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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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trader Joe's Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy

I've eaten plenty of veggie burgers in my day. I've had delicious meatless chicken nuggets. And I love plenty of vegetarian dishes. But I've never had tofurkey, and I've certainly never had a vegetarian Thanksgiving before. So, like many of you, I was thoroughly skeptical about this Turkey-less Roast. Especially with a price tag of approximately $10 per package, it's a bit of an investment just to find out whether it's edible or not. That's why Sonia and I took the risk. So you don't have to. You may thank us in the comments below.

This past week, we had a bit of a pre-Thanksgiving, just the two of us. And we decided to take one for the team and feast on this forgery of a fowl from TJ's. We grazed on this goofy gobbler. We bit down on a bogus bird. We tasted a tricky turkey. But honestly, it wasn't bad at all. I think it's worth the cost. I think most vegetarians can go ahead and dive right in. My guess is that you'll love it. Does it taste exactly like turkey? No. So you red-blooded, meat-lovin' Archie Bunker types might want to have some dead bird on stand-by just in case. But really, overall, I'm diggin' it. The stuffing was great, the gravy was delicious. The soy-based fake turkey wasn't bad, but I'll be honest: the imitation beef and chicken dishes I've had would fool me way before this stuff would. It's hearty enough to fool your tummy into thinking that you've eaten something meatful, but not quite succulent enough to trick the taste buds. Texture-wise, it's a tad firmer than turkey meat, and there's a sort of crust that forms on the outside of the roast that fails to emulate real turkey. Taste-wise, it's a bit more beany. All in all, it's a decent approximation of traditional turkey, but it's not a dead ringer for the real thing.

Sonia pointed out that the product was a bit too rich with rosemary. The herb was over-represented in the roast for sure, but it didn't bother me quite as much as Sonia. However, she raved about the stuffing and gravy even more than I did, but agreed that the turkey-less turkey was the weakest element of the meal. She thought the texture was reminiscent of firmer-than-usual pâté, and added that when reheated, it got very dry on the sides.

Despite a few weaknesses, our final verdict is a thumbs-up. The price tag is hefty, but there're at least 4 good servings in there. (The label says 6, but you know how they exaggerate). It's not going to replace a real turkey at my family's Thanksgiving dinner this year, but I wouldn't be completely heartbroken if it did. 4 stars from Sonia. 3.5 from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

11 comments:

  1. If there was too much rosemary, there's a reason, and u know what it is... I remember when my husband bought a pressed, rolled turkey roll- omg, it was horrid... over the years I have lost my taste for turkey- it could be because of the clean up, the fact that I cooked all of the sides, as well- this year we are skipping the bird... My ' kids' want party snacks- which I make from scratch.. and no- not the onion dip snacks- serious ones... We're no longer big eaters so it will solve our hunger...
    Lesson I learned: skip any food that has something rolled in it unless you yourself rolled it,.,same thing goes for the rolled stuff in the fresh aisle.. A butcher told me, there's a reason that stuff is rolled- meat needs to be sold quickly!.

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  2. Sounds logical, Kalei. I guess even meatless meat needs to be sold quickly, too...

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  3. I found your review as I was wondering if I should anticipate this roast being a pleasant or unpleasant surprise-- and wondered if someone knew if it was a re-branded something else (hopefully not Tofurkey!!).

    I've just been readying one of these TJ roasts (using their suggestion of baking it atop carrots, celery and onions)-- waiting for the oven to heat up. I bought it on a whim yesterday, as I was there to pick up some of that fantastic frozen roasted corn. My plan had been to use the truly great (in my vegetarian-for-25-years+ opinion) Quorn Turk-y Roast, and I've got one of those, too (excellent for sandwiches), but was curious about this thing. BTW-- $10 for a stuffed roast thing is actually kind of cheap, relative to Tofurkey (usually over $20!!)and its ilk. And as I've found Tofurkey to be utterly horrific, that makes this even more of a bargain if it's edible at all!

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  4. @Maria, Everything I've read leads me to be pretty sure this is a rebranded Gardein roast. (I had the Gardein roast this evening and it seems, from this review, to be pretty much identical. TJs has a few other Gardein-like products now, so I wouldn't be surprised...) Oh and I'm vegetarian and I really liked it, though I think I prefer Tofurky's gravy.

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  5. Thanks for your insights, Maria and Marla. I had no idea that $10 was cheap for a veggie roast like this, and I've never even heard of a Gardein roast! I appreciate your comments. They'll definitely help out some of our readers :)

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  6. I bought this after reading your review and my family thought it was great. We've had it twice now. The first time, it seemed heavy on the rosemary. The second time it wasn't so bad, so either we acclimated or they lighted up on it. Thanks for the review, because otherwise I would've passed it up. My five year old even asked to eat the leftovers because he loved it.

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    1. Glad to hear that, Steven. We're happy to be of service.

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    1. If you click on the hyperlink on "Turkey-less Roast" in the first paragraph, it takes you to a video of us eating the product.

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  8. I had some last evening, at a friend's house. I'm not a vegan, and I love real turkey, but not only was it not bad, I found it to be downright good. I didn't even know it was a soy-based vegan product until after I'd finished eating it. Fooled me. If I'd known in advance, then, sure, I would have probably noticed the difference. But I didn't...and I didn't. I'd give is 9 out of 10 for a product of this nature. - Larry Weisenthal

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