Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tyrrell’s Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar

           Tyrrell’s Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar chips have been staring at me from their lofty perch on the store shelves for months since I installed myself in France, sniffing with disdain at my penny-pinching ways.  Each time I glared up at them, my eyes would go red with a mixture of envy and burning class resentment, as befits any proper English story.  The aristocratic Eton graduate (ahem, “English Eccentric”) on the cover, smiling drolly into his cup, is no doubt laughing at my peasant-like ways.

            A friend of mine, however, possessed the unthinkable fortunes necessary to set a bag out on the gaming table one evening, and I was forced to admit that the Tyrell’s chips every bit deserve their elevated price.  It’s as if the nobility were born with magical powers and super-human strength; these chips deserve to rule.

If Christopher Lee were
 the Prince of Wales, you can bet
the paparazzi would be afraid to
photograph him dressed up like a
servant of a totalitarian regime.
Hereditary monarchy would be a much
more persuasive political system if
aristocrats were all born more like
Count Dooku.
            The bag claims the chips are ‘hand cooked’, and the quality of the slices is so impressive, you can be damn well sure that a line full of orphaned children is carefully slicing them at the conveyor belt while Charles Dickens hovers in the background, taking notes for his next novel.  Unlike any other chip I’ve reviewed before, you can still see the brown potato skin rimming each individual round.  The crisps are extra-thick (up to 2 millimeters!), complexly shaped, vary from small to medium-large in size, and are utter delight to crunch.  The visual appeal is only further magnified by the abundance of salt crystals plainly visible on each slice.

But do you really appreciate them being
"hand cooked" when it's their hands
doing the cooking?
            This brings us to the seasoning, which is in a word, magnificent.  The English share with Americans a fondness for all things fried and battered, and these chips clearly draw some inspiration from the vinegar accompanying a traditional fish’n’chips ( 'fries' to use the American term).  The cider vinegar is sweet and pervasive, but a lot less acrid than other vinegar chips; it is complemented beautifully by the large salty crystals artfully sprinkled across each slice, which manage to deliver a piquantly brackish sea-sting that lingers tantalizingly on the tongue without overwhelming the chips as a whole.  (I’m very critical of overly salty chips, but these most definitely cannot be counted among their number.)  In other words, you can distinctly taste the potato, the vinegar, and the salt as separate phenomena with each bite, which makes for a delightfully pluralistic eating experience.  All the while, the blend of seasoning is carefully balanced between the poles of minimalism and excessive saturation.

Spirit Vinegar: the strongest variety
of vinegar (5-20% acid), traditionally
made out of sugar cane.  Also,
possibly, ectoplasm....
            The ingredients list is also so politically correct it should run for office: 100% natural ingredients, including 3 varieties of dried vinegar (cider, spirit (?), and malt), sea salt, apple powder, and rosemary extract.  But these are Tory chips, make no mistake, and properly represent those segments of the society that feel that the Magna Carta was one step too far towards the proletarian abyss.  That’s all right with me, though; chips this good deserve their exaggerated prices, and I must confess I can’t readily think of any American chips which are quite as classy as these- but that’s only proper.

Stars: 4/4
Spiciness Rating: None

- Amazing thick-cut kettle cooked crisps that retain their brown potato skins on the edges
- Delightful sweet vinegar flavor which excites the tongue without stinging too much
- Flavorful salt crystals that deliver motes of savory sensation without dominating the flavor
- Natural ingredients, free of Gluten and MSG!

- Price?

1 comment:

  1. Had to really think about the cons, huh?
    Lol, amazing post as usual. Who but you could make eating chips so hilarious?