31 May 2014

Scrabble in Jameld

I made a language. It took over 10π years and it isn't finished yet. Then I made a set of Scrabble® tiles for the language. It took a couple of hours' fiddling with Word and labels and a ruler and a knife. Then I played the game (against myself) and it worked. Happy.

The first-ever rack of Jameld Scrabble.
Yes, the first tile I pulled out of the bag really was an TS̄.

The game, complete.
All real words to be found in the Jameld Dictionary (or allowable inflected forms).
No funky neologistic compounds. No cheating (although reference was made to the Dictionary
to check spellings, and, occasionally, for inspiration). Accents are ignored.

26 May 2014

Crisp review: Salty Dog/Darling Spuds

The lovely people at Salty Dog crisps recently sent us some review packs of their spicy crisps. (They also do non-spicy ones: it was a pack of their delicious Sea Salt variety we picked up at Gatwick Airport, of all places, that alerted us to their existence.)

The Sweet Chilli variant has already been described here (here), but now it's time to report on their siblings Jalapeño and Coriander:

As you can see, these have a nice golden appearance with small red and larger green flecks (maybe the eponymous jalapeño and coriander respectively). A good crunch, too, and the flavour, with a subtle note of coriander alongside the medium heat (2.5 on our scale, building in the throat), means they are extremely moreish. So moreish, in fact, that the auxiliary tester polished off most of them while I was still taking photos.

And then we have the Salty Dog company's other brand, the gluten-free Darling Spuds, which are represented here by Fire-Roasted Jalapeño Peppers flavour:

Concise review: Yum.

Verbose review: These crisps have an attractive orangey-gold colour, with green and red flecks, and they deliver substantial heat, especially in the back of the throat – maybe 3.5 on the insertcrisps heat scale. The flavour is great, with very little of that vegetabley red pepper thing but plenty of spice, like lots of black pepper. I can report they go very well with a spicy Belgian tripel beer. Very well indeed.

Now, before hackles are raised and cries go up of "insertcrisps.com is corrupt" and "This is payola", let us reassure you that everything here is entirely above board. We operate under a strict, no-nonsense and unequivocal principle: Send us great crisps, and we'll say something nice about them.

12 May 2014

Sweet chilli crisps group test (May 2014)

In the past we've tried to concentrate on the hottest crisps we could find, but sometimes gentle warmth and sweetness is just the ticket. And so for your delectation we present a test of mild "sweet chilli" flavoured crisps...

Tyrrell's Sweet Chilli and Red Pepper

Mmm, first impressions are favourable, as these have a nice golden colour; it's a "good fry". They still have their skins on and there are little green (parsley?) and red (pepper) flecks. The flavour is subtly sweet and a bit tomato ketchup-y, with a gentle heat (1.5 on our scale) which is very pleasant. As a result they are dangerously addictive. Definitely worth a try.

Corkers Sweet Thai Chilli

These crisps are delicate and pleasant but unremarkable. Very low heat (1.0) and not much flavour generally, although a bit vinegary. Sorry, not much to say about these really.

Kettle Chips: Sweet Potato Chips, Sweet Chilli flavour

These are a rather curious thing in that they are oven baked, with a resultant stellated (if that's the right word) appearance. Unfortunately, the texture is not particularly appealing: they are thin and brittle and (in the words of our auxiliary tester) "woody". There are green flecks of dried parsley visible on the crisps. Tastewise they are nothing to write home about either, with negligible heat (call it 0.5) and an almost overwhelming sweetness. Then again, there is a lot of "sweet" written on the packet, which is fair warning. They aren't entirely unpleasant, but we just wish they were proper sweet potato crisps, with some decent flavour. We won't be bothering again. In summary, too much Woody, not enough Buzz.

Salty Dog Sweet Chilli

These puppies (ahem) have a good colour – orangey gold, with red specks. They have a good crunch and are nice and thick. The flavour is not overly sweet, although they are quite salty; the taste is quite heavy on the red pepper and there is a pleasant chilli kick, giving a heat rating of 2–2.5 on the insertcrisps.com scale. Really rather good. If you see them, give them a try.

Burts Thai Sweet Chilli

Our old friends at Burts (who once did a fantastic Hot Chilli Lemon flavour) provide the last on the list this time, their Thai Sweet Chilli variant. These have an appealingly deep golden colour, with green and red flecks. There is a mild warmth (1.5) and the texture is good, as is always the case from Burts, with a good crunch. The taste is well on the way towards delicious, but we are slightly concerned that they taste a bit like most other Burts crisps, just with some additional chilli – it's almost as if there is a standard spice and flavouring mix to which adjustments are made for the various recipes. Nice though.