Recently I was asked if I would like to review a new range of popcorn brought out by Caffe Nero, called Metcalfe's Skinny Topcorn.There are four flavours - Sea Salt, Chocolate Crackle, Sweet n Salt and Wasabi.
The Sea Salt is just regular salted popcorn and as such there's nothing particularly different about it, other than unlike movie theatre popcorn, it doesn't taste oversalted.
I was expecting the Chocolate Crackle popcorn to be completely covered/dipped in chocolate - but it wasn't anything of the sort. The crackly chocolate (which tasted like dark chocolate to me) was drizzled over the fat round kernels, so the popcorn didn't really taste oversweet or over-chocolatey. Ok, I know this last bit would not been seen as a plus by most chocolate-crazy people, but trust me when I say that the drizzled chocolate worked really well. My husband, a chocolate fiend, didn't complain about the "lack" of chocolate - he just said that the whole taste-and-texture sensation was brilliant.
The Sweet n Salt flavour was a surprisingly big hit again with my husband. He ate an entire pack meditatively, finally saying "It's odd, but the sweet n salt flavour does work really well". (His excuse for eating the whole pack was that he had to try all the popcorn to make his decision on the taste. Riiight...). My opinion was pretty much a foregone conclusion because I love contrasting flavours, like sea-salt flakes in sweet chocolate or caramel, but Pete's not usually in favour of that. This popcorn must really have taken his fancy like it took mine.
And now for the Wasabi flavour. I was kind of disappointed that the horseradish flavour didnt come through strongly enough for me - although the wasabi-flavoured popcorn was very tasty all the same. Then again, I suppose if the Japanese wasabi had been strong enough to clear the nasal passages, there would be very few takers for this popcorn apart from me. Certainly Pete would not have appreciated the effect. Oddly, I kept getting the impression that the popcorn had been popped in mustard oil, because the wasabi had a faintly mustardy taste, if you ask me. Pete's not familiar with either wasabi or mustard oil, so he didn't really have a handle on my opinion. After some experimental eating, his verdict was that the wasabi popcorn was different but tasty and savoury.
This brand of popcorn is aimed to compete with the gourmet crisps market, but - as nice as they are - I'm not sure that their appeal will be knocking off the potato crisps off their perch anytime soon. Perhaps a posh cheese-and-onion Topcorn flavour needs to make its entry...
As far as the price of these Skinny Topcorn flavours is concerned, I don't really know how much it costs per single packet as sold by Caffe Nero. But according to the "shop" on the website, it costs between £9 and £9.84 per dozen packs, depending on the flavour - and of course the Chocolate Crackle is the most calorific and the most expensive... but you could have guessed that, right?