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Friday, March 5, 2021

Trader Joe's Aussie-Style Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies Coated In Chocolate

It's hard to believe that the same nation known for its production of and affinity for something as revolting as Vegemite can also be known for amazing dunkable chocolatey "biscuits" like these. There are those who will argue that Vegemite isn't that bad and that Americans simply don't know how to eat it correctly. It's true Americans don't know how to eat it correctly in the same way we don't know how to eat dirt correctly. 

"Just put a very small amount on buttered bread," they say. "The less you put on, the better it is." Well, I can agree with that. And logically, if you put none on your bread at all, then that yields the greatest possible amount of satisfaction as far as Vegemite is concerned. It's flavored, spreadable yeast, and it's an affront to all that's decent in the world. 

Fortunately, the Ozzies have atoned for their insolence by introducing the world to Tim Tams...and now Trader Joe's has their very own version. I've mentioned Tim Tam cookies and the notorious Tim Tam Slam before in a post about three years hence, but I'll go over it again here in case you missed it.

First you bite off the corners of your Trader Joe's Aussie-Style Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookie in the manner depicted by the cookie on the right side of the photograph. Then you submerge one bitten corner of the cookie in your hot beverage of choice and then suck on the other bitten corner, thus slurping some of the beverage into and through the cookie in the manner of a large, cumbersome, and highly chocolatey straw. At this point, the cookie will be structurally unstable, especially on the end that's been submerged in liquid, and you must very quickly toss the molten cookie into your mouth. If your hot beverage happens to be hot chocolate, you just might suffer a chocolate overdose of sorts and need to seek medical attention immediately. But trust me, it's the best kind of overdose you can imagine: multiple layers of soft, warm, gooey chocolate just oozing all through your mouth and down your throat. <Homer Simpson-esque gurgling noise> It's something very special.

I haven't had real Tim Tam biscuits in a hot minute or two. They were selling them stateside a couple years back at certain Target locations, but I haven't seen them in a while. To the best of my recollection, these Trader Joe's Chocolate Creme Cookies are extremely similar in taste and texture to the originals. I have no complaints except that you really need to have them with a hot beverage in order to get the full effect. The cookies by themselves are just fine, but with hot chocolate or coffee, they're amazeballs. I think we need to try them with some Abuelita or Trader Joe's Abuelita and get some Aussie-Mex fusion going on.

Get your friends together for an Australia-themed night. Watch some Crocodile Dundee movies, get some take-out from Outback, and finish everything off with a pot of hot coffee and a box of these chocolatey blokes. If someone tells you to include Vegemite at your Oz Night, don't say I didn't warn you. 

Four stars from the wifey. Five stars from me.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Trader Joe's Vegan Taco Salad Kit

If you're gonna be one thing, you should be efficient. 

So, in that spirit, why not roll Meatless Monday into Taco Tuesday? Especially because, in our house, Mondays are breakfast for dinner night, and more often than not that means bacon, and you don't ever ever ever mess with bacon. Ever. Find someone who disagrees with that - even some vegetarians and vegans wouldn't

So in the spirit of efficiency (not one of my usual traits), let's get down to Trader Joe's Vegan Taco Salad Kit. 

I'm pretty sure this *has* to be new. My lovely bride and I scan the salad kit section every single time, as pretty much any salad kit we've ever bought from TJ's has been a hit. We love salads and tacos and naturally taco salad, and while carnivorous we don't mind vegan options either, so we would've bought this long ago if it ever showed up on the radar previously. 

Digging in, there's some pretty basic stuff here. The mixed salad base is the exact same basic mix seen everywhere for salad - romaine, red cabbage, green cabbage, shredded carrot. It's a classic for a reason - it works. Will it inspire you? Likely not, but it will fill you and serve as an adequate base for the real draw - all the fixin's. 

There's a small baggie of crispy purple tortilla shreds, with emphasis on small. Between my wife and I, who ate this for lunch, we got maybe 10 shreds each. That's not a lot for something purporting to be a five serving bag. Nonetheless they were crispy and tortilla-y so it works. The pico was a a touch spicy and added some nice components to the meal that made it a bit more festive and lively. Kinda funny how something basic like corn and black beans can do that, but there it is, with little touches of cilantro and jalapeno. Delish. And the jalapeno ranch was a hit too - the "flow" seemed a bit off as it was a bit more ploppy than pour-y but once mixed in it didn't matter. it added another little kick with a smooth cool creaminess than kinda helped meld everything together. 

And then, chipotle seitan. Wheat masquerading as seasoned ground beef. How's that gonna work?

A bite of seitan by itself makes it pretty obvious it's not ground beef. The flavor is there but the meaty gristle isn't. It's also a touch, well, grainy, obviously. By itself, I'd say it's not wonderful but isn't revolting either. Mix it in with everything else here, though? It works, wonderfully. The taste shines through and any texture issues get masked well by everything else. I'll give it a pass for sure. 

Overall, both my wife and I tremendously enjoyed the salad. Everything about it screamed "taco salad!" and we weren't missing anything - there was no "oh this could use some cheese" or missing any common-to-us protein sources or any dairy or anything. It's remarkably good, and I have a feeling we'll be sharing a bag for a quick, easy, healthyish lunch quite a few times coming up. The kit cost $5.49 and is well worth it in my opinion - just a few more tortilla shreds and a bit more of the ranch though, please. Otherwise, quadruple thumbs up here.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Vegan Taco Salad Kit: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, March 1, 2021

Trader Joe's Za'atar Seasoning Blend

Certain things I've never heard of before seem to pop up everywhere all at once. Apparently this seasoning has been around literally for millennia, but I don't think I, personally, heard of it until this product was released at Trader Joe's. Just in the past month, I've seen this seasoning on the shelves of other grocery stores, I've seen people mention it on social media, and some came with our latest HelloFresh meal. It's like the spice version of the Baader Meinhof phenomenon, which I've mentioned on this blog before.

Anyway, it's a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern spice, and it goes with pretty much anything Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. Imagine that. Its number one ingredient is sesame seeds, followed by spices like thyme, coriander, marjoram (never heard of that before, but I'm sure it will come up several times a day now) and oregano. There's also chickpea flour, sea salt, sunflower oil, and lemon oil.

It adds just the right amount of zest and nuttiness to fish, hummus, eggs, and salads, and makes them taste like they came from a gourmet Mediterranean restaurant. It makes exotic meals taste just that much more exotic—balela, couscous, spanakopita, falafel, you name it. In many cases, those dishes already have some of the same spices in them and extra za'atar simply enhances those flavors. 

It's green and flakey. Flavor-wise, it's a little bit savory and a little bit tangy. You'll definitely get some seeds stuck in your teeth. Like most of Trader Joe's other seasoning blends, this selection will run you $1.99. There are technically 106 servings in the little shaker, but I'm thinking most people will use enough of it that it won't last that long. It won't be the boldest or strongest seasoning blend in your spice rack, but it definitely has its appropriate time and place.

Three and a half stars from me. Four from the wifey.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.