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Friday, July 30, 2021

Trader Joe's Hatch Chile Chicken Wraps


Can we count our chickens now?

I've heard all my life: "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched." Well, this chicken has clearly been hatched. That is, it's been given the Hatch treatment with chile peppers from Hatch, New Mexico.

During our travels, Sonia and I spent about a week in Las Cruces, NM. It was one of our favorite places in the country—like probably in the top 5. Definitely top 10. I'm not sure if Las Cruces is technically part of the Hatch Valley, but at any rate, it's less than an hour from the town of Hatch. While there, we bought a jar of mom and pop's Hatch chile salsa that we greatly enjoyed, the brand name of which escapes me now. We did find it a bit watery, but the flavor and spice level were just about perfect for us, though. It might have been just a notch above the Trader José Hatch Chile Salsa.


The flavor and spice level here are pretty spot on, too. There's not an overwhelming level of heat, and what heat there is brings a flavorful wave of chile pepper. It's not just heat for heat's sake.

The crust is flaky, crispy, and medium-thick. Before biting into the product, the folded shape of it greatly resembles that of a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme® but instead of beef and lettuce, it's filled with chicken and chiles.

The poultry in the dish is so shredded and minced that there are virtually no discernible "pieces" of meat, per se. It's like a chicken salad kinda vibe, texture-wise. Likewise, the peppers and black beans aren't whole, they're sort of smooshed and whirled into the filling mixture.


There are a few types of cheese in the filling mixture, too, namely mozzarella and Monterey Jack. They're tasty, but they don't provide quite the level of comfort food satisfaction I was hoping for. Sonia and I both wanted more chunks of...anything. Kernels of corn, whole beans, or even larger pieces of peppers would have been a bit more appetizing than the mushy filling as it is.

Still, it's a tasty mush. $3.29 for two wraps, enough to feed two people for dinner. All in all, not a bad purchase, but not sure if it will find its way onto our TJ's shopping list on the regular. Three and a half stars a piece.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Trader Joe's Crispy Thai Chilies & Sesame Seeds


 In October 2006, Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, after a particularly frustrating loss, unleashed one legendary postgame tirade with a phrase that I still think of often: "They ARE who we THOUGHT they WERE!" 

Sometimes, yup, it's just really that simple. 

But there's also the old, always applicable adage that appearances can be deceiving. If you're paying any sort of attention to the world around you, you likely know this is unassailable truth. 

And with Trader Joe's Crispy Thai Chilies & Sesame Seeds, we get a little bit of both at the same time.



Let's get coach to cool off by going his way first. Thai chili peppers and spices. Vibrant, flaming red. Overly aromatic. It's got that crispy, slightly greasy yet dry feel. Even the seeds help the whole spicy vibe, even though it's important to note they're sesame and not pepper seeds. Nonetheless, there's the undeniable impression before even one taste: this peppery snack is gonna be flamelickingly hot. And yup, it is as we thought it is: hot hot hot. lots of heat, towards the upper limit of my tolerance for easy consumption. I'm not sure of the Scovilles but it's up there. Even with that, there is a little flavor nuance with some garlic and whatnot, but oh yeah: hot. 

So there's that. But there's also the word "snack" as a descriptor, and truth be told, it doesn't look like much of a "snack." The peppers are really no more than little papery wisps without much of anything behind them, leaving the girth of the snack to the little clumps of sesame seeds. Kinda like bird food (not a recommended usage btw). Yet, after a few bites, that's how the chilies and seeds kinda come together, with a little sense of fullness behind them. Maybe it's a little of the heat, or the peppers getting some rehydrated while consumed, or some other sorcery, but it's a legit snack, albeit perhaps a lighter one.


There's other applications I could see. I'd love to mix some peppers and seeds up with some tempura chicken or sdauteed shrimp and serve with rice, or even just over some fried rice. Maybe a salad or some eggs too. I think it could work. Snack and condiment - why not?

Good stuff, and not a bad buy from the impulse islands near the checkout. I think a sack was only like $2 so if this sounds like your kinda thing, I'd give it a go and not just let it off the hook. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crispy Thai Chilies & Sesame Seeds: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, July 26, 2021

Trader Joe's Vegan Tzatziki Dip


I was highly skeptical about this condiment.

I've never been a fan of vegan cheeses. I honestly think I've had more consistently edible vegan fake meat than vegan cheese or vegan dairy in general. Sonia and I both love our dairy products.

Likewise, I love me some tzatziki sauce, so I was curious how this would turn out, curious what they'd use in place of yogurt, curious if they'd be able to mimic both the taste and texture of that unique, tangy Middle Eastern sauce.

Just as I suspected, the flavor is nearly identical to traditional tzatziki, but the texture is somewhat different. The taste is full of dill and tangy citrus flavors, with notes of garlic and pepper in the background. There is a creaminess there, too. But it's not quite like dairy cream. It appears they used an alternative that's made of coconut oil and potato starch. Yikes! That's a weird combo to replace Greek yogurt, right?


But you know what? It works. It works in terms of flavor—somehow it doesn't taste like coconut or potatoes. It really tastes pretty darn close to actual tzatziki.

Now the texture is another story. To me, it's significantly thicker than the traditional stuff. It's a bit starchy, too, but still there's this quality that nearly imitates actual thick yogurt. And in the end, unusually thick tzatziki isn't really bad at all. It's easier to get a bunch of it on your falafel or veggies or pita or whatever you're eating it with. It comes out of the tub in little globs. It's much less runny than traditional dairy tzatziki. It's honestly weirdly good that way. I don't know what the dairy equivalent might be. Like maybe...what if they made tzatziki with cottage cheese instead of Greek yogurt?


Sonia's a big fan. She likes it better than traditional tzatziki and promises she'll buy it again. Four and a half stars from her.

$3.99 for the tub. Although I'm a fan, I can't say it'll replace dairy tzatziki for me completely. If I were vegan or lactose-intolerant, I'd be all over this stuff every time I stepped into a Trader Joe's. Three and a half stars from me and an overall thumbs up.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.