Search This Blog

Friday, September 30, 2022

Trader Joe's Caramel Apple Mochi


I'm guessing during times of great economic strain there's not a lot of demand for food criticism—you know, like during the Great Depression and such. Any "problems" I have with the foods I'm reviewing here or anywhere else will suddenly seem completely irrelevant and inconsequential if we return to a time of stock losses, bear markets, high unemployment, and nutritional scarcity. I'm thinking food critics won't be counted as essential in any way, shape, or form and most food review blogs will fade away and eventually vanish altogether.

Some might say we're headed that way right now. But as long as we suburbanite middle-class Americans can keep our normalcy bias goggles on super tight, we'll keep overanalyzing pre-packaged "organic junk food" or, in this case, an odd fusion of a classic all-American flavor in a Japanese-American mochi ice cream format.


An initial observation: this is the first mochi I've personally seen from Trader Joe's that comes individually packaged. Each mochi ball comes in its own little cellophane wrapper. Previous mochi iterations have all come in an egg-carton sort of plastic tray with six indentations, one for each piece, all wrapped in one big cellophane bag. There are obvious advantages to having each one individually wrapped, but there might also be some disadvantages, too. I won't dwell on that issue too much.

The light brown rice-based shell is pretty much par for the course. It's soft, stretchy and dusted with a starchy powder. There's not much flavor in the outer shell. It just holds the ice cream where it belongs.

And the ice cream here is decent. Visually, it's not much different from plain vanilla, but it flaunts a good balance of both apple flavor and caramel flavor. It's nice and creamy, sweet, smooth. But Sonia and I both detected something...just slightly off-putting about the caramel aspect of it in particular. We both felt like it tasted artificial somehow. We were both wishing they'd put a glob of pure caramel in the middle of apple flavored ice cream, similar to the saucy mocha center we saw in the coffee mochi some six years ago.

But there is real apple in the ice cream, and you can taste it. I almost wish they'd simply done apple mochi or maybe apple cinnamon rather than caramel. But again, all these complaints are silly in the end. This is a fine product, all things considered, and I'm blessed to have been able to try it.

It's been a long time since I first had mochi, but there's still something novel about eating ice cream with your hands. I'll definitely buy Trader Joe's mochi again in the future, but not sure if this flavor would be my first choice. Apparently, this product is already done for the season. Sheesh, can't you keep a product around for two weeks, Trader Joe's? I'm sure it'll be back next year for those of you who want to try it...

$4.79 for six pieces of mochi. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola

Oh man, let's just try to work through this here. 

At first glance, it really looks like the real name of this product is....ready for it....Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola Cookies & Creme Inspired Granola Clusters. That's a real mouth full. it's a good thing that a "granola cookie" really isn't a thing - I mean, it sounds an edgier, crunchier oatmeal cookie - but as a guy who's eaten, reviewed and researched many a cookie, I've never heard of them. I'm now patiently waiting for you all to prove me wrong that such a thing does exist, and if so, I'll give you my mailing address and eagerly wait an up-close inspection. 

So, really, it's "just" Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola, but with all those potentially possessive 'postrophes, there's a question of ownership and chain of command. I mean, it's my granola! Hands off now Joe-Joe...and Trader Joe's...it's mine and you won't want it when I'm done with it. 

Enough banter, let's get to it. Joe-Joe's, of course, are TJ's answer to the all time classic Oreo sandwich cookie. They're pretty nondescript, except to say it's a bit of a tasty knockoff, but it's fun to incorporate them into things like ice cream, and now, apparently, granola. 

This stuff is seriously crisp and crunchy, much more than regular granola. Perhaps the addition/utilization of coconut is the reason. This crunchy crispy clusters will give your molars a work out right out of the bag, and honestly, not even milk will soften it, at least in the few minutes it'd take to scarf down a bowl. Super crunchy and munchy. I dig. 

And if cookies and creme is your bag, this'll deliver. There's plenty of not-precisely-Oreo Oreo flavor that delivers - just the right amount of chocolate amped up by the little choco-bits strewn about, and a good hint of the vanilla creme filling too. What's missing is the full, rich, creaminess from the filling of the cookie - naturally, a little milk helps bring it out, a little, and it totally makes sense why it's not all quite there. It's a pretty good adaptation for what it is. 

Pour some in a bowl and drown in milk, or grab a handful and toss in some yogurt, or just straight mash it down the gullet. it's all good. The granola is pretty filling for what it is, and I'd say it delivers. No real complaints from my lovely bride and I - it's solid, tasty, not quite transcendent, but pretty tasty overall. We're pretty happy here. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 
 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Brioche Twist

If you're a carnivore, you eat nothing but meat. And what is meat but the muscles of animals? Also, not surprisingly, since "you are what you eat," a strict carnivore's physique generally becomes more and more muscular.

I'm not sure when I first heard it or who coined the word, but one of the funniest food puns I've ever heard is the word "carbivore" to describe those of us who are naturally inclined to breads and other carbohydrates. And unfortunately, carbivores tend to become what they eat as well, and they get a little doughy in the middle.

I must admit, although I'm in a constant battle against my cravings, I'm naturally fairly carbivorous myself. I've never met a piece of brioche toast I didn't like. And this one is no exception—with swirls of pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and pumpkin spice all through it. Yum. This loaf is pre-sliced perfectly for a traditional toaster. Just grab a piece, pull off the wax paper liner, warm it up, add a bit of butter. Perfection.


Again, maybe my critical standards go out the window when carbs are involved. Maybe I'm not thinking clearly, but I just can't think of any complaints. 

Some might say this is just glorified cinnamon bread and they wouldn't be entirely wrong, but the fall-ish flavors are well-balanced—neither too dominant nor too subtle. The texture is soft and supple and the bread just melts in your mouth. I could eat the whole loaf in a single day.

Sonia absolutely loved this product, too. Her only complaint was that the slices might be just a tad too thick, just barely clearing the slots in our toaster, width-wise. Also, she forgot to peel off the liner paper once or twice, so...there's that. She made French toast out of a couple of the pieces and added maple syrup. I'll agree that they were superbly scrumptious, but I'd rather save this brioche bread to eat by itself and have her make French toast out of regular bread.

But I'm getting off track. This is an outstanding fall product by my estimation. I hope it returns next year. $4.49 for about 9 slices. Five stars from me. Four and a half from the beautiful wifey.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.