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Showing posts with label meh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meh. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bark


I like my chocolate like I like my women: dark and chunky

Ha, no. I can't even right now. I like my women petite, like my Sonia. And I actually prefer white chocolate. I just always wanted to say "I like my women like I like some food or beverage." I tried it once long ago, and it didn't work then either.

Seriously, though: a quick internet search will reveal that dark chocolate is the best kind of chocolate for raising serotonin levels in the body. Among other things, it's the chemical that regulates emotions, appetite, and sleep cycles. So despite a preference for the taste of white or milk chocolate, there are other reasons why I might reach for the dark variety once in a while.


And there's plenty of dark chocolate in this little bag of bark. There are big slabs of the stuff—mostly quadrilateral shapes. I'd say each chunk is at least four bites a piece, and I'd say the vast majority of the product is nothing but chocolate.

There are definitely almond and pretzel bits in every hunk, but the average bite only contains a teensy crumb of either almond or pretzel. It's rare if you get a detectable piece of nut and pretzel in the same bite.

That's my biggest complaint. I like the almond and pretzel presence here. I wish there were a bit more of it.


There's plenty of sea salt, though, in Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bark. Just a slab or two will make you plenty thirsty. If anything, I think the salt could be toned down some.

I expected Sonia to enjoy this product a lot more than me since she's way more into dark chocolate, but she too wished there were more of the mix-ins throughout the bark and a lot less salt. She gives it three out of five stars.

I give Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bark three out of five stars, as well. Dark chocolate lovers might like this product more than I did by virtue of the dark chocolate content, but this product could use a little more pizzazz if you ask us. We'll finish the bag easily enough, but it's probably not a repeat purchase. $3.99 for 10 oz of kosher dark chocolate in a resealable bag.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Sprinkle Seasoning Blend

When I was a kid, people used to tell me, "Your taste buds will change, Nathan, and you'll grow to love tomatoes." Yuck. Raw tomatoes never did it for me. I would eat all manner of fruits and even most veggies as a young kid, but I could never get into the taste of raw tomato.

Now, ketchup, on the other hand, was an absolute staple of my diet. I was fine with tomato soup, tomato sauce, and tomato everything—just not the fruit they were all derived from. Due to food allergies and sensitivities, I'd often have nothing but a plain burger for breakfast as a child. No bread. No cheese. It was sometimes beef, but often bison or something more exotic. As long as I could have it with ketchup, I was a happy camper.

I'd put ketchup on fries, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and pretty much any kind of meat. I loved the stuff. I still do, although I prefer hot sauce on eggs and hash browns now. But if Sonia and I get burgers and fries, I absolutely need a bunch of ketchup to go with my food.

So I simply assumed I'd love Trader Joe's Ketchup Sprinkle Seasoning Blend. Powdered ketchup. Why not?


But I don't love it. And I can't quite put my finger on why it's nowhere near as good as real ketchup. So far I've only tried it on fries and burgers. It doesn't really work in either case.

The beautiful wifey tried to stay positive and pointed out that if for some reason the apocalypse comes and fresh ketchup is no longer available and we've used up all our spare packets from fast food places, that Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Sprinkle Seasoning Blend would be better than nothing. Yeah, I guess. I'm reluctant to even give it that much credit. But yeah. If real ketchup were to suddenly vanish from the earth, I guess this ketchup-themed condiment would be better than nothing at all.


It tastes like powdered tomato and sugar. Weirdly, I feel like it tastes more like tomato than actual ketchup does. Maybe that's why I don't like it that much. Maybe folks who actually like the taste of tomato, like Sonia, will enjoy this more than I do. It's just a theory, but I think there may be something to it.

I would never purchase this again. It's worse than the worst real ketchup I've ever had: the ketchup from fast food restaurants in Europe. Their ketchup is like three quarters vinegar. Blech.

Time will tell whether Sonia likes it enough to use it up and get another shaker. My gut says she won't use it much, if at all. She'll give it a decent score, though. Three and a half stars from her.

$2.99 for the 2.6 oz shaker. I'll give Trader Joe's Ketchup Seasoning Blend two out of five stars. Better than no ketchup at all...but that's as far as I'll go.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Trader Joe's White Miso Paste


Up to this point, my experience with miso has simply been miso soup in Asian restaurants. Miso is generally made with fermented soy beans and sometimes, as is the case here, with rice. Every miso soup I've tried is a cloudy white/tan color, and it tastes mostly just salty. There has always been a faint savory, umami essence, too. I've had it plain, and I've had it a few times with noodles, tofu, and/or some sparse veggies like green onions and peas.

I guess you could look at Trader Joe's White Miso Paste as a shelf-stable base for multiple bowls of plain miso soup, or you could think of it as a unique Japanese condiment to put on...whatever. The pouch suggests adding it "to sauces, dressings, soups, and marinades." Okay.


I thought it might add a bit of fanciness and flair to a cheap cup of ramen, so that's how I experimented with it first. A few globs of the stuff added a slightly richer, fermented flavor to the otherwise thin, watery ramen broth. It took my soup one tiny step in the direction of "authentic Japanese restaurant fare" from "poor college kid instant lunch."

But in the end, it didn't really transform the meal in any significant way. I tried adding a few more globs, and honestly, there wasn't a whole lot of difference. It just made the broth cloudier and thicker, while only slightly enhancing the flavor.

We'll keep experimenting. Using it as a marinade on chicken or fish sounds fascinating to me, but I don't think I'll get around to that before I put up this blog post. Let us know if you've tried anything like that in the comments below.

$2.99 for the pouch. Imported from Japan. Refrigerate after opening. Don't think we'd purchase again, but hey, let the adventure continue...

Three stars a piece from Sonia and me for Trader Joe's White Miso Paste.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Trader Joe's Fig Cookies


By most consumer accounts that I've read, these fig cookies are inferior to their predecessors: Trader Joe's Fig Bites, which were really nothing to write home about in the first place. The fig bites were basically TJ's brand fig newtons with perhaps slightly healthier ingredients (no hydrogenated oils or HFCS) and exotic figs imported from Turkey.

This iteration called Trader Joe's Fig Cookies appeared about two years ago if memory serves correctly. The product has been repackaged and renamed. I believe there are fewer cookies in this pack, but this one is also a tad cheaper at $1.99 for about a dozen cookies. They taste roughly the same, but for some reason, these tend to stick together like they've been glued to one another with sticky fig juice. They're crumbly, soft, and vaguely fig newton-esque. I guess I'd buy these again just to avoid the bad stuff in Nabisco Fig Newtons.

The top ingredients include: unbleached enriched flour, cane sugar, figs, tapioca syrup, palm oil, and agave syrup. Calorie-wise, we're looking at 150 per two cookies. You'll get 3.5 grams of fat per serving, 1.5 of which is saturated fat. For full ingredients and nutrition information, please click here.

Three stars from me for Trader Joe's Fig Cookies. Sonia gives them three stars as well.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Trader Joe's Dried Cantaloupe Slices


So this item is very similar to
2019's Watermelon Jerky, a very polarizing product. My guess is this one will be, as well. It's the same idea: dehydrated melon in a bag. They don't call this one "jerky," but simply "dried."

Neither Sonia nor I were huge fans of the watermelon version, and we're finding ourselves in the same boat with Trader Joe's Dried Cantaloupe Slices. While I generally enjoy more traditional dried fruits like raisins, dates, and dried apricots—and I was pleasantly surprised with products like Trader Joe's Dried Baby Bananas—I guess I just have to admit that I'm not a fan of dried melons.


Sonia swears she can taste the sulfur dioxide in the cantaloupe. I'm not sure if that's what I taste, but I'd just say it's like cantaloupe flavor but not as sweet. Texture-wise, it's like cantaloupe but stiff instead of soft, leathery instead of juicy. So, in other words, it's just like real cantaloupe, but it lacks everything that makes actual cantaloupe melon good: the sweetness, the softness, the moisture.

Some of you will find it a unique, convenient snack. I'm not saying you're wrong. I want to like it. I'll probably be able to finish the bag slowly, one or two pieces at a time. It's just not something I'd ever seek out after trying it this one time. Sonia agrees.


$2.99 for the 4 oz bag. Two and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me for Trader Joe's Dried Cantaloupe Slices.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Trader Joe's Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites


Mmmkay. This is one of those "sexy" new items I was talking about last week when I promised I'd review something more interesting than common pantry fare soon-ish. Trader Joe's Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites are definitely new, but are they really that sexy?

Welp, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say...no. But let's look at both sides of this equation. There are some things working here. Let's try to be positive and look at that stuff first.

Parmesan cheese. The number one ingredient. I like parmesan. These are indeed parmesan-laden and cheesy and that's the "CHEESE" part of the product title. In my humble opinion the cheesiness is good and the intensity is about right.


What else is working? The texture. These things are crispy and crunchy in a very unique way. I tried to capture the texture visually with the new macro feature on my phone camera. Pretty cool, right? You can see all the rifts, ridges, nooks, crannies, and seediness up close. 

Of course, that photo is larger than life. I mean...depending upon the size of your monitor screen. Maybe if you're on mobile right now, it's just about life size. But then I don't know how big your phone is. Maybe I should just tell you how big they are. Fortunately, there's a ruler right behind me as I write this.

They are 1.25 inches by 1.375 inches on average. Nearly square. Like maybe two or three small bites a piece for me.

So let's move on to what's not working: nearly everything else. The overall taste of these is like black pepper. And I like black pepper. Is it the peppercorns? I guess. They're overwhelming. It's a pungent, acrid, bitter pepper punch in each and every bite. Actually some bites are worse than others. It builds up on the tongue and honestly I can only eat one or two crisps at a time. They're very light, too, in terms of density. If the peppercorn flavor were tempered a bit, I think I'd plow through the bag in one or two sittings easily.

TL;DR - Crunchy parmesan aspects are nice. Peppercorn element is overpowering.

$3.49 for the 2.8 oz bag. I give Trader Joe's Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites with Puffed Quinoa & Whole Peppercorns two out of five stars. Sonia liked hers in tomato soup okay, although she agrees they're not great on their own. Three stars from her.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Trader Joe's Mini Peppermint Meringues


I've admitted before on this blog that I'm not big into the texture of meringues. I think it was in a review of the
Vienna Coffee Meringues that I likened the texture of Trader Joe's meringue cookies to chalk. These are really no different. So why try them at all you ask?

Because sometimes Trader Joe's surprises me. And even more frequently than that, I surprise myself. Somehow, peppermint lends itself to crunchy, sugary stuff more than most flavors. I guess I'm thinking of candy canes. I'd always be too impatient to suck the thing slowly, and I'd just snap a big piece off and start crunching away, much to the chagrin of my parents and childhood dentist.

Anyway, if I could chew hard candy peppermint as a kid, I guess I can give these airy, crunchy peppermint dealies a try. At least these are meant to be crunched rather than sucked, so there's that. However, I can't imagine they're much better for your teeth than a candy cane.


The flavor is fine. It's candy cane-esque, with sugar and egg white mixed in there. I still can't fully get past the texture, though. I'm fine chomping on one or two at a time, but I could never really see myself craving these sweets over any other type of cookies or candy.

I guess one reason people like them is the zero fat content and low calorie count. If not for the sugar content, these might be considered keto-friendly. In fact, the serving suggestion says 11 "cookies" are only 80 calories. I had to see what other folks were saying about these meringues around the web and stumbled across a review that summed up my feelings on the subject nearly exactly: "I'm convinced that eating 11 of these would put you in the hospital, needing an IV insulin drip."


He's right. Eating 11 of these in one sitting should be called the Trader Joe's Mini Peppermint Meringues Challenge and should be regarded with the same contempt that sane folks have for things like swallowing an entire Carolina reaper pepper or a whole shaker of cinnamon while filming oneself on TikTok.

$2.99 for the tub of ~38 mini meringues isn't a bad value. I definitely wouldn't buy them again. Predictably, Sonia tolerated them a bit better than I did, but she's not down for a repeat buy either. I think we're looking at about three stars each on Trader Joe's Mini Peppermint Meringues.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Trader Joe's Carnitas with Salsa Verde Burrito


Confession time: I was thinking this was a beef burrito when I bought it. You'd think being married to a Latina, I'd know enough Spanish by now to not make that mistake. I've been learning to hablo the espaƱol for the past 14 years. I use the Duolingo app now. I have a 932-day streak going, for crying out loud. That means I've studied Spanish for at least 10 minutes a day for 932 days straight!

But here's the thing: in Spanish, "meat" is carne. The most common example is "carne asada," which literally means "grilled meat." It's always beef. Logically, "carnitas" means "little meats" and would just be teeny tiny beef cutlets, right? Nope. Carnitas is pork. I mean, it says it's pork right on the label, but...well, I'm an idiot, and not at all a real foodie.

Sonia and I avoid pork for the most part. I'd get into the reasons, but that would be a whole other can of worms. We're generally not dogmatic about it. It's just not our thing.


Ironically, the pork was by far the best part of this burrito. I mean, it wasn't spicy, which was disappointing. It was flavorful, but not hot. The tender texture and savory taste of the meat was the only saving grace of this product in my opinion.

Salsa verde? There was salsa in this thing? Neither of us saw or tasted anything even remotely resembling salsa verde here. We added our own salsa verde and it did blend quite nicely.

Likewise, neither Sonia nor I tasted or saw any evidence of cilantro, lime, or pepper jack cheese in our burrito. I'm not saying it wasn't there. I'm just saying if it was there, there was so little of it, it was virtually undetectable. We both just got tortilla—which is pretty run-of-the-mill for a Trader Joe's burrito—and pork, rice, and beans.


All in all, the flavor was good but not great. If the heat, cheese, and cilantro lime had shown up the way I'd hoped they would, I might have been able to recommend this wholeheartedly to pork lovers. We opted for 35 minutes in the conventional oven at 350° for a "crisp" tortilla. $3.99 for the burrito. As is, I think we're looking at about two and a half stars from Sonia, three and a half from me on Trader Joe's Carnitas with Salsa Verde Burrito.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Trader Joe's 4 Cheese Pastry Rolls

 


You know...when you read the title "Trader Joe's 4 Cheese Pastry Rolls"....you kinda expect those pastry rolls to have four cheeses, right? That's gotta be the logical interpretation, correct? I mean, why would anyone advertise the quantity of cheese pastry rolls as a leadoff? The number of cheeses, sure thing...but the number of rolls? No way. 

Except...well...

That's not what we got here with Trader Joe's 4 Cheese Pastry Rolls.


There's four of them. They have cheese. It's pastry, and yeah, in enough of a roll form. So it's accurate, but not in the way one might expect. Sigh. 

Basically, instead of delightfully balanced cheese combo, oozing with savory goodness, there's just this sweet cream cheese globbed in. Imagine a cheese danish, without icing, in a croissant roll form, and that's pretty precisely what these rolls are. it's not bad...kinda tasty....but not what I was hoping for when initial purchase made. 

Oh well. 

As a big plus, though, there's no proofing involved here. Bake right from frozen and in less than half an hour, voila. I like the lack of planning and foresight involved. Always a plus. Granted, the offset is a pastry that isnt quite as light and flaky as it could be, but it's decent enough to not warrant any complaints. 


Have no idea what these cost, but likely wasn't much. These were kinda buried in the freezer, which we're trying to rotate stuff out of, so there's that. Decent and tasty enough, even if slightly misleading on initial glance. Eh well. Meh. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's 4 Cheese Pastry Rolls: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cheesecake Croissants


 So what I swore would be my one autumnal endeavor to pumpkin products a week or two ago went so well, here we go again. Why not?

Let's get to it. Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cheesecake Croissants. Looks fancy and sounds delish, right?

Welll...ummm....errr.......

Unfortunately, much like Cinderella's carriage, this is a return to the normal pumpkinfied experience for me here. These croissants just don't have it, really. I mean, the number one thing I can say is, there's no long proofing involved here. Nah, bake right from frozen it says. That's cool and convenient and as close to warm croissant on demand as you can get. i like that.

But everything else is just so meh.

Perhaps not surprisingly, without much proofing, the croissant is kinda flat and dull. It's a bit flaky and gets a little crispy, but it just doesn't have the savory airiness of a quality croissant if that makes sense. It's a super meh croissant, but almost forgivable, all things considered. 

That pumpkin cheesecake stuff plopped atop? It's not inspiring at all. The first few bites taste like pretty basic pumpkin pie filling. A couple of the requisite spices, sure, but there's nothing that screams quality, let alone excellence, about it. When the cheesecake starts announcing its presence, its at first a small wave of creaminess, with a slowly growing taste of tartness that begins to sneak in. But in the end, it's not really cheesecake-y enough, but it's just enough to kinda warp the pumpkin pie vibe it had going. it's kinda one of those "tried to be two different things and didn't work" kinda deals. Not great.

It's $3.99 for the box of two treats, and for what it's worth, my kiddos liked them. Chances are, if you're into pumpkin stuff, you might be too. More for you guys, but a thumbs down from me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cheesecake Croissants: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Trader Joe's Banana Pudding Flavored Ice Cream


Ever meet an ice cream you didn't like?

Us neither. 

That being said...some ice cream is much better than others. 

That's pretty much how my lovely bride and I feel about Trader Joe's Banana Pudding Flavored Ice Cream here in the 'burgh. Sandy and I consider ourselves ice cream aficionados and quasi-experts, and there's no doubt we've eaten our fair share, if not much more than that. So please pardon us if we can get a bit picky. 

There's just not quite enough to truly, 100% enjoy this newish pint of ice cream inspired by a classic treat. Banana pudding is decently enjoyable all by itself, but add in things like a salted caramel swirl and wafer cookie dough, it sounds like an almost surefire winner. But it doesn't translate somehow. Maybe it's the extra creaminess, with it being, you know, ice cream, and thus a little extra rich and sweet as far as the banana pudding. That'd be my guess. 

But also the mix-ins don't seem to add quite enough, either. The salted caramel is a bit too bland and basic to add much contast, and the wafer is more mushy and nondescript to be of much value, either. Both of those components are just there and that's about all that can be said. So what's left is just this cloying, overly sweet and rich banana taste, without anything to really balance it all out. 

But, well, it's ice cream, so....

Not completely unhappy here, but this won't be a repeat buy. Which is sad, because it sounds so good. Some caramel that slapped a bit more, or maybe some ginger wafer, or something, something to make not so bloatedly banana-y, would really go a long way. But as is, meh.

But at least it's ice cream.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Banana Pudding Flavored Ice Cream: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons



Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Trader Joe's Limoncello Gouda Cheese


I'm fairly certain it was one of the seven universal principles of Hermes Trismegistus that states, and I'm paraphrasing here, that given any two good and pleasant things, when combined, despite expectation, may not necessarily yield a third transcendent good and pleasant thing. It's known as the Hermetic Chocolate Gum Axiom, as it was first applied to ancient Egyptian chocolate and Greek chewing gum...I think. Or perhaps I'm confusing it with this theory I heard from a food blogger a few times.

At any rate, it's a good theory and, well, it applies here unfortunately. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know I'm a pretty big fan of all things lemon-flavored. I've only had it a few times in my life, but I absolutely love limoncello. And gouda cheese is, of course, normally good, huh? Get it? Gouda = good, huh? Never mind. It's tangy and sweet and what's not to love?

But "sweet" for a cheese isn't really the same kind of sweet as limoncello. I mean, Swiss cheese is "sweet," but you wouldn't make lemonade-flavored Swiss cheese would you? Somehow Trader Joe's Limoncello Gouda sounds a tad more legit than Trader Joe's Lemonade Swiss, but I think the results are about the same. It's just not sweet enough to be called limoncello. I mean it tastes like limoncello...and gouda. But it's roughly got the sweetness level of normal gouda cheese.

Perhaps I'm simply not a fan of lemon-flavored cheeses. I wasn't as enthused about the Lemon Ricotta as I was hoping I would be, but I must admit that cheese worked a little better than this one did, IMO. This one is pretty far from being desserty, and it's got too much limoncello flavor to function like a traditional gouda.

Sonia agrees it isn't sweet enough but she, as usual, won't be too harsh on the product because she's still optimistic she'll figure out a way to use the cheese in some manner that will work. We're open to suggestions if you've got any.

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

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Trader Joe's Watermelon & Peach Macarons

 

Macron.

Macarons.

Macaroni

Macaroons

It's my lovely bride's pettiest of pet peeves. Sure, it's easy to not confuse your kid's Krafty craving with the president of France, but call a macaron a macaroon near her, or macaroon a macaron? Or try to insist they're both the same things, or have the same name? No. No no no. It'll set her off in no time flat. Just don't. 

Especially when you could instead be using that time to munch down on some fun new summery looking treats from TJ's...like the new Trader Joe's Watermelon & Peach Macarons.

Fortunately, these are two different flavors. Watermelon and peach are separately delicious but would presumably make odd flavor bedfellows.  Maybe it could get pulled off, I wouldn't want to discourage such innovation, but still.let's do these one at a time. 

First, the watermelon one. Kinda obviously, it's the somewhat sickly looking greenish one. The color of it is nowehere near as vibrant as the packaging indicates, which kinda sets the mood. First bite in is fairly bland, and it's not until some of the flavor pops from the filling that there's much of anything going on. Also kinda obviously, the watermelon flavor toes towards being oversweet and super sugary, which should be anticipated because 1) it's a cookie and 2) that's just how most watermelon flavored things go. It's why we as a family tend to like plain ol' watermelon, for its natural tastiness, than anything watermelon flavored. It just dpoesn't translate well more times than not. 


As for the peach, it's the better of the pair. A little too sugary, sure, but it remains in bounds. Peach works better for cookies and treats. It's not really fair, but it just does. Plenty sweet, a touch tart, and about right as expected. No complaints there. 

Both varieties suffer the same flaw, though. texturewise, yeesh. Both the shells aren't as crisp and puffy, and the fillngs are not as creamy and more gummy than they should be. This is after following the instructions to let thaw at room temp for an hour. Maybe some more time would have fixed them up better, but there didn't seem to much hope for radical improvement upon our bite. Frozen macarons will never compare to fresh, sure, but one could wish these would be a closer approximation. 

Anyways, the package of 10 teeny tiny bite sized ones run a couple bucks and make for an okay enough treat. Maybe my lovely bride and I will get these macaroons for a picnic up in Cooks Forest, near where she went to college...ok, that's mean, I definitely meant macarons and Cook Forest, just had to get her twice there. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Watermelon & Peach Macarons: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons   


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Trader Joe's Artichoke Timbales


Never had a timbale before. Even after doing some internet research, I'm still not sure how to pronounce it. I got at least three different versions. My natural inclination would be to pronounce it the Spanish way: teem-BALL-ey. The one thing every source agreed upon was that timbales are named after a type of drum, although which type of drum was yet another point of contention. It's either a timpani, a kettledrum, or a tom-tom.

But I suppose that since we're just talking about a general shape, all of the above could be applicable at least somewhat. At any rate, that's probably enough blabbering on about the name and shape of this food. How does it taste?

Well, honestly...it's nothing to write home about. I mean, there are obviously artichoke hearts in there, and I like artichoke hearts. But even the hearts aren't bursting with flavor. They're more salty than anything else. The quiche-like base doesn't add a whole lot to the flavor, either.


Sonia commented, "there's an earthy, planty taste about them." I totally agree with that assessment, although she apparently meant it as praise. I'd say the conglomeration is a little too planty. There's almost a bitterness about the whole thing. The two cheeses, mozzarella and grana padano, don't provide enough flavor to save the dish. There's a significant presence of olive oil—like you can actually taste the olive oil, which isn't necessarily something I look for in an appetizer. Although there was no broccoli mentioned in the ingredients, the beautiful wifey and I both tasted something decidedly broccoli-ish.

A more impressive, more complementary, or more potent spice blend might have gone a long way with this hors d'oeuvre, but it's just not there. I tried numerous additives, but nothing redeemed it completely. I guess I should give an honorable mention to the Italian Style Sprinkle, but even that failed to completely exonerate these pseudo-souffles.

There's nothing to complain about as far as the texture is concerned. It's slightly crispy on the top and softer toward the middle and bottom. The artichoke hearts floating throughout the mixture aren't chewy or stringy at all, so that's a plus. The overall texture is not unlike that of a quiche or souffle as mentioned above, although there are very different ingredients used here. Looks like the body is made of potato starch, rice starch, extra virgin olive oil, and vegetable bouillon, among other things.

Once again Trader Joe's introduces us to an exotic, foreign appetizer for a mere five bucks or so, brought to us all the way from Italy. I can't fault them for that, but I wouldn't buy these apps again. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Two stars from me.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Trader Joe's Pinks & Whites Dark Chocolate Bar

To the tune of Michael Jackson's Black or White: 

I gave my baby a big chocolate bar
It came from TJ's
I drove there in my car

And I do believe in miracles
Even though one didn't happen tonight

(heee)

But if you're thinkin' bout' my candy
It don't matter if it's pink or white

They put my review in the Saturday Sun
I wrote my thoughts down, yeah, but it wasn't fun

And it's only an opinion
It's not like one is wrong or one's right

But if you're thinkin' 'bout my candy
Well I don't like this one pink or white

(uh hee hee)


And I think the clerk agreed with me
when this checkout gimmick entered his sight

He said, "The thing about this candy
is it ain't great, it's just pink and white"

It's pinks, it's whites
It's tough to say it's a good buy
Yeah, yeah, yeah

It's pinks, it's whites
It's tough to say it's a great thing
Yeah, yeah, yeah

That's all I got. I didn't write all the lyrics for that segue in the middle of the song where Macaulay Culkin raps on the stoop in the hood. If anybody feels inspired, please drop a few lines in the comments.

It's a very run-of-the-mill 54% dark chocolate base. There's shortbread and sprinkles fused onto the surface of the bar. It's very pretty and springy. I'll give it that.

That's about the longest ingredients list I've ever seen on a Trader Joe's brand product. $2.99 for the 3 oz bar. I believe it has already been discontinued. This is one I won't be heartbroken over.

Two and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Pinks & Whites Dark Chocolate Bar. Three and a half from Sonia, who seems oddly impressed with the bites that include a lot of cookie.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Trader Joe's Kimchi & Tofu Soup


 Let's see....great, interesting stories of some time in my life where kimchi and tofu came through for me when nothing else could? Some fond memory, me as a young boy, kimchi in one hand, tofu in another? Anything really relevant in my life with kichi and tofu?

Well...I've tried making kimchi once or twice when I went through a fermenting craze two years ago....and my lovely bride has taught my meatarian self to enjoy a little tofu every once in a while....well, that's about it for me, so nah. 

But put the two of them together in a product like Trader Joe's Kimchi & Tofu Soup, and I'll be intrigued enough to buy for a $4 lunch pickup. 


There's not a lot I can say here. In some ways, it was a bit of a letdown. First, the tofu was way too soft for my taste. If I'm going to have it, I need it to be firm. I'm really not sure how well tofu is supposed to hold up to being cooked, then frozen and reheated, but I was hoping for better than the soft crumbly mess we had here. The bite wasn't enjoyable. Secondly (and I may be completely in the wrong here) everything seemed more kimchi-flavored than actual kimchi. Sure, there's plenty of gochujang spice, and some complex notes of garlic and spice, which all in all is pretty tasty, but there wasn't much in the way of cabbage and everything else. What was there was pretty soft and uninspired. The spice could've been a little more vibrant too.Instead most of the bite and texture came from an abundance of black rice.


The soup itself wasn't overly bad, but was a bit of a letdown. Perhaps I'm used to the few small batches I made of kimchi and that being how I like it. Kinda like pierogi or pizza even - it's getting hard for me to enjoy getting those from other sources, unless truly magnificent, because in my own mind I make them perfectly darn well, at least according to my taste. I realize that's pretty selfish/arrogant and probably inaccurate, but I know how to make things the way I like them. I'm pretty sure if so inspired I could make a better tofu and kimchi dish than this TJ's soup, but I'd love to get an "authentic" one from somewhere. 

Eh well. Sandy wouldn't touch this - she just wasn't in the mood the day I heated up some for lunch. So all me. I'll be nice and double three's it. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kimchi & Tofu Soup: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons