REVIEW: Trader Joe’s – Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning

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

Trader Joe's - Potato Chips with South African Style SeasoningLooking back on it now maybe we would have acted differently, and filled our tiny shopping cart to the brim with those glossy black bags of goodness. In our defense, at the time there was simply no way of knowing that the single most daring and most uniquely flavored potato chips we had encountered this entire year were about to flood our taste buds with a sensational river of complexity! Forget about 2014’s Lay’s ‘Do Us A Flavor’ Cappuccino flavored potato chips, in fact forget about them all! And never mind Larry The Cable Guy’s Biscuits & Gravy Tater Chips (remarkable chips to say the least) but in our opinion Trader Joe’s Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning take us on a flavor journey unlike any we have traveled thus far this year!

So, what exactly is South African Style Seasoning? Well, according to Trader Joe’s crew they “…start with paprika that is slow-smoked. This method infuses a roasted flavor, reminiscent of the South African braai (“barbecue”). We then, blend the smoked paprika with chili pepper, sea salt, garlic, basil, and parsley. This combination of flavors is traditionally used on grilled meat, fish, or poultry.” Luckily for us, tradition has been brushed aside and T.J.’s has splattered those flavors all across their light as air potato chips! The best way that we can describe the South African Style Seasoning to those of you who haven’t had the pleasure would be a cross between a smoky and savory barbecue chip, and a zesty, garlicky-onion, salt and pepper chip. Yes, it sounds like a lot going on, but somehow the seasoning mélange is extremely well balanced!

To top it all off, Trader Joe’s is delivering some really great potato chips too. These chips are seriously huge! Non-GMO, we bet not, but still great loads of potato flavor, solid crispy crunch, and super thin, but sturdy. The chips provide a perfect canvas for showcasing the seasoning.

In the end, we really must tip our hat to Trader Joe’s. It is not very often that we taste something really original. And it is even less often that we see a company will to gamble on a flavor like this. Most “new” flavors are really just reincarnations of an already established and accepted flavor, or sometimes just a combination of a couple of traditional flavors. Trader Joe’s took a big swing, and knocked it out of the park.

Wow! Really, wow! Practically perfect chips.  We just have to ask, anyone out there know who is making these chips for Trader Joe’s?

For another take on these chips check out Eat at Joe’s review (which we couldn’t disagree with more, but hey, to each their own!).

These are our thoughts, agree or disagree, make sure to let us know!

Chips discovered at Trader Joes; La Grange, Illinois

Trader Joe’s Official Website

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REVIEW: Covered Bridge – Montreal Steak Spice Seasoning Old Fashioned Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

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

Covered Bridge - Montreal Steak Spice Seasoning Old Fashioned Kettle Style Potato ChipsOh Canada!  Oh Covered Bridge!  We stand and applaud your Montreal Steak Spice Seasoning chips!  Yeah, you’re right, our sweet melody won’t be replacing the Canadian national anthem anytime soon, but we can tell you with utmost certainty that you should be replacing whatever you are eating right now with some of these lip-smacking potato chips!!

Truth be told, these chips, or more accurately, their deliciousness, came as a complete surprise to us.  Straight from left field, or more like, from Canada.  Little did we know that hiding inside this simply designed bag were some of the best tasting chips of 2014!

So, what exactly is Montreal Steak Seasoning Spice?  From the looks of the front of this bag it consists of two spice containers (appropriately labeled “spice”), some onion, garlic and tomato, and some flames and a giant steak.  Some of our tasters were thinking that the flavor may taste like steak itself, but based on the ingredients listed on the back of the bag, Covered Bridge seems to be keeping the recipe close to their chest.  Garlic is listed, and of course there is salt, but beyond that is simply the always illusive “spices”.  In our opinion, Montreal Steak Seasoning Spice is not very far removed from most salt and pepper flavored chips.  In fact, that is exactly what it is.  An amp’d up, or an elevated, salt and pepper variation.

The flavor starts with loads of the classic black and white spices, followed closely by hints of garlic and onion, and it even seemed like there was a little spicy heat hidden in there at the finish.  Yep, no doubt about it, when we were finally able to stop eating these chips for a second, there was definitely a light burn on our tongues and in our mouths (granted, this could possibly be from the loads of pepper being used).

While Covered Bridge’s Montreal Steak Spice Seasoning is certainly a more than acceptable seasoning blend, it is not what set these chips apart from the masses.  What exactly is it that catapults them into the illusive, nearly perfect, chip rating territory?  Plain and simple, the potato chips themselves!!!  These are SUPERB potato chips. On the thinner side, extra light and crispy, with a very substantial and prominent real potato flavor. The russet Burbank potatoes lend a darker color, with a rich, and rustic potato flavor. Some may even consider the chips burnt, but just like with Better Made’s Rainbow Dark Potato Chips, they are simply delicious!  The dark potato provides some uniquely nutty, and smoky “burnt” flavor profiles that we are simply suckers for.  If you’ve never tried dark potato chips, you should really seek them out!

Probably our only gripes with these chips, and we are nitpicking here of course, are that there were quite a few crumbs at the bottom of the bag (possibly due to how thin the chips are, or perhaps the fact that they traveled all of the way from the frozen tundra to the North). We also think that the salt level could be turned down just a touch. Don’t get us wrong, you know we love salt. Probably our most common complaint, other than chips tasting disgusting, would be that they are under seasoned. However, these chips are really, really close to being too salty!

Lastly, in case you were wondering, Covered Bridge Potato Chip’s factory is located in Hartland, New Brunswick, which is the home of the world’s longest covered bridge.  And we were wondering where the name came from – problem solved.

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

Discovered at World Market; Oak Brook, Illinois

Covered Bridge Chip Official Website

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REVIEW: Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up – Kettle Chips

Rating: ©©-1/4 chips  (tolerable)

Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up - Kettle Chips

Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Kettle Chips with Jane’s Original Mixed-Up Salt.  What do we have here?!

Well, based on our recent experience with these kettle chips, Jane is either a little “krazy” herself, or she got really “mixed-up” during the seasoning process (see what we did there?)!!

KRAZY, because these chips are far beyond the description of being simply ‘salty’.  They are more like open your mouth wide and swallow a stomach full of sea water salty!  Lip chapping, moisture absorbing, lose the cap from the salt shaker ‘salty’!!  So salty that even WE thought they were too salty!!!

While we often appreciate a heavy hand with the salt shaker, these were just too much.  We could ever so slightly pick up some notes of onion and garlic powders, and maybe a light burn from a touch of black pepper in the background; but if there were any more ingredients to this seasoning blend – like thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, any herbs – our palettes really had no clue!  We couldn’t detect, let alone decipher, anything through the ‘Salt-pocalypse’!

The kettle cooked potato chips themselves were on the smaller side, wiggly, thicker cut, with a good sturdy crunch.  They were really good kettle chips, but in the end, no chip was going to be able to withstand Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up over salting!

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

Discovered at Brookhaven Marketplace; Burr Ridge, Illinois

Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Official Site

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Chip Review of the day…..

Popcorners – Twisted Salt Popped Whole Grain Chips

Rating: ©©©© chips  (lip-smacking)

Popcorners - Twisted Salt

Comments:

“The New Shape of Popcorn Whole Grain”

What exactly was the old shape of Whole Grain?

Maybe to answer that question, we must first understand what whole grain represents in this case.  According to the ingredients list on the back of PopCorner’s bag, the whole grains in this instance are none other then the infamous sorghum grain?  That’s right, sorghum; and we’re not talking about what you get from eating too much beef jerky.  According to Wikipedia: sorghum “is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants, either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide.”  As far as we know, these are the first chips that we have ever tasted made from a species of grass….

PopCorners have been a consistent player in the popped chip market for a good while now.  Up until now their original line of popped chips have consisted of popcorn chips (which is a grain we are much more familiar with than sorghum).  However, being the professionals that we are, we did not hesitate for one second to give these grass/grain popped chips a taste.

First impression – the chips consist of a unique monotone mixture of colors, that includes hues of light greys and steely blues in some spots.  Their mouth feel is light and crispy, without being too hard and dense.  They work quite adequately as crunchy flavor delivering devices.

What really set these chips apart for us was their flavor name (and taste).  We just love the name Twisted Salt.  The best part, we didn’t quite know what to assume we were about to taste?  Would the salt include a twist of lime?  Or, might it be spicy??  Well, as it turns out, Twisted Salt appears to be PopCorners variation of a seasoned salt, or salt with a flavorful supporting cast.  Either way you shake it, these chips are not lacking in flavor one bit.  Each chip was liberally coated with plenty of salt, as well as, onion, garlic and some unnamed spices (one of which we are fairly certain was rosemary).

In conclusion, let us just tell you that the Twisted Salt flavor pairs very well with the crunchy whole grains, even when those grains are really actually grass chips in disguise.

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

Chips provided to Chip Review from PopCorners for review

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REVIEW: Arby’s – House Made Kettle Style Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©-3/4 chips  (notable)

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Comments:

As far back as we can remember, these are the first house made potato chips we’ve ever tried from a main stream fast food chain.  Of course, many Mexican restaurants may offer their house made corn tortilla chips, but we are marking these down as the ever first house made potato chips (anyone who thinks, or knows, differently please let us know).

Arby’s kettle style potato chips are skin on, extremely thick cut, and varying in size from long and narrow to medium and round chips.  The chips are served cold, which was a little bit of a surprise, and quite honestly, a letdown to us.  Part of the reason we love to order house made chips from any restaurant is having them delivered to us fresh and hot from the fryer.  Temperature aside, the chips did taste fresh, and appropriately greasy.  Most of the chips exuded some very hearty crunching, but a couple of them were actually soft and soggy?!  To be completely honest, we found the textural difference to be a bit liberating, and actually very much enjoyed those couple of chips.

The potato chips were heavily coated with a reddish-orange seasoning blend that was supposed to mimic the flavor of Arby’s classic Arby Sauce.  According to our extensive research, Arby’s Sauce appears to be a ketchup hybrid, similar to that of a sweet and zesty tomato based barbeque sauce.  The combination reminded us a lot of ketchup flavored potato chips, only with a little more zip in their flavor step.

Arby’s house made kettle style potato chips definitely earn an “A” for effort, as well as, for fast food originality, but when compared to the really great, sit down (served piping hot), house made restaurant potato chips that we’re used to, they are only so-so.  For another (more passionately, and exquisitely written) insight into Arby’s wholly welcome addition unto the potato chip world, check out Adam’s review over at the Impulsive Buy.

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

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