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Friday, December 3, 2021

Trader Joe's Advent of the Cocktail Hour

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had a thing for advent calendars. There's just something about a countdown that's so suspenseful and fun. In elementary school, we'd make chains out of construction paper, with each of 25 links to be broken as the days crept closer to Christmas. We'd alternate red and green paper for the links, or maybe we'd throw in some white to represent the snow that we hoped for throughout December.

We even looked at Trader Joe's Advent Calendars on this blog a whole decade ago. Can you believe it's been that long? Since then, we checked out the Advent Calendar For Dogs. Some years we'll even purchase separate advent calendars for Sonia and me, as well as two individual ones for each of our mutts.

This year, we got two of these calendars with Boozy Little Chocolate Truffles. It's a different assortment of confections/liqueurs than its predecessor. The original boozy chocolate assortment featured gin, whisky, rum, and prosecco, while these candies contain liqueur de cafe, honey caramel, peach bellini, eggnog, coffee martini, and pink champagne. We're gonna jump ahead until at least December 6th so we can hopefully sample one of each flavor and give you the lowdown on all of them.

Wednesday, December 1: we got liqueur de cafe. It's a vaguely Kahlua-esque flavor, nice and chocolatey with a coffee booze edge. Probably Sonia's favorite.

Thursday, December 2: coffee martini time. Similar to the previous selection, but there's more of a harsh gin-like essence mixed with traditional coffee flavor.

Today, Friday, December 3: we found an eggnog chocolate. It actually tastes like eggnog with alcohol. I wanna say it's eggnog mixed with rum..? Not as tasty as it might have been if they had gone with Jagermeister, but hey, these chocolates are from the UK, not Deutschland.

Then we got in our magical time machine and jumped ahead to:

Saturday, December 4: and we got honey caramel. Tastes a bit like actual honey. And caramel. Imagine that. Pretty high quality. I'm not complaining.

Sunday, December 5: peach bellini. There's actual peach puree in there. It's barely tastable, but it's there. And peach Schnapps, too. This one might be my favorite, although the peach flavor struggles to shine even when paired with plain white chocolate.

The order of the chocolates appeared to repeat at that point, starting over again with liqueur de cafe. I warped ahead to Christmas Day in my magical DeLorean TARDIS time sled hot tub and found what we were missing: a pink champagne chocolate truffle. Awwww yeeeah.

The verdict: a bit anticlimactic. Meh. It's not bad. Sonia said, "This doesn't taste like anything." I wouldn't go that far. I tasted something champagne-esque. It still tasted more like white (pink) chocolate than anything else, with maybe a hint of being spiked with white wine. Acceptable. Don't get your hopes up too high and you won't be disappointed.

For $6.99, this imported set of 25 unique chocolates presented in 6 different flavors is fun, giftable, and pretty. It's in a whole 'nother ballpark quality-wise compared to those original Trader Joe's Advent Calendars with 24 bites of barely edible "chocolate." I mean, granted, we're paying 7 times as much, but it's worth it.

I should mention, too, that the fillings in each chocolate are smooth, semi-solid cream, rather than liquid. You can totally get away with biting them in half and not having random shots of liquid alcohol squirt out onto your clothing. 2.5% ABV.

Three and a half stars from Sonia. Four from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Trader Joe's Sweet & Salty Snack Mix

Ah, December. 

If you're a real TJ's fan, you know exactly what time of year it is officially now: time to run to your local shop and snatch up anything and everything covered in chocolate. 'Tis the season. 

Granted, there's nothing really definitively overtly holidayish about the new Trader Joe's Sweet & Salty Snack Mix.I mean, there's not even a reindeer or elf on the packaging, let alone little fun shapes or something. But c'mon now. Look at that little bowl on the front. Wouldn't that look great as part of your holiday spread?

There's four main components to the mix, two of which incorporate a good thick drizzle to coating of good ol' silky smooth rich milk chocolate. 

First and foremost would be the caramel popcorn - that seems to be the real base of the snack, as I'd say it's at least 70% popcorn. That's not a bad thing, as it's decent munch crunchy popcorn. With the substantive carmale overlay, the popcorn packs a good crunch even though it's kernel-free (or however you would describe the floofiest part of regular popcorn), and hits some rich notes with the chocolate on top of that. Lots and lots of caramel and chocolate, in a highly snackable form. Yum.

Let's keep on the choco-choo-choo by hitting the real winning tidbits here: Little shards of chocolate coated potato chips. Deeeeelish. Addictive. Too few of them so far, though I'm hoping there's a little pocket further down the bag of them. I'd feel like I hit gold. I kinda want to go mining for them, but thats against the rules with snack mixes in our house. You get what you get and you don't get upset...but man, hit me up with these choco-chips anytime. Thick, crunchy, salty, chocolatey. Yum. 

Those first two items have enough chocolate that none is really needed for the mini peanut butter filled pretzels. They're naked, regular, ol' pb pretzel nuggz in baby form. Tasty of course, with a surprising amount of peanut butter sensation despite its diminutive form. Regular sized nuggets would have taken over the feel and texture of the mix, so the smaller sized ones were the right call, despite me craving a touch more peanut butter...

...which perhaps is why there's roasted peanuts in there, too. Yup. Regular ol' roasted peanuts. Not bad at all but what can be said?

Altogether this $4ish grab bag of snacks would be a fine addition to pretty much any occasion. Or, if you're like me, for getting that early to mid afternoon sugar rush to finish out the work day. you really need justification to get it? No way! Treat yo'self. 

Double fours. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sweet & Salty Snack Mix: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, November 29, 2021

Trader Joe's Sugar Plum Sparkling Beverage

Plum just isn't a part of daily life for most people. It does come up each year during the Christmas season once or twice. I guess they put it in Christmas pies..? There's that nursery rhyme everybody knows. I think it goes something like this:

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Drinking his sparkling beverage
It had real plum
So he thought he'd gift some
To his boss for maximum leverage.

Or maybe not. Some people might not even like this stuff. In which case, the rhyme might be more along the lines of:

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Sippin' on sparkly plum drink
It wasn't that sweet
He thought it tasted like feet
So he spat what was left down the sink.

Or for those who like to get festive with adult beverages:

Big Jack Flair
Sat in a chair
Chugging his Christmas bevvy
He poured in some rum
To mix with his plum
And said, "Man I can't drive my Chevy."

That's right folks. Drink responsibly if you do decide to add something stiff to this sparkling beverage. I'm not even sure what would go with it, honestly. I think it's pretty decent as it is. I immediately thought of cranberry while tasting it for the first time. Sonia thought of raspberry. Now that I think about it, raspberry might be a better comparison. It's not quite as intensely tart as either cranberry or raspberry. It's subtler than that. Just a hint of sour tang and it's also pleasantly sweet, bubbly, and refreshing.

It's festive and Christmassy because it's presented well, and since plum is such a rare ingredient in our food and beverages, it just makes this product seem even more distinguished. This year, it was sort of our toast to the kickoff of the Christmas season. We'd buy again next year and save for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Three and a half stars from me, four from Sonia.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.