Thursday, June 28, 2012

Southern Recipe Original Pork Rinds

It's Thursday and that means it's time for something that's not quite a chip, but is still rather strange!  Dudes, I have no idea what to expect right now.  Like many people, I consider bacon to be pretty freakin delicious.  It's majestic.  In fact, why aren't there more bacon flavored chips?  I'd buy those in a second!  But, back to the point: bacon = magnificent.  Bacon comes from pigs, as do pork rinds, so I'm hoping to find some similarity.  I'm expecting to taste mostly salt, though, and maybe some pork flavor?  I really have no idea - that's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to trying these.
It's not starting off well.  They smell unpleasant.  I can't say I'm surprised since this is a bag of pork rinds, but I'm disappointed.  I had high hopes for this bacon substitute.  It smells like fried...something, but definitely not pork.  Some of them look really weird, too - one has bits of red on it.  I don't think I'll be eating those ones.

But what do they taste like? 
Not at all what I expected.  At first bite they taste kind of like what I expect styrofoam would taste like and then there's a weird taste.  Not sure exactly what it is - it's like a mild taste of 'fried nothing' and then the rinds practically disintegrate.  Before you take more than a couple bites, the rinds sort of melt into a gritty sludge in your mouth.  These are just overall unpleasant. I've only had a few of them, but I already know I won't be finishing this bag.  Into the trash they'll go.  I've heard of ones you can microwave and maybe those are better, but these are decidedly subpar.
Luckily they only cost a dollar.  People actually enjoy these?  I know this is a short review, but there really isn't much to say about these.  They taste pretty blah, aren't enjoyable to eat, and smell weird.  Overall a rousing 'bleh' for the pork rinds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hula Hoops: Salt & Vinegar

Hula Hoops!  Found in the 'International/UK' section of a nearby grocery store, I grabbed this tiny bag as soon as I saw it.  I'd have preferred to buy the original flavor for a first try so I'd know what 'basic' Hula Hoops taste like, but oh well.  They only had Salt and Vinegar flavored ones, but as I've said in a few other reviews, I love salt and vinegar chips.  Lucky break for me, eh?
The bag is tiny and blue which seems to be a nearly universal 'Salt and Vinegar' bag color.  Not sure who decided that.  The Hula Hoops themselves look a bit like calamari which is kinda fun.  It smells like you'd expect salt and vinegar chips to smell - they smell like salt... and vinegar.  Not too overpowering so I'm not expecting much of a kick from these.  We shall see!

But what do they taste like?
They taste like very mild salt and vinegar.  It's more like a hint of salt and vinegar and a whole hell of a lot of 'Hula Hoop' which is pretty potato-y.  You know, considering how mild these are I think I have a pretty good idea of what regular Hula Hoops taste like.  The hoops are pretty solid and take more bite strength than, say, Lay's (the flimsy chip).  I wish these tasted more like salt and vinegar, actually.  I keep getting hints of it, but then the base Hula Hoop flavor blocks it out and I'm just tasting potato.  There's a bit of salt and vinegar flavor lingering, but it's mild.  Actually, now that I think of it, it's really a vinegar flavor.  These hardly seem salted at all compared to other Salt and Vinegar brands I've had.  Maybe that's because these chips don't have (according to the bag) "Artificial Flavours or Colours", "No MSG" and are made with 100% sunflower oil.  Maybe that's why they're not particularly salty then?
I definitely like my salt and vinegar chips to have some bite so these are a bit too mild for my taste, but they're still pretty good.  I'd probably get them again just for kicks, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to get them.  The strong potato flavor overpowers the salt and vinegar - I'll get my proper salt and vinegar chip fix elsewhere.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ruffles Ultimate Kickin' Jalapeno Ranch

I'm going to start by saying I love ranch flavored things and ranch dressing in general.  I was tempted by the bag anyway since it's got rivets or something on it.  If these chips are so ultimate that they can only be contained by metal then I need to try them clearly.
But, when I opened the bag I smelled... cucumbers?  The hell?  These do not smell appealing at all.  This smells nothing like jalapenos or ranch and I'm already kind of nervous to taste these chips.  I can't even... what is this smell?  It's not quite like cucumbers, but it's close?  Urgh.  Well - here goes nothing.

But what do they taste like?
They taste better than they smell, but not by much.  The first bite is kind of a cucumber-y ranch flavor and then after a few seconds there's a punch of spice which I guess is the jalapeno.  The spice actually hurts my mouth a little and it sticks around.  The chips themselves are weirdly big and almost like styrofoam.  It's like eating styrofoam that has a little ranch, was rubbed with a cucumber, and then someone put hot sauce on.  It's about as terrible as it sounds.
There's something very unappealing about these.  They definitely don't taste enough like ranch to me - they taste like nothing good!  The signature Ruffles ridges are too big and just everything is wrong.  There is nothing close to 'ultimate' about these chips.

Wow - I am just all levels of disappointed with these.  I think they were at a disadvantage from the start since I always have high hopes for ranch flavored things, but these just completely missed the mark.  They're pretty terrible actually.  I definitely would not buy these again and, to be honest, I don't even think I'll finish the bag.  Yeah - just tried another one and nope - these are going in the trash.

I still have a bag of Ruffles Ultimate Sweet and Smokin BBQ, but after this debacle I don't have high hopes for them.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Homemade Chips: The First Experiment

On the excellent suggestion from my friend Ciara (of Northern Irish Crisps fame) I have made my own potato chips!  I used a recipe I found online that calls for nothing more than parchment paper, cooking spray, a potato, a grater, and a microwave.  I can do that!  Wait... can I do that?

I was pretty skeptical about making chips in the microwave, especially our tiny microwave, but what the hell - I'll give it a shot.  I like the idea of knowing what went into my chips.  It makes me feel better about eating them I guess?  I dunno, but I'm all for new chip experiences!

Our tiny kitchen is sans mandolin so our trusty grater will have to do.  Luckily it has a near perfect sized blade on the side that sliced up the potato nicely.  I read that they need to be thinly sliced otherwise they won't crisp evenly so I tried to keep them as thin as possible.
Next step: put them on parchment paper that has been liberally sprayed with Pam.  Honestly, the Pam spraying was the worst part out of all of this.  Our kitchen has very few surfaces so I didn't have anywhere to spray the Pam other than on the stove.  Placed the chips on the paper and sprayed them again with cooking spray so both sides of the chips were covered.  Now!  To the microwave!

I kept thinking of Ian Malcolm's line from Jurassic Park "No. I'm simply saying that life, uh, finds a way." because even though I tried to get the parchment paper to fill the microwave and maximize the amount of space I had to put chips on and not rotate, our microwave still managed to rotate it.  No idea how since it was pretty well wedged, but turn it did.  Bravo, microwave.
The recipe said '3-5 minutes', but after 5 they were clearly not done.  Put them in for another minute before I decided they were done enough for government work.  Some of them weren't fully crisped and some were pretty well browned, but whatever!  Mission success!  I decided to go all out with seasonings and picked Himalayan salt, oregano, basil and garlic powder.  I figured as a test run I'd salt them all and then put the three remaining seasonings in thirds.  The bits that are shiny in the picture below are places that didn't crisp properly.
The verdict?  Pretty good!  My roommate and I both agreed that the garlic was the tastiest of the three flavors and that mixing all the spices would be worth a try.  Well then!  I didn't re-spray the parchment paper, but I sprayed the potatoes when I put them on.  Microwaved for 8 minutes this time and it was way better.  All of the chips were crispy and kinda stuck together where they were touching.  I put all of the spices on and it was pretty good! 
I still had yet more potato slices so why not make one more batch?  Why not indeed.  I put Parmesan cheese on the final batch .  Why?  Because I could.  The cheese really didn't make much of a difference to the flavor, but I enjoyed them all the same.
The overall verdict?  Good!  I'll probably make them again.  There's a strong potato taste and then the taste of the seasoning I put on.  It's not surprising, but it was refreshing to have a chip taste exactly like what was on it.  I think the biggest problem was that the spray had dried by the time the chips came out of the microwave - that meant the spices didn't stay on the chip.  If I tipped it a little I lost all the spice.  The good thing is that the browned ones didn't taste burnt - they just tasted like chip.

I'm not going to start rating them until I got the formula right and put some thought into how I'd like them to taste (other than 'use the spices in the pantry').  I mostly just wanted to put the first attempt out there and let you know this mission is in the works!  I'll still be posting store brand strange chips on Tuesdays, but I'll be tossing in a couple homemade posts on other days!  Maybe Thursdays?  Check back, friends!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Doritos Tacos

I saw these Taco Doritos and knew I had to try them.  I also didn't buy them when I first saw them and then never saw them again.  Until today!  Glorious today!  In their weird throwback bag and their promise of tasting like a taco... I was smitten.  I'm still not clear on why the bag looks the way it does.  It reminds me of the generic ye olden times chip bags you see in movies.

But what do they taste like?
They pretty much taste like a taco with the flavor of the meat, but no meat.  You know that extra shell you found sitting in the sad pile of beef that tumbled out of the taco?  That's what these chips are.  Luckily for me I like that last weird shell and I like these chips.
They're not taco flavored really.  It's more ground beef and shell and taco seasoning.  It's like half a taco, but missing all the things that truly make it a taco like cheese and sour cream and lettuce and tomatoes.  Actually, the more of them I eat, the less they taste like a taco and they already basically weren't tasting like one to begin with.  Except for the one I just ate that was covered in seasoning... that one tasted like taco spices.  And that's disappointing given how long I'd spent searching for them!
If you're the one who wants your tacos plain then you'll probably like these chips.  Actually, I think most people will like them.  The flavor is pretty mild and it's not overwhelmingly taco-y.  My bet is you won't taste this and say 'my god this tastes like a taco'.  What you will say, probably, is 'wow it tastes like they flavored these chips with a bag of taco seasoning!'


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chips of Northern Ireland!

It's time for the first random post!  It's not Tuesday, friends!  But I'm posting!  My friends in Northern Ireland ate a bunch of chips and sent me their thoughts and pictures!  This is sort of half a guest post I guess?  I am jealous because I want to try these strange, nearly mystical flavors.  Especially Flame Grilled Steak holy crap!

The Reviews!
All Tayto chips are immense.  Tayto are the most popular over here.  They always have lots of flavour on them that would melt on the tongue.  And Tayto does lots of what we call normal flavour crisps such as cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, prawn cocktail, roast chicken, and then they do funky shape crisps like Xys and Ozys and Rollers.
And you can only get them over here.  They're even hard to get in England.  Oh and Space Invaders - they're class.  Prawn cocktail has a fishy smell.
 Nik Naks look like twigs.

Gemma's Favorites at the moment:
Rollers, cheese and onion, prawn cocktail, roast chicken, and Space Invaders.

Ciara's Favorites at the moment:
Flame grilled steak, paprika, smoky bacon, Wotsits and Skips.
Flame grilled steak is legit the best flavour ever.  Your mouth feels overloaded with flavour.  Your lips would burn with it.
Ok!  It's me again!  Dudes - I want to try all of these chips!  Why do we not have easy access to such awesome flavors?!  I wish I'd been doing this blog a few years ago when I was in Northern Ireland and Australia - both those places have crazy chips.  I can't really provide a rating for these (though I assume it would vary from chip to chip - awesome sounding flavors aren't always awesome tasting), but someday I'll go back there and try them all.  Also Nik Naks totally look like Cheetos.

Tune in on Tuesday at our regular time for the next post!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

El Sabroso Original Salsitas Spicy Salsa

I got these El Sabroso Spicy Salsa chips because I was intrigued by their promise of real tomatoes and avocados and all the flavors of salsa in a single chip!  Can it be?  Has all the dipping we've done been a horrible mistake?  What sort of salsa will this be anyway?  Mild, medium, spicy??  Probably spicy, as it says on the bag.  Also it is a freaking giant bag as that's the only size the store had.  I hope I like 'em because I've certainly got enough of them.
The chips themselves are fairly round and flat and a more orange than the red I'd expect from salsa chips.  There's also tiny little green nibbles seemingly baked into the chip in places rather than just being on it.  Most of the chips also have a healthy dose of seasoning which is usually a good thing.

But what do they taste like?
First bite - holy crap it tastes like salsa!  Few seconds later and it tastes like spicy salsa!  Then it just tastes like spicy and a not quite normal tortilla chip.  There's something weirdly bland about the chip itself.  They don't feel very solid, but also seem kinda stale at the same time?  It's strange.  I think because I usually dip regular tortilla chips in salsa I was expecting more salt/flavor from the chip.  The spice also lasts for awhile, but not in a pleasant way.  It's just sort of a generic spice which just burns my mouth.  I don't like that feeling!
So here's what I think.  They're never going to replace chips and salsa.  For me, one of the things I like about salsa, is, well, the salsa - not just the taste of the salsa.   And the way the salsa taste mingles with the chip taste.  This takes away that delightful experience.  They do get the salsa flavor right at the start, but even with some chips absolutely covered in flavor, the actual salsa taste doesn't stick around long.
They're not bad as a novelty, but I won't be getting them again.  I'll finish my giant bag (probably), but that'll be the end of it.  I'm also still not sure where the real tomatoes and avocados were.  Tasted pretty processed to me!  Basically, they just don't taste good enough to justify the mouth burn.