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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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trader Joe's Caramelized Nut Trio

You probably don't need me to tell you that life doesn't always go as planned. Same holds true even when you go on vacation. Last Thursday, Sandy and I were in San Diego, hanging out with our friend Ashley downtown at Seaport Village, and planning to attend a "Taste of Downtown" event where we would get to sample tasty dishes from something like 50 different restaurants while touring different neighborhoods. Sounds like a great night, right? Well...you might've heard about it, but an Arizona utility worker had a different idea and set off a massive blackout at around 3:30, which pretty much cancelled everything in the city that night, our dinner plans included.* Well, what can you do, right? The three of us made our back to Ashley's apartment, rummaged out all the candles we could, got out the board games (three rounds of Life, anyone?) and gathered together all sorts of snacky foods. It turned out to be a fantastically fun night, though we were all a little bit relieved when the lights flickered back on at about 11 p.m.

It's kinda like that old saying: When life you gives you nuts, you might as well caramelize them. Or something like that. In the early parts of the blackout, we decided to break out the TJ's Caramelized Nut Trio, even though they were one of the very few readily accessible protein sources for God knew how long. Without power, you (or at least *I*) think about such things. It's survival, dangit.

As for the caramelly nuts - man, they're a great snack food. Very munchy and tasty, and kinda hard to stop grazing on. We were all dipping our paws into the bowl pretty often, though me perhaps a little more often than the two chicas. I loved the mix of walnuts, almonds, and cashews all covered in crunchy caramel coating - salty and sweet in a near perfect blend. To me, they definitely had a good solid crunch to them, though perhaps more due to the candy coating then the nuts themselves. I have no major complaints about them, but just a minor quibble - it'd be nice if a few peanuts were mixed in, too, but I'm glad it wasn't predominantly those nuts as other mixes usually are. I firmly approve, and think they'd be great by themselves or mixed with or put on top of something else.

Las chicas, though? Since there were three nuts in the mix (literally in the TJ trio and figuratively that night in San Diego), I'm soliciting not just Sandy but also, for our first ever celebrity guest judge, Ashley's opinion on the matter. Sandy liked munching on them some, too, but mentioned she wished the nuts themselves were a little harder and crunchier, kinda like the raw almonds we also had that night. Ashley sided a little bit more with me and enjoyed the Nut Trio quite a bit. "I just wish there were some other tastes or bits of something else in there so it's not the same taste over and over, though," she said. Not a bad idea, but not necessary to me, at least.

Okay, three of us, three scores to juggle. Let's be fair and give each of us 3.33 spoons to deal with, and kinda forget about that pesky .01 spoon leftover. For me, 3 out of 3.33 Golden Spoons for another nutty, tasty, irresistible TJ snack. Sandy went with 1.5, and Ashley chimed in with a solid 2.5. If I'm carrying the 1 and counting my toes right that's...let's see...a 7 out of 10. Not bad at all.

You stay classy, San Diego.** Link
Bottom line: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons
*Fortunately, we went out the next night to Mama Testa Taqueria in Hillcrest...amazing. Check out their fresh salsa bar with like ten different homemade salsas, each one unique and delicious, and their "mividita" (fish tacos), simply put, were outstanding.
**Especially you, whoever smashed the window of our rental car that night. Fortunately, you made my day for two reasons: signed up for the damage waiver when I rented so it cost me nothing (actually got money back for returning the car a day early then). Also: you managed to somehow ignore the GPS, iPod, and camera flash that were in the glovebox and run off only with a bag with some of our, let's say, less desirable dirty laundry in it. Hope you enjoy that.


  1. ooh, I'm hungry too early for dinner, and this post isn't helping! ;) Congrats on being named a Blog of Note!

  2. This blog is so fun. Finally, a place for TJ addicts to unite!

    I haven't tried this item, but they also carry a candied nut of some sort. Maybe candied pecans? Very good.

  3. I too haven't tried this item. It gives me a reason (as if I need one) to go to TJ's to check them out. :D

    Susan Cooper

  4. I saw those and wondered.... btw have u tried the candied pecans??? those are good.

  5. I also haven't had the candied pecans yet, I think. Pecan pie's one of my all time favorite desserts, so they better be good!

    Thanks for reading us, too. Having good fans makes this fun for us, and we wouldn't have made Blogs of Note without you all!

  6. @Russ: the candied pecans are good w/ a spinach salad.. TJ's has the spinach salad mix that has the candied pecans- hint,hint...

  7. Those carmelized nuts are my FAVE! Although the skinny person who invented them is probably laughing really hard at how FAT I'm getting from eating soooo many!

  8. Just found out that in April they discontinued them. So sad. I used them in a lot of my baking.