Just as I sat down at the market counter with a sandwich, in walked John, president of Paino Organics. Before I knew what was going on he had unloaded three bags of tortilla chips and four jars of salsa. I was hungry anyway, so I gave them a shot.
As you may estimate from the above photograph, John's products now occupy a generous piece of real estate on the Sherman shelves. Their name (Number 9) refers not to the Red Sox' legendary left fielder/fisherman/fighter pilot, nor to John Lennon's musique concrete masterpiece. John was eager to point out that each of his salsas contains no fewer than nine vegetables. A close observer of the above photograph will also notice the middle column of bags containing NINE VEGGIE TORTILLA STRIPS. From the ingredient list: Corn, butternut squash, sweet potato, garlic, carrot, tomato, beet, scallions, onion, potato. Including three alliums, that's ten.
So I tried John's chips and salsa. The salsas were all tasty and very fresh; the hot variety (the first I tried - surely the bellwether salsa) bore a sharp and creeping bite with a depth befitting the seven different peppers included (Want another list? Red peppers, poblanos, jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, guajillos, chipotles, in that order).
All the tortilla strips are pleasantly salty, and exceptionally crunchy as a result (I am told) of adding extra corn bran, which also serves to boost fiber content. The veggie chips have a pronounced sweetness and a pleasing squashy flavor - and I say this as a person who is quite satisfied with one bowl of squash soup per winter, thank you very much. Other than the straight corn chips, the third variety of Number Nines is the Ancient Grain Tortilla Strips, which are equally crunchy and loaded with exotic grains and seeds (What's one more?: corn, amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff (!), brown rice, white AND black sesame seeds - nine). These are nutty and delicious. They remind me of the sesame sticks I ate when I was a kid, transposed into a salty chip. Dave looks displeased in this picture, but he finds these chips delicious:
What more is there to say about these? A few more points at the buzzer: All the chips are made from organic corn, and the salsas with lime juice and never vinegar. Most of all, compared to our prior corn chips, they're made far closer to home - Concord, MA, 15 miles away - and are a fair portion less expensive. So, as I said, we ordered some.