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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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trader Joe's Scallop Bites

In a previous post about TJ's pepper flakes, I mentioned a font on the packaging that greatly reminded me of the script found on the Spanish treasure map featured in "The Goonies." Here it is again, only this time it's even more appropriate: it's seafood. Scallop Bites. Yay. We haven't reviewed many seafood products on this blog as of yet...probably because Sonia is allergic to shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks. The only swimmy things she can eat are fish. She'd probably be OK with aquatic mammals, too, but we generally steer clear of eating them because they tend to be very intelligent...and cute. Don't get Sonia started on these sea otters. She couldn't stop talking about how disgustingly cuddly they were for about 2 weeks after I showed her that clip on YouTube. At any rate, I'm thankful that those otters left some scallops for me, so that I was able enjoy these tasty TJ's Scallop Bites.

Scallops, in general, aren't easy to come by. You'll meet plenty of people that have never even tried them. Someone like that might not know what a good scallop should taste like, so let's briefly review my credentials, shall we? I do have some amateur scallop-eating experience, mostly fried ones from our local Bonanza restaurant as a kid. I also had some killer pan-seared scallops from The Warehouse Restaurant in sunny Marina del Rey, California a few years back. Delicious. So let's see how the Trader Joe's product holds up to the competition:

Well, they taste like scallops. They're a bit greasy, but not unbearably so. The jalapeño sauce is very subtle...if you're not into chiles and spices, don't worry, they're not very hot. When they came out of our oven, they were rather flat. The box depicts these perky little crown-like pastries, but ours were more like star-shaped pancakes. Overall, I'd say they were successful. They're certainly snackable, and they make good appetizers, but I did have to dock a point or two because of their greasiness, flatness, and lack of jalapeño-iness. They weren't quite the delicacy that the restaurant scallops I've had were, but in their defense, they cost a fraction of the price, they came frozen, and they only took 30 minutes to prepare. Definitely worth a shot if you're an appetizer-hound or amateur scallop-eater like me.

Anyway, I enjoyed them, and our Memorial Day weekend guests did, too. Since Sonia had to sit this one out, we'll simply double my score for the final total. I give them a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Bottom line: 7 out of 10.


  1. Oh, I can tell you why then ended up flat! You're supposed to put the entire tray they came in directly in the oven, instead of putting the puffs individually on a baking sheet, which is what I'm guessing you did, right? That way they end up the perky little crown pastries as advertised.

  2. I'm guessing the reason they came out like starfished pancakes is because they weren't completely thawed from the freeze.?.? I let them hit room temperature then bake them. They were amazing and looked like the picture illustrates. Also, I keep them in 7 min. longer... ;)

  3. I think you guys are right. We might not have left them in the tray. Whoops. I did that with the Chicken Pot Pie Bites too.