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Friday, April 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Matcha White Chocolate Bar

The topic of "punishment meals" have been brought up before on this blog. The short version: days that us kids were being brats, my mom would make us a dinner we'd be sure to hate just to get back at us. usually it was tuna fish casserole. Blecccccccch.

Well, a punishment meal can have a punishment dessert, right?

Unfortunately, that pretty much exactly sums up how both Sandy and I feel about Trader Joe's Matcha White Chocolate Bar with Matcha Green Tea Filling. Sounded intriguing enough to plunk down $1.99. I really wish we hadn't.

First off, look at our product shot inside the wrapper. There's so much wrong with that picture. First off, it looks like that bar got runover by a dump truck. I get that shipping and transit is what it is, and stuff happens, but seriously? That's a bit much. Then the colors...ugh. Maybe I'm jsut much too basic, but chocolate is not supposed to be that color. It doesn't even look appetizing. Then there's that filling, oozing out everywhere, looking like little puddles of melted green Army guys. Appeal factor definitely went down a few notches there.

A lot of that can be forgiven if tasted No. No. Look, kudos for effort, I guess, but swing a miss here. The chocolate portion is actually decent enough, decidedly on the sweeter side, with a hint or two of green tea mixed in. Or maybe that's its that greenness playing tricks on me. Regardless, it's not the problem. It's the filling. Very strong green tea flavor. Very herbaceous. You could have told me it was spinach jelly and I would have believed you. And it alternately doesn't jive that well with the rest of the chocolate casing while also in conjunction with that chocolate tasting like way too much green tea.

Dark chocolate with the green tea filling might have worked. Green tea white chocolate with a regular chocolate filling would have worked. Or heck, even like a berry filling of some type with that green cocoa concoction. But as is? Too much...and I like green tea. So does Sandy.

Check here for the nutritional stats and ingredients...we neglected to get a pic before trashing the box. "Good," Sandy said. "It's awful and no one should eat it anyways." She's going with a 1 for the inspiration, but, man, that execution...ugh. I gave it a second try right before writing it and really could not think of anything all that positive to say. Candy so bad it gets thrown out in my house? Must be pretty awful.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Matcha White Chocolate Bar: 2 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trader Joe's Vienna Coffee Meringues

These things are cavities just waiting to happen. 

There's something chalky about the texture that makes biting into these meringues like the dental equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. Due to their brittleness, many of the cookies were broken before we even opened the tub. They generally disintegrate into a chunky tan powder upon first bite, and they leave behind a tacky residue on fingers and lips. 

The parts of the meringues that do make it into your mouth are somewhat crunchy, but since they consist of mostly sugar and egg whites, they have a melt-in-your-mouth quality that's fairly pleasant. Their flavor is that of a sugar-sweetened sweetness with a bit more candied sugary sugar on top. There's a hint of coffee in there somewhere, too. And normally, I think we'd want the coffee flavor to come through a tad more, except that we're a bit coffee'd out right now.

We're well aware of Trader Joe's Vanilla Meringue Cookies, the predecessor to this coffee variety—one product that's been in that "After Heating Up These Dinners You'll Need To Gorge Yourself On Lots Of Candy And Cookies" aisle for years, and yet somehow has eluded our sights on this blog. A reader mentioned that these are very much like those, except for the faint coffee flavor, of course.

Sonia appreciates their visual appeal more than their flavor or texture. She says, "They're pretty, but they're not very tasty." She also likes the label on the packaging. How very graphic designery of her.

For that reason, they would be nice for a party or something like that where a bunch of people would just have one or two and then move along to graze on another snack. I can't see these being gobbled down by the dozen by very many people, but usually when I make claims like that, I turn out to be wrong. So who knows? These weren't Sonia's favorite, and they're definitely not mine, but if you want to sing their praises in the comments below, be our guest.

Two stars from me. Two and a half from Sonia.

Bottom line: 4.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trader Joe's Southwestern Chopped Salad

It wasn't until sitting down right now to type this review that I realized that the little "look in window" on the salad bag was shaped like a cowboy boot.

Cowboys. Eating salad. Mmmmkay. Not exactly what comes to mind.

But I guess if cowboys can eat chunky salsa and even chunkier chocolate bars, well, there may be room for salad. After all, they may have a soft spot for veggie burgers, of all things.

On to the salad. It's a darn good one. With one major caveat: You gotta like cilantro - a lot. Because that's really what every single bite tasted like - sharp, biting cilantro, accentuated even a bit further by green onion. I happen to enjoy cilantro to a moderate degree, and I was beginning to get close to a breaking point. Really, a fleshy, sweet addition - think grape tomato or even roasted corn - would have helped keep it all in check.

But everything else is pretty spot on. Good, crisp greens. Mild cotija cheese. The little baggie of mix-in tortilla strips and pumpkin seeds (I hate the word pepitas, call them what they are) added good texture and crunch with a little saltiness in there. And of course, the dressing. I'm not a huge salad dressing guy, Sandy's not all that into avocados, but we both loved it. There's a slight heat to it, so it's a bit like a soupier medium guacamole, which works really well with the rest of the salad components.

If only so much of the sald weren't drowned out by those ubiquitous cilantro sprigs.

We ate our salad with some grilled chicken strips, which made a pretty fulfilling meal. Some beef or grilled steak strips would another great addition, or even some tofu or black beans for a little protein. Would also recommend tomatoes and/or corn depending on your tastes. So it's not quite a "complete salad" kit in my estimation, but it'll get you most of the way there with a little room for customization to boot. Not bad for $3.99.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Southwestern Chopped Salad: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons