BIJOU-REVIEW: Simply Balanced – Sweet Chile Organic Rolled Tortilla Chips with brown rice, sesame seeds and flaxseeds

Rating: ©©-1/2 chips  (tolerable)

Simply Balanced - Sweet Chile Rolled Tortilla ChipsSweet Chili flavor, as far as chip flavors go, has forever been one of those flavors we do not get excited for.  If we were picking our own flavor team, we’re more than certain that sweet chili would be one of the last picked, if picked at all.  Sorry Sweet Chili, you and Sweet BBQ are going to have to try again next year!

Another thing we noticed regarding sweet chili flavored chips is that here at Chip Review we tend to enjoy the sweet chili seasoning much more on a potato chip, than we do on a corn tortilla, or some other style chip.  We’re not going to try and determine why that is, we just wanted to let you know.

All that being said, here we have Simply Balanced (Target) Sweet Chile Organic Rolled Tortilla Chips with brown rice, sesame seeds and flaxseeds, and wouldn’t you know it, we don’t really like them for any reason.

The best part of these chips by a long side is the inclusion of the seeds strewn throughout.  The seeds add just enough textural difference to entice the pallet but not quite enough to distract us from the seasoning like we wish they would.

The sweet chili seasoning is exactly like so many others we have tried before.  Of course sweet, very sweet in fact, followed by a strong presence of garlic, and finished with a touch of flavorless heat.

The rolled tortilla chips are fine.  We could certainly crunch on them if someone had set them out at a party or something, but nothing about them has us screaming for more.

Well, there you have it.  Anyone else out there tried them yet?  Thoughts?  As always we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree.  Let us know.

Chips discovered at Target; Hillside, Illinois

Simply Balanced Official Website

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REVIEW: Lay’s – Passport to Flavor – Chinese Szechuan Chicken

Rating: ©©©©-1/2 chips (lip-smacking)

Lay's - Chinese Szechuan ChickenAlright chip fans, like we so often do, we’ve done it again, we’ve saved the best for last! 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we are pretty late to the Chinese Szechuan Chicken flavored potato chip review ball!  For the most part everyone else has danced their last dance.  But, the very last song is playing, and luckily for us, that song happens to be our most favorite so we are going to get down like there’s no tomorrow.

Chip Review’s flavor creativity rating for Szechuan Chicken (scale: 1 – 10): 8

Chip Review’s excitement for this Szechuan Chicken flavor (scale: 1 – 10): 10

Chip Review’s rating of bag design and color (scale: 1 – 10): 7

For whatever reason we here at Chip Review appear to be in the minority on this flavor.  All of the other “big boy” reviewers have already chimed in, and overall they just don’t seem to really enjoy these.  So, let’s take a look at some of these other reviews and try to understand why they may not love these, and whether we have anything to say about that or not.

First up, The Impulsive Buy’s review

They were spicy, sweet, and unusual to the point where I’m not sure if I liked them.

All of those adjectives have a little something to do with why we actually like them so much!  They are a touch sweet, they do bring some heat, and there are certainly some unusual flavors in there that we haven’t necessarily tasted on other chips (which is why we love them so much).  Although The Impulsive Buy calls them adventurous and spicy, the review also mentions that these are their least favorites of the four flavors.   TIB also posed the question – “what’s wok flavor?”  Well, we are pretty sure that Lay’s is referring to “Wok Hei”, aka “the breath of the wok”, which is the flavor or essence imparted by the wok when cooking over very high heat. The characteristic flavor is due to the the Maillard reactions caused between the high heat and sugar, in the end, the charring of the ingredients.  Shout out to In on Thai’s extremely WOK HEI-FUL Spicy BBQ Pork Fried Rice!!

And, Junk Food Guy’s review

I’m more offended by this: The white takeout container????

SALT BOMB. After eating a good bit of the bag, my stomach definitely started to feel sour. These are FINE, but I won’t be eating them again. A little too sodium packed for me, overwhelming normal chip balance. Nope. 

Offended by the white takeout container, really??  Come’on Junk Food Guy, we value your opinion very much, but we cannot agree with that statement.  In fact, our three most favorite Chinese restaurants in the Chicago area all still utilize these “classically iconic” take out containers.  We can agree with JFG’s assessment that they are salty, because they most definitely are, but we never got to the point of feeling like they were too salty.  And regarding the overall chip and flavor balance, well, we can also agree that they are very well balanced, but that is part of what we loved about them.  They kept us intrigued, perplexed, and were something new for our chip loving mouths to enjoy.

Lastly,  Junk Banter’s review

I think I’ve submitted every single Chinese dish as a Lay’s Do Us A Flavor submission in the past. Chinese food is awesome, but sometimes I am too lazy to pick up a phone and have someone bring me food. Lay’s Chinese Szechuan Chicken fulfills my dream of having Chinese food that I can eat from a bag with my hands.

We too can reiterate the statement that we’ve submitted so many different Chinese dishes as possible flavors for the Do Us a Flavor competition each year.  That being said, never has one of those submissions been Szechuan Chicken.  Overall, we agree with most of Junk Banter’s review of these chips, accept where as Junk Banter feels like this seasoning, doesn’t jive with the potato chips, we feel like it does.  The seasoning may not work as well as other classic matches, but we just love that we are tasting these flavors on fried potato chips!

Rich, foreign, exotic, flavors.  Our most favorite aspect of these chips is that they do in fact contain Szechuan peppercorns.  We actually got some of that undeniable mouth numbing characteristics of these unique peppercorns.

So there you have it, all four ‘Passport to Flavor’ chips eaten and reviewed.  We were pretty pleased with this new flavor line-up.  But, how about next time Lay’s just goes ahead and releases four new Chinese food flavors!  Here is how we would hand out the ‘Passport to Flavor’ medals:

Gold – Chinese Szechuan Chicken

Silver – Greek Tzatziki

Bronze – Brazilian Picanha (Steak & Chimichurri Sauce)

What’s after Bronze? – Indian Tikka Masala

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think. Agree or disagree, let us know.

Chips discovered at Walmart; Hodgkins, Illinois

Lay’s Official Website

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Pretzels – Tell us what you think

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REVIEW: Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels

Rating: ©©©©-3/4 chips  (lip-smacking)

Dot's PretzelsIt was a year ago or so that we first crossed paths with Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels.  To say the least, we were very, very impressed!

Fast forward to this year’s annual jaunt to northern Minnesota, and what do we find on a quick stop into L&M Fleet?  Yep, that’s right, Dot’s delicious pretzels!  But….something is a little different.  Oh, look who got a makeover – last year’s bag on the left, and the new and improved design on the right.  Dot’s Pretzels Company must be doing very well for itself these days.

A little backstory on this small, family owned operation:

Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels have been around for many many, years made in Dot’s own home outside of Minot, ND. They were a special family snack for football-watching, family gatherings, and every day yumminess, of course. In 2012, two families began a business centered around the snack they’ve been enjoying for years.

Probably the best way we can describe Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels would be something akin to a cross between the seasoning from Chex Mix Traditional flavor, and Old Dutch’s classic Butter Spindles.  In case that description doesn’t work for you, then try to imagine braided pretzels, about two inches in length, coated in a just fatty enough butter flavor, and dusted with an addictive seasoning blend of tangy buttermilk, garlic, onion and some secret spices.

Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels are really lip-smacking.  Easily among the best pretzel snacks we have ever tried.  In fact, Dot’s Pretzels got us thinking that we should probably put together our Top 5 Pretzel list – so that’s what we did.  And we’re not talking about snacks or mixes that include pretzels, but solely pretzel based snacks.  Make sure to check it out.

P.S. – if you ever happen to cross paths with Dot’s, do your self a favor and grab a bag!

Pretzels discovered at Simonson’s and L&M Fleet; Bemidji, Minnesota

Dot’s Pretzels Official Website

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REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked – Passport to Flavor – Indian Tikka Masala

Rating: ©©©© chips (lip-smacking)

Lay's Kettle Cooked - Indian Tikka MasalaBehind door #3 of Lay’s ‘Passport to Flavor‘ showcase showdown we have an affordably exotic trip to: India!  Brought to us through the dish of Tikka Masala.  Otherwise known as – Chip Review’s taste bud confusing jumble of spices and flavors!

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or you do not read about chips (which, just FYI, you are technically doing right now), and you have somehow, for some reason, not visited the chip aisle of any grocery store recently, then we are going to guess that you have heard about Lay’s new ‘Passport to Flavor‘ promotion.  And, we are also going to guess that we do not have to tell you that Lay’s new flavor foursome are obviously being released in correlation with this year’s Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A few days ago we reviewed Lay’s Brazilian Picanha (Steak & Chimichurri Sauce), and last week we reviewed Lay’s Wavy Greek Tzatziki.  So far, we have Greek Tzatziki wearing the gold, and Brazilian Picanha taking the silver, and not to give anything away but, Indian Tikka Masala will be walking away with the bronze, unless the last flavor – Chinese Szechuan Chicken – has anything to say about that!  All that being said, we must say that we have been pretty darn impressed with Lay’s showing so far at these Passport to Flavor Olympics!

Chip Review’s flavor creativity rating for Tikka Masala (scale: 1 – 10): 5

Chip Review’s excitement for this Tikka Masala flavor (scale: 1 – 10): 3

Chip Review’s rating of bag design and color (scale: 1 – 10): 7

Our first Chip Review taster initially stated – “Honestly, the first thought I had were of my mom’s ginger snap cookies…???”  We’re not going to pretend like we are Indian cuisine experts here, because honestly we are far, far from it.  We have of course eaten it, and we have more often than not really enjoyed it, but for the most part, we have found that Indian flavors or spices are all far too often just too powerful for chips to handle.  So, with that being said, here is our minor assessment of these new chips.

First, we always associate Tikka Masala as the most “mainstream” or safest Indian dish there is….  Is this in fact true?  Not sure.  Either way, we’re guessing that many, many people out there who have never even tried Indian cuisine, may actually know this dish by name.  Maybe only more common would be the generic use of the word ‘curry’ in regards to Indian cooking.

Secondly, here’s what we taste in these chips: creamy sour cream and tomato (unique), almost overwhelmed by assumed spices of cumin and tumeric.  The flavors are definitely savory, and certainly bold.  We don’t love these chips, but we certainly do appreciate them.

We feel like the kettle cooked variety of Lay’s was definitely the right choice for this flavor.  A thick and crunch chip, to combat a powerful seasoning.

For a more in depth take on these Tikka Masala chips, check out Junk Food Guy’s.

So there you have it, all four ‘Passport to Flavor’ chips eaten and reviewed.  We were pretty pleased with this new flavor line-up.  Here is how we would hand out the ‘Passport to Flavor’ medals:

Gold – Chinese Szechuan Chicken

Silver – Greek Tzatziki

Bronze – Brazilian Picanha (Steak & Chimichurri Sauce)

What’s after Bronze? – Indian Tikka Masala

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think. Agree or disagree, let us know.

Chips discovered at Walmart; Hodgkins, Illinois

Lay’s Official Website

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REVIEW: Lay’s – Passport to Flavor – Brazilian Picanha (Steak & Chimichurri Sauce)

Rating: ©©©©-1/4 chips (lip-smacking)

Lay's - Brazilian PicanhaHello chip fans! Time for round 2 of Lay’s 2016 ‘Do Us a Flavor‘ competition!!  Wait…..oh yeah we forgot again – sorry about that, we can’t seem to get it through our chip lovin’ brains that Lay’s has forgone their annual summer – create a flavor / win a million – competition for a little more universal promotion! 

Although Lay’s may not be promoting their new ‘Passport to Flavor‘ chips as having any relation to this year’s Summer Olympics, it is pretty obvious that they are latching onto those worldwide publicity coat tails by 1) of course including a flavor from the host country Brazil, and by 2) including a very worldly diverse inclusion of countries.  And while Lay’s may not necessarily be offering us a flavor competition this time, we’re pretty sure they know that we will compare, and pit, the four flavors against one another – and we will definitely be handing out some flavor medals!

Last week we reviewed Lay’s Wavy Greek Tzatziki, and we were deliciously enthralled.  Still left to taste are Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala, and Chinese Szechuan Chicken.  Next up are 2016 Olympic host country’s classic dish – Brazilian Picanha (aka Steak & Chimichurri Sauce).

Chip Review’s flavor creativity rating for Picanha (scale: 1 – 10): 6

Chip Review’s excitement for this Picanha flavor (scale: 1 – 10): 9

Chip Review’s rating of bag design and color (scale: 1 – 10): 8

The only reason we did not rate Lay’s flavor creativity a bit higher for these is because we have actually tried quite a few different steak/beef flavored chips, in fact, the last ones we tasted actually included chimichurri sauce as well.  Still, we were very intrigued, and impressed, by Lay’s decision to specify a certain Brazilian treasured cut of meat.  According to Google, Picanha is a cut of beef popular in Brazil. In the U.S. it is little known, but referred to as the rump cover, rump cap or coulotte. North American butchers generally divide it into other cuts like the rump, the round and the loin (Wikipedia).  We’ve never encountered the Picanha before, but based on what Marvo over at The Impulsive Buy says in his review of the chips, it is an extremely delicious cut of meat.

What we are familiar with is steak (typically skirt, or strip, or ribeye or…), and we do pair it with some delicious chimichurri sauce every so often. We have always associated chimichurri sauce more so with Argentinian cuisine than Brazilian, but maybe Lay’s knows something we do not.  Either way, for any of you possibly unfamiliar with what chimichurri sauce is, it is an uncooked, semi-chunky, herbal loaded, sauce served atop, or for dipping with, steak.  The sauce recipes vary, but usually contain the following: parsely, garlic, oregano, vinegar and oil – sometimes red chili flakes.

To say that we had high expectations for this flavor maybe a grave understatement. The reasoning for said lofty expectations have everything to do with the last time that Lay’s released a new chip flavor based on a meaty iconic Brazilian dish in their – Copa de los Sabores (Flavor Cup) – Feijoada flavored potato chips – which are easily some of Lay’s greatest chips of all-time!  Well, these new chips certainly do not compare to those chips, and they won’t be making Chip Review’s Top 5 – Meat Flavored Chips of all-time, but they are pretty darn tasty in their own right.

The muddled, slightly smoke-laden seasoning pairs well with the fried potato chip.  We were able to eat through this entire bag without any problem.  The seasoning is un-aggressively well balanced, with just a touch of those fresh, herb-y, chimichurri notes of oregano and parsley, and a decent smattering of garlic. But in the end, we were kind of hoping for more of a tangy chimichurri punch.  We appreciate the chips’ beefiness, that aspect is very well done.  So, if you are a fan of meat flavored chips, these could very well suit your fancy.

In our opinion, this flavor should have been paired with Lay’s kettle cooked potato chips.

So there you have it, all four ‘Passport to Flavor’ chips eaten and reviewed.  We were pretty pleased with this new flavor line-up.  Here is how we would hand out the ‘Passport to Flavor’ medals:

Gold – Chinese Szechuan Chicken

Silver – Greek Tzatziki

Bronze – Brazilian Picanha (Steak & Chimichurri Sauce)

What’s after Bronze? – Indian Tikka Masala

As always, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think. Agree or disagree, let us know.

Chips discovered at Walmart; Hodgkins, Illinois

Lay’s Official Website

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