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 14, 2012

Trader Joe's Chocolate Cheddar Cheese

Want to know the best thing about having a pregnancy in the household, besides the obvious impending joy of welcoming a child into the world and the ongoing daily discussions about the comfort of your spouse's pants? The power of suggestion, especially for food, is so strong. Sandy will just be reading something that mentions a cookie, and she'll say "Mmm, I want a cookie!" That was definitely the case with one of Nathan's latest cupcake reviews and so we got the same tasty ones just a day or two later. But I definitely have this power as well. A few weeks back, for no other reason than that I'm a guy, I really wanted a buffalo chicken pizza. Pre-pregancy, this *might* be open for debate - "Where from?""What do we have here?""Can't we just get pepperoni?" - but with the bun in the oven, immediately once I said it, Sandy's eyes lit up and said YES. Bingo, we ordered Pizza Hut that night. But like Uncle Ben told Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility, so I try to not pull off that trick too often. I also try to be fair and indulge most of hers, which are limited mainly to things like tasty fries.

There's the every-so-often Trader Joe's indulgence as well, of course. So many crazy things in that store...We were perusing the cheese selection when she saw the TJ's Chocolate Cheddar Cheese. Kinda like the Yeti, I've heard rumors of such things but had never seen it, 'til right then in my wife's hand with the all-too-familiar pretty-please look in her eye. Truth to be told, it didn't sound like a good idea to me, but she had found the smallest chunk (good thing, it's 10 bucks a pound, our piece cost like $2.80), and well, I guess I owe it to you all, too, so I said sure.

There's only a few things out there that I'd find too weird to enjoy, but this is definitely one of them. I like the cheddar part of it, quite a bit actually. I'm not exactly a cheddar aficionado, but have had enough of the good (like Cabot's - I've been to their factory!) and not so good (can you say Valu-Time?) to know what the good stuff tastes like. This is good stuff. It's sharp, rich, crumbly cheddar at first taste...which totally falls apart once the dark chocolate kicks in. I suppose it's good chocolate, as most TJ's dark stuff is, but I find it just muddies up the overall flavor. At the end, my mouth and tongue just feel perplexed and not remotely satisfied, and my stomach's definitely discombobulated. The dark sweetness just contrasts the sharp bite of cheddar way too much. There's not an over-abundance of chocolate taste, but what's in there just ruins it all for me. It might be better if the cheddar wasn't as sharp as it is. Blecch.

I have a theory I think I've mentioned before called my "chocolate gum theory," which actually has two applications. They are 1. Just because two things are good separately doesn't mean they're good together. Also see: Mick Jagger and David Bowie. 2. Just because something is good in theory doesn't mean it's good in practice. Also see: Subaru cupholders (that's the least controversial example I can think of). This chocolate cheddar cheese fits both corollaries of my theory well - separate good, together bad and could be tasty in thought, but it just isn't. It's just not a winner for me.

Sandy, though, with her pregnancy hormones and whatnot? She actually likes it, but not overly, and I think it's because she said she can't taste the chocolate as much. "I mean, I kinda do taste it, but not really," she said. "It's okay for a bite here and there but I don't think I could make a whole snack around it." Indeed, I was kinda glad that after we sampled it, her craving switched to a small bowl of mint chip ice cream. She took a slightly positive middle-of-the-roadish 3.5. Me? Generally speaking, I think this is probably a love or hate item for most folks, my lovely wife not included. I think I've made it clear where I stand. I just hope Sandy eats enough of it so it won't get all moldy in the fridge. I'll give it a 1.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Cheddar Cheese: 4.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

28 comments:

  1. Yeah, I know these things are becoming popular (chocolate and other random foods you wouldnt think of together), BUT I agree - that doesn't mean its good.I LOVE cheese and chocolate, but I can't picture liking them together

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  2. It was the free sample in our local TJ's the other day and I tried it. Not a fan. My taste buds didn't know what to make of it...just kinda weirded me out. :(

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  3. Replies
    1. Yes! I had it with some red wine and I think that greatly improved the flavor

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  4. you would need A LOT of wine w/that cheese... eeew

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  5. Yeah, I second Katie.
    I wasn't diggin' it AT ALL. Sometimes I feel TJ's pushes the envelope just to push it ;)

    www.tjsartisthub.com

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    1. Totally agree. Sometimes it's a homerun, other a strikeout.

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  6. Picked this up yesterday, but couldn't go through with the purchase. Glad I resisted.

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  7. I don't know how I made it through the review. I felt nauseated. My two loves should have never joined forces.

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  8. I liked this, but I'll admit it's a weird pairing.

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  9. Love the chez as a whole,actually. I am using it to make key
    lime cheddar-choc flour tortillas and corn bread muffins.
    And after dinner wine crackers!
    In fact,I bought it for the porpose of using in baking.

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  10. i just tried this the other day - a friend of mine had a piece. definitely a strange pairing...

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  11. They're using the wrong cheese. Chocolate goes great with something like a soft goat cheese and some other cheeses. Also, wine and cheese is so amateurish. Not very many wines complement cheeses properly. So, unless you know what you're doing there, you're just eating wine with cheese because it makes you feel "classy". Which, mind you, is fine, but keep it to yourselves.

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    1. I'd agree if the chocolate was sweet, but it wasn't. It was more of a rich acidic bite along with the flavor of the sharp cheddar. It was a winner in my book.

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  12. Looked for it today, apparently no longer available.

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  13. Love the cheese and my wine club friends did too - really bummed out when I went back for more and it was gone. I wish they'd tell you when they're going to discontinue something -- then I'd by all I could.

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  14. This was more cheese than chocolate. In fact, the chocolate may have been unsweetened or bittersweet. I liked it on bread and with crackers, but my FAVORITE way to have this cheese was crumbled on salad. It was so good!

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  15. My husband surprised me with the chocolate cheese and it was the best Valentine gift yet! We both thoroughly enjoyed the blend of flavors and wanted more....

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  16. AMAZING! I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it will not be back at our TJ as it was a random, maybe closeout item. So if you want that cheese and chocolate, try putting the cheese with shredded chocolate or very thinly sliced (if anyone slices that thin). My husband enjoyed it too, and said it tasted like chocolate to him. I found it to be a cheddar flavor with a hint of chocolate. Guess it's in the person doing the tasting. Wish they'd get it again...

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  17. Sharp cheddar goes brilliantly with dark chocolate, actually.

    I just bought some of this yesterday

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  18. You're so wrong. This shit is awesome. If you like cheddar that's a good start. I don't know why people who aren't cheddar fans go off and review foods that are primarily cheddar. Let it soften a bit first and it's even more lush.

    And are you serious with this type in a number and letter combo that nobody can read? I tried listening and if you can understand a voice that sounds like a creepy machine yawning than you might have a chance.

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  19. This cheese is fantastic! I wish they would sell it for all 365 days. As for someone's taste buds...it really depends what kind of food is "normal" for you and what kind of food you ate in your childhood. If it was only mac&cheese, pizza, hot dog, then i am not surprised this cheese is "weird"...:))

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  20. Love it!!! I buy it whenever I go there!

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  21. I haven't had this yet but I literally can't drink hot chocolate without putting edam cheese in the mug. I will definitely add this to this weekend's shopping list

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  22. I first had this cheese last Christmas, a family member brought it from VA home to NC and I love it. So glad that we now have a TJ here in Asheville NC I cant seem to get anough. I drive about 15 miles just for this cheese at least once a week. Thanks Chrissy for turning the family on to great find.

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    1. I also had it last Christmas, and looked forward to getting more this year. Served it on very, very thin chocolate wafers for dessert. BUT - both years, I've been distressed to find that it molds VERY, VERY quickly!! Other cheeses don't do that--so I don't think it's because of my refrigerator storage. Does anybody know why this is so?

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  23. Love this cheese! What a perfectly romantic idea for Valentines Day, wine and chocolate cheddar cheese! It has a unique, very pleasing flavor. Especially when eaten slowly and decadently. LOL!
    No, seriously, make time to enjoy this treat.

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