Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bret’s Pavé Grillée (Grilled Steak!)

There’ve been a lot of sophisticated flavor-emulating chips hitting the store shelves in the United States, but I feel fairly fortunate to have picked up this little gem in France, where most of the flavorings are more along the lines of crude artist’s impressions than photo-realistic reproduction for the tongue.  So now, to join the meaty flavors of Dorito’s Tailgate Barbecue or Lay’s Cheeseburger Crisps, we have nothing other than Steak Flavored chips, done in a most convincing fashion, and without (I know you are dye-ing to know…) any red food coloring.
It's as if everything tasty and bad for your
health were brought together in one
convenient place.  But wait, galette are made
with buckwheat, so now they qualify as
health food.
Bret’s, as it turns out, is from Bretagne (Brittany) in France, the north-eastern peninsular region across the English channel, immediately west of Normandy, which Americans should all remember for some sort of minor skirmish fought on a beach.  Brittany is known for its inhabitants fondness for cider and salty buckwheat crepes stuffed with cheese and meat known as galettes.  Apparently, they also like all their beef enough they want to taste it on their fried potato crisps- I would say that’s almost American, but the French possibly like steak even more than Americans.

The first sensation I experienced upon opening the bag was a strong but pleasing scent of vinegar, and although I found that a little strange, I was not at all off put because I love vinegar (as some readers may recall…) and I dug in with an open mind.  The crisps themselves are ruffled and lightly browned, spared any coloration or obvious flavoring except for some scattered flecks of black pepper.

Classic French cooking- though this
pave is drizzled in a cream-and-pepper
sauce whereas the chips are simulating
a wine-based marinade.
Thoughts of vinegar will flow from your mind like wine sauce poured on filet mignon as you bite into these chips and are greeted by the sumptuous flavor of a juicy grilled steak melting in your gnashers.  The evocation of a succulently tender steak is flatly uncanny, in the best X-men sense of the word, with intimations of a rich wine-based marinade vaguely but an unobtrusively in the background and a hint of smokiness to get the grilled grit on your tongue.  The vinegar elements are part and parcel with the sweater aspects of its bouquet, but the salt anchors the meaty body of the flavor.

What dark arts did the folks at Bret’s practice to produce these alchemical master pieces?  Sadly, the ingredients list is as vague a defense attorney under cross-examination.  But I was so convinced of the superiority of the flavor emulation that I instituted a series of tests to see if my housemates could correctly identify the flavor of the chips without seeing the bag they came from first.  Well, I must humble myself by being honest here: everybody got that it was meat, but nobody was able to identify it as steak (chicken was the popular answer) before I showed them the bag.

So, I am embarrassed to admit that the results of my experiment undermine the claims I am putting forth in the review.  You’ll just have to take my word that these bring the sweet and the salty of the steak eating experience, (and by that, I mean a well-seasoned steak, not a the flavorless hunks of meat that require half a bottle of steak sauce to even tickle your tongue), mixed in with some subtle but highly satisfying overtones of marinade. Flavor mixing at its finest bound to please your mouth as surely as making out with that leggy librarian you were eyeing in High school.  Yeah, you know the guy I'm talking about.
"Oh, you know how it is. I was just about to update the card
catalog and put up some new Dewey decimal system posters
when I thought to myself, 'My, do these stacks get stuffy...'"

Stars: 3½/4
Spiciness Rating: none

- Amazingly life-like juicy steak flavor evenly applied on the chips
- Vinegar and marinade aromas mixed in with subtle skill that should offend no one and please many
- Ruffled crisps are nice and crunchy

- Not the highest-quality of potato crisps, though still quite good
- A little more pepper to counterpoint the sweet and salty would have made it just perfect


  1. Pave sounds like a crappy cut of meat. #justSayin

  2. Voilà encore une chose que j avais oublie. Les bonnes chips à la française. Et cette recette pavé Donne l eau à la bouche . Pas sûre de les trouver chez trader Joe où WFM bon article though

  3. Un Pavé comment ca peut paraître crappy ? C'est délicieux surtout marinés. C est sure que c est pas les steacks Bacon blue cheese ultra gras de kruger qu on fait carboniser au bbq.

  4. No, no, no--Anonymous, just the word. Because in english, paved would refer to the making of a road or a sidewalk--still hungry?

  5. Αt the finish of thе ԁay,
    a basic safetу look at ѕhould be dоnе.

    In 1907, Јames Murгаy Spangler, built a vacuum cleaner with bаggagе tо seize
    dіrt and dеbris, enhаnсing kitсhen аrea lаyout.
    Thе speed of innovation requires exam аnd mеaѕuгеment аnsωеrs which arе morе quickly,
    mοге сost-effectiѵе, anԁ
    far moгe ѕсalable than еѵеr right befοге.

    mу homеρаge;
    My web site red toasters at sears

  6. We don't have pave here in Seattle, but we do have the indian curry, goat cheese with espelette pepper, french onion, and, garlic rosemary Bret's. Yum!