REVIEW: Neal Brothers Foods – Extremely Tasty Montreal Steak Spice Kettle Chips

Rating: ©©©©-1/2 chips  (lip-smacking)

neal-brothers-montreal-steak-spiceShow of hands please.  How many of you out there have Montreal Steak Spice in your spice cabinet right now?  If you are like us, then your hand is raised to the ceiling.  Okay, so that was an easy one.  Now, a more difficult question.  How many of you out there know what constitutes, or makes up, a Montreal Steak Spice?  Crickets……

Yeah, we thought so.  Well, according to the world wide web-a-sphere: Montreal steak spice is a spice mix used to flavour steak and grilled meats that was based on the pickling dry-rub mix used in preparing Montreal smoked meat. The smoked meat seasoning is derived from pickling mixes used in Eastern Europe or Romanian Jewish cuisine. The primary constituents of Montreal steak seasoning include garlic, coriander, black pepper, Cayenne pepper flakes, dill seed, and salt. The spice mix recipe varies slightly among restaurants and manufacturers. (wikipedia.com)

Now that we have that out of the way, who better to deliver us some Montreal Steak Spice flavored Kettle Chips than two brothers from Canada (because Montreal is in Canada of course).  Who are these Neal Brothers, you ask?  According to their website, those Neal Brothers are Peter and Chris.  And the two of them started their specialty food company nearly 30 years ago.  Included among all of those specialty foods, are of course the most important of all foods – CHIPS!

Let’s start off by saying that these chips do not taste like steak at all.  So, if you were wondering about that, or hoping for that, throw that presumption/wish right out the window (and you should probably go back and read the paragraph above that describes Montreal Steak Spice).  Fortunately, we are here to say that the Extremely Tasty portion of the Neal Brothers chip flavor, does in fact hold true!  These are some delicious chips!!  Especially if you like dill.

These chips are not shy with their seasoning.  We definitely tasted some onion and garlic, mingling with a good amount of salt and black pepper, along with a splash of sour like vinegar.  On the tail end, the chips definitely deliver some chili pepper heat.  But, more than anything, we tasted A LOT of DILL.  Seriously, in a blind taste test we would have most certainly thought that these chips were some amp’d up version of dill pickle chips – which is never a bad thing in our books!

Neal Brothers have wisely chosen a medium-thick cut, extra crunchy, not greasy at all, kettle cooked potato chip to pair with the powerful Montreal Steak Spice seasoning.  Any lesser chip would have crumbled under the barrage of strong spices.

All in all, we were very impressed with these chips.  If you like dill, and prefer your potato chips loaded with flavor, then we suggest you give these a chomp!

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 by Neal Brothers for review

Neal Brothers Foods Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

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BIJOU-REVIEW: Mariano’s – Fresh Fried Seasoned Deli Chips

Rating: ©©©-1/4 chips  (notable)

Mariano's - Delit Style Potato ChipsThose of you living outside of the Chicago area may not be familiar with Mariano’s grocery stores, but who knows, with the way that they have been expanding lately, you maybe familiar with them one day….very soon.

In a nutshell Mariano’s is an “upscale” grocery store that includes all of the typical big box grocery store items, but then then at the same time also includes higher end amenities such as a sit down sushi bar, beer and wine available to drink while you shop, wood fired pizza, an in store popcorn “shop”, and much more.  Long description short, they are a great place to pick up something to eat, while shopping for groceries.

On our most recent visit to Mariano’s we spotted this bag of Fresh Fried Seasoned Deli Potato Chips, and thought they deserved a quick crunch and examination.

First thing we noticed right off the bat is that these are some really thick cut potato chips, delivering an extra hardy crunch.

But with that thick cut also came lots of fry oil potato absorption…..aka, greasy, or let’s say oily chips.

To go along with that, the potato chips themselves do not have very much potato flavor.  All we really tasted was the oil, and the deli seasoning.

The deli seasoning seemed to be a riff on the traditional salt and pepper combo.  It contained plenty of salt, and big black pepper specs, as well as some garlic and onion for flavor.

The seasoning, along with the crunch, were the best things about these chips.

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

Chips spotted at Mariano’s; Westchester, Illinois

Mariano’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

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25 Chips to Christmas….

#15

The Original Charley’s Chips “Famous” Fresh Tortilla Chips

The Original Charley's Chips

Original Review Here

According to legend, “Charley was a “hard-drinking womanizer” who died in a fire and haunted the building.”  That building being Charley’s Pub & Grill in Wyoming, MI.  Charley was a fictional character created for the pub menu.  What’s that? This story is too out there, and unbelievable for you?  You haven’t even heard the half of it….check out our original review.

REVIEW: The Original Charley’s Chips “Famous” Fresh Tortilla Chips

Rating: ©©©©-1/2 chips  (lip-smacking)

The Original Charley's ChipsThis bag had us asking questions right off the bat.  “Who is this Charley?”  “Are these chips really famous?”  “Thin…?”  They don’t look especially thin to us.  “Proudly Made – Local Products – Locally Produced”  Where are these chips from because we have never seen them before.  “Perfectly seasoned?”  Now that’s a bold statement, but not one that we will automatically dismiss based on the ample chip coverage we can see through the clear bag!

So, we began our Charley’s Chips question answering journey the same way we imagine every teenager doing a book report these days does – we got busy with the Google!  As it turns out, these chips, and their creator Jim Raredon, are from Wyoming, Michigan, and include quite a history / back story:

It took over 20 years to perfect his recipes and over 10 years to develop a seasoning that would stick to the chips…. The road to commercial success for Charley’s Chips has been an interesting, but bumpy one; a combination of luck, perseverance and legal wrangling coupled with more than a hint of whimsy.

“Who is Charley?” is a question asked a lot. Answer: There is no Charley.  Charley’s Pub and Grill, 1339 28th Street SW in Wyoming. “Charley” is a menu character created for Charley’s Pub and Grill, a restaurant that opened in 2011 at the Anazah Sands West pool hall at 1339 28th St. SW. On the original menu, Charley was a “hard-drinking womanizer” who died in a fire and haunted the building.  Owner Scott Wellman, a lawyer, hired Raredon to helm the kitchen at the restaurant.  Raredon introduced… a menu of full of gimmicky, yet popular items… One of those items was a simple, yet flavorful basket of tortilla chips and salsa.  Nearly every restaurant serves chips and salsa, but there was something special about the chips at Charley’s. As demand began to increase, staff found themselves Ziploc-bagging them for take-out sale.  Raredon, who was living in a house owned by Wellman near the restaurant, began to devote more and more time to production of the chips. The two men found a suitable building… and shifted production out of the restaurant.  (www.mlive.com)

There is a lot more to the Charley’s Chips story (so feel free to click on the mlive link above), but we think that gives you a good enough glimpse into the history of these “famous” chips.  We may have found Charley’s Chips at our local grocery store, but spotting them still reminds us of all of the times we’re traveling somewhere, and just happen to stumble upon some delicious, locally made, hidden gem!  Below is just too cool of picture not to post!  This looks like some place we will have to visit at least once in our lifetimes!!  We’ll pretend like we just happened upon it…  Like we smelled the fried chips in the air!!   (Add to bucket list now!)

Alright, enough jibber-jabber, what about Charley’s chips?!  What makes them so special??  Well, first of all, we are happy to report that Charley’s Chips are a delightful addition to the seasoned tortilla chip game (we must of course give thanks to Doritos for allowing others to play on their playground!!)!  When we first grabbed this bag from the grocery store shelf we simply assumed that the chips were coated with the same old, obligatory, dusting of some sort of mildly spicy, chile pepper powder.  To our surprise Charley’s Chips were coated with so much more!  A unique seasoning combination of garlic, onion, salt, some spices, and lots of sugar.  Charley’s seasoning reminded us a lot of a traditional seasoning salt that veered towards the sweeter end of the flavor spectrum.  The seasoning was unlike any combo that we had tried with tortilla chips before, and we’re happy to report that it complimented, and heightened, the natural corn flavors quite well.  We were impressed!  Speaking of those corn flavors, the tortilla chips themselves are very impressive.  We’re not quite sure if we agree with the thin description from the front of Charley’s bag; we would have called these medium thick, sturdy, yet crispy tortilla chips.  Rustic or hearty would be a good descriptor.  The tortilla chips, like we said, have a good amount of real corn flavor.  All in all, Charley’s Chips are solidly impressive!

So, if you, or we, ever find ourselves in Wyoming, Michigan, we should swing by The Chip Palace, say hey to Jim Raredon, and enjoy some super fresh, and lip-smacking, Charley’s Chips!  Just don’t expect to find Charley!!

As always we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree.  Let us know.

Chips discovered at Brookhaven Marketplace; Burr Ridge, Illinois

Charley’s Chips Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

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25 Chips to Christmas….

#6

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

Trader Joe's - Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning

Original Review Here

Trader J’s Triple S (South African Seasoned Smoked) Potato Chips, may not take our top spot for the year, but if we were doling out awards they would certainly win our ‘most surprising & daringly unique’ trophy!  A challenging flavor unlike any other we have tried this year.

25 Chips to Christmas….

#8

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

Covered Bridge - Montreal Steak Spice Seasoning Old Fashioned Kettle Style Potato Chips

Original Review Here

This is not the first time that we have touted the delicious qualities of the mistakenly underutilized russet potato chip.  At first glance, russet potato chips may appear burnt to the unacquainted, but one crunch and all preconceived judgement should, and will, be vanquished!