Thursday 13 April 2023

Fairfields Farm Sea Salt & Aspall Cyder Vinegar

It's always nice to be surprised and, following an impromptu visit to a cafe in a soft play centre, I found myself enjoying some of the finest salt and vinegar crisps available. Regular readers of British Crisps will know that I recently had my mind blown by the Co-op's Sea Salt & Chardonnay Wine Vinegar, but what of the other end of the spectrum? Well, it turns out you don't need an overload of neurotransmitters firing all manner of signals through your central nervous system. Instead, you can kick back with a bag of Sea Salt & Aspall Cyder Vinegar crisps by Fairfields Farm.

Thanks to the snack van, which visits my workplace, deciding to drive off rather than stop for an office load of hungry workers, I was advised to try popping into the soft play centre a few doors down. Not expecting to find much of interest, I headed down there. And, lo and behold, they had some crisps which I'd never heard of before: Fairfields Farm. They looked premium enough and the Sea Salt & Aspall Cyder Vinegar called to me. Best of all, they were just 70p for a 40g bag, an extraordinary bargain in this day and age.

Fairfields Farm is a venture, first launched in 2006, by Laura and Robert Stratherns. With three generations of farming behind them, they certainly know their potatoes. And these are grown in the Colne Valley over in Essex. They also, luckily for us, have a crisp factory located on their farm. Not only is Fairfields Farm a family affair, but the Stratherns are also keen on sustainability. Their ultimate, and highly admirable, aim is to become the UK's first carbon neutral crisp producer.

The backstory of Fairfields Farm was fantastic, but what would I make of their Sea Salt & Aspall Cyder Vinegar crisps? Well, the packet alone is adorned with a clean and, please excuse the pun, crisp design which benefits greatly from the packaging having a matte-finish and a thickness which feels premium - remember, these cost just 70p! - and fantastic in the hand. Tearing this well designed packet open, I was greeted by a strong, rich potato smell with a layer of vinegar coating the air. Tasty.

Intriguingly, many of the crisps have a bubbly appearance - not quite as pronounced as Roysters - but noticeable all the same. And it's a texture which provides a mighty fine crunch. And, with each blessed cruch, there comes the release of a crescendo of vinegary tangs. First, the cyder vinegar brings a sweet, woody tang before this unfurls into a refined finish courtesty of the sherry vinegar also present in the ingredients. It's a comforting, savoury flavour and, just as you think it's over, the sea salt hits you with a final burst of flavour enhancement.

Life's all about surprises and these Sea Salt & Aspall Cyder Vinegar by Fairfield's fulfilled all their promise with ease. They're a world away from the sharp, battery acid tang of other entrants in the salt & vinegar category - and, believe me, I love those - so they provide a unique, sophisticated take on the genre. Highly recommended.

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