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, December 2, 2015

Trader Joe's Sticky Toffee Cheddar Cheese

Lots of different kinds of cheese in the world, and from the looks of things, Trader Joe's carries a lot of them. There's some good solid favorites, some unusual ones (like a grill-worthy cheese? Inconceivable!), and, well, a few out-and-out bizarre ones like this chocolate-cheddar mash up from years back that was out right in time for Valentine's Day...

...but nothing, to my fairly faulty knowledge, has been quite like Trader Joe's Sticky Toffee Cheddar Cheese. I gotta admit, the name sounded intriguing, even though I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. It didn't make the blog, but not long ago, Sandy and I enjoyed a rather delicious creamy cinnamon toscano that TJ's had out, and if this were anything similar, it'd be a slam dunk.

Well...it's not. Maybe I'm just used to good ol' 'murican-style cheddar from the great states of Vermont and Wisconsin, with its solid sharpness, its blocky bite, its wax-covered wonder. And maybe I've narrowed my scope of anything labelled as "English cheddar" to the shelves of TJ's and therefore subject to solely their selections, as perhaps unrepresentative of the entirety of the genre of English cheddar. But, just like another English cheddar we tried a few months back (the ones with caramelized onions, also not reviewed - hey, sorry, can't do it all!) - this stuff seems sad, soft, slightly soggy, kinda like a half-molten candle. It's so soft - almost more like a brie than most cheddar I'm used to - that I was half tempted to find a cracker and a knife to do some spreading. I bet you it would have worked.

Aside from its overall mushiness, the taste doesn't do the cheese all that many favors. The one reason that I ate more than a bite or two was to try and get past some initial bewilderment to try and discern a fair opinion about it. It didn't really work. First and foremost, there's no taste I'd label as "cheddar" or "cheese-esque" or "somewhat akin to a dairy product" poking through. Instead, it's just outright raisin-and-date tinged molasses-y sweetness. Aside from the aforementioned fruits, the taste I pick up more than anything else really sides towards brown sugar. In a different format, the taste could be rather appealing, but in this semi-solid limp waxy form, it just doesn't sit right at all. Which isn't to say I'm disgusted by it, but it's definitely a little out there. If the cheese were firmer, with the "toffee pieces" that the label touts adding a textural changeup instead of melding along with the rest, it'd be a significant improvement.

Sandy feels much the same.We popped in our first taste simultaneously, looked at each other, and made a face. After repeating this ritual a couple more times, we finally gave up. I don't feel as though we necessarily wasted our money on it (sold in various sized chunks for $8.99 a pound), and I'm willing to give another shot, perhaps with some crackers and a dark porter or stout within reach. But as is, we're gonna hit it with some double deuces.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sticky Toffee Cheddar Cheese: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons

16 comments:

  1. I think that they could had added more crunch to it. Also maybe needed to age a bit to develop more flavor and firmness.

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  2. I actually enjoyed this, but if you're looking for cheese, I agree it tastes nothing like cheese. Before I tried it, someone told me it is kind of like cookie dough, so maybe I was more prepared for that sorts of flavor and texture. Paired very well with a coffee stout for dessert!

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    1. Yeah - wish I had a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout or something like that on hand. Good chance I would have liked it better

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  3. Try the sticky toffee pudding in the frozen section! Amazing!

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  4. I loved the English cheddar with caramelized onions in it but this stuff sounds just wrong

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    1. Definitely had me scratching my head - well, that's what we're here for :)

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  5. Thx for the review--will probably pass on this. Looked weird when I saw it, and sounds like it's not my cup of tea.

    Another suggestion: Just saw/bought a new item: chocolate raspberry tamales(!). And they are pretty good imo. Not too sweet either. A review candidate?

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    1. Oh definitely - seen them too, haven't had the chance to, but they are absolutely on our radar!

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    2. Nothing TJ gets by you guys... :)

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    3. I tried it and it like a brownie!!! It really amazing and don't taste any corn at all. YUM

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    4. ^ This refers to the tamale, not the cheese!

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  6. Every once in a while we miss something in the onslaught ...especially this time of year - but something kinda crazy like that definitely stands out. I *think* they're on the list for a shopping run if not today then very, very soon. Even more eager to try them now!

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    1. The tamales caught my eye (as did this toffee cheese--sorry!) and I just picked it up even tho it hadn't appeared here yet. And saw it in the TJ flyer 2 days later. It is really good!

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  7. This is sooo tasty, I almost ate the whole thing in one sitting!!!

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