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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Trader Joe's Raspberry Rose

Gotta admit, this time of year, when it's time to pick out the Valentines Day sweet treats for my lovely bride, I've got the inside track and got it made, y'all.

It started with mine and Sandy's first Valetine's day together, 12 years ago. Just a couple kids fresh stuck in puppy love, and amongst some other various items, I bought her a Russell Stover heart shaped candy box. Yes, I can almost hear the Nirvana too. But sounds generic, right? I mean, Russell Stover is like everywhere and basically synonymous with generic Valentines Day chocolate, right?

Not so for us. All I needed was a Sharpie and 20 seconds. I (Russell but preferably Russ) scribbled my last name under the Russell, and her first name above the "Stover" (which is actually her last name) and BAM. Instant classic gift that she says is too cute for her to eat, and easily replicable evry year if for nothing more than a laugh. Boom.

And yes ,if not for the demands of patriachal society, my name could legally be Russell Stover. Dangit.

Anyways for any of you who might actually have to, like, try hard or show effort for procuring sweets for your sweetie come the 14th, it's plausible you'd see Trader Joe's Raspnberry Rose and wonder whats that's about. So glad you came here.

Gotta say, ths raspberry chocolate bar isn't the first kinda thing I'd usually reach for, but it works. First, I mean, look at it - all rosy and what not. Looks fancy, don't it? Sure does. it's not just the swirls and ridges replicating roses in slab chocolate form, but the color - cool pink that's not too pale por bright or neon or anything. it's just right on.

As is the taste! This particular bar is so remarkably raspberry flavored its nuts. Sweet and tart, even a little juicy in some ways. And not every bite but there is the occasional crisp that is suggestive of raspberry seed. There's enough that replicates actual raspberry that pureed raspberry is a logical ingredient to me....except it isn't. It's...raspberry powder? What the what? I don't even really know how one produces a powder from a normally succulent raspberry that still encompasses almost of the fruit's inherent qualities...but there it is.

Of course, for all of that flavor to shine through, it's gonna be white chocolate. Normally I'm not ehb iggest of fans of white chocolate - for me the darker the better - but it works here. There's so much nom factor, with a little cute appeals, that these raspberry rose bars are perfect for the next couple weeks of this Hallmark holiday.

Good chocolate. Good raspberry. Good everything. Good price at about $2, and good enough chance we'll buy again. Can't hype it to the max as we're not completely gobsmackedt, but it'll do for sure. It's almost as easy as having a box of chocolates with your name on it. Good deal.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Raspberry Rose: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Trader Joe's Corn Poblano Chowder

I must have walked past this little box a half a dozen times on my last Trader Joe's haul. I'd been looking for it in particular since I'd heard good things. I finally had to ask the friendly clerk where it was. I guess I was looking for something a little bigger...? And I wasn't sure if it was in the refrigerated section or not. Turns out it's totally shelf-stable, so it was over by the cans of chili and stuff. Most of the obligatory Trader Joe's cashier conversation where they compliment at least one thing you've purchased revolved around this selection. The bagger expressed her utmost approval as well. If both cashier and bagger chime in on the same item, it's a safe bet you won't be too disappointed.

Our "use by" date was in November of 2021—a year and nine months from now. That's long enough to ride out half of the apocalypse. And this isn't a bad food to have on standby in the pantry. At $1.99, it's affordable, the little boxes are stackable, so they won't take up much room, and the chowder is pretty hearty and appetizing, as well.

Taste-wise, it's salty, savory, and creamy. There's plenty of corn flavor backed up by a nice blend of garlic, pepper, and onion. The poblano peppers are both visible and tastable in the mix. Heat-wise, they're not game-changers—the spice factor is relatively mild.

I'm truly surprised how chunky it is. I'd say corn and potato are the most prevalent elements, and the broth is plenty thick. It's the perfect cold weather winter lunch. Heats on the stovetop in six minutes, or about a minute and a half nuked.

On the down side, there really aren't two servings in the 17 ounce box. One person could put this away pretty easily, but that's generally par for the course with Trader Joe's nutrition labels. If you do consume the whole thing by yourself, you're looking at about half a day's worth of sodium. Better sea salt than some weird chemical preservative, but still. High blood pressure's no joke. 

And one more small complaint before I close: the corn had a slightly stiff texture. It wasn't awful, but there was just a hint of waxiness to most of the corn kernels that I'm not accustomed to that was ever so slightly off-putting. It won't be a deal-breaker, though. I'm still thinking this will be a repeat buy for us. The convenience factor, value, and overall flavor are all big positives here.

Sonia gives Trader Joe's Corn Poblano Chowder four stars. I'll throw out a matching score this time.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Trader Joe's Protein Patties

Disclaimer: Self-proclaimed meatatarian here. I used to feel shy and squeamish about wanting to eat something called, say, a Meat Lover's Pizza. Just sounds odd, doesn't it? Whatever, though, it's tasty and, even better, is piled with multiple kinds of meat, so I'm just gonna get over it. Mmmmmmmmmmeeeeaaaaaatttttt. Yum.

Not to say that I can't enjoy a good meat substitute. Don't believe me, newbie? It was Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo that helped inspire my love for TJ's and helped inspire me to get on board with this blog way back in its fledgling stages. The world had to know.

So now it's 2020 and there's the Beyond Burgers and Impossible Whoppers and everything everywhere. How is this happening? I don't know...I didn't know there was such a demand that different places had to be tripping over themselves to bring their interpretation of veggie burgers to the masses. I mean, there were plenty of adequate if not downright good veggie burgers out it a conspiracy for world domination? I don't know about that, but there are some interesting tin foil hat conspiracies out there that make for fun reading at the very least. It does seem to me that all these bogus beefless burgers rushing to the market are a supply trying to create a demand, and not a demand building it's own supply and market. I'm not sure if down the road the outcome will be so rosy or not for them.

Anyways, enough banter. Trader Joe's Protein Patties. Motto: "All the other good names were taken and we were stuck with this." Another plant based burger. No s and p, flip twice, down the hatch...any good?

Nope. Not gonna lie - both my lovely bride, who is usually even more open than I to these kinda things, and I did not enjoy this pea protein patty puck at all. First of all...look at it in cooked form. The whole thing doesn't brown at all, it just turns a little less pink and gets burned and dry outside. It doesn't look appetizing. The whole shebang looks more like, well, scrapple, which is actually delicious by the way. And like a good ol' slab of East Coast haggis, it got all crispy on the outside while still mushy in the middle. Acceptable, even preferable, for scrapple. Not so much for something purporting to be a burger.

I will admit there is almost a beef like taste to it. I mean, no amount of veggie voodoo and laboratory testing can fully replicate the gristle and sizzle of real actual red meat. Honorable try here. But this TJ's take just has nothing really truly screaming "burger" about it. It's more a toasted pea protein patty plop, and between stating which one out loud I'd like to eat, get me that Meat Lovers!

Quick aside: If one of the goals of products like these is methane reduction, let's just say it wasn't successful on this particular end product user's side of the equation.

If we had to give up meat, there's a chance that Sandy and I would react more favorably to these guys. And you know what? If you like them, don't let us poo-poo your pea protein patty puck plop parade. All that being said, and definitely at the price point of $4.49 for two quarter pound sized chunks, these will not be a repeat buy. That's the meat of the matter right there.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Protein Patties: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons