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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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trader Joe's Seasoned Beef Sirloin Carne Asada

When Sonia made tacos last night, she chopped up little pieces of peppers to add to our carne asada. Don't let the package deceive you: there's nothing but meat in this $7 bag o' beef.

Overall, our taco dinner wasn't bad. But we dressed it up with tortillas, salsa, the aforementioned peppers, and some refried pinto beans, and we still found it slightly wanting.

The quality of the meat simply doesn't warrant its price tag. If you're going to buy carne asada, TJ's might not be the first place to do it. Again, it's not terrible, but for $7, I want something I can create a ficticious adjective for and put a few exclamations after ("Tastetastic!!!" or "Stupidelicious!!!"). "Not terrible" just isn't good enough. The texture of the meat wasn't really an issue for either of us, it was more its lack of flavor. Maybe the guy on the assembly line that was supposed to add the seasoning to the "seasoned beef" called in sick the day they packaged our bag. The poor cow that gave its life for last night's taco dinner died in vain. Rest in peace, Bessy.

To be fair, we should mention that the 12 oz. bag did provide well more than enough food for the two of us. There are still leftovers in the fridge.

The tortillas that served as the soft taco shells were decent. Trader Jose's Reduced Carb Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas are light and healthy, but again, I would complain that they're not super-flavorful. Some whole wheat products can really add a grainy, almost nutty taste. These didn't add or detract much in the flavor department, but their texture is near-perfect, they're a nice size for filling with taco ingredients, and they don't fall apart as you eat them.

The refried pinto beans are good. Sonia says a lot of other brands of refried beans have a bunch of preservatives and additives, but Trader Jose's Low Fat Vegetarian Refried Pinto Beans are all natural. (Please note: your meal no longer qualifies as vegetarian if you eat this with carne asada.) I like the taste. Just as good as anything else I've tried in the refried bean department.

And finally, we'd like to take a look at the sauce we used: Trader Jose's Habanero and Lime Salsa. The package says "Medium Hot" but Sonia and I both say it's mild. It's a tad vinegar-y for our taste, but it's got that dash of lime "sabor," and it's something different than the run-of-the-mill tomato-based salsa. It's got bits of vegetable matter, but it can't really be considered chunky.

So, let's review: First we looked at Trader Joe's Seasoned Beef Sirloin Carne Asada: Sonia gives it 3.5 Stars and I give it 3, for a bottom line of 6.5 out of 10.

Then, we talked about the Trader Jose's Reduced Carb Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas. They get a 4 from Sonia and a 3.5 from me, yielding a bottom line of 7.5 out of 10.

Next up: Trader Jose's Low Fat Vegetarian Refried Pinto Beans. 4 from Sonia, 4.5 from me. Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

And finally, Trader Jose's Habanero and Lime Salsa. Sonia gives it a 3, and so do I. Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

2 comments:

  1. The Habanero Lime salsa is good as far as non-fresh salsas go, I'd say. You're right about it being closest to mild. It's a good salsa, but the fresh salsas are so good!

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  2. Have you tried the Salsa Verde? One of my favorite tomatillo salsas mmmm

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