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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Egg Fettucine Pasta

As a family that has no gluten sensitivities or celiac concerns, there's invariably and irrefutably one factor that makes or breaks a gluten free product for us: the texture. Most GF items we've had taste fine or just good enough, but if it feels wrong, ugh. Or conversely, if the texture is just fine, that's an absolute bonus.  A recent family snack favorite (non-TJ's division) has been Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Mini Pretzels. Not only do they taste awesome but they have a terrific, tight crunch that's even better than a regular pretzel. We gobble them down, and are an absolute winner.

And yes, we are aware that TJ's has a gluten free snack pretzel option. I don't believe they've been reviewed, but we've had them. We just like the Snyder's better, so there's that.

But what Trader Joe's does have is Trader Joe's Gluten Free Egg Fettucine Pasta.

Egg noodles really are the best, aren't they? A little firmer, a little doughier, some more girth and whatnot. They're classic, and you don't mess with classics. That's why I never acknowledge that Jack Sparrow was also once in a chocolate factory...point being, here's a little bit of a risk. Making an all out, long thick noodle that will undoubtedly be at the center of any dish it's prepared for leaves little wiggle room for error....

Nailed it.

I'd be hard pressed to notice a difference AT ALL between these gluten free noodlers and the plain ol semolina variety. It's nearly a perfect copy. Even more impressive considering the first ingredient is rice flour, which I typically liken to making stuff taste and feel like wet newspaper. I would think might some sort of corn conglomeration would do it, but nope, rice. Amazing.

I wish I could really go into more detail, but think of a really good egg noodle, and that's exactly what these guys are like. What more can I say? What higher compliment? I can think of none.

Even our kiddos loved them. M, our oldest, enthusiastically gave them two thumbs and 10 toes up, and she's normally the first to grimace about anything. It may have helped we had these for dinner in butter sauce with shrimp, which are two of her favorites. We all wolfed them down. Which brings to one slight negative - it's only three servings per bag, which is kinda an odd number. For our fam, and perhaps yours, two bags would have to do it for dinner, especially when our kids' appetities will rival ours. Regardles they were fairly inexpensive and readily available in the refrigertaed section, as these are fresh noodles that cook in literal minutes. Which makes them even better for our busy fam. As ones who choose to forego gluten when possible, these will become a staple I'm sure. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Egg Fettucine Pasta: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Trader Joe's Green Goddess Salad Dressing

When Trader Joe's offers up female-themed, gender-specific products like this one, I always have to do a self-induced Man Card check. 

I mean, one could argue that Trader Joe himself is a dude, and that nearly every product in the store has a dude's name on it. But a chick purchasing Cowboy Burgers or Cowboy Caviar? Nobody bats an eyelid. I buy Cowgirl Bark—and the female clerk that rang me up actually called me out on it. Other parts of that classic review were indeed fictional—and me calling my own review "classic" is absolutely meant to be as tongue-in-cheek as you were hoping it was. But the part about the Trader Joe's employee wondering why I was buying Cowgirl Bark instead of the "boy" version really, truly, honestly happened.

So now, when "goddess" type products pop up on TJ's shelves, to prove to myself how secure I am in my masculinity...

I send my lovely Sonia in to purchase them while I wait in the car.

I mean, I'm well aware that food-blogging about salad dressing isn't quite as manly as, say, felling mighty cedar trees with a hacksaw or driving a monster truck through a massive, fiery explosion, so I'm demonstrating some level of security here anyway, right? I've reviewed mango, pumpkin spice, and even light beer products. I'm secure as heck...right? I guess if I even have to ask you, then I already have my answer. Oh well.

Insecure or not, I must say I do like this dressing. It's super thick, but relatively smooth, and it tastes as green as it looks. It coats everything it touches, so you don't have to use much with each serving. 

It's decidedly avocado-y. There's a bright citrusy zing from the lemon juice, too—and underneath those dominant flavors is a subtle, but remarkably unique blend of garlic, spices, and apple cider vinegar. It worked very well on salad, but I think there are plenty of other applications here.

It certainly doesn't taste exactly like guacamole, but it could probably serve in the same capacity. It's delicious as a chip dip, and I imagine it would be stellar as a sauce for fish tacos, sandwiches, baked potatoes, or nachos.

$3.69 for the small bottle. Even with teeny-weeny serving sizes, it'll go fast, because you'll want to eat it with everything. No weird ingredients, low in calories, vegan. Definitely avoid if you hate avocados or guac. I wish they made a version with some heat. I'm not sure what will pair just right with it... jalapeƱos? Tapatio? Cayenne pepper? We'll just have to experiment. Four stars from me. Four and a half from my "goddess," Sonia.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Trader Joe's Glazed Walnuts with Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Congrats, it's been done. It was bound to sooner or later.

After eight years and hundreds of reviews, I've been thoroughly stumped as to how to otherwise start a review of a TJ's product.

Usually I have a slice of life or dumb joke or mini info-burst about something that at least tangentially has to do with something, but not this time with Trader Joe's Glazed Walnuts with Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. I've been mulling it over for close to a week, but I got nothing.

Nothing new to say about snacky nuts or bourbon or maple syrup or anything that has to do with these nuts. No great stories. No puns or jokes or anything. Just me and a bag of nuts that sound pretty amazing.

I'll grant that these bourbon maple glazed walnuts are good...but odd. There's a definite added buttery taste (it's the second ingredient) that adds an unexpected creamy blast, with all sorts of added sugar too. And not maple syrup-kinda sugar...just sugar.

So these are some pretty sweet walnuts, practically candy. There's some sweet maple taste at the end, for sure, but it's really tough to pick up on any bourbon aspects. The package says something along the lines of "earthiness" which isn't there, either, aside from the inherent nutty taste. It's some pretty good quality walnuts, by the way - nice and chunky, definitely munchy, a little roasty.

They're tasty by the handful, and would probably be good in things like brownies. The package recommends atop salad as well - in the right kind, that could work. Still, I feel as if the buttery coating holds back the product from it could fully be - some more straight up bourbon-y maple would be fantastic. Eh well. Still pretty tasty, and both Sandy and I had to hold ourselves back from chomping down the whole bag - they're pretty snackable for sure, so watch out.

For $3.99 for a half pound bag, it's a fairly respectable value as well. I'd get them again for sure, and maybe by then I'd think of some sort of wittier intro...but right now, it's just driving me nuts.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Glazed Walnuts with Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons