Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lay’s Smoked Cheese with Pepper

Available in Poland, Czech, Slovakia,
the Baltic states, and Hungary
If the review that follows has a slightly reverential tone, you can thank EasyJ et.   While we avoided paying the numerous EasyJet fines that are the classic stuff of airline horror stories, we were still left hungry on board with a pocketful of foreign currency and empty bellies.  Could I have a Coke please?  4 Euros.  For a can.  Would you like a sandwich with that?  No!   

So we tore into one of the three bags we had snagged at the store before departing Hungary, and I was forced to write this review on the flight back, despite having just written 3 others, because Erin was so eager to finish the bag and I wanted to make sure I still had the lingering smoky flavor in my mouth while I raved like a prophet inscribing into his holy book.

Lay’s Polish branch has hatched another East European Easter Egg, something so tasty I can only wonder why this wasn’t picked up in the United States long ago and marketed to every corner of the earth.  Standard salty cheddar cheese flavoring has been done to death, but somebody at Lay’s realized that rather than revisiting that tired old cliché, smoked Gouda would transform the mundane into the spectacular as surely as taking an turn down the road to Toon Town.

Creamy soft, salty, and smokey,
I cannot sing the praises of Smoked
Gouda enough- go out and try it!  It is
strangely unavailable in French stores.
Gouda cheese is of course available in un-smoked form, in which it tastes rather plain and cheddar-like- but try a smoked Gouda and you will enter a world of smoky-salty character that would rival a Cohen brothers flick.  Smoked Gouda is a Technicolor dream boat, there I said it, and it manages to be every bit as flavorful as French cheese while not coming from France, nor relying on aging and stinkiness to give it flavor.  (The last time the French came close to capturing the Netherlands, the Dutch flooded the dykes.)

The Dutch blowing the Dykes: though this may sounds like a
collective lesbian orgasm so great Obi-Wan would sense a
disturbance in the Force, it instead refers to inundating most
of the surface area of  your country with the waters of the
ocean. Nearly as awesome…
The chemists at Lay’s have recaptured the flavor of Gouda cheese with remarkable precision, and I found my mouth filling with rich smokehouse fumes and could taste the creamy cheese practically melting in my mouth.  If you are unfamiliar with Gouda, the flavor is also somewhat akin to the taste of baked cheese, such as the slightly burnt ends of a toasted cheese sandwich or baked ziti, but I mean that in the best way possible.  Go ahead and try it!

Not all is well in Heaven, so I must report that the crisps themselves are thin and not especially crunchy.  More curiously, however, while the black pepper advertised as part of the title is visible in tiny specks on the chips (though much less densely than portrayed on the packaging), it is not much evident as a component of the flavor.  While a more tangible, and tangibly spicy, pepper statement would certainly have contributed even more to the experience, the flavoring is so tasty that it fortunately stands quite well without it.

These should definitely be on your go-out-and-try list- the flavoring is tasty and fairly unique, and though held back by some sins of omission, remains compelling and flavorful in a way that apparently only Eastern Europe can appreciate (which is odd, as Gouda is a West European cheese.)  I did a web search for the Smoked Cheese chips after returning, and the only site that referenced them was from Lithuania.  Now there's a tragedy I can rectify...

Stars: 3/4
Spiciness: Very Mild

Pros:
- Remarkably evocative and smoked-gouda flavor
- Yummy and unique

Cons:
- Probably not available anywhere near you- unless you live east of Germany
- The texture and crunchiness of the crisps are average
- Pepper-aspect of the flavor is disappointingly minimal

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