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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Monday, July 8, 2013

Trader Joe's Sliced Halloumi Cheese


Well, hello there. The past few weeks for the Western PA half of the WGaTJ's team have been, in a word or two, a little nutso. Start with my old laptop dying literally as I pounded out the final words of my last review a few weeks ago. Add in putting on the final touches of getting our house ready to be put on the market (which it finally is!) and driving a little over 2,000 mostly soggy miles in about 8 days for a little vacation up to Vermont and back. Then it was enduring a couple atypically crazy weeks at work and needing some funds to procure a new laptop and....well, yeah it's been a while since posting. Sorry for the lull, but I've found some great little TJ's goodies in the past few weeks, so I'll be making up for that. Thanks, Nathan, for holding down the fort. It's good to be back.

One of those goodies I came across, courtesy of my baby sister (a recent TJ's convert), was Trader Joe's Sliced Halloumi Cheese. My goodness. "A grilling cheese." I've never heard of such a thing. There's grilled cheese, of course. I'm almost 31 years old, and that's still almost a weekly staple. And then there's one of my favorite things, which is melted then crispied cheese, like the slighty burned edges of homemade mac 'n cheese. But a grilling cheese? Can't say I've heard of it.

But maaaaaaaaaan is it good. As you can see, the halloumi in fact grills up and gets a little browned and charred with minimal (if any) melting. By what power of Zeus is such a thing even possible? The Cyprus folks who invented this are pure men/women of genius. It's a very mild tasting cheese, fairly similar to mozzarella, but certainly isn't as soft. It's tougher, heavier and meatier, with a touch of crumbliness to it. Alongside our burgers, cold beers and grilled peppers, onions and eggplant, the halloumi was a perfect part of a terrific dinner we had on an overnight pit stop at my parents' house as we trekked back to Pittsburgh. My sister, who is pastry extraordinaire by day and an excellent all-around chef, says she picks this up quite often for either grilling big hunks of it (like ho we enjoyed it) or frying some up to put in some salad or pasta. I'm thinking that it would be a great match for a dish with sundried tomatoes and fresh herbs. Sis, if you're reading this, leave a comment or two with some of your recommendations.

There's only one sad thing I can say about the halloumi: like too many other good products that most of the TJ's-lovin' world gets to regularly enjoy (ahem, especially those alcohol related ones), it's not freakin' available at the East End Pittsburgh shop I frequent. Believe me, I scoured the otherwise rather expansive cheese selection for it, high and low, and didn't see it. Being a guy, I was too prideful to ask, but this really needs to be available locally, because I'm craving it again. Until then, I must dream sweet, cheesy dreams about a cheese that chars and doesn't melt. As will Sandy. "Mmmm, cheeeeeeeese...." is about all she could say until the expression on her face switched to one of pure, transfixed serenity as she recalled the fond tasty frolics she and the halloumi had together. I'm kinda surpised she gave it only a four. I'm going 4.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sliced Halloumi Cheese: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons  

10 comments:

  1. This is a middle-eastern breakfast staple. Serve it up with some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers (salted and peppered, of course), some olives, and with pita bread for an easy Arabic style breakfast. Also (and I know the point of this blog is to revel in the wonders of TJs) if you ever need it and can't find it, any middle-eastern specialty grocery store will surely have it.

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    1. Good idea and good point, lala. Thanks!

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  2. My husband and I love, love, love Halloumi cheese! So glad to hear TJ is finally carrying it. My hubby and I call it oink cheese because of the squeaky sounds it makes when you chewing it. LOL

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  3. Ooh, my husband would LOVE this! I'll have to check to see if it is available in the Dallas area when I do my weekly trip this coming weekend!

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  4. At a greek place here in Atlanta ( and I am sure other places too) they set the halloumi on fire as they bring it to your table!

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    1. That sounds awesome! Must...find...incendiary...halloumi....

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    2. It's called "saganaki". The cheese is cooked on a cast iron griddle and served piping hot to spread on bread. At tableside they pour on a tablespoon or so of brandy and light it, shouting "Opa!" It's fun.

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  5. halloumi was in the sliced cheese/deli meats section of my tjs--did you look there?

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  6. I found this at TJ's today and bought it based on your recommendation. I was not disappointed! I tossed a couple of slices into a nonstick fry pan with a little bit of cooking spray and then enjoyed it with sliced apples. Totally delicious and now a new cheese to add to my list!

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