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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Friday, June 3, 2011

Trader Joe's Parmesan Pastry Pups

Cute li'l pups. Happily, they're made with beef, not puppy meat. I've met a few people in my day who've been like, "Who cares? I'd eat dog meat. It's just another animal!"

Mmm, yeah, OK, but no. First of all, I've heard that dog meat is really disgusting, and secondly, I believe that God in His infinite wisdom put each species of animal on this earth for a specific purpose. Dogs are so clearly meant to be man's best friend. Chickens, cows, or horses, though useful, will never catch your frisbee and bring it back to you. And, they lack the individual personality that dogs seem to possess. Horses are for transportation, racing, and riding, chickens make yummy eggs, and cows give great milk...and beef cattle, of course, yield delicious beef products such as these all beef pastry pup franks.

So let's take a look at this product in terms of its three constituent parts: the parmesan, the pastry, and the pup. First up, parmesan. What parmesan? Neither Sonia nor I detected much parmesan. There was some slight tang to the food, but it didn't strike me as being particularly parmesan-y. Not a bad flavor, just not so much like the parmesan cheese I'm used to.

Next, the pastry portion: good stuff here. It was flakey, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. It's just what I'd want in an oven-baked pastry puff bread-blanket. Not excessively greasy, and not too dry, either.

Finally, the pup: I liked it. Good, old-fashioned red meat mini hot dogs. They come out of the oven piping hot in 25 minutes, and they're flavorful beef, not pork. Pork supposedly has higher levels of bacteria, and for that reason, it is said to be worse than beef, health-wise. I'm rarely in the mood for hot dogs these days, but when I am, this is what I want them to taste like. Hot diggity dog.

Sonia was a pretty big fan too, and she eats even less red meat than I do. Though not as exotic as some of the offerings at TJ's, these pups make great hors d'oeuvres, and they're kind of a classic snack-food. If you're not so adventurous with your eating, these little guys are a pretty safe bet, even for kids. Other than a lack of parmesan, there are few surprises with TJ's Parmesan Pastry Pups. They're just a high-end version of pigs in a blanket...or in this case, I guess they'd be "cows in a blanket."

Sonia gives them a 4. I give them a 3.5. Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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