Thursday, 27 April 2017

Laurieri Scrocchi con Semi di Sesamo e di Papavero

This is a packet of crisps we acquired on the train from Florence to Milan. It's the fancy kind of train which travels at 298kph and the staff hand out free newspapers and snacks. White wine or prosecco, madam? I'll have a prosecco please, and you can just see it behind the pocket in this photograph. The Chef had a cup of coffee with free packet of chocolate biscuits.

Laurieri are described as master bakers the packet, and excitingly, they manufacture this crispy snack in Matera, a UNESCO world heritage site. That sounds great but it is slightly unusual information for a crispy snack packet. I haven't been to Matera but here's a link to a page with a really lovely photograph and a little information. The image on the packet is obviously Matera.
This is a baked crispy crunchy snack with sesame seeds and poppy seeds. You can see from the photograph that it really is a tiny packet with not many little biscuits in it. And the biscuits themselves .... sadly not very exciting at all. The taste is a bit like water biscuit or matzo and the crunch is very hard. I can't detect any sesame or poppy seed taste at all.

Suitable for vegans says the packet. Well, that's nice. But if I was a vegan I think I would like something with a bit more taste. It's a shame the most exciting thing about this crispy snack seems to be the place it is baked. The Chef ate the chocolate biscuits with no complaints so I think they were a better option.
And here's a photo of the train speedometer which they show  in every cabin to assure you that you really are going that fast. 298 kilometres per hour is 185 mph.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Caffè la Terrazza, la Rinascente in Florence

In Florence the department store la Rinascente is a lot smaller than Harrods or Selfridges but it has something I don't think either of the London stores has: a rooftop terrace. Take the escalator up to the top floor, cross over to the back of the room to the tiny wee food department and look for the stairs which take you up to a minute cafe. And then there's another little flight of stairs up to the terrace. Do beware. The terrace is not very big so I imagine it's tough (or impossible) to find a table at busy times. When we were there in March there was only one empty table.

This little cafe is written up all over the place as having great views over the rooftops of Florence. And I suppose that's true. But you should prepare also for great views of air con units, TV dishes, rainwater goods and broken roof tiles. I reckon you get a better, and much closer, view of the famous dome if you go to the top floor of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. And that has the merit of being wheelchair accessible.

Why, you ask, am I boring on about a rooftop cafe? This hasn't suddenly morphed into a travel blog has it? Well, no. But although I haven't been testing many crisp snacks recently, here's something I did try.
Yes, when you order a drink here you get a crispy snack. Corn chips (in the traditional triangular shape) and plain salted potato crisps. Pretty tasty too.

So, (and have you noticed that every second sentence begins with "so" these days? I noticed it particularly when I was in hospital. Every single person began every single sentence with "so". Particularly the doctors. It was a little bit disconcerting and I began to feel I was missing out on an important language trend. Oh dear!) so, if you go to a nice cafe in Florence and only fancy a snack, do check out the other tables for signs of crispy snacks because you might not need to order anything other than a drink.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Caffè Gilli in Florence

After my brush with hospital the Chef and I went on holiday in the hope that I would be able to completely relax and feel a lot better. Although I have to admit that Florence is not the most relaxing place in the world, it was nice to get away.
One day we fancied a snack at lunchtime so we went to Caffè Gilli in the Piazza della Repubblica. I read that it was opened by a Swiss family in 1733, which is nice, and I also read that it's difficult to get served and the waiters may ignore you. We didn't have that experience here at all; far from it. In fact we were ushered in by a senior-looking waiter and served quite promptly.
What you need to know is that if you order a cup of coffee and a glass of wine at Caffè Gilli you get a  selection of tasty snacks. You get nuts, little square chunks of something a bit like quiche, and a dish of  corn chips.

Now I don't know who manufactures these corn chips but I can tell you they are  pretty tasty. It's interesting trying round corn chips instead of the usual triangles.
Our hotel has a live feed of the Ponte Vecchio projected on to the lobby wall. Because it's black and white it looks weirdly like a silent movie from the 1920s but if you step out into the street you see all the same people.



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Monomasa Tomatillo Salsa

Monomasa do have the nicest designs I really like the way they make a fancy pattern from the ingredients. So I guess what we are looking at here is a tasteful arrangement of Peruvian Amarillo Chillies, some green Mexican tomatoes, and a sprinkling of Quinoa.

I'm not a mad keen fan of tortilla chips and these are particularly floury which is not a texture that really appeals to me, but some of the reluctant taste testers were happy to snack into this high quality product. The taste was quite nice.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Cheese.It

Little Square cheesy biscuits. Not super exciting we thought  but fairly OK.  I'm sure I have heard of Cheese-Its and I was hoping for more exciting stuff. But as Slightly Red Haired Bristolian said, these are kind of like mini cheddars only not so much.

For some reason I seem to have forgotten to photograph this little square snack. Perhaps because I wasn't that thrilled with them. OK but that's as far as I am prepared to go.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Walkers Bacon & Tomato Ketchup

These crisps are supposedly made with Heinz Tomato ketchup and I have to say I'm not that madly impressed. The ketchup flavour is basically more of a vinegar flavour than ketchup and I would never have guessed it was Heinz. It reminds me of that almost clear liquid you get when you open a fresh bottle of ketchup and don't shake it up enough. History Graduate taste tester agreed with me and Noble Friend had much to say on the subject of vinegar. 

We couldn't detect much sign of the bacon and didn't really feel we could recommend this crisp. Definitely could do better.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Dinafood Cheetoz Crunchy Snacks Cheese

Regular readers will have noticed I haven't had much to say recently. Unfortunately I haven't been very well and not fancying my food much. And if you don't fancy your food you can't taste test crispy snacks much less write about them.

But lucky for me I have escaped from the local hospital, albeit with piles of drugs to take forever,  and the reluctant taste testers have given me a lovely bunch of flowers and (of course) a mystery packet of crispy snacks. From Iran no less!  Apparently Noble Friend found them but I don't know where.

Noble Friend just rang me up and as it turns out she went to the local Persian shop specially to look for bonkers crisps for me. And this is what she found. How very kind.
I can't tell you much about this crispy snack because the packet blurb is in Arabic script and Russian. Neither of which I can read. Well, since I learned Greek I can read a bit of Russian, but I don't speak the language so that doesn't really help much. They are very crunchy, as advertised on the packet, but not very cheesy, and a little bit greasy tasting. But actually quite nice.

Now that's enough writing for today. I need  rest.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Seabrook Lattice Food Heroes Steak & Ale

And another packet of Seabrook crisps bought for the delectation and delight of the reluctant taste testers by Noble Friend. The Food Heroes in this case are Black Sheep brewery; a new brewery started by Paul Theakston using 6 generations of experience, and of course they are based in Yorkshire.

I liked these a whole lot better than the Chorizo crisps but honestly I am not completely convinced by this flavour. There is nothing the matter with it, but I couldn't pick the steak flavour, nor the ale flavour neither. Now Tech taste tester is a meaty crisp flavour fan but I'm not sure he was particularly impressed here. A shame because obviously someone has gone to the trouble of choosing a particular beer brand and creating a specific flavour. It isn't a nasty flavour, of course not, just not a flavour that encourages me to have another crisp or buy another packet.

Why are Seabrooks trying so hard to succeed with fancy flavours when they make the plain ones so brilliantly? I adore their sea salt flavour: a true great. It's on our list of favourites because we love it.  But this is ordinary.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Seabrook Lattice Food Heroes Three Little Pigs Chorizo

And another exciting flavour from Seabrooks. Oh dear I really don't like chorizo very much. I just adore salamis and eat them all the time, as often as possible, but chorizo really isn't for me; it's far too oily. And I am not convinced that chorizo works at all well as a crispy snack flavour. Mind you, the Chef & I tried a salami flavoured crisp in Italy and were very unimpressed.

As always with Seabrooks crispy snacks the bite is very nice and light and the texture wonderful. I just really disliked the flavour. I think Slightly Red Haired Bristolian quite enjoyed this flavour but I am sorry to say that most of the reluctant taste testers were pretty reluctant when it came to this flavour.

Very sorry but we didn't enjoy this crispy snack much.

Three Little Pigs is a proud artisan operation, fully committed to their happy free range pigs and making food the slow way in the stunning Yorkshire countryside. I read that Charlotte & Jo started when they were given a rare breed sow as a wedding present. Their chorizo wins wards. Honestly, I cannot think what I would do if anyone gave me a sow (rare breed or no) as a wedding present! but since I live in North London I suspect this is an unlikely occurrence. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Herr's Buffalo Blue Cheese

Oven baked with real CHEESE screams the packet, and you can certainly taste the blue cheese in this spicy, bright orange crispy maize-based snack. Very crispy, very orange and very strong tasting. Nothing subtle here. I don't really pick the buffalo flavour; presumably that's chicken wing flavour in its weird American disguise. I'm sorry, I can't help finding it weird that chicken wings are called buffalo wings and hence simply buffalo.

History Graduate taste tester, who has family in California, was excited to see this flavour. Apparently he had blue cheese fries the other day. Which means nothing to me: obviously I have led a very sheltered life and only ever eaten "normal" fries. But maybe I should take steps to try blue cheese fries if they taste anything like as good as this crispy snack.

A lovely light crunch, and a great big snack, so not many in this little 28g packet. I've only tried 2 flavours from Herr's but I really like both of them and would likely buy far to many if I had access to a ready supply.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Andy Capp's Hot Fries

The reluctant taste testers really loved the Andy Capp Cheddar Fries that we tried the other day. However, these Hot Fries are another story.

Very very hot. Too hot we thought. All the reluctant taste testers agreed that this crispy snack was really too hot for us. Tall taste tester told me seriously that you could only eat one or two, and as he spoke he absent mindedly crunched into another one, or three he added. But that was about it.

This very hot crispy snack was not popular and most of them did not get eaten so I chucked them in the bin. What a difference compared to the Cheddar Fries which we enjoyed to much.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Opimus Banana Joe Chips

This has got to be one of the weirdest crispy snacks in the history of crispy snacks!

Tall Elegant taste tester went to the health food shop and came back with these banana chips. Crispy thin layers of banana chips flavoured with Gruyère cheese. Premium golden bananas - apparently they use hom thong golden bananas which I didn't know was a thing, and over two bananas per packet are handcrafted into these chips.

They certainly are thin, and crispy, if not somewhat sharp and pointy. And some taste of Gruyère cheese while others do not. Basically I couldn't fancy these chips. I felt they tasted of soap. Not even exciting soap; just that plain white soap that people with sensitive skin use.

This is a shame.  Because obviously someone has put a lot of thought into choosing exactly the right kind of cheese to match their fancy golden bananas. You don't just choose Gruyère at random or put the Swiss flag on your packet for no reason so it really is a shame that these chips are not nearly cheesy enough. Or bananary enough come to that. 1    Although, having said that I do rather feel that banana and cheese is a dead weird combo. what about you?

Tall Elegant taste tester ate most of her packet, ably assisted by Giraffe Fan  who told me she really liked this crispy snack, and nobody else mentioned the taste of soap. So just me again?

Monday, 20 February 2017

Seabrook Lattice Food Heroes Akbar's Chicken Jalfrezi

Seabrooks, from sunny Yorkshire, used to be a stalwart of perfectly produced simple flavour crisps( which they likely still make), but look! They have leaped with both feet into the complicated flavour market. And, it has to be said, with some success.

I confess I was dubious about chicken jalfrezi Lovingly made in Yorkshire as a flavour for crispy snacks, but never mind what I thought; just about everyone even including Managerial taste tester said they really liked these lovely lattice crisps. Managerial hardly ever hazards an opinion; mostly he doesn't even try. I think he's a chocolate biscuit man rather than a crispy snack fan and there' s no disgrace in that.

This crisp has a lovely lattice design, and a nice light crunch. Then there's the flavour. Quite hot and spicy. Not a curry fan myself, you probably guessed, I thought this flavour surprisingly true to the actual curry taste. And hurrah for that.  The reluctant taste testers liked these a lot.

Impressively the whole of the front of the packaging  peels away to allow you to stick a half eaten packet shut. I usually use a miniature bulldog clip if I can find one but this extra huge sticky seems like a good idea.

Apparently Akbar's was established 20 years ago and is a country-wide chain of restaurants and 2015 curry champions in the UK. Impressive. Once again, not a curry fan myself so I didn't know that but I guess they know their chicken jalfrezi.

Take a look at the packet though. It's weird. If you haven't noticed the great big peel-off sticky on the front there... you don't see it. I didn't. Now you see it, now you don't. Or vice versa.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Pieces Jalapeño

Well, we seem to have tried a good number of Pretzel Piece flavours lately and they've all been very tasty. And extremely crunchy.

This flavour  is just as broken up as ever (no surprise there) and has a strong taste of jalapeño peppers. Which I didn't used to like but have grown accustomed to. Not from eating real food you understand, but from trying all sorts of weird crispy snacks. Because (who knew?) eating crispy snacks is actually very educational. I'm generally a very picky eater and there are flavours I have tried as part of a crispy snack that I would never have considered trying in real life. In the end this has made me a bolder eater when it comes to actual food. Which is great. But I guess it tells you that I don't consider crisps and crispy snacks to be real food.Well, you know, not a major food group like fruit & vegetables. Just in case you hadn't read my alerts in the sidebar about eating healthily, I really am aware that crisps and crispy snacks should be eaten in moderation. Although sometimes you just can't help loving a crispy snack and eating a lot more than you mean to.

OK, I know the answer to this one. Try hard not to do this too often. It isn't good for you. I sometimes find an amazing snack and I want to eat the whole packet at once. but I try really hard not to do that. Please take my advice and restrict your intake too. Sharing packet with the reluctant taste testers helps a lot.

OK, back to the snack. Which the reluctant taste testers quite enjoyed and ate a fair pile of. It seems like quite a true Jalapeño taste.

And on another subject I'm really quite impressed that my computer inserts the little wavy line over the n (is it a tilde? I can't remember this morning) in Jalapeño all of its own accord. I bet it wouldn't have done that 10 years ago. On the other hand, it doesn't like the expression "all of its own accord" and wants to change it to "all of its own account"; this is annoying but at least it tells me that my computer has not yet learned to read my mind. Cause for celebration there I think!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Tesco Sour Cream & Chive Snack Mix

The reluctant taste testers were talking the other day about how they often prefer a crispy snack that tastes bland rather than strong or complicated and this crispy snack from Mr Tesco covers the bland front well.

And although many of these moon- and star-shaped sort of woven (and 3D) snacks are broken, those that were still intact were rather wonderful.

As you know, I get a little tetchy if the crispy snack is supposed to be a particular shape but what you mostly get is broken pieces, and I wasn't that impressed here. I expect Mr Tesco to protect its products sufficiently so if you buy moons and stars, you get moons and stars and not little bits of something. However, it appears that Mr Tesco doesn't care what I think. This is a shame because I am sure it's not only me who expects to buy something other than broken bits. In the olden days you bought biscuits from a grocer, and broken biscuits were cheaper than whole ones. Apparently this does not pertain in the modern crispy snack world.

Quite a nice taste of nothing in particular which the reluctant taste testers, and indeed the Chef, found rather good.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Pieces Cheddar Cheese

So, having enjoyed the Honey Mustard and Onion flavour Pretzel Pieces such a lot, the reluctant taste testers were keen to try another flavour and here we have the Cheddar Cheese.

Which we really liked a lot. Pretzel Pieces have a mighty crunch which works very well with this Cheddar cheese flavour. I think we'd like to recommend these.

Not a huge bag (125g) but you get a lot of pieces in your bag. Popular.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

TGI Fridays Potato Skins Snacks Cheddar & Bacon

Here's another crispy snack from the USA. But it's not a potato skin. It is, I suppose, a advertised quite small on the front of the packet, a potato skins snack; snack being the operative word.  I was interested to see how TGI Fridays would produce a crispy snack from potato skins and as it turned out, they didn't. This is another extruded snack made from an alluring combination of potato starch, corn meal, potato flakes and tapioca. Yum, eh?

Actually not too bad with quite a nice crunch but I wasn't really mad about this product. Tall Elegant taste tester however, said she loved the taste and really really liked them. That's nice. I'm always delighted when someone else enjoys snack I don't like. It just goes to show that you can't please all of the people all of the time. But you can usually please at least one someone.

I think the taste is more bacon than cheesy but it is a little hard to say. Oh, and these snacks are an interesting oval shape and suffered impressively few breakages considering how well travelled they were. Definitely a point in their favour.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Funyuns Onion Flavoured Rings

Here's another little packet of crisps you can't really buy in the UK. Another corn snack, this time supposed to be ring shaped, although (and possibly because they're imported from the United States and then posted to me) there were quite a lot of breakages so only 2 actual rings.

Of course that doesn't affect the flavour but I always feel it's a shame when the shape you expect doesn't materialise.

I can exclusively reveal that this is quite a light onion flavoured snack. Quite lightly onion flavoured. Gently tasty and (hurrah!) with no after taste. Noble Friend was very enthusiastic and I think all the other taste testers quite enjoyed them too.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries

This is weird. I never liked the Andy Capp cartoon strip which appeared in the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. It's a cartoon about a working class skiver who never actually seems to work. He lives in Hartlepool which is in the North of England, and somehow I've never found the cartoon at all funny. Of course I come from the South of England which is quite a different place. You can find out more about Andy on Wikipedia if you want.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the character was fronting a brand of crispy snacks in the United States! Not to mention being really big in North Carolina... that just seems so weird. Andy Capp seems such an archetypical North of England character (pigeon racing, flat cap, in the pub all the time - I'm surprised he doesn't have a whippet but that might be too much hard work for him). Of course I've not been to North Carolina so perhaps people there are fans of pigeon racing too. Who knows? Not me, that's for sure.

Anyway, I discovered I could buy a single packet online. So I did.

I thought these were pretty good and and Slightly Red Haired Bristolian liked them too. I quite enjoyed this pretend fry (chip)-shaped crispy snack made of a mix of cornmeal and dried potatoes. A very nice texture and lovely light bite. Great cheddar taste, really very nice, and a good scattering of some sort of herby goodness (not exactly one of my 5 a day though) and probably the dried chives mentioned in the list of ingredients.

Tech tech taste tester said he wasn't mad for this shape of snack; he claimed they are difficult to eat, but I think they deserve a hearty thumbs up. Very nice indeed.

By the way, I do know people from the North of England who are not like Andy Capp in any way. They don't wear flat caps or race pigeons, and I'm fairly sure they've never owned a whippet and have worked hard all their lives. I'm fairly sure that some of them enjoy a visit to the local pub but, hey! that doesn't make you a skiver. In fact the whippet owners I know are all frightfully posh so it's a different sort of whippet-owning: perhaps I should never have mentioned it.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Herr's Deep Dish Pizza Flavoured Cheese Curls

This was a very tiny packet of cheese curls from Herr's. Only 1 oz (28.4g). Which doesn't give you many snacks as these cheese curls are very big (and not at all curly).

Not at all curly but extremely tasty. I really liked these. Yum! A proper pizza taste which is quite unusual. Most allegedly pizza flavoured crispy snacks seem to taste mostly of oregano or some species of tomato sauce, and not in a good way. I really thought this was a genuine pizza taste. Although I cannot tell you that I can pick the old world flavour of traditional Chicago style deep dish pizza because I've never tried it. Definitely yum! though.

They are quite a bright orange, and Giraffe Fan missed out (not very many in this packet) because she thought they looked "too orange" to try. Can't think why. I'm sure she's tried orange snacks before. Bit of a mistake in my view.

I would definitely buy these again, and in a larger packet. Very very nice.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Snyder's of Hanover, Pretzel Pieces, Honey Mustard & Onion

I picked up this little packet of Pretzel Pieces in the local Turkish shop. They sell an interesting selection of crispy snacks.

I've got say Pretzel Pieces are not a prepossessing looking snack. I mean, bits of pretzel apparently hit with a large hammer.... Noble Friend thought she was looking at a bowlful of brazil nut pieces. Well, why not? But then she tried this snack. Oh my goodness! I never saw Noble Friend so excited. She loves this snack! She really really loves this snack. I had to rush to the shop and buy her two more packets. Well, it is on my way to work.

Dutch taste tester loved them too (an extra packet for her as well) and I guess I'm not that surprised. Because they are a bit like the Dutch Joppie Saus crisps that they both love so much. Texture of course completely different but they have the same sort of sweet mustardy, piccalilli-ish kind of flavour. It's not really my thing because I don't like mustard. Neither does History Graduate. But lots of the reluctant taste testers rally enjoyed this crispy snack.

Dutch taste tester was also interested to note that Snyder's are based in Charlotte North Carolina where some her her best friends live. Interesting. Maybe we could blackmail them into sending supplies?

I wrote about Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Crisps before, in this same flavour but all I had to go on was an empty packet brought home from Madrid by Tall taste tester. We've also tried Pretzel Pieces in Hot Buffalo Wing flavour. Luckily I know that buffalo don't have wings and this is a chicken flavour snack. But really, unless you speak the language, how are you supposed to know?

Guess what though? Snyder's make lots of other flavours. So we plan to try them out.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Tyrrell's Sweet Chilli & Red Pepper

What a great fireman photo! Perhaps spending the entire budget on gold helmets was a mistake it says on the packet. Of course the photo is black and white so the gold helmets have to be taken on trust. The packet is a lovely dark red too.

And here's an interesting hand cooked English crisp. With ingredients I don't actually like. No - I'm not mad for chilli and I actively dislike peppers. But I masochistically bought this packet of crisps anyway.

And you know what? Not bad.

Lovely crisps with the skin left on, nice crunch, slightly hot (but not very) chilli taste. As so often I tried these out on the reluctant taste testers at work and we quite liked them.

Bit of a surprise really.

The packet advised us to extinguish [the heat] with a glass of iced tea. But I don't think we really needed to. Vegan friendly. I'm afraid the packet got a bit scrumpled.
Senior taste tester bought himself a packet at lunchtime the other day and set out a bowlful. Tall Elegant taste tester likes Sweet Chilli as a flavour a lot; I don't really. But check out the fabulous new packaging! It really is gorgeous. 

So on account of the fab new packaging I am reposting this crisp from February 2015 (2 years ago.... my goodness, so long ago, who knew?)

Friday, 3 February 2017

Little Guy Throwing His Rubbish Away Responsibly

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how Walkers Crisps (the UK version of Lay's) have a load of different designs for the little guy that throws his rubbish away responsibly.

It's a charming habit. I imagine one of the packaging designers devotes a very small amount of his time to creating new little guys appropriate to the crisp or crispy snack, and voila! nerdy people like me to are delighted to discover a fresh design.

However, it is not confined to Walkers. Hippeas, we tried the Sweet & Smokin' flavour, have their own little guy. He is sporting a CND peace sign and making a V sign. Hippeas want you to know how cool their crispy snack is.
Then there's Kolak. This little guy comes from their Hot & Spicy Crisps Black Pepper Flavour. The design is a little basic but I like the heart.
Then there's this extremely well-dressed little guy from Metcalfe's popcorn. I'm not certain why he needs a top hat but he certainly is well-dressed.

Let's not ignore KP Skips. The reluctant taste testers and I tasted Tingly Prawn Cocktail and discovered this slam dunk guy. Not a super exciting design but they made an effort to change the generic little guy into something a bit more interesting than what you usually see.

And this one here from Willards is unusual in that there are 2 bit of rubbish not just one.

I will keep my eyes open for more examples of little guys throwing their rubbish away responsibly. Do let me know if you can point me in the direction of other examples. I am sure there must be others out there that I have yet to spot.
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