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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Jackfruit Chips

So these are like dorians, right?

Apparently, I don't know jackfruit.

Fortunately, this website seems to know the difference, and if you're really all that interested, take a read, this post will still be here when you come back. Good to know I'm not the only one who didn't know until my more botanically aware spouse shot me the stinkeye. They're pretty similar in appearance, and I remember holding a durian at a 99 Ranch out in California once - heavy, spiky sucker, looked to be more of a projectile load for a trebuchet than something that was actually somewhat edible. So while durians and jackfruits are not the same, it's the image I'll hold in my mind, and if it's not completely accurate, then blame my blissful 'merican ignorance.

As for these actual Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Jackfruit Chips....mehhhh. I've had a couple handfuls of them by now, and can't quite make up my mind. Sandy's in the same boat. They're just kinda there and otherwise not horrible but not all that great either. It's not the texture's fault - think dehydrated apples but not quite as sticky-dry with a little more girth and fluffier Styrofoam aspect, and it's about like that. It's not bad for a dried fruit snack (though dried banana chips are still my all time fave). Crispy and crunchy are adequate enough adjectives, not much more needs to be said there.

Really, it's more the taste. Or the lack thereof. Depends on who you ask. Sandy insists the chips taste like nothing. I don't think that's entirely true - there's a subtly sweet flavor, kinda lightly citrus-y and banana-y, which is fine enough until it morphs into some sort of bittersweet funk that grabs hold of the back of your tongue like a toddler in need of consolation. It just won't let go...it's there and it's there to stay, no matter what you do. Seriously, I ate one ten minutes ago, and I can still taste it swimming around in my saliva. Not a fan.

Yet there's something about these fruity chips that I feel like I should like - perhaps because they're fruit so they make a healthy snack and are a possible replacement for chips and Cheetos and the like. Could be true. But still, I'd much prefer just eating a regular ol' apple for a crispy crunchy snack on the go, and if I have the luxury of some cashew butter around to spread on a slice, even better. These just don't cut it for me.

Sandy debated her score a long time before settling on a two, standing by her "they taste like nothing" claims. A two sounds more than fair to me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Jackfruit Chips: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, September 5, 2014

Trader Joe's Spiced Chai

Not to be confused with Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Latte Mix, this beverage is full of black tea and chai spices, and it's every bit as tasty as its previously-reviewed cousins. As soon as hot water hits one of these teabags, there's a smell of fragrant spice in the air—similar to the scent of potpourri in one of those country stores that sells really expensive candles, wooden signs, and Boyds Bears run by mean, ultra-conservative old people that don't like Gen X'ers—but you go in anyway because you know you'll find the perfect Christmas gift for Mom there. That's how it smells. Like that...but a little more exotic.

It tastes like that, too. Just by itself, there's enough complexity and richness to keep your taste buds occupied. Even I, with my child-like sweet tooth, was able to stomach this stuff plain. Add sugar and half and half for a dessertier indulgence. Don't tell me "dessertier" isn't a word. It rolls off my keyboard more easily than "more dessert-like," and it's more appropriate here for some reason. The flavor tingles the tongue, but it doesn't burn the throat at all the way some chai has done to me in the past.

There's a good bit of caffeine in one cuppa this magical tea. I can't give you the exact milligrammage, but according to Chai-Direct.com, it has about 40mg per 4oz. I swear this stuff woke me up better than a regular cuppa coffee, but maybe that's because I drank more than 4oz each time I had it. I like the monkeys and elephants on the box. I'm buzzed with caffeine. Sometimes that gives me little ADD fits and I find it hard to focus.

Sonia loves this chai. And she's a self-proclaimed chai fanatic. She even tried the Oprah Chai, but she likes this stuff much better. This chai even tops her previous favorite, Tazo. She gives it four and a half stars. I guess I'll give it four.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie

Yeah, yeah...I know. Just a post or two ago, I was talking about the success I've had following a paleo diet over the past few weeks, and now, here it is, at long last due to popular demand, a review of Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie. I'm willing to bet our bigger foreheaded forefathers had some sort of prehistoric lime-type fruit but not the means to make into one heckuva tasty pie, so I'm a bad pseudo-caveman. I'd grunt more vigorously and wave my club in self defense with a little more earnest, but it's not worth it. A little cheat, now and then, isn't the worst thing...especially when your nearly seven-months pregnant wife insists on picking up something...for your birthday...what are you going to say, no? I'm not. Diet's still working, thank you very much.

And the great thing is, diet cheat or not, this one heckuva great pie. My goodness. There's so much to like here. First and foremost, this pie resides in the frozen aisle, so it's one of TJ's thaw-and-eat delights. Other desserts in this category have been somewhat hit or miss for texture - a lot of times, even while following or even exceeding thaw specs, there's still that mouthfeel that screams "I WAS FROZEN AND I STILL KINDA AM!!!!" Not so here, oh no. After just an hour and half in the fridge, this pie transmorgified from rockhard icy discus to soft, delectable, inviting citrus pie delight, without any trace of freezer-y-ness. Absolutely perfect.

But that's not all. The lime filling struck an impeccably perfect balance between sugary sweetness and citric tartness, all in a soft creamy goodness. Irresistibly good - so satisfying and refreshing altogether. Perfect. And what this even more perfect was the crust - no, I'm serious. I would have been reasonably happy with a run-of-the-mill graham cracker shell and not given much more thought. Instead of that, TJ's went with a gingery crust - not nearly as strongly gingerish as, say, their Triple Ginger Snaps, but still with a good amount of ginger that was a perfect counterbalance to the rest of the pie. Which is kinda weird, there's no ginger on the ingredients list...eh, whatever, I'll stand by what I said.

How good was this? Sandy ate two slices. My brother and his wife (both of whom are fairly diet conscious) ate two slices. I ate two slices. Then we all kinda looked at each other, shrugged with a "That was worth it" expression, and then stared longingly at the empty tin foil plate.

I gotta go perfect five on this. Hands down, the key lime pie was the best TJ's product I've had in sometime - yeah, maybe it just seemed extra good because of all the other sweets I've been denying myself recently, but I think it was actually that good. Sandy semi-incredulously went with only a four, noting it needed some cool hwip to really top it off. Maybe that's technically true for some, but then, I'd say, go supply your own while I'm perfectly happy with it just as is. For one night, I was one happy caveman.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons