Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kettle Spicy Thai Potato Chips

            Kettle Brand’s Spicy Thai chips are basically exemplary of the sort of chips that make a chip blog worth writing, the sort of unique alchemy of brilliant, complex flavoring and kettle-cooked potato slices that reach the height of creative perfection.  I can keep on gushing like an art student that just discovered Basquiat for quite a while, because this product boasts so many delightful touches and flavors on top of its solid bedrock of thick-sliced kettle chip quality.
They forgot the white peppers!
            The intent here was to capture the flavor of Thai food, which I am myself a great fan of, though it probably will not please anyone that doesn’t enjoy intense, spicy flavors.  The Thai connection is established through the use of ginger, lime, and (fanciest of all) elements of cilantro.  The chips themselves have a light base coating of honey powder that is pleasantly mild and unobtrusive, salt, and some subtly applied lime oil (especially subtle in comparison to, say, Hint-of-Lime Tortilla chips.)  On top of those are the major flavor accents: ginger, which is the most pervasive and exotic, flecks of cilantro that give a nice herbal zest to the chips and are themselves visible on the chips, garlic, and finally a delightful assortment of spicy peppers (the ingredients list clarifies that there are four different kinds involved: Jalapeno, habanero, cayenne, and white pepper!)  Yes, with that many peppers, especially the mighty habanero, these chips are pretty spicy, not the slow-burn type of spicy, but something you will notice right away!  However, I don’t want to give the impression that these are “painful-spicy”- as long as you don’t stuffy a dozen down your mouth at once, no harm will occur.  This is exactly the sort of spiciness, in fact, that too few other chips dare to offer
            The combination of these strong and very distinct spices makes these chips a delight to experience, and even the base coating of mild-sweet and crusty salt serve as useful counterpoint to the various flavors rather remaining as simple boilerplate.  The fact that these spices are offered on beautiful thick-cut white potatoes full of lovely air bubbles and textured as thickly as a novel by Tolstoy are what help this product achieve perfection.  I’ve been saddened lately to see this product on so few store shelves, and I hope they remain there for a while, because it achieves a perfect marriage of technical perfection and gastronomic creativity that few other products achieve.

Stars: 4/4
Spiciness Level: Hot!

Pros:

If Raging Inferno mode is activated,
the demon will attempt to ravage
your soul, or at least your
sinuses.

-Wonderfully complex multi-layered flavoring
-Evocative of Thai cooking, which is both awesome and fairely unique when it comes to snack food
-Excellent foundation of thick sliced, well textured kettle-cooked potato chips
-Spicy hot, but not to the detriment of flavor or the destruction of taste buds. Eat them slow for a controlled burn, or indulge in a frenzy for the “Raging Inferno” mode.
-Did I mention there were four different kinds of peppers involved?

Cons:
-Not for those who dislike ginger, Thai food, or spicy things


4 comments:

  1. I want to know why we can't find the spicy thai in the montreal Quebec area anymore!?!?

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  2. I'd have to disagree with this review. I'm eating these chips now for the first time and they are literally not spicy at all. You'd think if you named a bag of chips Spicy Thai and put it all in a red bag that it would be at least slightly spicy but it's only tangy at best. In fact, the Kettle Cooked Jalapeno flavor is much spicier in comparison. In my opinion the Spicy Thai flavor is false advertising, can't call something spicy when it clearly isn't. Don't get me wrong they taste great, but if you want something spicier than the Jalapeno flavor or even just spicy at all, this isn't it.

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    Replies
    1. I've been eating these chips for years and they have toned down their recipe quite a bit. Originally it was a wonderfully balance of heat and flavor, now they are barely spicy. I miss the heat!

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    2. Agreed. I first discovered these chips in 2009 and they were amazing. You could taste not only ginger, but chili, lemongrass, cilantro, and a nice hint of sweetness. And they were legit spicy. Nowadays, the lemongrass, cilantro and heat are basically gone and you get some ginger flavor and a generic, salty soy-sauce type flavor, and that's it. They're still alright, but they are a far cry from the chip I knew and loved.

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