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 17, 2016

Trader Joe's Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese

I think everybody goes through at least one or two "mac & cheese phases" in their life. The first normally occurs in early childhood. There's just something about cheddar cheese on macaroni that really excites a youthful palate. I myself, due to food allergies, was not able to partake of much mac & cheese back then. But after being treated for said allergies, I was a full-fledged mac & cheese connoisseur by college—when an American's second great mac & cheese phase often occurs. It's a fast, inexpensive way to break up all that ramen.

And quite honestly, I've been eating more mac & cheese than usual lately. Sonia and I have a pretty good stockpile of shelf-stable foods in case of extreme weather, long-term loss of power, martial law, WWIII, or zombie apocalypse—and since I work from home, I often find myself raiding the pantry at lunch time when we're low on fresh groceries. I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I once stated that I preferred Kraft Easy Mac to Joe's Diner Mac n' Cheese. While I no longer stand by that shocking statement, I'll admit that I'm still not quite as fond of Joe's Diner as Sonia and many of you seem to be.

Nevertheless, despite its similar appearance and packaging, I was fairly excited to try this new Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese. And it is very similar to Joe's Diner, except—you guessed it—it includes "roasted chiles from Hatch, New Mexico." Sonia thinks the cheese in this case "tasted a little odd and different." I didn't really notice that. I thought that the chiles were a welcome addition to what was otherwise the same old Joe's Diner Mac n' Cheese. Sonia wishes there were more of the chiles. I can see where she's coming from. The existing chiles give the mac a nice little kick, but it could definitely use more of them in my opinion. We both enjoy spicy foods, and as I've mentioned many times before, Sonia is full-blooded Mexican-American, which automatically puts her in the top 5% or so of hot chile-loving Americans. I think most of the rest of the WG@TJ's team would fall into that category, too. However, it's entirely conceivable that this product would be a little too spicy for some people, which brings me to my main point about this product...

Why not just buy Joe's Diner or any other mac and cheese and add your own personalized amount of Hatch Valley Salsa, Salsa Verde, and/or hot sauce? I mean, sure, there's an extra step and possibly an extra purchase implied there, but spice-o-philes and spice-o-phobes alike can suit their own tastes in that case. With this, there's a chance you're the guy or gal this particular product is tailored to, but there's also a good chance you're not. I'll throw out three and a half stars for this frozen mac dish. Sonia will give it three.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

5 comments:

  1. I actually asked the girl at TJs and she suggested the same thing. Definitely going to try that next time, glad I didn't waste my money on this!

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  2. I liked it, but I'm pretty easy and flexible so like trying other people's concoctions for different experiences. The checkout guy at my TJ's commented on how it was good when he was scanning my stuff, so I also got different feedback during my purchase ;-)

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    1. They are SO wise that they know which customers will like this product and which ones will like the Hatch Valley Salsa and Joe's Diner Mac n' Cheese combo better!

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