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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Friday, September 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs

After yesterday's review slightly toeing the line of religious imagery. today's review will steer clear. There's a lot of lambs in the religious pasture. But to be fair, Sandy and I also partook of those three cheese wafers, and also came away with the unshakeable impression of communion wafers. The only thing I'd like to add is, I've been to Communion performed, by a very serious, straight-faced pastor...with a hot dog bun. There was a slight miscommunication that week for who was bringing the bread. Classic.

Sandy and I also tried out the new Trader Joe's Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs this past week. There's also the oddly placed and/or punctuated "fully cooked" part of the product name...are the herbs the fully cooked part? The lamb? The whole shebang? Well, let's drop the slightly premium price of $15.99 a pound to find out!

As much as we both love lamb...a lamb rack is not a cut of meat we're overly familiar with. See: that price point. The few times we venture into lamb, we're more lamb chops/lamb roast/gyro kinda folks. So what I'm about to say about the meat itself, not sure how much it is intrinsically indicative for the particular cut versus this TJ branded box. But...there's not very much meat at all. Once we got it on our dinner plates, our meat looked like mostly bones, with a lot of fat and sinew intertwined in there. I'd say we each got maybe three or four reasonable bites of lamb meat, then the rest was picking and baby bites before kinda surrendering. At a certain point, the visual analysis showed that the effort wasn't worth the payoff.

But what meat was on there...soft, tender, pink, delicious. Despite its nearly raw appearance, the lamb was fully cooked via the sous-vide method before we ever got our hands on it. Very savory, and the herbs added a great little smidge of flavor, especially some mild garlic, without overpowering the natural goodness of the meat. You can't have that much fat without some natural juicy goodness, which really shone through.

There's a couple oddities I think are worth note. First: So. Much. Packaging. The lamb comes vacuum packed...inside a box so relatively large I'm surprised it didn't say "Some Settling May Occur"...that is in turn shrinkwrapped. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that's to give the impression that there's much more meat in there than there actually is, so as to make the price point more appealing. Could be true, can't prove it's not. Also, the prep method: Heat in oven for 35 minutes (on a hot summer night? No way) or microwave then pan sear? Odd. We went the second route, and though not the nuke wizards the Rodgers are, I think we succeeded.

This probably won't be a repeat buy. Which is kinda a shame. I get that it's lamb, fancifully (and may I add skillfully) prepared, with some major convenience factor built in, and it's delicious, so I appreciate it all...but for paying $13 and change for what amounts to a few bites, can't say I'm completely satisfied, either. Wife is in the same boat. Oh well. At least we had a quiet small fancy dinner together, just the two of us, before it quickly devolved into some animalistic bone gnawing. Three each.   

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little late to this party, but only getting a few bites per rack lamb chop is about right. There was a fad for something called "lollipop lamb chops" in catering circles a few years back and this is what they sound like to me; baby lamb chops with just a nibble or two of meat on them.

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