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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Trader Joe's Uncured Pastrami

Some years ago, on a whim on some post on here that I can't seem to find right now, I referred to myself as a "meatatarian." Obviously it's a dumb word, and normally such an offhand statement would be shortly lodged in the memory and forgotten, much like the balance on the last ATM withdrawal. But it kinda stuck, I think a person or two called me out on the stupidity of the word, saying I should have used other more commonly accepted and appreciated nomenclature like "carnivore" because apparently the wide expanse of the English language has only enough room to allot one word for one's affinity and/or love and/or fondness and/or general pleasantry towards and/or preference and/or infatuation and/or passion and/or craving and/or enthusiasm and/or fancy and/or favor for meat.

I digress. I still love me some meat. And for Christmas I got a shirt that has a sectioned-up hog with the word "MEATARIAN" proudly displayed up top. It's a word now, haters. I may have lost any royalty-rights battles but I won the war.

One such way I show my love: on occasion, for any easy, tasty, just for me lunch, I'll get something like Trader Joe's Uncured Pastrami and just have me a go with it for lunch. Especially at work. No one there judges me, especially not the dude who eats Spaghetti-O's straight from the can unheated. Ugh.

Is TJ's pastrami the best pastrami in the world? Hard no. I'm quite partial to my dad's homesmoked, and have had some out at various smokehouses. I'd love to smoke my own but have been too intimidated as of yet - this shall change once weather warms, I hope.

But it's there, easily accessible, reasonably priced at $4.99 for a half poind of thin sliced goodness, and when there;s an itch that only a few cuts of pastrami can scratch, it'll do for sure.

Smoky, a little garlic, a little peppery...all the goodness, all the usual spices. It's pretty much a textbook pastrami. I mean, what else can be said? The goodness of the beef shines thru and is well accentuated by the spices and prep, and it's so easily and convenient to pick up. If it weren't any good, it'd be shuffled out of the TJ's rotation by now, right? Can't argue with that logic.

Be like me and eat straight up. Or put on a sammy with a little mustard if you will, or sneak into an almost Reuben. Still gotta go corned beef for that but life it short and it's close enough.

 P is for pastrami and this one's good enough for me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Uncured Pastrami: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Trader Joe's Organic Toasted Coconut Granola Bark

I feel bad. I really do. 

Apparently the past three products I've reviewed, like the antipasto vegetables, have already been discontinued at Trader Joe's. In fact, they were discontinued at the time I posted the reviews. Furthermore, all three of them had already been discontinued at the time we purchased them. They were just part of that leftover batch that hangs out on shelves for a month or two after TJ's gives them the axe. If you ask the friendly employees, they'll kindly check the computer to see which products are going the way of the dodo, but I certainly never think to do that. When I'm shopping Trader Joe's these days, it's usually a rapid deployment-rapid extraction type of operation. 

I mean, I get it. They need to make room for newfangled stuff like this. But it's getting to the point that you'll never know what you can find in the store. Or if they'll discontinue your favorite product while you're not paying attention. Just ask reader Bruce W. about his Black Toad Dark Ale. It's almost like a game shopping at Trader Joe's. You've gotta admit, they keep it interesting.


This new product is like the long-awaited sequel to the pumpkin spice version, released in 2017 and only available seasonally, of course. This one has coconut chips replacing pepitas and pumpkin spice and still contains rolled oats, dark chocolate, and maple syrup. I believe its predecessor came in random shards while this one comes in uniform snackalicious rectangles, which I prefer.

Flavor-wise, you can taste the coconut more than I expected, since it only represents a small percentage of the surface area of the bark bites. If you hate coconut, you ain't gonna like these, by my reckoning. Sonia was pleased that they didn't go crazy with the chocolate coating. It's thin and it's only on one side of the bark. Of course, I would have preferred a milk chocolate coating to push it ever so slightly in a desserty direction. The overall taste is slightly sweet, nutty, filling, and pretty well balanced.

Down sides: crumbs. I hate crumbs. Kinda silly. There are crumbs in life. I guess that's why we have dogs—although Alfred and Sadie aren't particularly diligent when it comes to their vacuum cleaning duties these days. Also, dogs shouldn't have chocolate.


I digress. Sonia liked this bark just slightly more than I did, and we'll continue our streak of thumbs up-ish reviews. Granola + chocolate + coconut. Kinda like a cereal but in a bar form. $3.99, organic, gluten-free, kosher. Sonia gives Trader Joe's Organic Toasted Coconut Granola Bark 4 out of 5 stars. I give it 3.5.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Trader Joe's Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix

Actual email I sent my wife from work this past week:

"Ummm...bad news for you....I really wanted to save you some of the TJ savory banana and nut trek mix....but it was kinda awful so I made sure it was properly disposed of. :/"

What can I say? This is our madhouse time of year at work right now. I needed a quick snack to grab on the way out the door. I just spent $2.99 of our hard earned money on it not a day or two before. Snagged it as I ran out in the wee morning hours as I overslept, thought to myself, nah, I'll make sure to save her some...

I failed. Failed failed failed. Failed hard, failed long. "Properly disposed of" is a good way to put it, as I did, but that kinda awful part? No, I did not forget the best return policy in all of grand and glorious grocerdom...I just neglected to tack on the "-ly darn good." 

So yes, properly disposed off, down the pie hole, in next to no time flat, because dang....it's GOOD. I was hungry too, but GOOD. 

So, Trader Joe's Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix. Awesome. The base of this newish snack mix is pretty simple and straightforward - standard banana chips, cashews and pecans. No peanuts or other fillers, straight to the good stuff. All business. I like it. All are appropriately crunchy, I'd say bananas are most prevalent followed by cashews. Pecans were a bit sparse. To be expected, I guess. 

"Lightly seasoned" though? Nah. Every square micromillimeter was coated in dusty brown spice mix which stuck remarkably well to the chips and nuts. Reading the ingredients at first for it, I was a bit concerned - coconut aminos mixed with apple cider vinegar and garlic, with some other standard stuff mixed in? How's that gonna play out?

Marvelously well. The end result is actually fairly mild, but still with a warm spicy sense to it. But there's a certain sweet vibe underneath it all, which still allows for the natural goodness of the nanners and nuts to come through. It's kinda like a light Caribbean jerk vibe, I guess. I called and the jerk store was out of it, so i couldn't quite do the direct comparison with the real deal and instead going off my increasingly faulty memory. Delicious though. I'd use this spice blend on just about anything. 

That's about it. Deeeeee-lish. No real complaints at all. I mean, it might be a slightly premium price at $3, but again it's all killer no filler ingredient wise so i get it. I wouldn't be surpised if something identical were at least a buck or two if not more somewhere else. Maybe a couple more pecans woulda made me happier, but in all it's really hard to complain too much about anything about this early contender for new TJ's Snack of the Year 2020 award. 

The heck with it. First pantheon product of the decade. Here ya go! 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons