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Friday, September 18, 2020

Trader Joe's Brazilian Style Cheese Bread

Over these past few crazy months, I've come to realize that a quality metric I use to judge how my day is going is how much I play Candy Crush on my phone. That's kinda my default "bored, don't feel motivated, nothing else going on" thing to do, so needless to say, the more Candy Crush I play on a given day, the usually more kinda blah day it is. And i won't say what level I'm on, but there's four digits and the first one is kinda curvy. So yeah, not so great these past few months. 

My lovely bride also plays a fair amount of Candy Crush, but apparently also likes some other game called Kitchen Craze or something along those lines. I'm not sure of the point of the game - seems even more arbitrary than matching three same colored candies to make stuff go boom - but when playing she'll tap to cook stuff, serve customers, do dishes, deal with crappy tips. I guess you try not to burn stuff and run some sort of functional restaurant and serve all sorts of food, including some Brazilian-inspired cheese rolls which I had no other frame of reference for until picking up Trader Joe's Brazilian Style Cheese Bread.

There's more involved to prepping them than just tapping your smartphone screen. Of course, we'll see how that comment ages over the next decade or so... but anyways. A frozen dozen comes boxed up and ready to plop on a baking sheet, just heat at 350 degrees for a few minutes, and done. You can even crush some candies while doing so if you want. 

Oddly, I'm in the minority of my family for the TJ's Brazilian cheese bread. Everyone else loves them, Both Sandy and our verifiable troop of kiddos gobbled them down for lunch the other day, yumming and oohing and aahing. Our five year old also made her own PB&J's with them, which strikes me as fairly weird but she was happy. But me? Ehhhhhhh....

There's just this odd taste to them that develops about midway thru your third bite. I'm not sure how to explain it. But it's kinda funky and bitter and dour and not exactly gag inducing, but is kinda unwelcome. Sandy posits it has something to do with how the tapioca flour and Parmesan interplay. Maybe, but I side with it being more towards eggs and white pepper that seem off. Maybe it's all four of them, maybe just three, maybe she's just right (as usual)...but still. It's just when I would expect the flavor to start going towards warmy carby cheesy comfort, I instead get a mouthful of questions. 

It's kinda a shame. Otherwise these are some pretty tasty treats. The first few bites, before that funk comes into play, are on point with its doughy Parmesan taste. If every bite tasted like the first few, I could probably nosh on these all day. Each piece is roughly golf ball sized, and when baked have a slightly crispy, not greasy exterior that quickly gives way to a soft, chewy inside. There's so much Parmesan around too that's impossible to get a bite without any, even if you tried. These are some excellent bites in that regard, I just wish they stayed that way. Maybe if I had some sauce to dip them in, I'd like 'em better. 

Since everyone else loved them and they're at a reasonable price ($3 to $4) I'm thinking it'll be a likely repurchase despite my misgivings. I mean, whatever works these days, right? Even if I won't be the one crushing them. Meh. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Brazilian Style Cheese Bread: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Trader Joe's Dairy-Free Cold Brew Almond Macadamia Latte Coffee Beverage

Like most Americans, Sonia and I are hopelessly addicted to caffeine. She's a big coffee drinker and a connoisseur of all things derived from the brewed bean: mocha, latte, cappuccino, you name it. I'm more of an energy drink guy myself. Throughout my misspent youth, I'd drink sodas like Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper for caffeine, and then switched over to energy drinks after the advent of Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster.

At any rate, we both get headaches after just 24 hours without a heavy dose of the common stimulant. If coffee is the only source of caffeine around, I'll drink it. Once in a while I'll get desperate enough to drink regular cola again in the absence of other caffeinated beverages, despite a severe aversion to HFCS these days. This stuff, on the other hand? You'd have to twist my arm pretty hard to get me to take another sip of this drink, let alone a whole bottle.

Right after taking an initial sip, I had Sonia try it, desperately trying to mask my disgust so as to elicit an unbiased reaction from her. She reacted similarly. We decided to check the "best by" date just to be sure it hadn't turned. According to the little stamp on the side of the bottle, we had one day to spare. 

I mean, it's not like we don't enjoy nut milks. The combo of almond and macadamia sounded fairly alluring to both of us, especially to my better half. And you can taste a decent amount of nuttiness underneath an acrid coffee flavor, initially. But immediately after detecting the earthy vegan coffee blend in this beverage, there's a fairly intense bitterness that washes over your palate.

We get it. They were going for a healthy beverage without much in the way of sweetener. But this brew needs a little something. And by "a little something," I mean a LOT of something. It's full of protein and decidedly devoid of bad stuff, but neither of us could really get into the taste. Sonia was good enough to finish the bottle, and she noted that by the end, it wasn't quite as revolting as the first few swigs. I noped out after about a sip and a half. 

$2.99 for the bottle. Two stars from me. Two and a half from Sonia. Not a repeat purchase.

Bottom line: 4.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Trader Joe's Ginger Turmeric Granola

"It is frequently asserted that somewhere between 75 and 95 % of what we commonly think of as taste actually comes from the sense of smell. However, empirical evidence in support of such a precise-sounding quantitative claim is rarely, if ever, cited."

So says no less an authority than the Flavour Journal. They sound pretty legit, or legit enough to be the top result if you Google something like "how much is smell a part of taste," so you know what? I'm just gonna roll with it. Makes sense - if I'm a little stuffed up, food doesn't seem to have the same flavor as it usually does, but that's not to say that smell is the only, or sometimes even the most reliable, indicator of taste. 


Mentioning all of this because of Trader Joe's Ginger Turmeric Granola, in the slight offchance you haven't gotten that figured out by now. In my legitimately faulty memory, I'm not sure if I've even been taken aback so much by the initial aroma of a product when first opening the package, just because of it being so unexpected. This granola smells strong and pungent and, well, super-de-duper gingery. Add in some wafts of turmeric (it's palpable) and it's almost more like a curry-type smell. There's no other option for it to smack the ol' olfactories, which is really kinda bizarre to say for a granola, of all things.


Yet...that's not exactly how the taste plays out.


Both the ginger and the turmeric seem to be held in check by the earthy crunch of the rolled oats, and the respective sweetnesses of the brown rice syrup and coconut pieces balance it all out pretty well. That's not to say that some ginger burn doesn't sneak thru here or there, because it does, but not as much as I presumed from initial impression. The turmeric adds more of a warmth than a flavor punch as well. 

As proof it can't be strongly spicy or harsh or anything, my youngest kiddo likes it. She's the first to blush at anything remotely spicy. If she can handle it, so can you. 


As it's getting cooler finally and summer fades into fall, I kinda see this being a seasonal kinda treat. It tastes autumnal without going the pumpkin spice or maple route. Splash in some milk, add some banana, sprinkle in some yogurt...you know, however you usually do yogurt and it'll likely work just fine. I'd recommend giving it a try for the $4ish bucks it set back, and hopefully you'll find it up to snuff as well. 


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ginger Turmeric Granola: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons