Sunday 20 July 2014

Seabrook Lattice Crisps: A Review

I was recently sent 2 large sharing bags of Seabrook’s new lattice crisps varieties to try. I don’t eat crisps very often but when I do I often choose Seabrook crisps as unlike other brands, all their crisps are gluten free and vegetarian. A lot of crisp companies use wheat based flavours for their crisps making them unsuitable for people with coeliac disease, so to have a whole range of safe crisp flavours to choose from is great.

When the bags arrived I was delighted by the shape and design of the crisps. Rather than being thin and flat, these were thickly cut and lattice shaped for extra fun and crunch. I was also pleased to see they were all hand cooked and made in Yorkshire. Although I’m southern born and bred, I now live in Yorkshire and have become rather proud and protective of it, so was pleased to see they were local. Extra bonus points.

The two bags I was sent to review were Sweet Chilli and Cheese & Onion.

Sweet Chilli
Quite thick crisps, not thin and ‘crisp’ like most crisps, these had more crunch and bite. I liked the hashed lattice shape. They reminded me a little of potato waffles we sometimes had when I was a child. Unfortunately my samples were delivered via post meaning quite a lot of them had been broken, so I got mostly pieces rather than whole crisps.

On opening the bag I stuck my nose in and was surprised to find they had hardly any aroma other than fresh potato. If I’d have been blindfolded I’d have guessed these were ready salted flavour. That being said, I suppose it could be due to the fact the bag claims they use no artificial flavours, so they are indeed natural and neutral smelling. This should therefore be a plus point rather than a minus.

After tipping them out I was struck by the red/orange coating on them and the little flecks of green. I eagerly tasted one and at first was taken aback. My first flavour was of nacho cheese…cheese…on a chilli crisp? As I chewed and swallowed a warming glow built up until I was left with quite a sweet chilli kick in the back of my throat. I looked at the ingredients and was intrigued to see that along with some garlic and cayenne (ah there’s the spice!) there was also red pepper powder, apricot powder (how unusual), paprika, anise and fennel. The flecks of green turned out to be parsley. I got the heat and the sweet, but there was still something a little odd about them. I ate a handful more and still the underlying flavour was of cheap nacho cheese. I have no idea where it came from though. I got a second opinion and ‘cheesy’ also came up again. Maybe the mix of spices, garlic and apricot powder created some sort of flavour combination that confused by taste buds but there was definitely more than just chilli going on. Or perhaps they didn’t clean the line before starting the next flavour and some of the cheese flavour was left over from a previous crisp batch, who knows? I’d be interested to try another bag and see if I get the same result.

That being said I loved the thickness of the crisps. This gave them a great crunch and texture. I was also impressed that they were not too greasy, as my fingers weren’t coated in oil after eating them. The warming heat from the chilli also lingered for several minutes after eating them. These would be great with dips.

Cheese & Onion
Next up was the actual cheese flavour. I’m not a big fan of cheese and onion crisps so my expectations of these were slightly lower but I’m pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised. On opening the bag I was pleased to see that a lot more of these crisps had survived the post and were in fact still whole. Again I stuck my nose in and apart from a very faint cheese aroma, the crisps smelt neutral and of fresh potato.

When tipped out there was a mix of pale and lightly golden crisps with a lovely thick crisp and crunchy texture. I took a bite and the flavour of cheddar cheese instantly flooded my mouth. It was a really nice strong cheese flavour, that actually tasted of a smooth and creamy Cheddar cheese, rather than just a generic cheap cheese flavour. It was surprisingly creamy, without too much tang. I was converted!

The onion flavour came through as a second note and again I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed sweeter and more mellow than some cheese and onion flavours I’ve tried. To me they tasted more like chives. I looked at the ingredients and my instinct about the onion was correct. The onion came from shallots which are sweeter and mellower versions of onions, so I was sort of right that they weren’t as harsh as regular onions. I could imagine eating these tucked into a cheese and salad sandwich, which I used to sometimes do with my packet of crisps at school for a bit of added crunch. It made me feel such a rebel.

Overall it was a mixed review for me, although definitely more on the good side. I loved that they were:
  • Gluten free and Coeliac UK certified
  • Yorkshire based
  • Vegetarian
  • All natural ingredients
  • Great crunch and thickness
  • The fun lattice shape
  • The Cheese & Onion actually tasted like real Cheddar cheese

 The things that weren’t quite right for me:
  • The strange nacho cheese flavour in the Sweet Chilli crisps
  • They are only available in large 120g bags. I’d love to see some single serve bags.

 Would I buy again? Yes, but I’d want to try some of their other flavours. I’m not usually a cheesy crisp fan and so to have both flavours tasting cheesy was a bit of a shame. Their Sea Salt & Red Wine Vinegar flavour and the Salt & Black Pepper both sound great.

Note: Although I was sent the crisps for free I was under no obligation to write a good review and all thoughts and comments are my own.


The Caked Crusader said...

I'm an 'any flavour, I'm just happy I have crisps' kinda girl so these appeal to me!

Gluten Free Alchemist said...

You have to be so careful with crisps being gluten free! It's amazing how much hidden gluten there is. I have never seen this brand before, but I love the look of the lattice effect and they seem to be really crisp in texture. Weird about the cheesy hangover though!

John S said...

Maybe the cheese note came from the 'flavouring' component mentioned in the ingredients?