Thursday, December 06, 2007

Fire & Spice . . . but is everything nice?

After last year's tasting, I was jalloping for joy when Kettle Chip "People's Choice" rolled around this year. With the bracing cold of winter (okay, as cold as SoCal can get) ~ I'm sure their theme of "Fire and Spice" is welcoming for those looking to heat things up.

In the name of R&D for this blog, I've ordered a pack and gorged taste-tested all five flavors. Here's my two cents:

1. Wicked Hot Sauce - surprisingly good and tasted like a hybrid of salt & vinegar potato chips and Flamin' Hot cheetos, the combination of vinegar tang, moderate spiciness and garlic-onion made for a very bright and flavorful chip. My second favorite of the five.

2. Mango Chili - I'm definitely well acquainted with the sweet-savory food trend of Kettle corn, Sea Salt Caramels and
Bacon Chocolates, but how will the trio of sweet, savory AND spicy fare? In a word: OMGDelish!! (Nevermind that this isn't even an Urbandictionary word... yet) Even though the mango flavor wasn't really there (I just picked up more of a generic tropical fruit scent) the sweet aroma and taste was a wonderful complement against the salt and the habanero & cayenne heat. This one definitely gets my vote as the fave!

3. Jalapeno Salsa Fresca - For those into spicy tomato sauces, this one's it: it had a pronounced sun-dried tomato flavor with a splash of lime and a significant kick from jalapeno and cayenne peppers. But personally, this chip just didn't quite hit the spot for me. It tasted pretty similar to Twisted Chili Lime from last year's competition (which I also deemed to be the mediocre one of the bunch) but definitely not bad -- so again, it gets the middle-of-the-road third place.

4. Orange Ginger Wasabi - Oh, where did the R&D go wrong? I had such high hopes for this very unique-sounding flavor but this just tasted disgusting -- the wasabi wasn't strong enough to produce that wonderful endorphin-induced tingle, and combined with orange, ginger & salt made for something that tasted like swamp water samples. (I re-tasted the chips a day later and had the same exact experience, so I threw out the rest of the bag . . . believe me, it's gotta taste pretty bad for me to not finish it off.)

5. Death Valley Chipotle - Definitely one for the heat-seekers, this chip is packed with a serious smoky spice punch of peppers - chipotle, cayenne and habanero! It starts out deceptively mild, but the heat creeps up on you and lingers (as I found out, with even more pepper-laced chips in my mouth)! Have a glass of milk handy for this one. This chip was only OK for me, too spicy for my personal taste, though I can always be optimistic about this and think of it as sensory portion control... ahem.

The wasabi swampwater chips aside, this year's pack is a pretty good bunch (and the Mango Chili is right up there with my last year's fave - Dragon 5 Spice and Royal Indian Curry). But don't take my word for it,
order a pack, host a tasting party or try them all by your lonesome! Oh yea, and vote for Mango Chili ;)! I will order another pack in 2008, after the contest is over and Kettle lets customers mix-and-match the year's contenders, if only to avoid getting another bag of swampwater chips.


Unknown said...

Hello! Wow, I am totally going to nudge Will into buying the Mango Chili one. ^_____^ So, you got swamp water tasting chips, eh? That reminds me of their beer flavored ones. It tasted like barf to me, but tasted delish to someone else. ^^;

Chubbypanda said...

SoCal is doing pretty well this year. Had a bit of a slow start, but the weather finally seems to be headed in the right direction.


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