This week I’m back with another edition of Tight Chips, a recurring feature on The Saboscrivner, where I review new and interesting potato chips and other store-bought snacks.
This time I’m focusing on some new store brand chips I purchased over the last few months at Aldi and The Fresh Market. I’ve raved about Aldi before, and for the last few years, I do most of our grocery shopping there. It’s cheaper than any other grocery store, and it mostly carries high-quality private label products — groceries and other goods produced by other manufacturers (often familiar ones), then rebranded with Aldi’s own store brands. Some of them are “Aldi Finds” that only appear for a week, or as long as supplies last, and then vanish just as quickly. Weekly ads run from Wednesday through Tuesday, so make sure you check the ads online and hit store starting on Wednesday to track down the Aldi Finds while you can.
Most of Aldi’s potato chips and snacks are sold under the Clancy’s private label, including these two delicious new potato chip flavors inspired by cocktails enjoyed at brunch: Bloody Mary and Moscow Mule. Both of these are crunchy, “krinkle-cut” chips, with thicker ridges than Ruffles, and of course they were limited-time Aldi finds.
Here is the nutrition info for the Bloody Mary chips. Bloody Mary cocktails are usually made with worcestershire sauce, a tasty and versatile condiment that adds a funky umami element to anything, in part due to containing anchovies. I love cooking with anchovies. They add even saltiness and umami, especially when you saute bitter vegetables like broccoli rabe (aka rapini) and broccolini (aka baby broccoli). I’ve never had a Bloody Mary, but I can’t imagine they would be as beloved as they are by brunchers everywhere if they tasted like salty cured fish. Seems like an instant ticket to acid reflux, but what do I know? Anyway, vegetarians don’t have to worry, because the ingredients specifically state they use anchovy-free worcestershire sauce.
These were better than I expected. Tangy, tomatoey, a little bit spicy. I love these flavors in general, and especially on chips. They are kind of like barbecue chips, but with a sharper flavor, and less sweet. They would be great dunked in a tangy blue cheese dip or a creamy spinach-artichoke dip, but I didn’t have any.
Next up, we have the Moscow Mule chips, so here is the nutrition info for those. These chips were a pleasant surprise too. I gave up drinking before ever trying a real Moscow mule, but the cocktail contains vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, and is served in a copper mug. Note that the ingredients list lemon juice powder rather than lime juice powder, as well as citric acid for a sour, puckery punch.
These really do taste like ginger and citrus! They are a little sweet, a little sour, a little spicy, and surprisingly refreshing. Even if you don’t care about the drink, it’s a nice flavor combination that makes me think of a sunny summer day.
Aldi has a different private label called Specially Selected for serious gourmet goodies — everything from fancy preserves and holiday-themed sweets to frozen meals and decadent desserts, plus occasional new chips. These are also Aldi Finds that pop up randomly, and they can be gone, baby, gone just as quickly. I found these Specially Selected Pancetta and Parmesan kettle chips back in early March:
Vegetarians, note that these contain dairy, but no pork or other meat!
These chips were savory and a little smoky, but all the flavors were subtle. They really did smell and taste like pancetta, that wonderful cured Italian meat that is like unsmoked bacon, which can miraculously improve so many recipes. They had a little bit of funky umami flavor from parmesan cheese as well.
Another good grocery store that I don’t shop at nearly as often is The Fresh Market, which is more of an upscale, gourmet supermarket, similar to Whole Foods, but generally a little smaller and a lot less “hippie-ish.” Shopping there really is a pleasure. The stores aren’t overly bright, they pipe in classical music, and they have a lot of delicious food you can’t buy anywhere else. Their groceries tend to be on the pricey side, but they run some decent sales and often put good products on clearance, so you want to be on the lookout and stock up on things when you can. The Fresh Market has its own store brand for all kinds of products, including snacks and even potato chips. I don’t recall being tempted by them before, but All Dressed potato chips recently caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist. This is a terrific flavor that is popular in Canada, but very rare here in the States. Frito-Lay has released All Dressed Ruffles before, but that’s all I can recall, until now.
These are thinner potato chips, very similar to Lay’s, which is my favorite texture and mouth-feel for chips. They went heavy with the All Dressed seasoning, and they are fantastic. The bag doesn’t lie — they are sweet, tangy, savory, smoky, spicy, vinegary, and vaguely tomatoey. They are kind of like a combination of barbecue and salt and vinegar chip flavors, and I think that’s a winning combination. If you like Zapp’s Voodoo chips, All Dressed is similar to those. Tremendous flavor. I highly recommend these!
The three Aldi flavors are almost certainly already gone, but Aldi brings old favorites back throughout the year. I’m always on the lookout for the triumphant return of their Park Street Deli atomic spicy and sweet horseradish pickles and their maple-vanilla whipped cream around the holidays. I’ve seen these chip flavors more than once, so just follow the weekly ads and stay vigilant. I even bought my record player at Aldi, a neat little Crosley knockoff that transforms into a briefcase and even has a USB port for digitizing your vinyl collection, and those tend to show up around Mother’s Day every year.
The Fresh Market All Dressed chips should still be around, and I suggest running, not walking, to get those in your life sooner rather than later… so you can burn calories and allow yourself to eat more Tight Chips!