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

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

Friday, March 4, 2022

Trader Joe's Camembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites

Oh boy! Here's an ostensibly brand new product for March 2022. I think it's supposed to be a St. Patrick's Day hor d'oeuvre or maybe a meat-free Friday Lent snack, right? It's definitely not like we found it at the back of our freezer that we were in the process of clearing out since spring cleaning is right around the corner.

I'm sure it's not been sitting there for months, like it was intended as a Thanksgiving side or Christmas appetizer or Valentine's Day treat...unless maybe it was. Fact-checkers, feel free to disregard all assertions made in these first two paragraphs of this review. Or feel free to fact-check us and cause some controversy. No such thing as bad publicity and all that.

The point is that this product probably isn't brand new, or even in season, or even available at Trader Joe's right now. In fact, a quick "Search This Blog" inquiry would suggest that it was available at Trader Joe's stores in November/December 2015.


If that upsets you, please bookmark this review and return circa late November or December 2022 when these thoughts may or may not be more relevant than they seem to be right now.

Just FYI, the "best by" date on these was April 2023, so it's not like it's been in our freezer for centuries. We're still preparing the product more than a year before it expires, so freshness shouldn't be an issue. However, the Camembert cheese might be. I'm just sensitive to all mold cheeses like Brie, Roquefort, and Stilton. But I'll taste just about anything once. So I did. And all I could taste was mold. So I decided to let Sonia score these all on her own.

She loved the phyllo dough. It was nice and crispy and flaky like it usually is with similar Trader Joe's appetizers. The sweet and tart cranberry sauce was a nice touch, but it could have been more prevalent. She doesn't think there was enough of it to offset the bitterness of the Camembert.

In the end, I guess she's not really a mold cheese gal, either. She wanted to like these crispy, cheesy little apps, but they're not really her thing. Some bites had a "chewiness" that turned her off, in addition to the grassy, planty flavor that she detected. We both wanted these to be dessert-like, but the prevalent flavor was that of a cheese that's apparently just too sophisticated for either of our palates. At a quick glance, there are plenty of dissenting opinions out there in cyberspace, but this probably isn't a repeat purchase for Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Trader Joe's French Chocolate Crepe Wafer Cookies


 Yeah, it's the first day of Lent, and some of you may be giving up chocolate as is tradition, and perhaps you didn't really want or need to see a review on the new Trader Joe's French Chocolate Crepe Wafer Cookies...

Yet here we are. 

Be assured, though, you're not missing much. These newbies are one of the great examples of "nothing really wrong, but nothing really right either" niche that TJ's occasionally stumbles on. 

Like, I'm not going to complain about thin carmelized wafer dough, rolled up and dipped in some tasty milk chocolate. That'd be ridiculous, because it's tasty. Of course it's tasty.

But is there anything compelling here at all? Anything for a little added kick, or something that'd help seal the deal for a definite rebuy. Nah, not at all. A little sea salt, or a touch of French vanilla, or some cafe au lait, or, I don't know, some  baguettes or something would make it a much more compelling product. It might also help point out exactly what's so "French" about these. 

Instead it's just a nice little crispy, airy, chocolate treat. Nothing wrong, but nothing overwhelmingly right. And sorry but I just can't get a great pic of the nutritional info and ingredients, it's just too small for my potato, I mean phone. 

Meh. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's French Chocolate Crepe Wafer Cookies: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons



Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Trader Joe's Spicy Buffalo Cheddar

 

Certain things really don't need a sales pitch. Cold, frosty beer, for instance. A nice summer afternoon at a ballgame, or a cool autumn morning on the porch with a cup of hot coffee. Air conditioning. So on and so forth. 

Trader Joe's Spicy Buffalo Cheddar? No contest here. It's just the way it is. 

Spicy cheese is always tops on my list. It's really hard to beat a good pepperjack. And lookey here - it's not just jalapenos but also habaneros, too? This is gonna pack some heat. 

Absolutely, the cheddar is spicy, right from the start. There's not much of a gradual build - it's more of a straight up wallop, boom goes the dynamite kinda deal. For that, and that alone, I'll give this high marks - there's not much messing around here, just straight business. 

Everything else about the buffalo cheddar? Ehhhhhhhhh. 

The cheddar itself is incredibly average to perhaps even mediocre. It's mild and soft and clammy, almost like it's lukewarm even when taken right from the fridge even though it's cold, if that makes any sense. This may lead one to think this would be a good melting cheese, but in my admittedly limited experience, it's not, at least when trying to melt atop a burger. Perhaps if trying to make into a sauce for some mac n cheese or something it'd do better. 

It also doesn't help that I had to spit out a bite and dissect it to see what that sharp little shard of something was. Visual test result results were inconclusive but chances are, it was a teeny splinter of a woody pepper stem. That's fairly benign, but still was unpleasant. Really hope it wasn't anything else.  

Anyways, for an okayish cheese option at a reasonable price ($8.99/lb if I recall right) it's worth a try, if spice is your thing. Were you expecting more of a sales pitch? Not here!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Spicy Buffalo Cheddar: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, November 19, 2021

Trader Joe's Green Bean Casserole Bites

It's understandable why, when tasked with the creation of the new Trader Joe's Green Bean Caserole Bites, a poofy phyllo pastry shell was chosen. First of all, it's delicious. Second of all, it adds a comforty vibe and a fun twist on a holiday meal classic. Third, it's certainly more than capable of fulfilling the role. 

But...that's not to say it was the best choice. 

I'm thinking BIG here. What's the absolute best thing about green bean casserole? The fried onion crunchies atop, of course...so why not make a shell out of them!?!?!? 

That'd shoot this benign beany bites to legit legume legends in no time flat! Who WOULDN"T love that. There'd be no tenth dentist here...everyone would agree that was an AWESOME idea. 

Oh well. As is, the casserole bites make a decent, and kinda fun little snackbite. The issue seems to be that the phyllo does add a definite puff pastry feel, and seems more dominant than the green bean/mushroom soup filling or the few little onion crunchies sprinkled in. It's too bad because the flavor of the filling is spot on, but with a little touch of cheddar cheese it goes up a notch. There's a little innovation right there, and it's delish.

Will give extra credit for the air fryer instructions on the box. You know your fanbase, TJ's. Still watch them carefully as ours got a little burned even when we cut the time a minute or so short.  

I neglected to snap a picture of the nutritional info or ingredients, so I'll link the TJ's website here for that info. A serving size is one whole box!?!?! Lol TJ's, don't be so greedy and share. 

Not great, not bad. So much potential. As is? Meh. Double threes. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Green Bean Casserole Bites: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Trader Joe's Organic Veggie Bites

Alright alright alright....who here is HYPED for the brand new Trader Joe's Organic Veggie Bites?!?!?!

C'mon now I can't hear you!

Who here is...wait, what, none of y'all? Not even one? All of y'all getting too pumpkin spice drunk to even realize these were a thing? 

Can't blame ya one bit. On a scale of anticipation excitement between root canal and ditching the kids at my parents' and running away for a weekend with my lovely bride, these new TJ veggie tots probably registered between getting an oil change and paying the water bill for me. 

Gotta maintain your vehicle, pay your utilities, and eat your veggies. Ho-hum. Not complaining, just saying. 

All that being said, for what they are, these veggie bites are alright. If you'd like the over domineering flavor of mirepoix in a snackyish ball form, these would be right up your alley. First three ingredients are carrots, celery and onions. That'd be mirepoix, and what really rides out the flavor. Can't taste the tomatoes at all. Sunflower seeds? Nope. Kale? there visually, but not much else. Sweet potatoes, which for some reason are lumped in with the veggies on the ingredients label (they're tubers!)? I mean, yeah, they're there, mostly because something has to be the stuff that holds all of it together. But taste? Can't taste them taters so much. That, a (un)healthy dose of salt, a little pepper. Meh. 


The form itself works decently though. A few minutes in our air fryer produced the two-bite sized veggie balls that were warm, soft and a touch greasy. Those sunflower seeds must be ground up or something, because there's no sense of biting into one anywhere. 

And that's about what there is to them. Eating them straight up was kinda boring, so maybe a good dip or condiment was needed. I could see something creamy-ish working alright. Our kids didn't like them one bit, and normally they like veggies, but none of them would tell Dada what was so offputting about them. Sandy and I ate most of them, and by that I mean mostly me, and that was mainly out of a sense of obligation to not waste food. Safe to say on that hypothetical kidfree vacay, we will not be stopping at TJ's to snag a supply of them. 

Not gonna lie: probably not gonna rebuy, ever, not of spite or repulsion but more out of there's not much worthy of a return. I'm truly indifferent to their existence and would rather eat raw or roasted veggies. Double twos. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Veggie Bites: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons


 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Trader Joe's Sweet & Savory Lightly Spiced Pumpkin Spread

So technically pumpkin's a fruit, right? The experts say so anyway. And we know we're supposed to accept the opinions of the experts and not really rock the boat with dissenting opinions these days.

So my question is: why isn't this "pumpkin fruit spread." Hmmm? All the other fruits like pineapple, apple, watermelon, strawberry, banana, and peach all got "fruit spread" as part of their condiments' monikers.

Maybe it's because some people don't accept pumpkin as a fruit and think of it more as a vegetable. So why isn't it "pumpkin vegetable spread"? Maybe there's an unfair bias against pumpkins.

Or maybe Trader Joe's just didn't want to open that can of worms and start an all-out war between those who think of pumpkin as a vegetable and those who think of pumpkin as a fruit. They just decided to sit on the fence and let you the consumer decide. Not pumpkin fruit spread. Not pumpkin vegetable spread. Just pumpkin spread.

Whether fruit or vegetable or both or neither, the packaging on this product is fun. Kinda rustic and farmer's market-esque. There are at least a couple elements that are totally unnecessary and simply for show. I guess they're channeling that homemade and put in a Mason jar sorta vibe.


Opening the jar, the smell is...unique. It's almost like honey...mixed with an odd gourd-like smell. Like it actually smells like when you're carving a jack-o-lantern and you have the pumpkin guts all over newspapers on the floor and you're pulling the seeds out of the wet, stringy innards of the pumpkin. Like that—and honey.

Pumpkin is the number one ingredient here. There's actually no honey in the mix, but I'm guessing cane sugar yields a sweetness comparable to that of honey. This isn't a spoon it out of the jar type spread here in my opinion. It needs to be mixed and tempered with other foods and ingredients in order to be palatable. The jar suggests eating it with cheeses, cold cuts, roasted meats, or vegetables.


We tried it with crackers and goat cheese and it sorta kinda worked I guess. We tried it with turkey cold cuts and that wasn't really a winner, either. I guess I'm just struggling to find a purpose for this condiment. I need a pumpkin spread pairing wheel like they do with wines and stuff here. The suggestions on the jar are too vague.

Still it's an interesting product, not hampered by an excess of pumpkin spices or cloying, unchecked sweetness. I can't decide if I like the chunks of raw actual pumpkin floating throughout the mixture or if I think they're gross. Time will tell. For now, I give this stuff two and a half stars. Sonia will go a full star higher with three and a half.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Style BBQ Flavored Ridge Cut Potato Chips

Oh BBQ chips. Such a good ol' 'merican staple...yet so kinda stale. I mean, they're good, don't get me wrong, but when's the last time you had a truly innovative, outside the box BBQ chip? Possibly never? I guess maybe there's a tried-and-true mold, a classic, that's it's hard to innovate besides perhaps tweaking the mesquite or upping the spice a tad. 

But whereas most BBQ chippies go into more or less default Kansas City style, TJ's dare goes towards a different, delicious classic American BBQ genre: the Carolinas! And so shall it be with the the new Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Style BBQ Flavored Ridge Cut Potato Chips. 

Carolina BBQ is a lot more mustard and vinegar based. A touch sweet, definitely tangy, vaguely bitter, huge acidic bite, with varying degrees of spices and heat mixed in...it's not my favorite, but it's right on up there for my lovely bride. Give it to me on some smoked brisket anytime though. 

That's the experience here sans brisket. Except...there's something about a potato chip that doesn't help the flavor translate as well. Not sure if it's more the mustard or the vinegar, as both are successful on chips in other flavor combos, but the flavor builds only very slowly, from not-that-perceptible to mild to fairly good to this weird bitter aftertaste. 

It's a decent chip, but there's two things here that can make them better IMHO: first, more seasoning. More spice. More stuff. Having had the real deal, I'd love something closer to the complete Carolina experience here. Secondly, let's reconsider the chip type. These big crunchy ridge cut are big and chompy and kinda thick, and not terribly greasy....maybe that's holding them back to. I love the big crunch but maybe let's go kettle-cooked, hmm? A little added grease would make them much more snacky. 

Anyways, for $3 and a change up from the norm, we'll take them happily. Our kiddos hate them so there's a plus for us. Still...meh at best for me, while the wife is more in love than I am with them. Two from me, four from her.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Style BBQ Flavored Ridge Cut Potato Chips: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Trader Joe's Garlic Bread Cheese


 There's some basic things that take me entirely too long to grasp. Just ask my lovely bride. 

Latest example: What the label of the new Trader Joe's Garlic Bread Cheese was trying to convey pre-prepping. 

Bread cheese? What's that? Like...cheese with bread in it? Cool! Right? I'd give that a try. But ooh let's read the description: 'Seasoned with garlic powder & baked golden brown." Golden brown what? Bread crumbs? Something else? C'mon TJ',s tell me. What else we got here?

But upon opening, further inspection and reading of the ingredients, and the sudden realization that the word "baked" was a verb and not an adjective (it wasn't entirely clear at first, phrase parallelism be darned), it was pretty apparent: this is just some cheese with a little bit of garlic in it. Nothing much more, nothing less. 


I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. Garlic and cheese are tasty! But to expect something groundbreaking here is the wrong thought train. It's a pretty mild cheese, kinda like a cross between mozzarella for its taste and halloumi for its heat resistant properties (though not so much it's crumbly curd-y texture). There's a subtle, not-so-in-yo-face garlic flavor somewhat permeating, and is made more apparent by the glistening effect of heating the cheese for several minutes. It doesn't get all melty, just a little sweaty, and remains softly firm, if that makes sense. 

Really, though, that's it. Not everything has to be full flavor onslaught, but this TJ's garlic cheese does tilt more towards bland than bold. It's not awful, and I can what they're going for - like the cheese from cheesy garlic bread - but most of those I've had have more garlic and zest. Serving with some sauce would really help out, and I can see cutting up tiny bits for like a pasta or veggie salad, and how that'd be a welcome addition, but by itself? Meh. 

Would buy again, especially at its reasonable price point (something like $4 for the 6 oz chunk) but I'm not gonna be stocking up and probably won't notice when it's gone. Middlin' scores all around. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Garlic Bread Cheese: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, July 2, 2021

Trader Joe's Tangy Turtles

Back in the day, before the current heliocentric model of the solar system was widely accepted, philosophers used to ask one another—and I'm paraphrasing here: "If the earth is a big flat plane in the middle of nothing/everything, then what is it resting upon?" One of the philosophers suggested that the plane of the earth was resting upon the back of a turtle.

So then, the obvious follow-up question arose: well then what's the turtle resting upon? And the obvious answer came up: an even larger turtle. And what's that turtle resting upon? And so on and so on. I think you see where this is going.

Eventually they decided that "it's turtles all the way down." There's a Sturgill Simpson song by the same name. So...that was my inspiration for the product photo. The turtles aren't mating or anything like that, just in case you were wondering.


These particular turtles wouldn't do a very good job of supporting the earth because they are indeed soft and squishy, and they have holes in their middles. Their texture is fine, with just a hint of crunchy sugar granules, particularly on the turtles' colorful backs.

They're a little bit tart and a little bit sweet. There are three different colors: green/yellow, red/orange, and blue/purple, though I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be different flavors. The ingredients don't really mention any particular fruit flavors or anything like that, though they do use "vegetable juice," "fruit juice," and "spirulina extract" for color.


These are on par with junky dollar store gummy candies, flavor-wise, though they might use slightly better ingredients. The first words out of Sonia's mouth after trying one were "Ewww! Gross!" She wishes they were either super sour or simply sweet. She's not into the whole sweet-tart thing. She describes the white part of the turtles as "disgusting," though she's okay with the colorful part. I suppose two stars from her is pretty generous, considering her initial reaction. I'll go a star higher and note that I've had worse gummy candy in my day. We'd both recommend the recently-reviewed Fruity Gummy Candies over these any day of the week.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Trader Joe's Spicy Porkless Plant-Based Snack Rinds

You know, when it comes to it....I really have no idea how to start here, except to say I've never been so gobsmacked out of left field before for any sort of TJ's product before. 

I...ummm...what?

Vegan pork rinds?

What the what?

This pretty much sums it up when it comes to me hearing about Trader Joe's Spicy Porkless Plant-Based Snack Rinds for the first time. 

I mean, you know what a pork rind is, right? It's deep fried pork skin, render off a bunch of fat, add a bunch of spices, get a big ol' cracklin' piece that's crunchier than stale granola. It's pretty much as unvegan as you can get. Speaking from a fairly carnivorous standpoint, there's some parts of animals not high on my list, and that's absolutely one of them. 

So, instead of that, make some sort of rind-esque shape from rice meal and pea powder and bake them, so basically make them not so pork rind-y at all, except allude back to them in packaging and marketing by calling them rinds and inventing the new word "porkless." That's not fun to neither say nor type. 

Needless to say, if you're expecting a pork rind, this new TJ's snackers ain't it. There's too much amiss. First off, the crunch? It's not there. Crispy? Sure. Hard and crunchy? Not even close. It's a pretty soft bite all things considered. Maybe leave the bag open for a day or two to stale 'em up a touch if that's what you're looking for. More importantly, though, is the aftertaste. After the burn of the spice (more on that shortly) burns off, whereas a some nice fatty savory sensation from an actual pork rind would kick in to really bring the whole experience home...there's just this earthy meh-ness. i mean, I know you can expect much from rice and peas (not a knock, just saying) but they are absolutely a different flavor and taste base than any meat product, which cannot be replicated. 

All that being said, what stands out for these pig-free poppers is the spice blend. It's great! Sure, there's a touch of vinegar, but also so much more - the cayenne and little pinch of habanero really ratchet up the Scovilles while onion and garlic flesh out the flavor more. It's hot and spicy and tasty and delicious. Great seasoning, regardless of what you'd put it on. 

Really, I think instead of trying to emulate and going toe-to-toe (err, hoof-to-hoof?) with pork rinds, which as far as I know aren't exactly cornerstones of the 'murican snackfood pyramid anyways, call these guys something more like "rice and pea snacks" or something catchier. Okay, maybe I see why they went with rinds after all...but you don't have to compare yourself to others to stand out. Just be yourself. 

Failed to get a respectable pic of the ingredients and nutritional info, so here ya go. Thanks Big Joe. 

I'll eat them, may even buy again. I will admit on second tasting while writing this they grew on me a little, but I'm not the biggest fan yet. Meh, and same for my lovely bride who mehs them as well. We'll be nice, give them kudos for the spiciness, and go with threes. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Spicy Porkless Plant Based Snack Rinds: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons