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?"

Search This Blog

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trader Giotto's Fresh Basil Pesto Flatbread Pizza

Some days, like this past Sunday, my wife really puzzles me. For example, my trusty blue pair of Keens which I've worn pretty much literally everywhere for the past four years finally began showing their age a little and the two main parts sole began to peel apart ever so slightly a couple weeks ago. No problem, I say, and very understandable. I mention this to Sandy and she implores me to take them to a shoe repair shop. In my mind, I'm thinking, "Why? Just so they can dump some glue in there? I can do that myself." Out on an errand to Wal-Mart on Sunday, I decided to pick up a small jar of rubber cement to do the job. When I get home (Sandy didn't go along), she sees the jar in my hand and comments to our pooch how "lame" I am. "Lame? Why's that?" I say. "This oughtta fix it." Sandy then goes on to tell me of the one time she tried to fix a shoe with rubber cement, it didn't work, so she took it somewhere, and they said they couldn't fix it because she used rubber cement. This is the kind of knowledge that is useful before plotting a course of action, so I'm left wondering why she never mentioned that tale earlier. Naturally, being as stubborn as I am, I'm trying it out anyways, results TBD.

That's still not the most curious thing Sandy did on Sunday. On a pre-lunchtime run to Trader Joe's, she spied this incredible looking Fresh Basil Pesto Flatbread Pizza in the refrigerated section and put it in the cart. That's not all that interesting until you recall her food rules and take a not-so-close look at the product: there are diced tomatoes a-plenty right out on top in plain view. "It looks so good," she says. "Let's have it for lunch." Well, okay, I say. I can tell by looking there's a good chance I'll reasonably enjoy it. Basil pesto is good, on a pizza is better, so it sounds like a certain win to me. But her? And all the tomatoes sliced and diced up and mounded on top? She sounded confident enough she'd like when she picked up, so I didn't want to question her, but still, this went against most everything I've known about her and food.

Let me tell you: This is a great pizza, and as a very experienced pizza enjoyer/connoisseur, that's a compliment to not take lightly. As it baked in our oven, the aroma of pesto and cheese filled our house, making me even hungrier. Once I sliced it up and took a bite, I knew it was worth the wait. The ciabatta crust is ridiculously tasty - though flat, it's thick enough to be crispy on the outside while chewy in the middle, while the corners get all crackery when browned up. As for the basil pesto, it's superb and very fresh tasting, and made me eager for the day when we have enough from our garden to make a batch. The romano and parmesan cheese on top is also amazing - it's so light and mild and fresh tasting that I could have sworn it was young mozzarella which, as someone who's sampled virginal mozzarella balls from Penn Mac (in Pittsburgh's Strip District), is high praise. It was better than any cheese I've ever had on a frozen pizza, and tastier than pretty much any bagged shredded cheese I can think of. Every bite was met with an mmm from both of us and was delicious from start to finish.

But what about the tomatoes? We both actually liked them, for different reasons. I was enamored with them because, again, they were fresh tasting, very ripe and sweet, and added great flavor. Sandy was in favor of them because, and I quote, "They're right out on top and easy for me to pick right off, not like all embedded in the cheese and stuff." Hey, more tomatoey goodness for me, and potential crisis averted, so all good.

All together it made one really good lunch, I'd say nearly as good as what one can hope for when making from scratch with homegrown veggies and herbs involved. It definitely looks, tastes, and smells homemade all the way around, and was so good we were not tempted in any way to add any pepper flakes or other seasoning like we do with so many other pizzas.

At $4.99, I'd say it's maybe slightly overpriced, but then again, that's about the price for a mediocre freezer pizza, which this is way way better than. Our own respective halves carried us each other til dinner time without too much struggle. As a recommendation, when baking place a cookie sheet on the rack below the rack with the pizza on it to catch any pesto or cheese melting and drooping off (it's a pie you're supposed to put right on the rack itself). Aside from homemade (which my brother and sister-in-law are the experts at), this probably is the best pizza I've had in recent memory, and though it certainly made me scratch my head at my wife once more, I'm really glad she spotted it and decided the tomatoes weren't enough deterrent for her. Sandy gives it a four. I'll go with four and half.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

9 comments:

  1. It's a really bad idea for me to discover this blog when I'm HUNGRY. Curse you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll have you know they don't have this and have never seen it at our local TJ's. :(

    ReplyDelete
  3. pj - Sorry! But if you ever see it, be sure to snatch it right on up!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ran across your blog and I have one in the oven now. This is a great pizza. YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have two words for you: Shoe Goo.

    ReplyDelete
  6. How am I JUST NOW finding your blog? I've been a TJ's fan-boy for years now. :) I think my first TJ post was back in 2007 (see below):

    Great site - looking forward to reading through your past posts!

    http://smileyeats.blogspot.com/2007/05/me-and-joe-are-ok.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. I dont know about this. The taste is good, but each time I've tried it, it's been VERY oily!!

    ReplyDelete