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Friday, February 28, 2014

Trader Joe's Sliced Jalapeño Yogurt Cheese

So, I've taken a look at what we've reviewed over this past month, and realized, probably without meaning to be, both Nathan and I have been reviewing some pretty sly products. What do I mean? Well, one thing that TJ's excels at is some crazy, out-in-the-open combo products, like these delicious treats. But they're also pretty good at making little, teeny tiny twists to a lot of otherwise normal products, whether they're to fit a specific dietary need or just to sound a little fancy. And look at we've focused on in just these past few weeks: a gluten-free pasta twist, a peanut butter facsimile that isn't made of peanuts, non-dairy milk, buffalo (not beef) burgers, sausage pizza without "real" sausage, and an unusually crusted pizza. Kinda makes me wonder how this or this snuck in.

Anyways, it's a short month, and let's wrap it up right with some Trader Joe's Sliced Jalapeño Yogurt Cheese. It's lactose-free (though certainly not dairy-free cheese). A commenter on the aforementioned almond milk review started an interesting conversation about "lactose intolerant" folks being the genetic norm for our species while "lactose persistence" is actually a mutation - whether or not that's actually scientifically accurate, I have no idea. I just know I'm one of the (ab)normal humans with no lactose issues whatsoever, but this cheese looked like a potential interesting break from the norm, hence the purchase.

Ehhhhh....it's alright. I preface any further comments by first stating that for those who are lactose intolerant and want a semi-spicy cheese option, it's not a bad one. Otherwise, it's nothing all that special. The slices are very thick, and get all clammy and stuck together in the package - thank goodness for the little pieces of paper. It's kinda tough to really classify what type of cheese it is - it's not cheddar or provolone or gouda or mozzarella or asiago or limburger or...okay, I'm getting silly. I'd say it's kinda like a cross between muenster and American, except milder and a tad bit creamier, and less distinctive tastewise. Honestly, it really doesn't taste like a whole lot aside from the jalapeños, and even those take a bit to kick in. After first bite, I scanned the ingredients, read "red and green peppers," and thought maybe the word "bell" was erroneously admitted. When it gets around to it, the peppers do give a fair amount of spicy heat, but nothing too much more than a regular ol' pepper jack.

 As a plus, the melty quotient for this cheese is very, very high. I made a grilled cheese with it, and within a minute or two, the cheese got all melted and splashed over the inside of the bread, making a nice, warm, bite-inviting sammich. But melting it seemed to have it lose even more flavor - maybe it was just my bread choice (whole grain something or other), but though I was cognizant of the fact I was eating cheese and getting some strings caught in my beard, I can't say I tasted it all that much either, except for a little poke of heat from a pepper here or there.

It's nothing too special, and if lactose isn't an issue, it's not worth the extra buck ($4.49ish for a 12 oz pack, not a bad deal) versus the regular sliced pepper jack. I'll be happy enough finishing the package in due time, but it's probably not going to be a repeat purchase.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sliced Jalapeño Yogurt Cheese: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Ancient Grain Pizza

When a bag of grains has been sitting in Trader Joe's warehouse for a couple years, instead of wasting it, they stick it in one of their products like this pizza, a loaf of whole grain bread, or a tub of hearty Lentil Soup. The word "ancient" is actually a subtle disclaimer that lets you know these grains have been around for a while, as required by the FDA. It's either that or "Trader Joe's Really Old Expired Grains Pizza," so of course they go with "ancient."

I hope that most of you have realized by this point that the previous paragraph is entirely ridiculous, fictional, and hopefully mildly amusing. If you want to read about the ancient grains trend as well as the inevitable backlash against it, click here. I won't even pretend I know about all that stuff. When choosing food at Trader Joe's, my mental process goes something like this: "Ooh! Ancient Grains! Something about asparagus! This is potentially better for me than a McDonald's cheeseburger! I'll take it!" But seriously though, pizza doughs featuring einkorn, emmer, and spelt—or any grains that automatically get red lines beneath them from spell check (which all three of those did)—inevitably give rise to more interesting conversations than pizza doughs made exclusively with wheat.

Which brings me to my first point and major complaint about this product: why go to all that trouble to build a time machine, go back to the ancient Fertile Crescent to raid unsuspecting Mesopotamian farmers, take their unique grains back through the stargate with you, all the while risking hazardous temporal paradoxes that could negate your very existence, just to pollute your ancient grain medley with wheat flour? That's right folks, "wheat flour" is the main ingredient in this pizza's crust. I mean, really TJ's? Either you're playing some cruel trick on gluten-sensitive people, or einkorn, emmer, and spelt just really don't taste that good by themselves. I thought the ancient grains were the main attraction of this product. Apparently not.

So that's definitely something working against this product. Another weakness was the texture of the veggies. Sonia and I both agree that asparagus might have worked had they only used asparagus tips. But there were no tips. Just stalks. And even the best asparagus stalks are a little chewy/stringy. These were no exception, though I must note that they tasted fine and made a decent side dish when removed from the pizza. Also the tomatoes were a bit too chunky. Both Sonia and I would have preferred fewer/smaller tomatoes and more of the tomato sauce, which was spread quite thin, but tasty. And Sonia is a huge fan of whole raw tomatoes, while I am definitely not. I love tomato sauces, soups, and derivatives, but not the fruit itself. So for me, it was partly a taste thing, while for Sonia it was more about texture.

So there are a few weaknesses with this pizza for sure. But there was enough good stuff going on that we enjoyed it overall. Wheat or not, the crust was very good. It kinda reminded me of Trader Giotto's Whole Wheat Dough. It was nutty, hearty, and had a bit more body than ordinary pizza crust. And it went perfectly with the delicious blend of cheeses: provolone, maasdam, and reibekase. The cheese and the crust by themselves were amazing. Sonia and I got to talking about what toppings, if any, would have enhanced this crust/cheese combo. We decided some crisp sliced peppers wouldn't have been bad, or maybe even some fake meats. All in all, it's a unique pizza with excellent crust and cheese, but we weren't thrilled with the selection of toppings. Plus, we're not sure why they didn't go the gluten-free, wheat-free route. Double 3.5's for this one.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Trader Joe's Sai Tung Green Curry & Red Gaba Rice

Well, I've written at length before about my love of most Thai cuisine, so let's skip all that mumble grumble and get down to the business of reviewing one of the latest, greatest, easiest, tastiest, purportedly authenticish dishes that has been scavenged from the corners of the earth and brought right to a freezer aisle near you -  Trader Joe's Sai Tung Green Curry & Red Gaba Rice.

Man, that's a long product name.

Anyways, according to Trader Joe's, "sai tung" is Thai for "take out." I wasn't able to find independent verification of that translation in the 5 seconds I spent on Googling the matter, so let's roll with that. Hmm, ethnocentrically speaking, I thought that take out food was more or less an American thing. I wonder what the quality of take out Tupperware in other parts of the world are.

Overall, the sai tung is a pretty respectable dish. First, it's MASSIVE. The product shot I included here? That's less than half of what came on our $2.99 platter. It's kinda obviously packaged to be a microwavable lunch or dinner onto itself, which even for a guy with a bottomless pit of a stomach like me, would be a bit much. Sandy and I instead used it as a side dish the other night with some baked fish. The rice and curry come frozen in a compartmentalized plastic dish, not (unfortunately) the cool looking bowl on the box cover. And even though I followed the instructions carefully, it still took almost twice as long to nuke as the directions stated because both the rice and the curry are so densely packed in. Maybe Nathan can give me some lessons, that microwave wizard him.

Once it was finally heated, it tasted downright good. The red rice is of the sprouted variety, so it's a little extra protein and a lot of extra bite, kinda a texture closer to quinoa than regular white rice. Grainy, a little chewy, but definitely good. As for the curry, it doesn't disappoint. The sauce starts off nice and sweet and coconut milky, before laying a spice wallop on the taste buds before quickly retreating back to the sweetness. I'll admit it took me a few bites to really get into it, but once I was, I was hooked. I've had curries that were a little more complex and layered out at restaurants, but for a freezer meal, it was more than acceptable. There's a lot of not-common-in-USA greens mixed in - coconut shoots, morning glory, banana flowers - which if you don't mind chomping on something that kinda looks and feels like a soggy forkful of yardwork actually tastes pretty darn good in a greeny way. Sandy strategically avoided all that shrubbery, leaving more for me, which I didn't mind one bit.

"Oooooooh I like it," Sandy said when I asked for her thoughts a few minutes ago. "That curry sauce...." Whenever she says mentions she likes something and kinda trails off (which happens fairly commonly) I always kinda mentally picture her doing the Homer Simpson "Mmm, beer" thing. It was kinda surprising when she said she'd give it only a 2.5, though. She explained she artifically lowered her grade because she was subconciously upset she couldn't have more of it thanks to a diet regime she's trying out for a few weeks. "If I could've had the whole thing, like for lunch, I would've given it a four, probably," she said. Well, I'll give my a score a little boost to try and compensate. Good stuff.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sai Tung Green Curry & Red Gaba Rice: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trader Joe's Coffee á Cocoa

I think this item was first brought to our attention via Instagram. Sonia pointed out the photo to me, and somehow I got the impression that it was like a mixture of hot chocolate and coffee.

It's not.

It's coffee with traces of chocolatiness. Perhaps I'd describe it as having a "chocolate finish" if I were feeling generous. Disappointing for people like me who don't really like the taste of coffee. I'm not sure what "Chocolate Fudge Oil" is, but it's not nearly as chocolatey as it sounds. I've never even heard of it before, and I lived in Chocolate Town, USA for five years. That's right, just a few blocks from Hershey Park. It smelled like chocolate there, although some say the chocolate smell is artificially produced to cover up the smell of the nearby sewage treatment plant. People used cocoa shells for mulch there. But there wasn't much talk about "Chocolate Fudge Oil." Probably because it's not that chocolatey.

Now don't get me wrong, I know Hershey's isn't the best chocolate on earth, especially by chocolate snob standards. Like coffee, I'm not really into chocolate all that much, either—Hershey's or otherwise. I'm not one of those weirdos that dislikes chocolate, either. Given the choice between coffee and chocolate, I'll take the chocolate. I always mention Hershey's because I lived there. That's my reference point. It's what I'm familiar with. If I had grown up in Bruges, I would undoubtedly have an extraordinarily sophisticated Belgian Chocolate reference point that would make me seem waaay more suave, sexy, and worldly. But hey, I'm from Pennsyltucky, yo. Go Hershey Bears!

There is talk about "mocha" on the can. But the mochas I've had are a bit heavier on the chocolate part of the mixture. Plus, you actually make this by putting ground coffee in a filter and putting it in a coffee maker. It's not a powdered mixture like hot chocolate.

But I must say, on the plus side, it does have a rich, medium-dark roast type flavor going on. Smooth and a little nutty, like it says on the can. I think if I hadn't expected something "choco-riffic," I might have been a lot more impressed. If they had pitched this as some random Brazilian Arabica coffee and not emphasized chocolate so much, I might have been thoroughly pleased. As I've written before, one of the ways I measure the success of a coffee is how little sugar and milk I need to add to make it palatable. And I added relatively little to this happy blend.

So right now, I'm going to summon my inner coffee connoisseur and give this three stars. No wait...three and a half stars. No. Wait. Three stars. And I'm going to make a confession. When Sonia isn't around, I often guess her score. I've published posts with her score as just a guess on my part, but I pass it off as her official score. BUT, the thing is, I'm almost always right. Like dead on. So I'm going to go ahead and guess her score with this product. I think she'll give it four stars. It's not rocket science. She's a predictable lass. That's LASS, with an "L." Gotta love her, though. So cute.

Aha, her text just came in. I was right. It's a four.

So. Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Trader Joe's Meatless Italian Style Sausage & Cheese Flatbread

So, I'm not exactly a trendsetter kinda guy, if you haven't noticed. But, I'd like to be one. Sort of. For instance, one of my very covert goals for this blog has been to try and enter the phrase "chocolate gum theory" into the parlance of our times. I mean, it makes sense, to me, at least. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go click that link, it'll explain it. Just...think about dropping into a conversation every once in a while, will ya?

But one way I just might have been a key force in bringing in some new trend: flatbread pizza, or just flatbreads, or Flatizzas, or whatever silly (or in the case of Flatizza, absolutely stupid) name you want to slap on them. You see, a few years back I reviewed Trader Joe's Lavash, and specifically mentioned how delicious they were to use as a pizza crust. I feel like I stumbled across that idea by happenstance, by some remnant shred of bachelor laziness that laid dormant until that fateful purchase.

Okay, perhaps you're still not convinced. That's fine. But I am, thanks to Trader Joe's Meatless Italian Style Sausage & Cheese Flatbread. I mean, is it absolutely crazy idea that "Big Joe" read that same lavash post, knew about my outspoken displeasure of the discontinuation of the soy chorizo (bring that back already!), knew about my appreciation of most TJ fake meat products, and came up with this particular item to try and get me off his back? Is it?

Well...if all that is true, he'll need to do a little better next time. I mean, this isn't a horrible pizza/flatbread/flapizza/piflatbrezzad/whatever at all. The "sausage" is a convincing enough knockoff of the real deal to fool both our toddler, who hates meat, and the teenaged Chinese exchange student who lives with us, who loves meat. It's got the right bite and texture and overall flavor, and to TJ's credit, there's a lot of it. The little roasted red peppers and tomatoes make a nice addition, though I wish there more of them. And even though we could've baked it longer, the flatbread crust got reasonably crispy enough, while the cheese was plenty stringy and gooey, much to our toddler's delight.

It's just...the end result tasted too much like an average thin crust freezer pizza. It just lacked something, anything, to go to the next level, like even a little red pepper flakeage, or whatever made another one of their pizzas so darn good. If I weren't so bent on preserving the last few drops of the world's best hot sauce I have readily on hand, I would've slathered that all over the place, just so my dinner would have a little flavor. It's just fairly nondescript as is, and I know TJ's is capable of better.  C'mon, TJ's, can't you just...TJ it up a little? Please?

Sandy kinda agreed, while noting that she enjoyed the salchicha falsa, she wishes the pizza was a little bigger, so it'd be more servings for the four bucks or so for the pizza. It was kinda small overall, but piled reasonably high with toppings, so perhaps it was a bit of a trade-off. "Kinda average at best," she said. Agreed. She defines average as a 3, while I say average means a 2.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Meatless Italian Style Sausage & Cheese Flatbread: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons    

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trader Joe's Uncooked Ground Buffalo Burgers

Buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo. That's a complete, grammatically correct sentence. No really. It's a command telling a bison from Buffalo, NY to baffle or intimidate another bison from Buffalo, NY. And this wikipedia page says you can actually use eight "buffalo's" in a row and make a grammatically correct sentence. Just try to wrap your brain around that. Yeah. And people say that English is a practical language.

When I was a kid, I had all kinds of allergies, including allergies to foods. My mom did too. So an allergy specialist recommended that we rotate our foods so that we wouldn't develop allergies to them. I could only eat beef one out of every four days. So on those other days, we'd eat chicken one day, we'd eat fish another day, and on the remaining day...well, we'd get adventurous. My dad had an international company ship us exotic meats from around the world. They were packaged with dry ice, and man was that stuff fun to play with! The dry ice, I mean, not the meats. But anyway, the point is that I tried buffalo, among many other bizarre meats, at a very young age, and it's always been my favorite red meat, which puts it very high in the running for my favorite food, which puts it very high in the running for my favorite thing on planet Earth.

So, this ain't my first day at the buffalo rodeo. In fact, I've even had a Bison Burger at a Red Robin restaurant in my hometown in central PA circa 2008/2009. Apparently Franklin County, PA is more open to buffalo burgers than either southern California or south Jersey, because my wife and I asked about buffalo burgers at Red Robins in both of those places, and in each instance, we got blank stares followed by talk about beef burgers containing buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, and ranch dressing. But freakin' A, that bison burger at the Red Robin in my hometown was the best restaurant burger I ever had. I think I paid $2 more than their average dead cow sandwich. Worth it, if you ask me. I guess the powers that be must have heard a rumor about a weird family in historic Chambersburg, PA that ate buffalo meat and told their friends that it was tasty, and so they decided to make that their test market. Or maybe they slaughtered the aged, dying bison from ZooAmerica in Hershey for cheap, and then had them shipped down I-81. Either way, it totally worked.

Despite the TJ's product's high fat content (20%), fortunately it didn't taste or feel that way. I like to think that most of that fat cooked out of it when we put it in the skillet. The pan was full of liquid grease after we cooked the burgers in a thin glaze of Coconut Oil Spray. The taste of buffalo meat is very similar to beef, but it's even more flavorful in my humble opinion. During the buffalo's attack, it tasted like it was going to be gamey, but then it evolved into a non-gamey, tannin-free alkaline red meat flavor, and finished clean, with a medium-bodied "butter beef" essence. Of all the stupid things I've written on this blog, using wine critic terminology to describe buffalo burgers is bound to attract the most internet trolls, although I must point out that Sonia coined the term "butter beef," not me.

In other news, these patties are 'spensive. $10 for three. Yep. They're tasty, but if you're preparing for the imminent decline of the US dollar like I am, you better budget your bucks before you buy bloody buffalo burgers. Boom. Oh, and that reminds me: these patties were unbelievably bloody. Like readily dripping with red blood out of the package. Delightfully macabre.

I give this product 4.5 stars for its exceptional taste. Sonia gives it a 4. Click here for a pic of the raw product.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Almond Beverage

I love my wife, and I know better than to question her judgement (after all, I'm one of them)...but sometimes she gets some nutty ideas in her head. Take for instance me and cereal. Now, I've rekindled my love affair with the generic honey nut Cheerios - you know the type, comes in a bag that's too big to fit in the pantry* - as a "replacement vice" for the former semi-torrid (and all horrid) relationship I had with fast food. Sandy, generally speaking, approves of this, except when I pour what she deems as too many O's into my bowl. "That's more than one serving!" she decries in a tone that sounds like one she'd use if I told her I spent a whole paycheck on lottery scratch off tickets. She's never, ever plays "serving police" on anything else on a consistent basis EXCEPT cereal. It doesn't matter that, for a vice, it's a decently healthy one, or that I've lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 pounds this year, or that she saves things like three slices of pizza for me for dinner, I just eat too much dang cereal in her book.

Meh.

Another idea sprung forth from her brilliant (albeit quixotic) mind a couple weeks ago, when she randomly declared how curious and "unnatural" it was for humans to drink milk from other animals, since we're just about the only animal who does that. I kinda let that go in one ear, bounce off something hard, and go back out until she brought home a carton of almond milk a day or two later. Good call, as we both don't care for soy milk, detest rice milk, and are ambivalent about coconut milk (except the canned kinda stuff) at best. Also, as I was happy to find out, it was cheaper than the organic milk we routinely bought, and in all, tasted just fine.

Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Almond Beverage, though not the first brand I've tried, is also pretty tasty. I kinda wish they called it "almond milk" and not "almond beverage" because that makes it sound like some sort of weird soda or juice to me. There's not a lot to dislike. It's subtly nutty, like other almond milks I've had, and has an acceptable consistency and smoothness, although a little chalkiness if you inspect too close. I wouldn't drink a glassful of it straight, but then again, I've rarely done that with regular milk either. I think the TJ's version tastes a little closer to actual milk, too, since it's unsweetened, unlike other brands I've had. And believe me, it pairs well with your early morning/late night bowl of cereal, or a couple Oreos, and could reliably be depended upon to be regular milk's stunt double. I like it quite a bit.

As an added bonus, I really like the packaging for it, mostly because it's bright and pink and kinda idiot proof. What do I mean? Well, the store brand we've brought previously came in a light tan carton with red lettering that looked exactly like the organic whole milk we buy for our sweet little toddler, who may or may not be slightly allergic to nuts. And I hate whole milk, so the once or twice that we've mixed them up in a pre-caffeinated daze were not good experiences - watching/charting/discussing possible hives or ruining an otherwise great bowl of cereal  are not fun ways to spend a morning.

In all, yeah, it's almond milk and that's pretty much all there is to it. Not a bad deal at all for $2.99. I'm thinking that it'll continue to be on our shopping list on a weekly basis. It's another dairy-alternative win for TJ's. Good stuff.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Almond Beverage: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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* Couldn't find the link, and it makes me mad, but the brilliant comedian Jim Gaffigan has a great bit about bagged cereal, calling it "homeless" because at least other cereals had a box to live in.  So, as an added bonus, here's a brilliant bit about parenting or his great cameo in one of the best worst movies ever.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter

When Trader Joe's slaps their logo on a jar with the word "butter" on it, we know they mean business. 

I'm thinking Cookie ButterCrunchy Cookie ButterCookie Butter and Cocoa Swirl, and even Pumpkin Butter. Of course when they did just plain old Peanut Butter, they had to "TJ it up" a bit and add flaxseeds, but it worked out just fine that way. Most of the time, those buttery products score very high, and they become some of the most read, most liked, and most shared posts from this blog. So it behooves us to review the heck out of TJ's "butter" products. We hope it benefits you too.

So if you want the short version, I'll just go ahead and tell you that this product tastes just like black raspberries and dark chocolate. Actually, no, I'm kidding. It really tastes like....you'll never guess....wait for it....

Sunflower seeds!

If you like the taste of sunflower seeds, you'll like the taste of this. After all, sunflower seeds are the main ingredient. It's a pleasant, mild, slightly earthy, nutty, smooth kind of flavor. However, I think this product is just a bit sweeter than plain old sunflower seeds, and that's probably due to the cane syrup. In fact, I don't think I would have minded if it were just a tad less sweet. I like my nut butter salty, not sugary. Although, this is seed butter, not nut butter. But I digress.

As for this product's texture, it's a bit thinner and more oily than peanut butter. It's thin enough that you can spoon it out of the jar instead of knifing it out, but it's not so thin that it will run right off of your bread once you spread it on: see pic below.

I only tried one small bite with jelly, as in an SSB&J sandwich. I wasn't a fan. I'll stick to PB&J's for now, although their sunflowery counterparts might grow on me if I keep trying different combinations of breads and jelly flavors with the sunflower seed butter. But I doubt it.

Sonia liked this product too, but she agrees that it probably won't replace peanut butter in our household. It's a nice, unique treat to have just once in a while to break up the monotony. But hey, if you've got peanut allergies, or if you're one of those rare weirdos that doesn't like peanut butter, give sunflower seed butter a try. This $4.99 jar is actually really darn good. Just hope you're cool with a quarter of your daily fat in each serving. Look on the bright side: it's high in fiber, too!

I give this product 4.5 stars. Sonia gives it 4.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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