I thought I’d put in a little plug for ‘Proper Crisps’, the hand-cooked potato chips that come from Nelson, and are increasingly seen in good food retailing outlets. We discovered them not too long ago and really like them. I’m not a big potato chip fan as they can get a bit drying for me, especially as my saliva production has been reduced because of the radiotherapy I had. But we provide them when we’re entertaining and we occasionally break open a packet or two. The ‘Proper Crisps’ have become a favourite in our household, because they taste real, unadulterated and they’re probably the best we’ve had in terms of serving with wine, as they accompany rather than take over the taste and textures.
‘Proper Crisps’ was founded by Stuart and Kathryn Franklin, Stuart from a baking background and working for a major chip producer, and Kathryn, a food technologist, who wanted to make really good crisps, especially knowing that New Zealand grew great potatoes. Importing a cooker from the U.S. and setting up in Upper Moutere, Nelson, they perfected their crisps after much trial and error. In April 2011, the Franklins sold the business to Ned and Mina Smith, American arrivals also with a food background, who love the philosophy and have continued the dream.
Essentially, the crisps are hand-cooked in small batches and are as natural as possible avoiding the additives such as artificial colouring, flavouring and preservatives that others have. The crisps are gluten, animal product and GMO free, and organic. They’re Vegetarian Society approved too. Agria potatoes are the best, cooked in sunflower oil, and each batch is handled individually. The potatoes come from South Canterbury and Marlborough sea-salt is added as seasoning. There will never be ‘roast chicken’, ‘beef’ or ‘barbecue’ flavours, as these require chemical additions. The ‘Proper Crisps’ mantra is “that’s all”.
The ‘Marlborough Sea Salt’ is my favourite, as it is ‘classic’, and shows true potato flavour, with just a little oiliness to balance the starch and any flouriness,, and a pinch of salt as required to get the taste buds and saliva going. The chips are truly crisp and have a real crunch. They are all-purpose crisps. There’s also a ‘Smoked Paprika’ version, quite mild but very identifiable. It’s not overly spicy, and the smoke is intriguing and delicate. The flavours don’t build up too much, and you can keep on eating them. Many of our friends enjoy the ‘Rosemary & Thyme’ crisps, sort of an introduction to pesto and those more adult flavours. The herbal flavours again are quite subtle. Both the ‘Smoked Paprika’ and ‘Rosemary & Thyme’ work with a variety of white and red wines. And there’s the new ‘Sea Salt & Vinegar’, which uses apple cider vinegar, this taking a little while to perfect. I’m not a salt and vinegar chippie fan usually, as I suppose vinegar equates to bad and off wine, but this is very pleasant, the vinegar adding a piquant sourness. It works well with wines with a little residual sugar for me.
The ‘Proper Crisps’ have featured in artisan and food awards of late, and the buzz about them is growing. They too are part of the movement that understands consumers are increasingly aware of and search out provenance and naturalness; the ‘Proper Crisps’ packets are stamped with the name of the maker, date and type of potato used. It’s an added feature to the good taste, and no doubt a part of what is responsible their quality. www.propercrisps.co.nz