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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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta

Ever see the Portlandia bit about pasta? If there's one Portlandia skit that could sum up Sandy and I, this would be it, much like this one's so true about Pittsburgh or this one about my brother and sister-in-law. I mean, I'm not sure if you could say that we absolutely love pasta, but we sure as heck eat it often enough, at least once a week. In my bachelor days, it was probably closer to three or four times a week. And I think we'd miss it quite a bit if we had to remove from our diet altogether. That's just something so comforting about a bowl of warm, saucy pasta, the way it slides in, barely needing to be chewed, before continuing its way to the depths of your bely to sit like a brick for a few hours. It's even better with a little hot sauce splashed on - believe me, if you haven't tried. I don't care the shape - long noodles, spirals, elbows, penne tubes, twisties, itty bitty orzo, or my favorite to say, "acini de pepe" - just give me pasta, dang it.

Every once in a while, though, I figure it doesn't hurt to go and try something different to help fix my pasta jonesin'. A week or two ago, I was thisclose to getting the same ol' usual sack o' semolina when I happened to spy Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli a little further down the shelf. It looked yummy. It sounded healthier (Is it? I really have no idea). It was also priced a quite a bit spendier - $3 versus $1 for the usual - but I figured it'd be worth the try.

Being honest, if Sandy were to buy this, not tell me, then cook it up without saying anything, I probably wouldn't have noticed much difference, except for the color. Even then, I would've figured it were wheat pasta, which this certainly isn't, being gluten-free and all. Knowing it was different, though, I tried to take note of any discernible distinctions. There's not much to work with, though. The taste is pretty close, perhaps slightly grainier, though certainly not grainy. I thought maybe it were a little thicker/chewier with a little more bite, but I'm not sold on it. The second time I made it, I mixed in a small handful of leftover elbow macaroni we had, and texturewise the two were pretty close. Overall, I'd say the bite was much closer to the a-maize-ing corn than the cringe-worthy rice for pasta alternates.

For those in need of a celiac-friendly diet, I'd heartily recommend the rice and quinoa fusilli - it's darn near authentic-tasting without much of any drawback. For those who aren't, well...it's not anything terribly special. In the end, I kinda want it to be - I mean, organic pasta made from quinoa and brown rice kinda should have something  distinctive about it, right? Maybe this does, but I'm not picking it up. Sandy agrees. "Eh, it's like pasta" she said. "Nothing too much to say one way or another." Much like me. I think we'll call it matching threes.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

5 comments:

  1. Haven't seen this, probably because I don't eat pasta any longer... Have u tried the frozen quinoa? Not bad, pretty good, tho there is only 2 bags vs. 3 which the brown rice has..

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  2. Maybe part of the reason this gluten free pasta is a win is because there ISN'T anything distinctive about it? That is, gluten free items can be so hit or miss, and people are so cautious of the taste and texture that the goal for the good stuff is to just make it taste as much like its standard gluten rich counterpart as possible.

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    1. Yeah, I was kinda thinking that, but the corn pasta more than amply fills that void. For this, I was hoping for something a little more "special" (especially considering it cost $3 for the bag vs $1 for regular vs $1.39 [I think} for the corn pasta). I mean, it's not bad, but as someone who's not gluten-sensitive by any stretch, it doesn't hold much of a compleling reason to buy again.

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  3. As someone who has to eat gluten free, this pasta is special..very special. This pasta holds sauce well, tastes great! Pasta salad once again! Thank you trader joes...something more palatable than anything we have had that is gluten free!

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