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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Trader Joe's Instant Boba Kit

 

Seems there was a brief moment in time that boba or bubble tea was all the rage, somewhat nestled between my college and not quite married years. Before she would come to be known as such, my lovely bride and I would occasionally go grab one after her work somewhere near the Carnegie Mellon campus. Pretty sure there was a place on Craig Street, probably still is, but it always seemed packed full of college kids happily slurping away on these kinda oddball milky tea drinks with these goofy balls of whatever in them. Whatever, I kinda liked 'em too. 

Must still be a semi-popular thing, as now if the mood hits for a boba, we don't have to deal with a bunch of runty AirPod-wearing jaywalkers half our age. Naw. We just need to hit up our freezer, with the new Trader Joe's Instant Boba Kit. 

It's a weird concoction of sorts. Inside the boz there's four indicidual pouches, each with some flavor mix and those famous tapioca pearls, as well as an appropriately sized paper straw. Nuke the pearls and stuff for a minute, add some ice and milk, and voila, it's a boba tea, all right in the home, no real skill or even effort involved. 


That being said, it ain't the best.


For me, maybe it's just the flavor choice. I love brown sugar and all, but when mixed with the milk it just tastes like leftover cereal milk. Which is still kinda delicious, not gonna lie there. But then when paired with the tapioca balls, it must be a mental trick or something as I swear the boba tastes a little molasses-y. That and the pearls aren't as firm, and instead are somewhat rubbery and sticky. It's kinda close to the real deal, and does an admirable job for a freezer DIY concoction, but it still seems a little too nopticeably off.

Maybe that's just me. Sandy loved it. It was late at night when we finally made one to sample. She took one sip and asked if we really had to share. yes, dear, please. After two or three, i had my fill. Just not quite right, or maybe I've left all my crazy boba days behind me as I've just hit 40. Kinda makes me happy to see Sandy enjoy it then, maybe this'll be something all for her. 

Oh well. Maybe a different flavor, something kinda fruity, would've hit me different. Brown sugar just didnt do it for me this time. I'll be nice and toss out a few spoons for it, whereas my lovely bride will ring it up as perfection. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Instant Boba Kit: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, August 29, 2022

Trader Joe's Farm Raised Lightly Smoked Salmon


It may seem counterintuitive, but over the long haul, boring old pantry staples and culinary essentials actually account for the majority of clicks on this blog these days. For example, the two most popular posts here over the past 12 months have been Greek chickpeas and gluten free pizza dough. They may not be as fun or exciting as some of the other stuff Trader Joe's puts out, but for whatever reason, people keep reading those reviews many months and years after their debuts.

I was hoping that's what we had on our hands here: a new under-the-radar classic. I love salmon, and having it available in a shelf-stable version that can last for a couple years is super convenient. I also love that it's skinless and boneless: ready to eat right out of the tin. I'm not thrilled, however, that it's packed in oil. I always prefer canned fish in water.


There's just one big fillet of salmon in the can, although it's extremely soft and forks apart easily. I wasn't super impressed with the taste of the fish right from the get-go. It wasn't "fishy" per se, but it was just kind of lackluster and slightly metallic. There wasn't much in the way of smokiness either. It's definitely not the best salmon I've ever had, and unfortunately, it's not even the best canned salmon.

Heating it on the skillet yielded something a bit more palatable. I added some lemon juice and paprika which helped cover over the blandness of the fish. The cooking process also seemed to wake up the smoky flavor a tad. Sonia liked it more than I did but wasn't completely won over.


With 21 grams of protein and plenty of good fat, canned salmon isn't a bad thing to have on hand to supplement the fresh stuff, but I doubt we'll purchase this version again. Product of Chile. $3.69 for the 5 oz can. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Two and a half from me on Trader Joe's Farm Raised Lightly Smoked Salmon.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

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