REVIEW: Lay’s Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips

Lay's Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips

I recently went to a Brazilian steakhouse and it was one of the best dining experiences of my life. Servers there bring cuts of various meats to you every few minutes, like brisket, tri-tip, bacon-wrapped sirloin, chicken wings, chicken hearts, lamb, sausage, pork loin, and many more. But my favorite was the picanha.

Picanha is a cut of beef towards the rear of the cow and it’s popular in Brazil. Technically, it’s part of a cow’s butt, but it’s so wonderful. The picanha I gobbled up had a great meaty flavor, was tender, and I’m drooling just thinking about it.

If you’ve never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, servers bring the glistening meat to you on skewers and they slice off a piece, which you take with tongs. But after tasting picanha, every time a server brought it back, I always yelled, “I wanna…more of the picanha!”

Okay, I didn’t scream that out loud, but my taste buds probably were.

But this is not a Yelp review for Brazilian steakhouses, this is a review for Lay’s Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips, which is part of their Passport to Flavor line the brand is offering this summer.

These are not just steak-flavored chips. They also have seasoning that’s supposed to tastes like chimichurri sauce. If you’re wondering how these chips get their steak flavor, they get it from, according to the ingredients list, beef extract and beef fat. There’s also milk protein concentrate and skim milk listed, but I’m not a food scientist, so I’m not sure if they contribute to the steak flavor.

Lay's Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips 2

To get the chimichurri sauce, the chips are seasoned with several spices and ingredients. There’s salt (duh), oregano, parsley, dried garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and onion powder, some of which you can see on every chip.

The chips have a herby and meaty aroma, but they also smell slightly sweet. Their flavor does remind me of steak, but not the awesomeness of the picanha I experienced at a Brazilian steakhouse. Along with the meatiness, there’s also a bit of pepperiness, a bit of herbs, and a wee bit of sweetness. All together those flavor characteristics create something that tastes like steak and chimichurri sauce. While not as enjoyable as eating actual picanha, I think it’s a mighty fine tasting potato chip and it does a decent job at trying to replicate the meat.

Along with seasoning inconsistencies from chip to chip, there was something about the flavor that bothered me. I kept thinking to myself that it tasted familiar, and I kept shoving chips into my mouth to figure it out. Then it hit me. They kind of taste like a meat sauce one would find on spaghetti. It’s not a bad thing and if Lay’s ever decides to come out with spaghetti-flavored chips they already have the recipe.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant meaty, herby flavor. It also kind of tastes like spaghetti meat sauce. Actual picanha at Brazilian steakhouses.
Cons: Doesn’t make me as happy as actual picanha does. Seasoning inconsistencies from chip to chip. Chicken hearts.

REVIEW: Cheetos Crunchy Wild Habanero

Cheetos Crunchy Wild Habanero

Believe it or not, the habanero was once the world’s hottest chili pepper. But thanks to botany and hot, steamy plant-on-plant action, which produced spicier peppers, the habanero has been relegated to a lower heat status and has also dropped in rank on the Cool Chili Pepper Name List.

It’s been overtaken by the Ghost Pepper, Carolina Reaper, Infinity Chili, Komodo Dragon Chili Pepper, Super Duper Red Hot Chili Peppers, Naga Viper, and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

Oh, one of those isn’t a real chili pepper name, but the rest are real. Guess which one.

And those hotter peppers are not slightly ahead on the Scoville scale, a measurement of chili pepper heat, they’re like Golden State Warriors-ahead of the once mighty pepper. While the habanero can muster 100,000-350,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units), many of the peppers I’ve listed above go beyond (raise pinky to mouth) one million SHU.

While the habanero no longer has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s found a place on many crunchy snacks. Pringles. Chex Mix. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. And now these Cheetos Crunchy Wild Habanero snacks.

Well, actually, it should’ve gone. Cheetos Crunchy. Pringles. Chex Mix. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. The order should’ve been different because these cheesy, spicy snacks are a rerelease, originally on shelves in 2010. But they’re back again to be the “Official Snack of the Mexican National Team,” who probably didn’t have a say in the matter.

Cheetos Crunchy Wild Habanero 2

The orange and red crunchy corn puffs look like what I imagine ends up on Lucifer’s finger after digging his nose. Yes, I’m saying they look like devil’s boogers. But what tasty buggers they are.

The level of heat these bring is below the nerve stinging spiciness of Cheetos Flamin’ Hot. With these Cheetos Crunchy Wild Habanero I can munch my way though many of them without hesitation, but I can tolerate only so much with any Flamin’ Hot snack. But I’m not giving the go ahead sign for those who don’t like the spicy.

Since the habanero seasoning isn’t tear-inducing for me, I can taste the cheesy, peppery, and smoky flavoring on each crunchy corn puff. They’re also a little tomato-y and oniony. But a kick of lime is what makes this snack’s flavor stand out. It gives these Cheetos Crunchy a taste that’s more complex than just cheesy and spicy. And I have to say I prefer the flavor of these over Flamin’ Hot.

Sadly, this flavor will go back into the Cheetos flavor vault once the Olympics are done and, maybe, pop up again years from now to promote something else. But I don’t want that to be the case. I want it to be a permanent flavor.

But just like the habanero pepper had to accept it wouldn’t always be the hottest pepper in the world, I have to accept I won’t be eating Cheetos Crunchy Wild Habanero for a while.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 160 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: Purchased on eBay for more than the price on the packaging
Size: 8.5 oz bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Really spicy, but not REALLY spicy. Complex flavor that’s cheesy, spicy, smoky, and a little limey. Better than Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot.
Cons: Difficult to find. Will eventually go back into the Cheetos flavor vault. If you do not like spicy foods, do not eat this.

REVIEW: Lay’s Beer ‘n Brats Potato Chips

Lay's Beer 'n Brats Potato Chips

With it being cookout season, I imagine many of you will find yourselves outside with a cold beer in one hand, a nice bratwurst in the other hand, not enough sunscreen on your body, and way too much bug repellant because those reports on the evening news about the Zika virus are freaking you out.

Frito-Lay is celebrating summer with the rollout of Lay’s Beer ’n Brats Potato Chips, which is a flavor that I imagine is causing some of you to spew profanities at your screen right now because it was your entry for the Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest.

Full disclosure: I am not a beer drinker.

Full disclosure 2 Electric Boogaloo: But I am a beer-flavored potato chip eater.

I’m a huge fan of Kettle Brand’s Cheddar Beer Potato Chips. I voted for it during Kettle Brand’s first People’s Choice vote in 2005. I love its combination of maltiness and tangy cheesiness, and how those flavors really popped. Oh, God, I want some right now.

So how do these Lay’s chips get their beeriness and bratiness?

With Beer ’n Brats seasoning, of course. No really. That’s what it’s called in the ingredients list. Thankfully the seasoning is broken down. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order: salt (of course), onion powder, cheddar cheese, brown sugar, sugar, yeast extract, whey protein concentrate (imagine me flexing right now), spices, butter, Romano cheese, chicken broth, chicken powder, buttermilk, chicken fat, dijon mustard, natural extractives of beer, and beer solids.

What’s a beer solid? It sounds like a favor that’s sealed when two people drink beer with their drinking arms intertwined. It’s not, but the knowledgeable ingredients list also breaks down what beer solids are — malted barley, corn syrup, hops, and yeast.

Lay's Beer 'n Brats Potato Chips 2

The Lay’s Beer ’n Brats Potato Chips have an aroma that smells like the undercarriage of a lawnmower that just ran over an herb garden and New York City hot dog carts. It’s sweet, herby, and mustard-y. My nose likes it and my nose also thinks it smells somewhat similar to turkey and stuffing potato chips I’ve had in the past.

A beer-like flavor registered once I put them into my mouth. But quickly after that it got a little more complex. It’s slight herby, there’s a mild onion flavor, the cheese gave off a slight funk, and the chicken ingredients gave the chips a greasiness that tastes like a bratwurst. But overall, the chip leans more towards a bratwurst than a beer, and that taste lingered in my mouth long after I ate them. They have a unique flavor and my palate enjoyed them, but they don’t make me say, “Don’t you dare take these off shelves or else I will cut you!”

As much as I liked these chips, I could see how others might think they’re gross. Herbs, onion, funk, and grease don’t sound like an awesome combination to some, but I guess, much like beer, it’s an acquired taste.

Thanks to my pal Candy Hunting for sending this bag to me. If you have an Instagram account you can follow her @candyhunting.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: N/A
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Initial flavor is beer-like. It also tastes somewhat like a brat. Complex flavor. Unique flavor. Kettle Brand Cheddar Beer Potato Chips.
Cons: Some might find its flavor off-putting. I wish the flavor popped a bit more. Might be difficult to find. Zika virus.

QUICK REVIEW: Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles

Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles

I imagine putting together a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme is like brain surgery when compared with the effort it takes to make a cheesy quesadilla. Making one is easier than typing qasadia quasadila quesadila quesadea quesadilla for a first time speller of the word. It involves these simple steps: warm up a soft tortilla in a skillet, sprinkle on a lot of cheese, wait for cheese to melt, fold tortilla in half, and eat.

But Pringles, the Master of Potato Flake Compression, has given us a much simpler way to experience the simple dish — Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles.

It’s not a new flavor, it originally came out years ago, but it hasn’t been on shelves for a while and is currently exclusive to Walgreens. So you can pick up a can while you’re picking up your prescription for something that only you and your doctor know about. Oh, and don’t forget to take your Walgreens Balance Rewards Card. This paragraph was not brought to you by Walgreens at the corner happy & healthy.

The flavor of these crisps is not what I would consider bold or cheese quesadilla-like. There’s a light cheesiness with an equally light pepperiness. I know what these are supposed to taste like, but it doesn’t fire my neurons in a way that makes me think cheesy quesadilla. Instead, all I can think about is watered down chile con queso.

Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles 2

Maybe the flavors are mild because Pringles wanted to recreate the flavor dampening abilities of soft tortillas. Or maybe the seasoning robot in the Pringles factory was set to level 4 by accident.

Overall, Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles are adequate. I don’t think it’s one of those “accidentally eat more than half a can in one sitting” flavors, like sour cream and onion or original. I guess what I’m trying to say is if you see it while picking up your medication at Walgreens, it’s probably not worth a try.

Disclosure: I received a free sample from Pringles in return for an honest review. Receiving the sample did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 5.96 oz can
Purchased at: Available at Walgreens
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 ounce) 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips

Barbeque season is upon us once again, and your old friend Vin is here to share a dirty little secret with you.

No one really likes your potato salad.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the side dish you made/bought is not as big a hit as your well-meaning friends are making it seem. There’s a reason it’s the last thing remaining on the table as the sun drops, just rotting there in a warm, gelatinous clump of misery as the guests head for their cars.

In terms of the salad offerings at any given BBQ, potato almost always ranks behind macaroni. If chicken salad is on the menu, forget about it! Hell, potato salad usually ranks behind regular salad. With all due respect to all the red headed stepchildren of the world, potato salad is truly the you of summer BBQ staples.

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips 2

Crispy chips are tastier than starchy spud cubes slathered in a gross mayo concoction and the good folks at Frito-Lay are well aware of this. That’s why they’re ready to make the summer of ‘16 potato salad-free with the introduction of their “new” flavor, Creamy Bacon Potato Salad.

Now that I think about it, potato salad was probably an easy flavor to reproduce in chip form. You’re already working with potato. Add a buzzworthy ingredient – possibly the buzziest – in “bacon,” and yup, this seems like it might actually work.

They certainly smell the part. These are the best smelling chips I’ve had in some time. Upon tearing open the bag, I was hit with the aroma of bacon bits. It’s a bit more artificial than freshly cooked bacon, but amazing nonetheless.

I guess the initial flavor is the “salad” component of the chip. There’s a sharp vinegary, mayonnaise taste, but that is immediately trounced by bacon. Beyond that quick surge, these are basically a loaded baked potato.

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips 3

Sure, I was put in mind of potato salad for a split second, but it doesn’t seem like they even tried to steer this away from loaded baked potato. Sour cream, onion powder, and cheddar cheese are listed in the ingredients. It’s a potato chip and bacon is the star of the show. What’s missing? That’s a loaded baked potato.

Think of them like this – If you filled three-fourths of a bowl with 3/4 loaded baked potato chips and then filled the rest with salt and vinegar, this would be the end result.

These chips are a delicious sham. Lay’s repackaged a slight variation on an old flavor and designed a shiny new bag. I’m not mad at ‘em, and when you try these, you won’t be either. I am however mad about one minor thing.

I realize sour cream and onion is one of the most popular chips in the world, but why is “Creamy” necessary here? First of all, “Creamy Bacon” is a weird combination of words that illicit some weird thoughts in my brain. Second of all, it’s a chip. It’s not creamy. Even if you’re mimicking the taste of “creamy” potato salad, we don’t need to know it’s creamy, it’s assumed. Not to mention, “creamy” is a disgusting word. It’s my “moist.” This concludes my creamy rant.

Next time you’re considering bringing potato salad to a BBQ, think better of it. Grab a bag of these and pick up some macaroni salad. Your hosts/guests will appreciate it.

Fans of any of the numerous bacon-centric flavors Lay’s has put out in the past will love these. If you like potato skins appetizers, you’ll love these. If you like summer, you’ll love these.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.48
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: One of the better new flavors in a while. Worthy replacement for gross potato salad. Smells great. Buzzworthy bacon.
Cons: Basically a retread flavor in a shiny new bag. Imagining what creamy bacon might taste like. The word “creamy” in general. Potato salad.

REVIEW: Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps

Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps

Ahoy, me maties. What’s shakin?

I just tried my first Pirate Brands product ever.

After passing on “Pirate’s Booty” for years, I finally decided to indulge in their Bountiful Banana and “Potatarr” Crisps.

I’ve never found pirates all that interesting. I’ve grown tired of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I’ve always held an admittedly unfair loathing of the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Go Mets!) Whenever I hear the word, I picture Jerry Seinfeld in a puffy shirt whimpering, “But I don’t wanna be a pirate!”

All of those might’ve subconsciously played a role into why I’ve never purchased Pirate Brands snacks. Or maybe my brain just didn’t like the idea of eating “Booty”?

But there is one sure-fire way to get my money, no ifs, ands, or booties, and that’s to release a snack using the one ingredient that has a gravitational pull on me – banana.

I’ll try any snack you wanna throw at me if banana is a featured ingredient. I would’ve walked the plank or fought the fabled Kraken to try a bag of banana and potato crisps. Those are things pirates do, right?

Yarrrr, these crisps be delicious. Ah geez, they got me talking like em now.

The aroma coming out of the bag after I opened it was heavenly. It smelled exactly like dried banana chips.

Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps 2

The crisps look and crunch exactly like Lay’s Baked. I know a lot of people don’t love those, but I’m a weirdo who actually prefers baked crisps over fried chips. I can demolish a bag with no problem, and like Lay’s Baked, these went down very easy.

Each potato crisp has a powdery coating that starts with sweet banana flavor, but evolves into a subtle salty banana. Shiver me timbers! (I’ll stop now.) I immediately started tipping the bag back and drinking multiple crisps at a time.

When I ate it that way (in the comfort of my own home, thank you), I realized there was a small flavor inconsistency. Some of the crisps had an overbearing sweetness that made them taste synthetic.

Luckily, that momentary disappointment soon faded. The sweetness didn’t last long enough for it to become a real problem. As I chewed, the potato took over and these basically became standard baked crisps. The starchiness of the potato crisp neutralized the sweetness, so I got banana on the nose, and potato on the finish. Not only that, a few minutes after putting the bag down, I was left with a very pleasant banana aftertaste.

So, to recap, the taste profile actually goes from banana to potato and then back to banana! Magic.

Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps 3

You’re probably wondering about the dried banana chips shown on the bag. Whoever the tallyman is, he or she needs to be fired, because I counted less than five. So they weren’t exactly “bountiful” as promised.

I wanted to cry about false advertising, but in the end I really didn’t care. The banana flavor on the crisp was the same as the dried banana chip. I tasted no difference at all when I mixed the two.

I ended up loving these. And I think I like pirates now.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 30 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4 oz bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: I just love bananas. Good crunch. Nice baked flavor. Delicious mix of salty and sweet. A reasonably healthy snack. “The Puffy Shirt” episode of Seinfeld. Ate the entire bag in one sitting.
Cons: The word “booty.” Some crisps briefly tasted synthetic. Lack of dried banana chips. Who is the tallyman? Ate the entire bag in one sitting.