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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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trader Joe's Arancini Bites

I'm lucky enough to have many things in life to be thankful for, and somewhere on that list is freezers and how forgiving they can be at times. Sandy and I have the occasional bad habit of buying perishable food and forgetting about it until a while later (which just might be the very definition of the term "first world problem"), which without a freezer can go bad. We've had enough produce like that at times. You bet she makes me take care of the clean-up for that. But freezers? Yup, you better believe we freeze our chicken and all, and with the usual stockpile of various work lunches and ice cream and similar sweets (hey, she's pregnant, it's dangerous to say no), means the freezer can get a little crowded. That's the state we found after our most recent trip and we needed to make just a little bit more room. Fortunately, I found a tub of chicken stock from who knows when ago that I used to make some of the best potato soup ever...and we also found these, Trader Joe's Arancini Bites. It's been at least a month or so since we've bought these, but they still appeared to be in good shape, making me pretty happy that we didn't end up wasting the three bucks or less we paid for 'em (I don't exactly recall the cost, sorry).

I baked these up for a late snack the other night for a chillaxin' evening of half-paying attention to Intervention on Netflix. I hate that show...so intrusive...but yet somehow interesting enough for background noise...kinda like Storage Wars in that regard...I'm glad we don't have cable...I digress. As I brought out a plate of them to the living room, Sandy exclaimed "Oooooh cheesy and bitey!" Well said, gorgeous. As you can see, I may have overbaked them a little as most of the bites had a little melty cheese cape on them, but meh. Basically, each cheesy ball is comprised of some fontina cheese rolled up with some rice-dough type stuff (with a couple actual grains here and there) with a panko breadcrumb coat. I don't really recall any other instances of having fontina cheese, but it struck me as kinda like parmesan and mozzarella, except better. I'll assume that's about on par, and the cheese melted into every bite. Theoretically, I could've made up some marinara for a side dipping sauce, but we ate them plain as is and every arancini bite was delicious. It is important to note that these are NOT considered vegetarian as there's chicken broth used as flavoring in these, although I didn't really taste that.

I just remembered part of the reason why it took us long to get around to eating these. I kept thinking of and seeing the word "arancini" and twisting around the letters in my head to something like "arachnid" and thinking of these as "arachnid bites." Not that I'm afraid of spiders or anything - you should see some of them at my grandparents' cabin - but ask Peter Parker how that arachnid bite worked out for him. That's something I don't need on my plate right now, figuratively and literally. Plus, my wife is way prettier than Kirsten Dunst, who just looks perpetually hungry to me. Maybe she should stock up on these, too.

Anyways, I'm glad we finally got around to chomping these down. "They're kinda like fried mozzarella sticks, except for grownups, and they're baked, so they're healthier for us then, right? Right?" Sandy asked. Umm, yes. "I don't want to see the box on these," she said. Oh, they're not so bad, darling, but there's a reason I followed these up with an Asian pear for another snack. Trader Joe's Arancini Bites carry some solid spoon power for the two of us. Sandy's going with a four, and I'll up that another half, as, man, I wish I had some of these left right now. Yup, they're that good.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Arancini Bites: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

14 comments:

  1. Googled Arancini and it means 'little orange' in Italian.. I could see if they had a hint of orange in it or color.. go figure, only the Italians would come up w/something like this. Giada has a recipe similar to this.

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  2. We really like this. We ate them as picky things the other night along with the Mac & Cheese bites.

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  3. Yep, I agree they are that good. I'm with Sandy ... don't look at the box ... just enjoy. :-), Susan Cooper

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  4. i'm glad to hear these are good - i just recently tried their multigrain croissants and they were terrific:

    http://theactorsdiet.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/oscar-nom-noms/

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  5. Oh, you don't know how much I miss these.

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  6. These are SOOOOOO good. I have also made rice balls with fontina cheese from scratch...and it is a pain in the ass. Make the rice, cut up the cheese, mix stuff with the rice, stuff with cheese, make the balls, toss in bread crumbs, chill, fry. It takes forever. Don't get me wrong, they are worth it, but, as long as Trader Joe's has these little puppies, I won't be spending a Saturday making them again!

    They are good in marinara sauce, but try frank's sweet chili sauce also.

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  7. Congrats to you two! I can only hope my hubs is as attentive to me and brings me salty, crispy, melty, cheesy, sweet things when I am pregnant :).

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  8. Arancini are best baked and then dunked into hot pasta sauce

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  9. Sadly couldn't find phyllo dough the other day for the appetizer I wanted to make. So we got these as an app instead. They were so good. We literally ate them standing in the kitchen dipped in marinara in between sips of wine while plating dinner. I'm not even mad. Would definitely get them again.

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  10. I really like these. But they are a little bit rich... which may be a great thing now that I think about it, actually. I ate two and already, I was like wow, I'm sated.

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  11. These balls are not appetizing. My son ate a few and his stomach hurt for at least 10 hours, also everyone that ate them had stomach pain. This product should be recalled.

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  12. I have to disagree, as these are but a pale imitation of the real thing, with several traditional ingredients missing. My major gripe is that they simply won't crisp up sufficiently. If you want good arancini, try the ones at Galleria Umberto in Boston's North End - but get there no later than 11:30 (AM), as they close when they sell out, and the line is often out the door.

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  13. Omg, they are simply delicious! I can't wait to get back to Trader Joe's to buy more... many more! Love them!!

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