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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Sparkling Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar

Last week, I saw an article online referring to a new food product  as "salad frosting." Didn't click on it. Couldn't. Listen, I don't care if it were frosting that tasted like salad, or some sort of -not-quite-dressing matter to put atop a sald. I din't want to know. Just sounded way too gross. If this were to somehow come to Trader Joe's, yeah, I'd make Nathan and Sonia do that one because just NOPE.

On the same spectrum but not nearly to that extreme is Trader Joe's Organic Sparkling Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar. Drinking. Vinegar. "Drinking vinegar." That...just doesn't sound appealing. At all.

As recently as a year ago or so I would have noped my way out of this one too. But I've really come to enjoy kombucha and related beverages, and have thought of making some sort of apple cider vinegar-y concoction as an alternative and occasional chnage up.

As of now, TJ's carries two varieties of drinking vinegars: cucumber mint and strawberry basil. As you can see Sandy and I got both to try. I opted for the strawberry as cucumber mint usually isn't one of my favorite combos.

It's a smooth beverage, for sure, and goes down easy. There's less bite and funk than from kombucha, probably from lack of fermentation. There's no little SCOBY floaties around either if that's something that skeeves you. There's also a touch less carbonation too - still some but not as much as kombucha. And sure, yes, there's a decent taste of vinegar, but it's fairly mild and unoffensive overall.

For flavor, the strawberry basil made a nice profile. It's a little sweet, a little herby...hey, maybe it'd make a good salad frosting! Ugh. I took a small swig of the cucumber mint and didn't like it as much - it had a little bit of a "minty pickle" vibe to it. Sandy said that's ludicrous, but it's logical to me - cucumber and vinegar plus mint, right? Minty pickle. Regardless, she said it wasn't like that at all, but she liked the strawberry better too.

Give 'em a try. They're a bit small so noit exactly a thirst quencher, and at $1.69 each I'm unsure of how great a deal it is...but I digress. Drinking one made my queasy stomach feel ten times better within minutes so I'm not gonna argue much. Four spoons each for these vinegars from my lovely bride and me.

Trader Joe's Organic Sparkling Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, June 17, 2019

Trader Joe's Ube Purple Yam Flavored Ice Cream


Ice cream: one of the staples of summer. I won't say I don't eat it year round, because I do, but it's one of those things that's just part of most Americans' arsenal of beat-the-heat foods. Fortunately, we haven't needed much in the way of "beat-the-heat" this year so far since we've been meandering around the Pacific Northwest. It's our first time here, and we've just been in Oregon for the past 3 weeks or so, heading into Washington. We had one 90 degree day last week, and when we really needed ice cream, we didn't have any, and we didn't feel like driving into town from our campground to get it. Now we have some and it's in the 50's outside. Go figure.

But like I said, I'll eat ice cream in pretty much any weather. So I did.


First impressions: it doesn't taste like a vegetable. Didn't really think it would. Yams are pretty desserty to begin with. There's almost a cake batter vibe to the taste in my opinion. Maybe that's just a subliminal notion bubbling up to the surface since it's my 40th birthday today and I'm in cake mode. Although, Sonia didn't disagree with that assertion, either.

First thing that popped into her head: taro. That's probably a more accurate assessment since taro is also a root vegetable that's frequently used in frozen desserts. I remember having it when Yogurtland and its myriad imposters were all the rage like 10 years ago. I know they still exist, but I haven't been to one in quite a while. Also boba tea and other Asian novelty foods are often taro-flavored. This flavor does taste similar to taro if memory serves me correctly. I wanna say this flavor is slightly less floral...?


The taste is nutty, lightly sweet, subtly earthy, and vanilla-esque. There's nothing "purple" about it if you're like me and think everything purple should taste like grapes or berries. There might be a slight pistachio-esque vibe here, too. Cream and sugared egg yolks add to the density and richness of the ice cream.

$2.99 for the pint. It's not dairy-free or vegan or anything—just pretty decent ice cream with interesting ingredients and a unique flavor. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Trader Joe's Patio Potato Chips

Eating outside in the summer is pretty great, isn't it? I think so. A couple times already this not-quite-summer, Sandy and I have pulled our kitchen table out to our smallish back deck and piled everyone out there for a laidback "snacky dinner" - veggies, fruit, chips, hummus, cheese, etc. More times than not, something off the grill, which i'll fire up as the kids are playing in the sprinkler. It's great. Everyone gets to eat what they want, avoid what they don't.

In a similar vibe, here's Trader Joe's Patio Potato Chips. Everything about them evokes that eating outside, picnicky, snacky feel, from the name to the illustrations to the fun concept of four flavors of chips all mixed together. They're kinda like a summery-choose-your-own adventure package, right? And chips! Show me a decent picnic without chips...tough to do!

So, how these TJ's tangled taste taters fare?

Well, like many things, the concept is brilliant but the execution is a bit sloppy. There's four flavors here - salt and vinegar, dill, ketchup and barbeque. I can't tell the ketchup and barbeque ones apart after multiple tastes, and it takes a little discernment to tell the vinegar and dill ones apart, too. Part of the issue is, of course, they're all mixed up with flavor seasonings rubbing off on one another all the way from point of manufacture to point of consumption.

This leads to another point, sort of: if eaten all together, really the only flavor that stands out is, well, vinegar. It's probably because it's the punchiest of the varieties. But if there's a few dill chippies, there's more of a pickley taste, and if there's any of the other ones, they take one more of a sweet pickle type flair. That's not necessarily awful but perhaps not what everyone would be looking for.

Other than that, for the most part, they're pretty good chips. All of the chips are ridged and crispy with a little of the requisite greasiness that define high levels of snackitude. I mean, even when unsure how well all the flavors really melded together, I was downing way too many of them, so there's that. Sandy said she would have preferred if they different types were differently textured, so as to more easily tell them apart. I could be down for that as well.

Overall, the patio chips are an okay pickup. Chances are we'd buy again, but our girls weren't the hugest of fans so maybe not. Sandy gives them only a 2.5 for their flavor identity uncertainty issues. That's a touch low but not too far off the mark. I'll go with a 3.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Patio Potato Chips: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons