Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Packet 110: Mackie’s of Scotland Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper

Everyone’s routines are upended during this unprecedented time we find ourselves in. For example, I now only stock up on Crisps once a week instead of heading into the shop on a whim. I have to schedule my Crisping intake like never before.

That’s why I was so delighted to have been given this packet of Mackie’s of Scotland Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper Crisps by top Crisp friends Rachel and Ian.

Rachel and Ian, who are also very accomplished internet bingo players, pulled a blinder when they pulled this bag of Crisps off the shelf.

When I first saw they were a posh Crisp with the meatiest of meat flavours, I thought they’d definitely not be for me. But upon further inspection of the packet, this flavour is in fact suitable for vegetarians AND vegans. Colour me impressed.

I have little idea of what haggis is supposed to taste like, but I know I like the taste of these Crisps.

They are very peppery – spicy in a Szechuan-style way. It’s the kind of spicy sensation that keeps tingling minutes after you take your final mouthful. At the same time, they’re quite rich, sort of festive and slightly sweet.

The Crisp itself is a fairly standard structure, not too thick and certainly not too thin. Each Crisp, big or small, benefits from the evenly distributed yet bold flavour throughout.

They are a strong, bold Crisp. Not for the lighthearted. However, that’s what I look for in a Crisp. This the best new flavour I’ve had in absolutely ages.


Thursday, 12 March 2020

Packet #109: Lays Thai Taste Shrimp Tom Yum Flavour

I picked these up for day 2 of the slow boat to Luang Prabang, a 9 hour boat journey so snacks are essential.

I had seen this flavour in shops  before but I’d been burned with the very disappointing seaweed flavour I’d tried so I’d been dragging my heels and my expectations were low.

I’ve never been happier to admit I was wrong.

They were a revelation! Slowly revealing the bouquet of flavours with each delicious bite. First the prawn, then the lemongrass, then the was all there. A crisp to be savoured rather than devoured, and packing a very pleasing punch that lingers in your mouth after you’ve finished but will linger even longer in my memory.

I’d go as far as to say that, outside of the generally acknowledged standard crisp flavours, they’re the nicest tasting crisp I’ve ever had.

I only hope they’re readily salted available throughout the rest of SE Asia. Any crisp aficionados visiting the area in the future should make this their first port of call.


Monday, 9 March 2020

Packet #108: Seabrook Lattice Cheese & Onion

I have to hand it to the innovative packaging designers at Seabrook. They’ve come up with an opening method that I have never seen in my three decades of Crips consumption.

They have bridged the gap between personal hygiene products and food items with an exciting hybrid: the Crisp packet that opens like Wet Wipes.


What’s next? A toilet roll filled with popcorn? A toothpaste tube of peanuts? I don’t know what Seabrook has up their sleeves next, but I’m excited to find out.

When I saw this “Peel & Share” bag of Seabrook Lattice Cheese & Onion while browsing the middle aisle in Aldi, I knew I had to have it. This wouldn’t be one of those novelty middle aisle purchases that fill you with regret afterwards, would it? No. Crisps would never let me down.

With an amount of self-restraint that was as impressive as it was unexpected, I didn’t peel open the bag until the next day.

I paired this packet with a hungry husband and a slightly burnt (or “chargrilled”) wrap. I refrained from taking a bite until I was mid-way through the wrap, but my Crisp eating partner dove straight in.

Looking from afar, I could see the Crisps were indeed, lattice shaped. I think this form was achieved after mushing up a load of potatoes and reshaping them into a lattice, as opposed to some sort of careful cutting technique.

Having said that, there are some Crisps still with their skins on, which leads me to believe that I could be mistaken about the mushed up potato method...

Not all the lattices were neat and perfect – some of the Crisps looked more like a regular crinkle cut. No matter, I like a crinkle cut.

They are relatively light to the touch, and their consistency is momentarily crispy. Then they turn into the kind of mush that gets stuck in the back of your teeth.

Flavourwise, it’s all about the cheese here. Not a regular cheddar type flavour. It’s more like a synthetic cheese taste. Think Wotsit. Even after several mouthfuls, there isn’t a trace of onion to be found.

Did the Wet Wipe-alike packaging put me off these Crisps? No. Would I buy them again? Probably not. They’re kind of like a Frisp with a Wotsit flavour and to be quite honest, that’s not the Crisp for me.


Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Packet #107: Tayto Beef Stew

These limited edition Tayto are the talk of the town. Last week I reviewed Bacon & Cabbage and today I had three choices. Cook dinner, clean up the pile of clothes mounting up in my hallway or eat a pack of Tayto Beef Stew.

A wise UN worker and Crisp fan once told me that just before you cook dinner is a great time for a package of Crisps. With that in mind, I decided to bridge the dinner gap with this innovative bag. Just don't ask about the clothes...

Usually when I’m reviewing a Crisp, I take a good look at the packet and smell them first. Not this time. I ripped open the pack and took a big bite.

The first thing that hits you is the strong beef taste. And that’s alright by me because I like a beef Crips. Hula Hoops, McCoy’s, they’re all staples in my Crisping diet. So I’m delighted to try another flavour.

Do you know what though? Beef isn’t the only flavour going on here. There’s a slight sweet vegetabley tang to them. I think there could be a hint of onion and perhaps even tomato. I dunno exactly what it is, but I like it.

Right, I suppose now I should give them a smell. They smell like a straight up beef Crisp. Grand. Although I’d say they could be the kind of Crisp that lingers on your breath and on your person in general for a while after you eat them.

The consistency in this bag of Crisps is all over the place, flavourwise. Some are really punchy, while some seem to be looked over entirely by the flavour shaker. I’m the sort of person who likes a surprise really strong Crisp, so I don’t mind this at all. In fact, I welcome it. But if you prize uniformity of Crisp flavour, maybe this isn’t a packet for you.

Now for the question on everyone’s mind. Are Tayto Beef Stew better than Tayto Bacon & Cabbage?

In a word, yes.


Friday, 28 February 2020

Packet #106: Tayto Bacon & Cabbage

Oh Tayto. You are the unrivalled Crisp king in Ireland (no offence King). Your Crisps are legendary. Even British celebrities that I follow on Instagram sometimes talk about your products.

Some might wonder if you should bother trying to innovate. Your classic flavours are almost universally lauded. So stepping into a new Crisp ring is risky.

But does that risk pay off?

After a decisive Instagram Crisp off, where upwards of 20 Blog About Crisps fans voted, the public demanded that I review your new Bacon & Cabbage flavour.

Challege accepted.

I pop open the packet at an optimum time for Crisp eating. Twenty past 12 on a Friday. They are my pre-lunch amuse-bouche.

As I stick my snout into the foil wrapper for a sniff, I notice something unusual for a limited edition Crisp. There is not much of a scent.

Practically speaking, that’s a good sign. It always feels weird when you can smell a Crisp offer your fingertips hours after you eat it. But from a potential taste point of view, it has me worried.

The Crisps themselves have little flecks of green on them, much like a Sour Cream & Onion Crisp might sport.

They don’t look to be tiny flecks of cabbage though. That would be obviously quite strange, although I have to say I’d appreciate the authenticity.

They have the consistency of a regular Tayto C&O or S&V, which you would expect.

Taste-wise, these are a fine Crisp.They are salty and although not overpowering, they are flavoursome. I was expecting something reminiscent of a Smokey Bacon, but that’s not what I found.

The flavour is relatively delicate, but if you close your eyes and really focus on what’s developing on your palette, the salt does give way to a mild cabbage type flavour profile. But you have to REALLY concentrate. You wouldn’t pick them out in a blind tasting.

Full disclosure, I haven’t eaten a plate of Bacon & Cabbage in at least 15 years. So I’m not really in a place to fully judge if they are true to the dish.

They are, however, a nice Crisp.

Did I enjoy them? Yes. Would I eat a pack if they were given to me? Sure. Would I buy them again? Maybe.

If you’re into bacon, cabbage or novelty Crisps, you should probably give these a whirl.


Friday, 12 July 2019

Packet #105: M&S Chicken Katsu Curry Ridge Cut Crisps

The last time I had a Chicken Katsu Curry I was a meat-eating teenager wearing very baggy jeans in Celtic Tiger Dublin.

Things have changed since then in more ways than one. When I saw this wasp-esque packet of Crisps in town the other day, I couldn't help but indulge in a spot of nostalgia.

On opening the packet, I got a strong whiff of curry. But not a 3-in-1 style curry. It was more of a posh Thai takeaway sort of scent.

The Crisps in the packet were remarkably in tact. A lot of large Crisps, which always leads to a challenging yet satisfying eat.

I really enjoyed the texture of the Crisp. It's very sturdy and very crunchy. It's almost like a Frisp that's been double cooked or perhaps condensed. I don't think it's necessary a winner for everyone. For those with a weak jaw, the extra work might get tiresome. But if you're into a crunch, then you're in luck.

The flavour leaves a little to be desired. In my (albeit limited) experience of Chicken Katsu Curry, the dish is a basic brown gloop with a strong curry taste. This is more like a spiced coconut sauce type taste. And couldn't get any chicken favour at all. I think the Crisp Creatives at M&S aimed for a posh flavour, but it ended up a bit sickly.

I even considered not finishing the packet straight away.

However, because I enjoyed the texture so much, I'd be open to experimenting with another Crisp from the range with a different flavour.


Friday, 24 May 2019

Packet #104 - Walkers Max Strong Jalapeño and Cheese

A pack of crisps can often be like a promotion/relegation playoff. So much hope, so much anticipation. Will it be packed full of flavour, deliver a good crunch and leave you wanting more? Or will it be limp, lifeless and forgettable? Success and you're in the big leagues, failure and you're out.

Now Walkers would often be a bit of a yo-yo pack in my eyes. Sometimes they pull it out of the bag but often they leave you questioning your love of crisps. That's why it was a huge risk picking up this share bag of Walkers Max Strong Jalapeño AND Cheese especially after Christine's magnificent review of another flavour. But sometimes dear reader, just sometimes, it's worth taking that risk. You can hear the crunch instantly, it's loud and consistent, just like any good defender. The next thing you notice is the power of the cheese hitting you in the face like a strikers wayward shot, neatly followed up with a fiery finish of jalapeño. They finished the job with consistency and before I knew it the bag was over and this pack was in the big leagues.

I guess what we can take from this is that we shouldn't judge a pack by it's cover. We should be bold and brave and dive two handed at even the most outrageous looking packs of crisps. Don't be afraid, eat more crisps.