Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Nongshim Sweet Potato Snack

Another offering from Tall Elegant taste tester, this bag of rather sweet crispy snacks came from the local Japanese shop.

The shape is a bit odd: I thought rails (from your crispy snack model railway) but Tech taste tester thought perhaps dentures? Whatever, they are a species of extruded crispy snack in a faux chip (French fry) shape but with added texture. And a shiny glaze. And added black sesame seeds chucked on for good measure.

I think most of the reluctant taste testers quite liked this crispy snack. But there's no denying it is a bit weird. So sweet it's like a breakfast cereal in disguise. I honestly quite liked the flavour although I couldn't work out what the flavour actually is; we couldn't detect any sweet potato (and who knew you could get white sweet potatoes?), and somehow none of us could eat very many.

I think the sweetness makes it a bit too weird for the London palate but you never can tell and I am sure there'll be someone out there, probably a Korean someone, who will be thrilled to find them for sale in North London.
not sure about the super relaxed sweet potato on the packet...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Daylesford Organic Apple

Eat to be healthy; just slow dried organic apple and nothing else; no added sugar, low fat, high fibre. All from Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire. Says the front of the packet.

These little chunks of organic dried apple were advertised as coming from Gloucestershire. But it seems they come from Austria/Hungary. What? The Austrian-Hungarian Empire? Are the apples exported from Gloucestershire to the Empire, or are these secretly Austrian/Hungarian apples? And then the packet says produced in Spain. It's all surpringly opaque and weird.

And I am sorry to report that the dried apple itself, while actually tasting of apple, has the consistency of foam board. Or how foam board looks as though it would feel if you bit into it. The reluctant taste testers were not madly impressed.

Not as nice as I had hoped, and not as English as I had expected. And very difficult to get into the packet without scissors. I bought this packet in Harrods Food Hall because I wanted a healthy snack to eat on the way home. I went without.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Nongshim Shrimp Flavoured Cracker Hot & Spicy

This Korean crispy snack came from the local Japanese shop and arrived in the office along with Tall Elegant taste tester's salmon and avocado sushi lunch.
The snack is in the form of ridged faux chips (French fries) rather than crackers (bit of a surprise that) and smelled very strongly fishy. So I'm afraid I must report I failed to try.

Tall Elegant taste tester seemed to eat quite a lot of the packet for her crunch at lunch, but then announced it wasn't very nice. She put a bowlful in the kitchen but I'm not sure there were any takers. Well, you never know until you try.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Lay's TV Paka O Smaku Fromage

Bafflingly this large packet of Lay's crisps from the local Turkish shop comes from Poland. Extra baffling the flavour is "fromage".... or is it? No; it really isn't.
Fromage is French for cheese and the word conjures up thoughts of Cheddar although of course there are hundreds of different cheeses to choose from.  But this crisp flavour is actually smietankowego serka ze szczypiorkiem which means cream cheese with chives. At one point the translation was sour cream so it could be either I suppose. That's very misleading calling the smaku fromage.
Luckily for me modern technology has provided google translate to assist me with the impenetrable Polish language (sorry Poland, but do admit any word that starts szczyp is going to utterly baffle the average English speaker), and the slightly less techy image of a cream cheese/sour cream with chives dip on the packet.

Really quite nice. Gently herby (no, not sure I can work out which word to translate in search of the herb) and gently creamy. It's a little bit very gentle cheese and onion. The reluctant taste testers ate quite a lot of the fine cut crisps.

Sadly the crisps were quite broken. This does not of course affect the taste, but it's always a shame when the second helping from a big bag is mostly broken bits. And I did feel a bit cheated that the large packet to eat in front of the TV ( I hope with friends) was only ⅓ full.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Sea Chips Hand Crafted Salmon Skin Crisps Salt & Vinegar

Salmon Skin Crisps? Gasp! Who thought of that? Well, apparently some people called Sea Chips (established 2016) did. They have a website, and an Instagram account and they want you to know it's all about saving waste (because most people throw the skin of the salmon away),  and eating yummy stuff.
Apparently fish skin snacks are big in Eastern cultures where perfectly ordinary people think it's a perfectly ordinary food (possibly even a food group?), so why could it not be a success here? I gather they're great with beer and dips. Sounds promising doesn't it, even though you never thought of it before?

But there is major obstacle in my way here: I don't eat fish. I was in a very fancy restaurant in France recently and the amuse bouche was a little shot glass of sea food. So I thought, OK, I've said for years I don't like seafood so naturally I never order it; now's my chance to prove myself wrong. Because almost everyone I know loves seafood and sushi and fish and chips and they all think I'm a bit odd. Could it be that I am wrong?

No. I'm not wrong. My tastebuds tell me seafood is horrible. And why is it so chewy? I tried. Honest.

However, I am pretty sure all the rest of the reluctant taste testers eat fish enthusiastically. In fact I know that Dutch taste tester, who has left us forever in search of a shorter commute, will be sorry not to have the opportunity to comment. Being Dutch she is accustomed to eating a lot of stuff that I think is weird and I would have valued her opinion.  Well, we'll have to manage without her and if she wants to join in she needs to visit Harrods Food Hall which is where I discovered this interesting snack.

And so.... well, Senior taste tester was not impressed, and Tall Elegant taste tester really didn't like them despite making very positive noises at the concept. Tech taste tester, however, said he quite liked them. "It's sort of like fish scratchings" he said, "I quite like them." I wish I could report a more enthusiastic response but truthfully this very fishy crispy snack was not really for us and certainly not for me.

Of course we failed to try this extremely fishy snack with a dip. Or with a beer.

A shame Still a Student taste tester has gone back to uni, because she's a pescatarian.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Walkers Sensations Japanese Sweet Wasabi & Ginger

This packet was donated by Senior taste tester who found it in the local branch of Waitrose and ate the contents gradually over the space of a week or so and then donated the rest to the traditional bowl in the kitchen so the rest of the taste testers to try.
It probably has not escaped your notice that I'm really not mad for wasabi. People tell me I should like it because it tastes very like horse radish... but I've never liked that either. No nor mustard neither. And as for that nasty mixture my mother was so fond of, Tewkesbury Mustard, which is a mix of horseradish and mustard... well need I say more. In the olden days you couldn't even buy it outside Tewkesbury which is in darkest Gloucestershire at the confluence of the Avon and the Severn and consequently subject to frequent flooding.

Anyway, Senior taste tester said he liked them and ate quite a few. I wasn't sure. There's a big hit of heat when you crunch into the first crisp but that quickly dissipates and the flavour becomes less strong. Slightly Red-Haired Bristolian, like me, was not that taken with these crisps but I notice that  fair number were snacked up before I left to go home. Which I do at 2 these days.

Unlike some so-called wasabi flavoured crisps, this do actually contain wasabi powder rather than horse radish. And mustard too. So; full of ingredients I don't like! not for me then. However, the scent of the crisps coming out of the bag is quite pleasant.

The packet says first the bite of sweet wasabi and soy, then the zing of tangy onion, finishing with a warmth of ginger. As I said: not really for me, and I think these subtleties passed me by.

If you are a wasabi fan I daresay you will enjoy these quite a lot.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Vico Curly Donuts Cacahuète Caramélisée Sucrée-Salée

Nouveau screams the packet on a bright blue swoosh. Yes, and I wonder if this crispy snack isn't a little bit too nouveau for its own good.
The "donuts" are crispy maize puffs; somewhat bigger than I was expecting, not as big as you might suppose from the picture on the packet, but the bowl I put them in is quite large. It's a bit odd, pairing the maize puffs with the sweet & salty peanut flavour (even though obviously I do remember Sugar Puffs which were as sweet as sweet as can be) I thought, and Slightly Red-Haired Bristolian agreed, that this crispy snack is crying out for the bright orange flavour dust of a Cheesy Wotsit or a Cheeto.

Not that the peanut flavour isn't tasty. It is tasty but in a slightly complicated sweet and salty way. It's only that I'm not sure the combination of the taste and the texture works as well as it might. The reluctant taste testers agreed and didn't scoff the lot before lunchtime.

Un biscuit soufflé a la forme fun & gourmande de donut enrobé de veritables cacahuètes caramelisées concassées pour un plaisir sucré-salé inédit.... On n'en fait qu'une bouchée!
You might not know that fun is a well known French word, and it seems donut may be too.

You can find curly.fr on YouTube. Tu as l'internet? Bonne nouvelle, connecte-toi et viens nous retrouver sur: curly.fr.
In case you had not grasped; cacahuète means peanut. So peanut, caramel and sweet & salty flavours all at once. A little bit mad but not as mad as I was expecting.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Taylor Welsh Potato Crisps Beef & Horseradish

I'm not very keen on horseradish so I wish that wasn't one of the ingredients here, but in fact it isn't too bad a thing. The flavour - I thought - wasn't bad although I only wanted one crisp, but Slightly Red-Haired Bristolian felt the flavour was chemical (a harsh opinion there).
Nobody else told me what they thought and almost all of the packet was eaten before lunch so I guess the reluctant taste testers didn't think this was too bad a crisp. The texture was certainly chewy once again, but I thought less odd than the last Taylor's crisp we tried.

I'm not sure I'm going to be a fan of Taylor's crisps. But we have more flavours to try so who knows?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

M&S Spirit of Summer Roasted Red Pepper Corn Couscous Chips

I found this half packet of crisps at work on a Monday: abandoned since the previous Friday I suppose. I suspect they may belong to Senior taste tester but he's not in until Wednesday and the packet hadn't been clipped shut so there's an element of staleness here. And it's just possible I may have stolen half a packet of crisps. Oh dear. Please don't follow my example.
Roasted red pepper corn couscous chips with parsley, mint and lemon. Wow! This is Marks & Spencer at it's complicated crispy snack best. Just how many flavours can you ram into one hexagonal crispy snack?

The list of ingredients is quite long and features dried chickpeas, chickpea flour, maize flour and 14% cooked corn couscous. Plus of course, the red peppers. And for flavouring caraway seeds, onions,  parsley, garlic, black pepper, mint, turmeric, coriander and lemon oil. Sounds complicated.

Not bad. Surprisingly lemony with a minty aftertaste. I'm not sure about the texture; but as I said the poor things had been left open all weekend so were not at their best.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Taylors Welsh Potato Crisps Smoky Bacon

Well, this is interesting. Noble Friend went to a wedding in Wales and was determined to find some Welsh crisps to bring back for consideration. Last time she found crisps by Jones O Cymru; this time she found 6 packets of Welsh crisps from Taylors. She also brought home a new dog. That'll be new taste tester Milo.

Made from potatoes born and raised in Wales says the front of the packet. OK, that sounds good. But the back of the packet tells me these crisps are made in Perthshire. That's the Perthshire in Scotland in case you never studied UK geography. So why would you bother exporting Welsh spuds to Scotland I ask myself? Well I can't think of any reason at all because I am well aware they grow fabulous potatoes in Scotland. That's got to be at least 300 unnecessary food miles.

So I put out a bowlful for the reluctant taste testers to try. It's a small 40g bag but even so these crisps were not snacked up particularly quickly. The taste is very mild, especially when you consider how strong a smoky bacon flavour can be. But the texture is a bit odd. Tall taste tester described it as chewy. And I think he's right. This is not a crisp where you snack up the entire packet without noticing how many you've eaten. You have to chew these.
The packet says they are thick cut, and gently cooked for a perfect crunch and unique dry texture. Hmmm... I'm not certain I want this unique dry texture but we have 5 more packets to try so I guess we'll see.
We visited the charming little Chateau de Nesle which is a sort of fortified farmstead. It has a really peaceful atmosphere and we loved our visit there, especially as there were only 2 other people there. It's privately owned, and you can hire it for your wedding reception or other grand party.
Amazingly the Germans and Americans fought over this tranquil spot in the final months of WWI.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Amaizin Organic Natural Corn Chips

Tall elegant taste tester visited the health food shop at lunchtime and came back bearing this packet of simply flavoured corn chips in triumph.
And the girl done good (which is something I don't think I have ever uttered before) because this is a stunning, simple (three ingredients only), yet delicious crispy snack. You really cannot go wrong if you get simple right, and Amaizin have certainly got it right.

Gluten free, wheat free, GMO free, palm oil free, organic and suitable for vegans these corn chips are made to an original Mexican recipe. The reluctant taste testers were rather impressed. Even new Bookkeeper taste tester was pleased to approve. And I think he thinks we're a bunch of nutters.

Very nice indeed. And probably wonderful with a good dip.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Pringles Emmental

We found this tube of Emmental Pringles in a small supermarket in rural France. And bore them home in triumph for the reluctant taste testers to try.

And guess what? They were quite popular. Especially with Tech taster who said he hoped this variety of Pringles was available in the UK because it was the best flavour ever!
Sadly I don't know where they are available, or where they were manufactured. Because it seems I threw away the vital part of the packaging that would give me the country of origin. Although I don't remember seeing that information. Possibly France though.
Anyway, these Pringles were positively loaded with cheesy flavour dust and tasted positively cheesy. Possibly even Emmentaly. It's hard to say. Myself, I thought them a little over-cheesy but they seemed a bit hit with the taste testers.
We went to Reims where there are almost no postcards available that don't show the famous cathedral. But it's a handsome town and there are other things to see. And some very pretty houses.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Good Boy Wagtastic Chewy Chicken Flavour Chips

New taste tester Milo tested this doggy snack today. Not strictly a crispy snack, in fact, let's be honest; it's a chewy snack. Apparently it was a great success.
Milo is new to taste testing. He is the new companion to Noble Friend following the sad and sudden loss of taste tester Honey this summer. I'm sure you can tell he is a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and extremely handsome with it. But not very good at sitting still.
It looked at first as though he was chewing a very thin piece of wood but it seems to be a thin strip of reconstituted chicken breast. But also includes "pea protein" whatever that means, and perfect for dogs with sensitive tummies. Weirdly you shouldn't give one to your dog to eat if the floor will stain easily. Let's hope our floor will be OK.
And indeed there was so much enjoyment, so much enthusiastic chewing that it was very hard to take a good picture of Milo. But perhaps that's not such a bad thing and we can maintain his anonymity. The other reluctant taste testers don't get photographed after all, and we don't want Milo being mobbed in the street.
Don't take my chew away!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Bénénuts Fritelle Goût Nature

Another crisp from the usually reliable French firm Bénénuts. Well, it's not a crisp of course; it's a faux chip (french fry) type crispy snack. But none the worse for that. In fact I really like this style of crispy snack, and although the Chef has not admitted it, I notice he keeps going back to the packet for more. And then complaining he shouldn't have. Is that my fault? Of course not.
Of course, another product from Bénénuts means recourse to the weirdly slow and clunky character viewer. I have it on my menu bar but it still takes an age to open every time I need an accent.

So anyway, another very nice crispy crunchy snack. But does it taste "Nature"? Which basically is the old fashioned ready salted. Does it? No. Really strangely this crispy snack tastes quite chickeny. Er... or maybe quite like a chicken stock cube? "A vague taste of chicken flavour," contributes the Chef, "it's odd. Not Nature at all". But he still quite likes them.
We visited the Chateau de Pierrefonds. It was a ruin until substantially rebuilt in the 1800s by Viollet-le-Duc. It looms over the pretty little town of Pierrefonds; there's a lake, and the whole place is surrounded by woodland. The Chef and I spent a while dreaming at an estate agent's window. We could sell the house in London and buy a really beautiful one (with 6 bedrooms!) in the town of Pierrefonds.... and retire to the lap of luxury.  It's not as though we are super rich or anything; it's just London prices versus rural France. I expect we'll stay in London. Because visiting France is lovely, but we live in London. Probably.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Lay's Gourmet Nature Très Croustillant

Dropping in to the odd motorway service station on the way to our hotel in rural France I was buying Christmas presents for Dear Friend in Buffalo when I noticed this very nice looking packet of crisps. We've had a number of plain or simply salted crispy snacks on the agenda recently so why not try another? And they turn out to be rather special.

Très croustillant says the packet and très croustillant they are.

Lay's may produce some interesting flavours but for the most part the actual crisps aren't very exciting. But I am please to report these handsome gold crisps are very nice indeed.

Lovely crunch, nice colour and pleasant lightly salted taste. Very impressive. Good sized (small) bag too. Thanks very much Lay's.
The Chef and I taste tested these very handsome French crisps on the private terrace outside our comfy ground floor room. In fact, having had a lavish breakfast, we basically had them for lunch before embarking on that day's visit to a chateau.

Obviously you can't buy this exact crisp in the UK because we don't have Lay's crisps here, but I wonder if Walkers produce something very similar?
After lunch we visited the amazing Chateau de Coucy. It was a massive medieval castle which had survived very well into modern times apart from some earthquake damage (yes, who knew they have huge earthquakes in Northern France?) until it was criminally destroyed by the German army during WWI. What remains is still extraordinarily impressive and well worth a visit. Especially if you are a fan of the Anthony Price spy novel "Other Paths to Glory". Or indeed Barbara Tuchman's tour de force "A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century".
Chateau de Coucy in 1917

Friday, 8 September 2017

Jacobs Mini Cheddars Stilton

I found a multi pack of Mini Chedars in Sainsbury's. The packet says Choose your Cheese. All very fine but this was the only flavour they had on the shelf. So here we are. I see on the website that Mini Cheddars now come in three new flavours: Stilton, Red Leicester and Smoked Applewood. Goodness me! What sort of a cheese is Smoked Applewood?

I must find out where to buy the other two flavours because all the reluctant taste testers who got to try really liked this new flavour. It's a good bit more cheesy than your ordinary Cheddar or Mini Cheddar which taste of slightly cheesy saltiness. We admit Cheddars are nice. And we've all been eating them for years. But really: could do better. And guess what? Jacobs have done better.

Yum. I liked these a lot as did Tall Elegant taste tester, Slightly Red Haired Bristolian, Still a Student, and Temporary Physicist taste testers. Yes, I think we can report that we really liked these biscuitty snacks. I wasn't sure I would like them as I really don't like blue cheeses. But this taste is great.

Baked to golden perfection says the packet. I'm impressed. Delicious.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Berlin Les Frenchips Goût Finement Salé

Finely salted crispy snacks from Belin. Very finely cut, very very fine and sadly extremely brakeable, but tasty nonetheless.

Back in November 2016 the reluctant taste testers, the Chef and I tried the roast chicken version of this extremely crispy snack. And we really rather liked it. And so it proved with this packet of maxi craquantes very fine biscuitty crispy snacks. I'm not sure how to describe this oh so thin snack.

The thin-ness makes them feel a bit posh, which is nice. But because they are so thin they do break very easily. And of course I bought this packet in France so it's travelled some way in the Chef's car. He stores crisps in the well of the boot (trunk for you USA- English speaking crisp fans) where the spare tyre used to live. It's a place where they are less likely to get squashed than anywhere else in the car, it's also quite cool so a good spot for any chocolate to travel. But we don't pack our crips professionally so accidents can happen. Of course accidents do happen on the way home from the supermarket.

Slight Red-Haired Bristolian wanted to register how much she enjoyed this snack. I don't think any of the taste testers didn't like it but she was the biggest fan. Apparently there are 4 more Frenchip flavours to try. So watch this space.

Monday, 4 September 2017

San Carlo 1936 Antica Ricetta

Here's a seriously fabulous packet of crisps which the Chef and I found in our favourite supermarket in Florence. It's a wonderful shop with a tiny entrance but the inside goes back and back and wiggles round past the meat and the cheeses and wiggles some more past the dog food and cleaning stuff until you arrive back almost where you started. And it's handily placed very close to the Oltrano end of the Ponte Vecchio. So no more than 5 minutes walk from our usual hotel; even allowing for the thousands of bridge fans who clutter the place up at all hours of the day and night. At weekends they sing. For hours.

I was a little bit concerned because the packet is slightly past its sell-by date but in fact I don't think this was a problem at all. Yes, you guessed, we would have tried them sooner but I wasn't fancying crisps while I was ill.

Lovely small crisps, a little bit thicker than the norm for a UK crisp (which of course it isn't) with a truly great crunch. Remember Dutch taste tester is a cruncher of professional standard? She really approves. Nice lightly salted flavour. Very nice indeed. Everybody, even Architectural taste tester, was a fan. And that is a high accolade indeed. Senior tatse tester was pleased to approve too. Which is good because I annoyed him last week with those weird green bean things.

The reluctant taste testers ate ¾ of the 150g (6 portion) packet with no trouble at all. The Chef scoffed the rest very quickly indeed.

I don't think the sell-by date was an issue - but if it was... then these crisps are sensational.

The packet is quite tough with a wide gusset. It features slightly blurry sepia archive photos of early San Carlo employees and a nice little drawing of the amazing Milan cathedral. And the fabulous contents, it seems, are a recreation of the original 1930s crisps.

I can't recommend these highly enough. Probably available in grocery stores all over Italy. There's an Italian deli near the Royal Free hospital. I wonder if I can persuade them they need to stock this great crisp?
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