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?"

Search This Blog

Monday, July 27, 2015

Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral

Every once in a while, someone makes the assertion that I am a talented writer. Even more every once in a while, that someone is not my mom. And then, yet even more every once in a while, I get the question of why I basically only write about Trader Joe's products, and not things like politics or social issues or other weighty, important muckity muck like that.

Easy. We all need a break from that. Just check your Facebook newsfeed. And just consider me pretty hesitant to add yet another clamoring voice to that festering noise pile of opinion, when really, at the end of the day, I'll either agree with you, or we'll balance each other out, so either way we're good in my opinion. Let's talk happy stuff like food instead.

That's why in this review of Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral, I'll avoid all that Greek/EU economic WTFery going on (that's a Greek spiral in its own way). Instead, revisit my classic 5 Cheese Frusta review here, because perfect segue...

Much like that frusta, all the cheeses in this spirally guy just kinda melt all together in an indistinguishable meld. And instead of cheesy, I'd say it tastes more salty and perhaps even gritty. I know for sure what gouda is supposed to taste like - not there. And I've been to enough Greek food festivals to be confident that I'd be able to identify the others, even if I'm not 100% sure what either "semi-hard" (flaccid?) or "blue" (not "bleu") cheese is...and no feta? Hrmmm.

That's not quite all, either. The phyllo roll seems to be one long, long section of dough sheets rolled up, but no base to hold them together, so cutting the pie-shaped section like the one picture on the box front results in multiple crescent-shaped sections. Plus, while baking in the oven, the whole thing was just kinda spewing out grease and stuff, which dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. It's not like that should have been unexpected, but still. The end result is a greasy, crispy, kinda bland, yet kinda salty dish that would be okay alongside some other, more successful Greek-inspired TJ's products, but don't make this one the star of a Greek feast.

 Not too much else to say. Sandy seemed indifferent when we ate this about a week ago, so I was surprised when she decided to give it a four. "Just so crispy!" she exclaimed. I'll give it that....but not much else.  It takes a little more to get my zorbas dancing.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Wow, I am so disappointed. I hoped this would be good. Baked, flakey, cheesy....how could Trader Joe's go wrong?!

  2. It wasn't bad, but yeah, coulda been a lot better. So much promise!

  3. Just cooked this up, baked it in the paper dish per the instructions. When I took it out of the oven (medium-browned like the pic), I poured several spoonfuls of grease out of the cooking dish. And put a paper towel under the ring as it cooled.

    It's not bad: pastry is flaky and cheese/pastry balance is good. the cheese isn't distinctive. I think it's easier to serve by unpeeling and tearing off sections of the roll, rather than cutting it as wedges (that will fall apart). And I recommend baking it on a wire rack, with a pan under it to catch the grease!

  4. Oh no! I've been craving Turkish borek and thought this could be a good substitute. Sad to hear it's not that great. I'll just keep to my memories for now.

  5. I thought it was tasty - and topped with olive tapenade a pleaser. I'm a little bit of a foodie, so you are harsher than this spiral calls for in your review.

  6. I had this several weeks ago, and my experience was similar to stevenp. Very very greasy.

  7. Wouldn't think you could possibly go wrong with this combination but it was very underwhelming :-( I poured a bunch of honey on it - helped a bit but still not all that tasty. Bummer.

  8. Kasseri and kefalotyri are both very good, and salty cheeses (like most Greek cheeses). Kefalotyri is a drier hard cheese, while kasseri usually has a good melt factor and is a little oily/greasy when melting. This probably contributes to the greasiness most people observe. I am disappointed though there is no feta, but many frozen Greek pastries do not use good quality feta. Having had many pitas (spanakopitas, tiropitas (cheese pitas), etc), I think this one is pretty good actually. It is a bit greasy but to each his/her own. I would purchase this again!

  9. I agree that this was a disappointment. I was expecting cheesy phyllo goodness. It's so greasy and not cheesy enough.

  10. Please , check your spelling errors....

  11. Totally disagree with this review. This is one of the best, tastiest items I buy at Trader Joe's, where I have shopped for many years. Try it yourself, if you haven't yet.