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, March 28, 2011

Trader Joe's Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips

Yellow corn, soy, and flaxseeds make up these chips. They're a structurally-sound, crunchy breed of chip. They taste a little different than regular yellow corn chips, but the taste is not so foreign that you won't be able to appreciate them on your first try. They're a little bit more massive than regular chips, which makes them highly dippable. And I do tend to either choose flavored chips, or chips that work particularly well with salsa or queso of some kind. These chips fall into the latter category, although if you're one who appreciates tortilla chips by themselves with no fixins or sauces, I'm sure these would be a fine choice for you, as they possess a nice salty, nutty quality you might expect from the 3 aforementioned main ingredients.

The bag boasts that the chips are a good source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and fiber. All in all, they're a nice balance of wholesome grains, crunchy snackability, and good-for-you bonuses. Our dip of choice for these chips was Trader Joe's Taco Seasoned Beef, Bean, & Cheese Dip with salsa and sour cream.

The beef wasn't as prominent as I was hoping. While eating the dip, I was really only aware of beans, cheese, and some sour cream. The salsa and beef kind of failed to push through the mishmash of other ingredients. The flavor could have been bolder, especially for a product with "taco seasoned" in its title. It was slightly bland in a way, but certainly not terrible.

This particular chip & dip combo worked pretty well, since lesser chips may well have buckled under the weight of the multi-layer dip. Any flavored chips might have clashed with the taste of the dip...and since the dip was slightly wanting in the flavor department, it's conceivable that a flavored chip would have completely overshadowed the taste of the dip...which in my opinion, completely defeats the purpose of using a dip or salsa in the first place.

In conclusion, Trader Joe's Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips are a lovely, crunchable, multi-grain experience. Sonia gives them a 4. I concur. Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Trader Joe's Taco Seasoned Beef, Bean, & Cheese Dip is not the flavor-extravaganza I had hoped for, but its subtle taste and textures are enough to garner modest 3.5's from both Sonia and I. Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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