly is a wonderful lime green. Or more of a lime yellow. Brilliant.

The reluctant taste testers and I were stunned at the freshness of taste you get with these crisps. All too often sweet chilli crisps are simply too sweet. But the lemongrass, and particularly the coriander just give such an unusual fresh taste these crisps are really different.

Also in the mix are garlic, tomato, ginger, galangal, star anise, cumin and oregano. The packet says there are absolutely no artificial ingredients so we have to believe that this flavour is created from all these herbs and spices. It looks like a very complicated recipe, and often complicate recipes don't work as well as their creators hoped, but somehow this is a great success. The crisps smell good too.

Lovely big crisps, richly coloured with a good bite and that lovely fresh chilli flavour. Very nice indeed.

I saved a few crisps at the bottom of the packet and took them home. The Chef really liked them too. So an all round success.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

KP Skips Tingly Prawn Cocktail

This is interesting. To me at any rate. KP Skips are made with tapioca starch. At least they are in the UK. For some reason in Ireland they are made with potato starch. Doesn't that seem as though it would be a totally different product?

I read that Skips were launched in 1974 and are manufactured under licence from the Japanese company Meiji Seika. And, which I didn't know because I don't remember seeing them, you can get Skips in three other flavours (Bacon, Cheese and Salt & Vinegar). At some unspecified time in the past there were limited edition flavours such as ReBoot Dots Donut. What??? Oh well what can you say? Anyway, they are best known for the Prawn Cocktail flavour.

I have been aware of Skips for years and years but I'm not sure I have ever tried them before. So let's go.

You know what? These are actually quite nice. I followed the instructions on the packet to balance a Skip on my tongue and let it melt in my mouth. They are quite fizzy, light and melty (as the packet tells me) and quite nice. Although I do slightly get the sensation of eating one of those packaging peanuts.

I don't eat prawns so I don't know if prawn cocktail tastes anything like Skips. Very likely not.

Skips contain no artificial colours of flavours and no MSG. They are cooked with 100% sunflower oil which is supposed to be healthier than other oils. And they are suitable for vegetarians so no prawns involved. I thought as much.

The little guy throwing his rubbish away responsibly has a little label: slam dunk your junk. So, a snack aimed at basketball players perhaps?

I like the way the 39p price tag on this 17g packet is designed to look like an old fashioned dangly tag.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ten Acre Hand Cooked Crisps The Day Sweet and Sour Became Friends

Another crisp stocked by the bakery down the road. Hand cooked with love, packed with crunch says the unusual pink packaging.

All the Ten Acre crisps have the same design on the packet but each flavour is a different colour.

Ten Acre obviously take pride in giving their crisps slightly unusual names, and these are no exception.

So what we have here is a slightly small crisp; hand cooked, often folded over; nice golden colour; slightly harder crunch than you might expect, and a good golden colour. Very nice crisps to pour out of a packet into your chosen serving bowl. Well - you don't get the full effect if you just eat them out of the packet do you?

The flavour is a not completely successful (in my view) sweet and sour. It's nice.... but I'm not really sure. I do like the way the crisps are often folded over though. It makes them seem a little bit home made.

I was looking for a new spot to photograph the bowlsful of crisps and the top of the laundry basket seemed a good place to try. What so you think?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa

These crinkle cut crisps from the 2014 Lay's Do Us a Flavor range were brought by my lovely friend Lynn from Buffalo. The draft review has been hanging around on my bloggy page for ages and I don't know why I haven't posted these crisps before.

Sadly a journey in a jam-crammed suitcase (Lynn can force more into a suitcase than you can possibly imagine - I stand in awe of her packing skills) didn't do these crisps any good so they are a bit more broken up than you would expect, but that doesn't affect the flavour which is the most important thing. When it comes to Do Us a Flavor the flavour is the whole point but what a weird idea: Mango Salsa?? Who thought of that you cry?

Well, we tried Cappuccino flavour crisps from the 2014 Do Us a Flavor range before and we weren't that impressed. In fact, lets be a bit more honest here: we thought they were pretty horrid. And tasted of coconut which was distinctly odd.

Anyway, these are meant to be Mango Salsa. And what did we think?

I quite like Lay's wavy crisps. They usually work quite well. But, um, these crisps really do taste of mango. Amazing! Except I really really don't like mango. Never have.

So, if you were a big fan of mangos you might have liked these limited edition crinkle cut crisps. If like me you think that mangos  taste of tin.... just me then..... you wouldn't have been mad keen.

However, I'm not convinced the world is ready for such an un-crispy flavour. Even mango fans can't be ready for this crisp flavour. Can they?

I gather the winning flavour was Kettle Cooked Wasabi & Ginger. Sigh. That sounds more like a popcorn flavour than a crisp flavour to me. Obviously I haven't tried it but, I don't know, not sure that it sounds right for a potato crisp flavour. Increasingly I find that the truly simple flavours are the best.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Vico Monster Munch Salé

Somebody asked me yesterday why I blog about crisps. And the answer is I don't really know. I started out to write a blog about street trees. But God works in mysterious ways (mysteriously mysterious at times) and the first thing I wrote about was Ley's Cheeseburger Crisps. And then I wrote about Chio Jumpys, followed by Bret's Pizza au Feu de Bois... and then I discovered I really enjoy writing about crisps and crispy snacks.

It's not a career to set the world on fire (and possibly that's a good thing) but it keeps me amused.

And my goodness! there are so many crisps and crispy snacks to choose from. I do rather wonder how many people are employed around the world creating new flavours of crisp, and new shapes of crispy snack? However many they certainly keep me busy.

Here we have a French version of Monster Munch from Vico. Vico is part of Intersnack France which must be the French division of Euro snack giant Intersnack. I wonder how come they can call this snack Monster Munch when Walkers produce a totally different Monster Munch in the UK? Or vice versa? Here are two Walkers Monster Munch flavours for you to compare: Roast Beef and Pickled Onion.

I've got Ready Salted (Salé) but you can also try Jambon/Fromage (ham & cheese), Ketchup (ketchup!) or Barbecue (barbecue/BBQ) if you can find them. I long to visit a French supermarché in pursuit of crisps but the Chef is always so mad keen to rush through France I haven't yet had the opportunity. One day......

Monster Much is described as an aperitif to enjoy with your parents, to fill a hole after sports or as an accompaniment to a balanced diet. These little monsters will delight young and old says the packaging. Made with potatoes and maize with some wheat flour.

Well, I tried these on my own because I wasn't sure what the reluctant taste testers would say. And on reflection this was a mistake because I think they might have been popular in some quarters. However, too late now.

Obviously a crispy snack aimed at children these smiley ghost faces (I can't think what else the designer was aiming for) are flavoured with salt, cheese and tomato but it's a gentle flavour that doesn't really leap out at you. Each ghost face is bubbly and crunchy. Quite pleasant but not massively exciting. It would be interesting to try the other flavours.

There's a "spot the Monster Munch" feature on the back of the packet, and there's also a fascinating website which takes ages to load but give it a go if you speak some French, or even if you don't, and would like to play space invaders type games involving crispy snacks. I'm obviously too stupid to succeed and only managed to score 1 point in one of the games. In another you have to trap running monsters under lampshades! I wasn't very good at that either but I did manage 200 points in Le Munch Reflexe. Oh come on. I had to give it a go.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Keogh's Atlantic Sea Salt & Irish Cider Vinegar

The Keogh family have been growing potatoes in Ireland for over 200 years, and now they make hand cooked crisps. This particular packet contains Lady Rose potatoes from a field called Ballamadun, and the crisps were cooked by Sebastian. We don't know if Sebastian is a member of the Keogh family, or employed by the Keoghs.

Have you noticed how salt has ceased to be just salt in recent years? It's not even simply sea salt or rock salt. Or the wonderful Malden Salt with the lovely flat cristals. There's Anglesey Sea Salt, Flor de Sal de Ibiza, Himalayan Pink Salt, and now Atlantic Sea Salt; all these featured in crisps that I've tried. I actually have a packet of Hebridean Sea Salt (harvested from the shores of the remote Scottish Hebridean Isle of Lewis) in my kitchen cupboard although I've not encountered it in a crisp yet.

Well, these crisps have a good salty taste.

And there's an interesting selection of vinegars on the ingredients list: Llewellyn's Cider Vinegar, Malt Vinegar and also Balsamic Vinegar. I don't know what it is but somehow the taste is rather sweet as well as sour. It's not quite what the reluctant taste testers and I were expecting.

Nice big crisps with the skin left on and a good golden colour. They look lovely but we weren't very sure about the taste. Although a bowlful did disappear.

Grown with love in Ireland.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Kubeti Mega Stix Cheese Flavour

Another bag of Bulgarian crispy snacks from Budgens in East Finchley. The reluctant taste testers and I tried the tomato ketchup version earlier this year and found it rather good, so when I saw this bag lurking amongst the chocolate Easter Eggs I thought it would be worth a try.

And yes, these little sticks of extruded potato crunchiness are quite nice. There's a sort of gentle slightly powdery cheesiness, and somehow the more you eat the cheesier they get. And there's an interesting aroma of chips (that's french fries to those of you who call crisps chips), and not a bad crunch. If you look closely they do look disconcertingly like a sliced up washing up sponge but sponges don't crunch like this.

Not bad. Because the taste is so gentle, and so much of these sponge-like sticks is fresh air, I think you could very likely (absent-mindedly) eat the whole 54g packet in one sitting.

Not tremendously exciting but quite pleasant. We decided that we liked the tomato ketchup version a little bit better but there's not a lot to choose between them.

I still think it a little odd that Budgens should stock crispy snacks from Bulgaria. But it's great for me. Otherwise I'd have to fly to Sofia or something. That might not be such a bad thing though; some of the buildings look amazing and there are stunning mosaics. This photograph of St Eudoxia (I think in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral) is from Wikimedia Commons. It was taken by Elena Chochkova.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Chio Salted Chips

Here we have a very simple salted crisp.

Found at the café at Geneva airport (before you go through customs; not the hamburger giant, not the sushi place or the pizza parlour) these  crisps from European crispy snack giant Intersnack are your very basic salted. Possibly made in Switzerland, possibly made in Austria (it's hard to say from the packaging); you can't get much simpler than this.

Quite a fine cut crisp, not a bad crunch. Good salted taste. Nothing artificial. Nothing fancy just a simple salted crisp. And don't forget to protect this packet from light (what? and why? crisp packets do say strange things sometimes).

Not much more to say really.

Except you might like to know that Chio make the fabulous kangaroo-shaped Jumpys which you can see in the header. Unbelievably that was only the second crispy snack I reviewed. Little did I know how lucky I was to find such a treasure so early on in my career as an international food writer.

And check out the packaging... how can you tell this flavour is salted? Yes! It shows a salt shaker.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Pipers Crisp Co Kirkby Malham Chorizo

Noble friend went to the Ideal Home Exhibition the other day and brought me and the reluctant taste testers this new (to us) flavour from UK crispeteers Pipers.

This was extremely nice of her - but she is nice - and the only thing wrong with her kind gesture is that she was sold crisps in the old packaging and not the new. The new packaging for this flavour is a fabulous rich purple. It would have been fun to see that. But let's be honest. That's just me being super picky.

I was a little anxious about trying this flavour because I don't usually like chorizo much; it tends to be too oily for me. Maybe I've been given the wrong kinds of chorizo.

Anyway, you can see I set out a bowlful at work (if you have been paying close attention you will recognise this bowl and tabletop which often feature when the taste testers are involved - OK you probably aren't so nerdy as I am) and sat back to see what everyone thought.

And everyone thought these crisps were just delicious. The crisps themselves are perfect; the right sort of crunch, the right texture. And the flavour is fabulous. A wonderful smoky paprika aroma, and a truly great smoky chorizo taste.

The flavour comes from Oxford Sandy and Black pigs raised in the Yorkshire Dales. They are butchered on the farm and turned into delicious Yorkshire Chorizo Sausage. Which is then used to makes these crisps.

What could be better than that?

Update: here's the newer packaging courtesy of the senior taste tester. Unusual colour isn't it? But rather wonderful.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Mackie's of Scotland Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper

Last year the Chef and I tried the Mackie's of Scotland Sea Salt, and Mature Cheddar Cheese & Onion flavours which we found for sale in the Aperto shop at Sion station in Switzerland. They had other flavours too, but not the Haggis. Perhaps Mackie's (or Aperto) thought the Swiss would baulk at haggis as a crisp flavour. I wouldn't be a bit surprised; I suspect the English might baulk too.

Which is why I asked my brother, who lives in Scotland, to send me this packet of crisps because I'd never seen any to buy in London (or Switzerland). I had read a lot online about haggis flavour crisps so I wanted to try them. And now I have. So thanks very much to my ex-sister-in-law who I suspect finally took charge of the actual posting.

Well... I'm not really sure about these. There is certainly a vast amount of cracked black pepperiness going on. And then there's something else which despite tasting and much sniffing I cannot put my finger on. Honestly, I can't work out what these crisps taste of.  I rather enjoy haggis but I haven't had any for some time and I don't really remember if it tastes like these crisps do.

Let's just say the taste is a bit odd. Quite tasty. Just... a bit odd. The packaging got high marks though, especially from the tall taste tester.

The reluctant taste testers quite liked these crisps, with the emphasis on quite, but like me I think they were a little bit baffled at the flavour. All of them noticed the great taste of cracked black pepper, and all of them wondered quite what the rest of the flavour was. It seems to have been created from yeast, wheat, onion powder, barley malt, and oatmeal. Interesting.

You might think haggis crisps would be made with heart, liver and lungs (creepily known as sheep's pluck) but no, are in fact they are suitable for vegetarians and even vegans. Amazing eh?

I was back in Sion in March and Aperto has stopped stocking Mackie's crisps, at least for the time being. So we had no chance to attempt other flavours when we took the train to Bern.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Kettle Chips Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream


I've been looking for this crisp flavour for ages because of this wonderful wicker work and corn dolly advertisement. It's such a great ad I had to find the crisps so that I could post it. Never mind the crisps; look at the effort the advertising agency went to. I love it. You can read about Stella Harding the basketry artist here.

I've never done any basket weaving, but a million years ago I used to know how to make corn dollies (like the chillies). Well, I had a great-aunt who lived in darkest Suffolk surrounded by cornfields and a moat and a windmill, and somehow I learned how. Although I'd be pushed to build a corn dolly these days it might come back to me.

Living in a moated house sounds romantic doesn't it? Let me assure you there were many many mosquitoes.

And there was the time that one of my little cousins threw his mother's wedding ring into the moat. Oh the drama! You never saw so much mud in your life. They found the ring though.

Anyway, to the crisps. I took this 150g packet (which according to the packet is 5 servings) to work and set out a bowlful in the kitchen. And they were very popular. Two of the taste testers were particularly enthusiastic.

The chilli flavour is quite gentle for all there's a lot of flavour dust, but then there's a nice aftertaste of mild to medium heat. It would be a good introduction for anyone who never tried a chilli flavour crisp before.

Kettle Chips are always good quality with a terrific crunch, sliced a little bit thicker than many crisps, and usually with a good golden colour. And they keep producing new flavours which are mostly not too complicated. By which I mean not made from 400 different ingredients, or named to sound like a dish at a five-star restaurant.

We liked these, and would probably eat them again, but in my opinion this Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream flavour isn't going to set the world on fire. Which sounds as though I am damning them with faint praise. No not really. Only somehow, for me,  they don't have that extra special something.
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