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, April 5, 2012

Trader Joe's Raspberry Tarte

There were a few semi-related thoughts going through my head as I made a solo trek to the local Trader Joe's on Sunday afternoon. First, the wifey instructed me to find a tasty dessert for the usual family dinner that night as she was busy getting a mama-massage off somewhere with some of her other pregnant lady friends. Two, not like we're dietarily perfect otherwise, but if there's one thing that Sandy and I stink at when it comes to food, it's eating enough fruits and veggies. We like them and like the idea of eating them, and indeed we did pretty well last summer between growing our veggie garden and hitting up the local farmer's markets, but I had just cleaned out the fridge and ended throwing out too many veggies that were bought on a mild splurge the week or so before at a farm stand. The winter's a little tougher as we haven't canned and well, we're both not fans of the TJ selection with an exception or two here and there. That's on both of us, and we both need to do a better job. And third, well....Sandy and I decided we'd give up sweets for Lent. As I've written before, that's been much tougher than what either of us thought. Well, on Friday, Sandy admitted to me that she caved in when some donuts were brought to her work, and, well, I've been sneaking a non-sanctioned sugary snack or two here or there, which I finally 'fessed up to, too. We both kinda looked at each other then, and remembered where we hid away some cookies, and had at it. I figured, well, if we're back into eating sweets again (tsktsk on us! Don't tell the Pope!), we might as well find quasi-healthyish ones, right? Right?

All these factors led to my purchase of Trader Joe's Raspberry Tarte. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. The dumb-dumb blogger saw the big ol' raspberries on top and figured it'd be a dessert that even Jamie Oliver would sign off on. That's...not so far from the truth, I'll admit. But hey, at least it's not like some other desserts we've recently tried, so baby steps, okay? Baby steps.

As for taste, yeah...it's not bad. As one would probably figure, the raspberries are pretty sweet yet deliciously kinda tart, and are semi-coated with a raspberry/apple compote-type gloop. The crust kinda reminds me of a mix between graham cracker crumb and shortbread, which also means it's delicious. There's also a layer of something or other between the raspberries and the crust, but I forget what the box said it was, but it really doesn't matter to me because whatever it was, I didn't taste it anyways. Of course, there's the big drawback that this comes frozen and it's supposed to thaw for an hour before serving. Like some other TJ desserts, that didn't work out so well. It thawed for at least two hours at room temp and still there were icy bits while the rest tasted like it came from a freezer. I don't know if following some of the baking instructions would help. All I know is, overall I wasn't blown away or disappointed by the tarte, and vanilla ice cream was definitely a major plus for a slice.

Sandy wasn't a huge fan of the raspberry tarte, either. "I kinda like the berries, except when they were still frozen," she said. "But overall...meh." That's a pretty accurate statement. For the $6.49 I plopped down for it, I was hoping for more. That being said, when it came time to munch down the last couple bites left, I was a fairly willing volunteer, if even just because I figured the fruit made it a better option than the brownies that were also available. Eh well. I'm a little more enthusiastic about it than Sandy is, so I'll go a spoon up from her 2.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Raspberry Tarte: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. If you'd like to try a different "fruit", the Trader Joe's ready-to-bake blueberry scones in the freezer section are outsanding! (Well, they are scrumptious 10 minutes out of the oven when two of us polished off the four scones. I have no idea if they would keep well after baking.)

  2. I have not tried the raspberry tart, but have indulged in the wild blueberry tarte several times (love it!). The key to this is following the instructions that say to heat it in the oven for 15 minutes or so. This would have surely warmed the "icy berries" you speak of. It also makes the dessert as a whole better because when serving with vanilla ice cream as you did, the warm taste complements the cold ice cream.

    Basically, follow the directions for how to cook a product!!

  3. My mom and I absolutely loved this. Being Russian, we really liked how the berries were smaller and tarter than what we find in grocery stores here in Northern VA. It reminded us of how we used to go berry picking in the woods at our dacha in the old country when I was little. My mom actually wanted to microwave hers, but we ended up not thawing it or anything and just eating it as is. It was delicious! The berries on ours were cold, yes, but there weren't bits of ice or anything. The tarte was not cloying, it was the perfect combination of lightly sweet and tart. I'm ashamed to say that between the two of us, we ate the whole thing in one sitting. Oops.

  4. My wife and I have long loved the raspberry tarte, a Trader Joe mainstay for many years. The better way to enjoy it is to bake it in the oven from its frozen state--remove it from the aluminum pan!-- directly on the middle rack, with the oven preheated not at 350F but at 375F, and not for 10 minutes as the packaging indicates, but for at least 20 minutes, up to 23 minutes, perhaps even a bit longer. Otherwise it will not reach the desired heat (which disappears quickly when out of the oven). Baking it for 10 minutes is not even enough to thaw it fully. Once hot out of the oven, there is no need to wait 15 to 20 minutes before eating. Waiting for 30 seconds is long enough. The two of us of course swallow the whole things also in one sitting, most usually.