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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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Pie

"...with a touch of Maple Bourbon flavor."

SCREEEEEEEEEECHHHHH. Back up the truck! What's that again?

Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Pie....with a touch of Maple Bourbon flavor.

Inconsistent capitalization aside, just how awesome does that look? If the words "sweet potato pie" didn't do it for you, I really hope that "maple bourbon" would.

Wednesday night was a perfect night for our family to gather 'round for a little warm comfort food dinner. Aside from a long day after a very short night's sleep, the cool, damp, chilly November air finally began sinking in around the 'burgh area. Sandy whipped up a fantastic homemade lasagna, which I probably (and unashamedly) ate four too many servings of, and would have had more if she didn't have this pie warming up in the oven in the meantime.

I love my wife.

I wouldn't say that I love this the TJ sweet potato pie - I'm too spoiled by generations of excellent bakers in my family, Sandy one of them - but for a simple, store bought pie with an autumnal slant, it's up there. Big time. You can keep your pumpkin pies to yourself. Although fairly similar, sweet potato pie is a tad different - more natural sugars, of course, but also a lighter, fluffier texture itself. The write up of this pie in the Fearless Flyer mentioned something or other about the taters being kettle cooked so as to more closely resemble whipped potatoes - presuming that's true, then it was very well done.

But of course the real star has to be that "Maple Bourbon" flavor, right? That comes in the form of an oatmeal-based crumble that was somewhat unevenly disbursed on top of the pie. The crumble did add a grainy feel, but with so much flavor - cinnamon, nutmeg, a lot of maple, and yes, even a little bourbon. I'm not sure if either of my grandmas ever made sweet potato pie for a holiday dinner, but if they did, this wouldn't be at the kid's table.

As for the crust, it fulfilled its duties admirably enough. It wasn't fancy, but not exactly nondescript - slightly buttery, a little flaky, definitely crispy, and held together. Made for a good bake.

It's $6.99 for the pie, and does require 25-30 minutes of oven baking as it's from the frozen section, so plan a pick up of the pie accordingly. For us, on a night a good family dinner without much fuss was needed, it worked great. Although I will say that our two kiddos opted for a popsicle after taking only a small bite - oh well - more for us then! Can't complain too much, although I would have preferred a little stronger bourbon presence. Then again, things are rarely perfect.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Pie: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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