Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Mango Mochi

Just a little quickie here to jump start the week: TJ's Mango Mango Mochi. As if you haven't heard the word "mango" enough these past couple weeks, TJ's just had to squeak it into the title of this product not once, but TWICE. I guess it's because they use mango sorbet as well as mango jam filling. 

The jam doesn't really seem like a separate flavor to me at all—but it might add a hint of extra creaminess to the center of the mochi even when it's frozen solid. Otherwise, these are almost exactly like the Mango Mikawaya Mochi that Trader Joe's has carried for years. Now I'm not going to say this stuff is Mikawaya brand, because I couldn't tell you if that's the case for sure, but I will say that it's extremely similar in taste and texture. Actually, now that I think about it, Mikawaya is based in California and this product is imported from Thailand, according to the box. So...probably not Mikawaya.

This product has a great mango-esque flavor, but it is particularly sweet—which is totally fine by me, but then again, I do have a sweet tooth. Mochi and mango are generally a pretty good combo...well, okay, there was this one instance where they were a little goofy together. I'd probably still choose vanilla or strawberry flavor first, but by and large, mango and mochi are friends.

Mochi and mushroom, however...

Four stars from me. Sonia will go with three and a half.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Podcast Episode 26: Our Favorite Chips

Trader Joe’s vast chip aisle has the usual potato and tortilla chips, but also goes beyond those. In this episode we share our favorite crunchy chips.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Almondina Original Almond Biscuits

The good people at Almondina sent me a birthday present. It might have something to do with this fine blog we run here, but two packages of the low-fat cookies arrived in the mail about two weeks ago, and Sonia and I enjoyed them enough to allow them to join an extremely exclusive, elite group of non-Trader Joe's brand foods that have been reviewed here on our blog, including Espiral Vinho Verde WineGum's the Word Sugar Free Gum, and Mikawaya Mochi Ice Cream

As was the case with the products in those previous posts, Almondina is widely available at Trader Joe's stores, although it's not sold exclusively there.

These thin, crunchy biscuits are clearly optimized for dunking in coffee, tea, milk, or what-have-you, but they also make a nice stand-alone snack. The texture is great. It's not unlike types of biscotti I've tried, but perhaps a little thinner and less rigid.

I'll be honest, the cookie part alone is decent, especially considering it's so low in fat, salt, and cholesterol, but it probably wouldn't have done it for me by itself. The true genius of these cookies is the way almonds and raisins are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the confection—in fact, almonds constitute a full 24% of the product, a fact that's easily believed just by visually inspecting the biscuits. The fruit, nut, and cookie elements blend together well and make for a highly versatile breakfast/snack/dunkable/dessert.

Sonia and I will both throw out solid fours for these tasty, low-guilt treats. "Really darn good" all the way.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.