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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Blondies

Peanut butter and jelly surrounds my life.

It's a quick, easy, portable, cheap meal that can be reasonably nutritious. I'll slap one together real quick when running out the door early to work. Chances are, on whatever day you're reading this, that I had one this morning. I have kids who love pb&j, so there's always making them for their school lunches (admittedly we'll usually use sunflower seed butter then). If we're going somewhere (baseball game, amusement park, state park, beach, road trip, etc) chances are we'll make then instead of taking out a second mortgage for concession stand fare or subjecting ourselves to McD's. They're not the worst in a pinch...but still. Rarely a week, or heck even a day, goes by without me making some sort of pb&j type concoction. It's a staple.

That being I really want/need one as a dessert?

That's the "problem" with Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Blondies. Full name: Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Blondies with Strawberry Filling Topped with a Crispy Peanut Butter Confection. Jeez. That rivals a Fiona Apple album title for length.

Back to these psuedo-sammiches. That's what I call them...because that's what these blondies taste like. There's plenty of peanut butter layered on, just the way I like, with a thin layer of strawberry jelly. Kinda surprised it's strawberry, as the first impression was that it's pretty tart. I almost suspected mild raspberry and not strawberry. Still, it works.

Those two elements override the taste and feel of anything else. I suppose the blondie brownie in there could be a fine tasting base...but with all that rich peanut butter and jelly on top, I can't really taste it and my brain defaults to it being cold, dense bread, like bread that got a little too chilled and smushed when wedged in a cooler. That's not a bad taste....but I wanted to taste the blondie, too. I can't.

That "peanut butter confection" on top admittedly adds a real nice touch. It's like some sort of crispy dust and is about the only taste/texture cue that this is not a regular peanut butter jelly sandwich. I like it and hope it can be sold seperately somehow...I'm salivating at thinking of it as an ice cream topping.

Anyways, these aren't terrible treats. Sandy and I like the peanut butter blondies just fine. They are one of those "thaw out" type dessert deals that are sold frozen, and a serving size is two of the little square bites. They're rich enough that just one will really do. Strangely, our kids aren't too fond for whatever reason. Weirdos. Still, I wish they were somehow more "treat-like" and less "sandwich-like" if that makes sense. Eh well. They're definitely not bad as is.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Blondies: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Strawberry Beet Berry Whole Milk Yogurt

It's always baffled me why some nutrition information panels give the stats for a single serving as well as for the entire package. I mean, if it's a sandwich that could theoretically function as a snack if you eat half or a meal if you eat the whole thing, I get that...sorta. But in this case, I can't feature anyone being like, "I'm gonna down four yogurt packs one right after the other and I really need the nutrition info for the entire box." For one thing, this yogurt is quite thick and filling, and one is more than satisfying. 

Furthermore, even in that odd instance that you do chug all four packs at once, most of the stats can easily be calculated in your head. I mean, we all know that 3g of fat times four is 13g. 

3 x 4 = 13. 

Right? Or that the percentage of daily value for cholesterol per serving, in this case 3%, is 17% if you have all four packs. 

3 x 4 = 17.

Am I right? Somebody check my math. Ah, that's silly. These are simple equations. I'm sure I got them all right.

Anyway, I'm just being silly. I know there's some loophole where you can round down grams and percentages to lower numbers if you want to make something look healthier than it actually is, and I've seen such paradoxical statistics before on nutrition information panels. I'm just giving TJ's a hard time. They're just rounding down some numbers.

Know what else they should round down? The packaging. I'm not super ecologically-minded, but it was just Earth Day recently, and this is some of the most overdone packaging I've ever seen from Trader Joe's. The box is enormous. Couldn't they have tied some string around the necks of these squeeze bottles to bind them all together? Even the squeeze bottles themselves are too big. The caps are gigantic. And if you've got people downing all four in one sitting, you might as well just put the whole kit and caboodle in a single plastic bottle.

But I guess the squeezability factor is a must here. This is some thick yogurt. Some people might enjoy that, but if I'm going to be drinking the yogurt, I prefer it a bit thinner and milkier. It's about as thick as regular, spoonable, non-drinkable yogurt. I guess there's nothing that suggests this yogurt has to be drunk. The squeeze pouches could be used to administer small amounts of yogurt to granola, fruit, or smoothies, I suppose, but if that's the case, the packaging seems even more ridiculous.

The flavor is fine. It's berry berry. Get it? I meant "very berry," but I said...nevermind. The spring pollen makes me loopy. 

There's a faint hint of beets in this product. Beets are listed just after strawberries in the ingredients list. The overall berry flavor isn't super sweet, either. It's a little more tart than other berry yogurts I've tried. Pretty much everything is organic, which is good.

$4.29 for the pack. It's a bit pricy for what you get if you ask me. I'd take kefir over these, or most other types of drinkable yogurt. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Trader Joe's Banana Date Nut Bread Crisps

For reasons mostly unbeknownst to me, we have all sorts of treat stashes for ourselves in our house. It's almost like a video game come to life with loot boxes here and there if you only know where to look. Must be at least partially because aside from me, everyone else in the house eats treats at a snail-like pace. We still have Easter candy left...from last year.

But the kids will ask for treats, of course, and they'll ask for where they want their treat from instead of what. "Can I have a treat from my treat box?" "Can I have a treat from my Easter basket?" Can I have a treat from my Halloween bucket from when I was a baby?" And so on. Still it stumped me when my four year old, B, asked me if she could have a treat from "the little yellow box."

You guessed it...she meant Trader Joe's Banana Date Nut Bread Crisps.

Admittedly, these crisps are pretty treat-like. I mean, it's based off banana bread. Thank God someone figured out how to make such a delicious thing out of rotting bananas.

The loaf that goes into making these crisps is something else, though. Scan the ingredients and you may see some that Betty Crocker didn't use. First: dates. Huge date fan, so this is a plus in my book. Also Greek yogurt? Himalayan pink sea salt too? Goodness. Not just almonds but also walnuts and pecans? I'd love to try the bread uncrispdefied for sure!

So the end result is a pretty terrific banana bread in a sliced up, crunchy form. Well, almost. There are still some pockets of moisture here and there - that might be the dates - but when first opened, there are some decidedly softer spots. It's a little odd. Let the crisps get some air over a couple days and they do crunch up quite a bit more. I kinda like 'em better that way.

I didn't really notice the walnuts or pecans either. It's impossible to miss the almonds. And there's so much good, rich banana bread flavor - perhaps amped up a little bit - that I'm not really sold on having to try and pair the crisps with something else. My lovely bride feels a little differently and is thinking either something close to cream cheese or a nice light chevre might be a nice addition. She's probably right.

Definitely a tasty treat overall. Somebody hit me the price - I know it's not much but I misplaced the receipt and my memory is faulty. I'm thinking the banana bread crisps are in the $2.50 to $3 range, though. Nice work, as usual, TJ's.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Banana Date Nut Crisps: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Sour Strawberry Ale

Last week, a daring young gentleman tweeted about turning this sour ale into a float. He asked the simple question: "Good idea or bad idea?"

My gut reaction was disgust. You wouldn't make a float out of this stuff for the same reason you wouldn't make a float out of Bud or Miller—it's beer. We sampled the cranberry version of this sour ale last year, and it was super sour. Still beer, but sour. Definitely not sweet at all.

But what if an outside element were to sweeten this sour beer...something like, say, vanilla ice cream?

It works. Against all odds and all my instincts, it somehow works. This isn't the first time beer has surprised me with its versatility. It's amazing that Guinness mixed with Bailey's functions so well as an Irish Car Bomb. I'm still in awe that beer can turkey is a thing, although I do have a terrible time removing the shards of aluminum from the stuffing mix. Just kidding.

On its own, this product is exactly like its cranberry counterpart, but, you know, with strawberry flavor instead of cranberry. It's still quite sour, although not quite as harshly tart as the cranberry version. It's surprisingly not sweet, and maintains its identity as an ale—not a wine cooler or girly-sweet fruit beer. No offense to you ladies. 

Speaking of ladies, Sonia has become an aficionado of sour beers as of late. She's into the gose-style brews that have been somewhat trendy in this country in the past couple years or so. So how does this sour cerveza compare? It's good, she thinks. She likes the overall flavor and sourness level, but she's had a few brands of gose that she prefers and thinks are much sourer. This particular beer isn't really a gose. It's a witbier, produced by Petrus, just like its cranberry predecessor. Overall, I think this flavor is a tad more drinkable and probably works better for floats and other off-the-wall ale experiments.

Three and a half stars from Sonia. Four from me. If you do pick up a bottle, be sure to grab some vanilla ice cream, too.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Trader Joe's Jerk-Style Plantain Chips

Of course it can't be found now, but earlier this week I somehow stumbled across a blog detailing a couple's weight loss journey after adopting a plant-based diet. Not to be disrespectful, because that's AWESOME and they were apparently very succcesful with it, but that's not the part that caught my interest. Nope. Instead, it was how they got started that did. Namely, and this really can't be fully recommended across the board, but...they ate nothing but plain potatoes for two weeks to kick things off.


From what I surmise, it was like to reset their tastebuds, a little sensory deprivation so they'd more easily adapt to finding enjoyable flavor in their new diet...but still. Props to them, and it's only weird if it doesn't work.

One small step up from that would be plantains, I'd think. Similar plainness and starchiness. A little sweeter, sure, but not as much sugar as even like a banana. Plantains are plenty tasty, but they could at least occasionally use a little livening up, too.

So,'s the new Trader Joe's Jerk-Style Plantain Chips!

If you're not familiar with plantain chips, they're still a little crispy and crunchy, but there's also kinda soft-ish Styrofoamy kinda feel to them, too. They're sorta an odd mix between potato chip, banana chip, and disposable coffee cup. I personally love that kinda texture, but it can be offputting to some.

That's what we got going on here, but the chips are coated all over with jerk seasoning. And it's potent. Hooo-hoo. My four year old took one lick of one chip and immediately reenacted Buddy the Elf and passion fruit spray. Not for her, for sure...but man, it's for me. Plenty of heat, plenty of spice. But there's also a certain "warmness" that plays into the natural flavors of plantains. I think that derives from the allspice and cinnamon. So it may not be a true "jerk" seasoning blend (hence the "jerk-style", I suppose), but there's still the garlic and pepper and chili and everything else, so it works and therefore is not weird.

Delicious chips. A bag sets you back only $1.79, and I kinda can't believe that it's not a single serving, because I could devour the whole thing. Could. Shouldn't. I won't say that I won't ever. Excellent chips in my opinion. Are they healthier than potato chips? Who knows? But I like them as a variation at the very least. Check 'em out for sure! Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Jerk-Style Plantain Chips: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Chunky Apple Cinnamon Bread

So much symbolism with the apple. "Eve ate the apple," even though it wasn't really an apple. "As American as apple pie." Newton's apple helped discover gravity. The Mac computer symbol is an apple with a bite out of it. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," as they say. 

So what do I have to say about this appley product? Applicious? No, unfortunately. 

App-palling? Nah, I wouldn't quite go that far. 

Un-app-pealing? Maybe.

We both found this stuff disappointing. Our loaf was very dry on this inside, and Sonia and I both came up with the adjective "oily" to describe the outer portions. Not moist. Oily.

There's a decided lack of apple pieces. Apple chunks? No way. Not one. Not even a ton of apple flavor. Cinnamon, yes. If anything, there's way too much cinnamon. That's the primary flavor. And we both like cinnamon. There's just something about our loaf that makes us want to cough. It's not that we can feel the cinnamon granules. It's just an odd, dry, cinnamon vibe that's devoid of the juiciness of apples or the softness of a traditional loaf of cinnamon bread.

The norm is that we find a product at Walmart that can compare to something at TJ's, and the latter almost always outshines the former. Price, quality, organicness. You name it—the Joe's version is better in almost every way. It's generally laughable to even compare the two. However, in this instance, Sonia recently discovered some apple cinnamon bread there that blows this loaf out of the water. Unfortunate for this product. No, the Wally World bread isn't organic, nor is it "good for you" in any way. But it tastes the way we wanted this stuff to taste.

Just FYI, the top part of the nutrition information got lost in the glare. It states that there are seven servings per container, each one two ounces.  

Two and a half stars from this guy. Only two from the missus.

Bottom line: 4.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Trader Joe's Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta

This has probably been shared before, but seared into my memory from growing up is one of the worst things ever done to my mom's perfectly delicious homemade macaroni and cheese: canned tuna fish. Maybe you like that stuff, and that's fine, but for me it makes me gag as I can think of is my old cat barfing it back up after begging for some. All of us kids hated it, too, so if we were all acting up my mom would make tuna fish casserole as a "punishment meal." Such was the case one day, but somehow I was pretty innocent in the whole matter, so when my mom said she was making tuna fish casserole for everyone, I probably broke down in tears and asked if she'd take mercy and at least make it more like her mac 'n cheese, but just add the tuna. She took mercy and my suggestion...and it wasn't bad compared to punishment casserole but against her heavenly mac? Mortal sin. Awful.

And then for like the next time ten times she mac 'n cheese, she put in tuna fish, crimes committed to earn that or not. I still haven't completely forgiven her.

Point is, there's far worse things you can do for homemade mac 'n cheese than to use Trader Joe's Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta.

But seriously: not intended for mac use. Would be better thrown out the windows for that.

It's not that this gluten free quinoa/rice min elbow pasta tube experiment tastes bad. No, not at all. Perfectly fine and I'd say at least when swimming in cheese and a little garlic salt, it tastes the same as the regular semolina fare.

It's just mushy. So, so mushy. In its defense, we might have slightly overcooked the noodles, and by that I mean more towards the three minutes and not two the package gives for its boil time. Seriously, even picking a noodle up (like pinching one out of the pot) caused the whole thing to practically disintegrate. I'm thinking the reason why they're mini is that anything bigger would stand no fighting chance of being structurally sound.

Still, in about thirty seconds, the pasta went from appropriately firm, slightly denser than al dente noodle to little micro mush tubes. There's not much forgiveness there.

I'm guessing that mac n cheese was the wrong choice to try out the pasta. With regular sauce, or perhaps a cold pasta salad, or in some other less demanding dish these noodles might have been just fine. Or if mushy mac is tolerable for you and you need a gluten free option, by all means, go right for it.

In all, I really have no quarrel with this product. Quick cook convenient gluten free options are always welcome. Just keep a close eye on it and consider its application carefully. If we had done so, maybe I'd tune a different song. Couple bucks for the package, and three spoons each.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, April 12, 2019

Trader Joe's Gochujang Chop Salad Kit

I understand the whole Forrest Gump thing about life being like a box of chocolates. But I think life is more like a salad. 

In a box of chocolates, you're basically only experiencing one specific chocolate at a time. In a salad, there's a whole bunch of ingredients mingling around at once. I mean, sure, you could say that chocolates better capture the element of surprise that life throws at you sometimes, but with salads, just because you know what you're purchasing, you still can't be sure exactly what it will taste like when you put it in your mouth. 

That notion intensifies when one travels full time. We generally know where we're headed, but we never know what we'll experience when we get there. We were just in 70 degree weather in Nevada a week ago, and now, in April, we find ourselves dipping below freezing again here in Utah, experiencing snow showers, looking at enormous, majestic mountains out our living room windows, and seeing some sights we've wanted to see for a long time. We're not finding luck with traditional RV parks out west like we assumed we would. We're finding it even harder to purchase wine here than it was in Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Imagine that.

It's a mix-up of wonderful and frustrating experiences, kinda like this new salad kit from TJ's.

Sonia thinks the cabbage and lettuce were just shy of fresh here. I'm not sure it's apparent in the photo we took, but I can't disagree. There was just a slightly sad, soggy quality to the lettuce in our bag—something we seldom experience from Trader Joe's. It wasn't inedible. It was just...not the freshest lettuce/cabbage we've ever had. That's likely to vary greatly from bag to bag, region to region, and week to week. It was likely just a stroke of bad luck. And again, the greens weren't terrible. I almost didn't even mention it. But now I did and it already sounds like I'm complaining.

So I'll just get the rest of my complaints out of the way and then continue on to more positive stuff.

The puffed rice was an odd element to me. It was crunchy, which was nice, I guess. But I just can't shake the notion that it's cereal. I guess if I were forced to pick a cereal to put on a salad, this would be a more logical choice than, say, Count Chocula or Raisin Bran, but I generally wouldn't go putting cereal on my salads in the first place.

It needed more dressing. Sonia doesn't even like a ton of dressing usually, but she totally agreed, maybe because she absolutely loved this dressing. I liked it a lot, too. It's got a bit of spice to it. It's...I dunno...very Asian-tasting—like something you might pair with a Chinese chicken salad, except in this case, it's Korean. 

I must admit, this is my very first Gochujang rodeo. Russ and Sandy took a gander at some Gochujang almonds a while back, but Sonia and I never tried those. Sweet, spicy, and savory red chili paste. That's what I keep reading about it everywhere, and that sounds pretty accurate. This salad dressing was a "Gochujang vinaigrette." It was by far the best element of the mix in my humble opinion.

The black sesame seeds were interesting. They added a distinctive crunch to the mix, and flavor-wise, they lent a slight nuttiness when consumed en masse. They were so tiny, their flavor was nearly undetectable in the bites when only one or two wound up on our forks. Overall, we liked them.

$3.99 for the bag. Plenty of salad for two people. Not sure if we'll purchase it again. Three and a half stars from each of us.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Trader Joe's Shakshuka Starter

Back in my bachelor days, it'd be pretty common to completely wing dinner as I cooked it based on whatever ingredients I could scrounge up. Usually, somehow, I'd end up chopping up an onion, some pepper, maybe another veggie, and putting it in some kind of sauce with some kind of spices and putting it over something. Most times, it worked. Other times, well, it worked with a little more hot sauce. Obviously I didn't starve, so it all went alright enough.

Get married...have to eat "real food"... I got out of the habit of doing that. We had to follow "actual recipes" said the wife. What? Well, okay, yes dear. Still haven't starved.

But one day, beaming widely and happily, Sandy brings home a couple packages of the new Trader Joe's Shakshuka Starter, exclaiming "I can't wait to have this for breakfast!"

Kinda odd...normally she hates tomatoes and most tomato-heavy products...Well, okay, yes dear.

I'll admit I know nothing about real actual authentic shakshuka. It's a staple in North African and Middle Eastern cusine, means literally a "mixture." Which says to me there must be a thousand different variants, but this TJ's version just so happened to be the first officially labelled shakshuka I've ever had....though the concept is pretty similar to what I used to do all the time...

It's pretty good. This particular shakshuka is pretty thick and chunky with tomato bits and onions and peppers - it's definitely towards the thicker definition of stew. It's simply and naturally flavored with the usual suspects - onion, garlic, cilantro, a little pepper, a little cumin, etc - which are spicy not in a hot hot heat way but more in an herbal manner. It's all pretty well balanced and non-offensive...I'd even say pretty downright pleasant with no need for anything added.

Except the eggs, of course. Gotta add your own eggs and kinda cook it in a little "pocket" in the stew. This is the key step, though, especially if you're like Sandy and me and don't really enjoy poached/sunnyside up style eggs. That runnyness? No thanks. Sandy was wise enough to keep the yolk out of her eggs, leaving only egg white for her. As a result, her eggs were just about perfect and meshed nicely with everything else. My eggs, though? I kept it in and...ugh. Yolk got all gross and rubbery. That of course is not a knock against the actual TJ's product, but I did enjoy the meal less than I could have, so take not: Runny yolk or no yolk at all.

Anyways, the shakshuka is good and fun. Fun to make, fun to eat, fun to say...I kinda felt like Buddy the Elf saying "Fransisco." And it's cheap - only maybe like $2 for the package. Good value too then. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Shakshuka Starter: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Cold Brewed Hibiscus Tea & Lemonade Beverage

It's starting to warm up in the southwest, and folks down here will be needing refreshment soon. Whether you'll be mowing lawns like I'm accustomed to, or tilling gravel like they do down here, you'll be craving a cold beverage of some kind. So let me give it to you straight: if you're into drinking flowers, this hibiscus tea lemonade hybrid is pretty darn refreshing.

Although, if you want to get into semantics, I must admit no part of this screams "lemonade" to me. There's just a hint of sweetness, but the lemon element tastes more like plain lemon juice to me. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I do enjoy sweet beverages historically, but not-so-sweet, subtle flavors definitely have their place—and this product embodies that sophisticated, understated ideal perfectly.

There's a surprising amount of sediment on the bottom of the bottle. I'm not even sure what it is: little pieces of hibiscus flowers? It does say "shake well before using" on the label. Whenever I can see visible bits of sediment, I always worry that the beverage will have a gritty texture, but this selection didn't at all—light and smooth all the way.

I'm on record on this blog stating that I don't like hibiscus that much. And it's still not my favorite, but I must say it didn't bother me as much in this case as it has in previous incarnations. I think the sourness of the lemon juice helps balance out the "plantiness" of the flowers.

Since readers have scolded me when I score something that I generally have an aversion to, such as hibiscus, I'll let Sonia do all the rating here. She likes hibiscus just fine, and she gives this drink four stars. So I'll just double her score. If you want to know what I would have given this product: a three, maybe three and a half. Hibiscus still just isn't my thing. I'll take flavored sparkling water over this kind of beverage if I want something unsweet, and I'll reach for a fruit juice blend if I want something a little more sugary. 

If I were hella thirsty, though, you better bet I'd down this bottle in seconds.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies

My poor wife.

Sandy had just finished a long day at work and a run with a friend. She had no chance to go home for dinner before our usual kids dance class routine. She also gave up sweets for Lent...but she was pretty hungry...and of course I forgot to grab her a dinner as I was too busy wrangling all our own kids plus one more through dinner and out the door to get to said dance class, and I remembered everything except her dinner...and it'd be at least an hour til we got home...and all I had was Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies with me (i.e., kid bait to get them all moving)...

Husband fail. She broke Lent because of me. It wasn't her fault. I think God will understand.

Worth it? Maybe. I mean, these are really pretty basic snacky chocolate chip cookies. Of course, even a middlin' chocolate chip cookie is pretty tasty in my book.

What these cookies really have going for them more than anything else is at least the perception of quality ingredients. Good stuff in equals a good outcome more times than not. The closest approximation to a name brand cookie I could make for these TJ's snacksters would be Famous Amos - similar in size, feel, taste - except these just taste better in a not totally quanitifiable kinda way. Maybe it's just that word "organic" messing with me.

Regardless, these cookies are worth a try, especially if in need for a portable confectionary motivator for either yourself or the juvenile crowd. There's five mini cookies to a serving - you should see a four year old's eyes light up when you tell her she can eat five cookies if she'll just get her little biscuits moving. It works like a charm. Good, not great, cookies. Kid approved, mama and dada approved, and budget friendly at less than $3 for the baggie, so they do have all that going for them. Yumz.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Thick & Chunky Salsa

At first, this fine salsa didn't look new to me. Not completely. I felt like it had been well-established on TJ's shelves for years and years. Yet it was being marketed as "new."

How could that be?

Oh yeah.

Nearly nine years ago, we looked at this salsa's predecessor on this blog. Back then, it wasn't organic. At least not certified organic. This new stuff has the seal of approval from Quality Assurance International. Conspiracists will tell you that the New World Order will be rolling out a single world government, a single world currency, and a single world religion. I'm pretty sure QAI will be the folks responsible for planning the single world menu for all work, school, and dissident camp cafeterias.

Or maybe they just make sure stuff is really organic when people say it's organic.

Either way, we'll just have to trust them. And I do. My gut tells me this salsa's organic. It just tastes and feels fresh and invigorating somehow. Sonia said the exact same thing upon first bite without any prompting from me.

It's also bold. Where its predecessor was simply "chunky," this product is thick and chunky. It's like if that previous incarnation were the mild-mannered mortal version of the product, then this is the post-spider bite/science experiment gone horribly wrong/exposure to radiation superhero version of the salsa. 

It's got nice big pieces of tomatoes and peppers, and some onion bits are visible as well as tastable. There's some garlic flavor and juuust a hint of flavors like vinegar and salt. It's a well-rounded tomato-based salsa in almost every way.

We're dealing with half a chili pepper on the spice-o-meter, which means it has enough heat to scare away wusses and crybabies (no offense, spice-o-phobes) but not enough to administer searing pain to all who partake. I'm pretty happy with the spiciness here. I don't know if things are starting to bloom out here in the southwestern desert, or whether its the drier climate or higher amounts of dust in the air, but Sonia and I both need a little spice to open up our sinuses lately. Somehow, salsa just tastes better in the southwest.

Anyway, if the original version of this salsa made our Pantheon, then this organic version most definitely will also. It pairs nicely with another recent addition to our best of the best category—but then again, those dippers pair up with just about anything pretty well. Both are very tasty products.

Closing thought: this salsa's only $2.49! How is that even possible?

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers

Well, here's a rare sighting that just so happened to be captured on camera:

An opened bag of Trader Joe's Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers, in my house, that hasn't been completely ransacked and emptied somehow.

I mean, sorry, about the rip up top. We usually strive to take a photo of an unopened item. It kinda presents better. It's really kinda an amatuer move on our part. Party foul.

But man...have you tried these yet?

Holy smokes.

Sandy and I are now on our fourth in less than a week, which for people who try to not eat a lot of "junk food"... is a lot of "junk food."

What's there not to love about these elote chips? Not familiar with elote? Neither are we, to be perfectly honest. but these chips got me begging for another trip to Mexico to have a try at the real deal. Until then, I'll happily make do with these.

The spice blend is pretty complex for a chip. It's sneaky as it builds and builds in intensity. The first few bites are pretty mild. A little heat, sure, but that's when I particularly noticed the creamy buttermilk flavor these chippies offer. But then the rest of it comes on about three or four bites in. There's habanero spice and good pepper bite and all sorts of other things really going on that I'm not 100% sure how to explain except....dang. It's smoky and creamy and spicy all in one, in a way I've never experienced before on a chip.

Add on top of that the incredible texture here. Oh goodness. These corn chips are almost soft and crumbly and a little bit mealy to an almost melt in your mouth essence. They're still crunchy, to be sure, but not in a typical tortilla chip or Frito kinda way.

I've heard some comparisons to Cool Ranch, no, no. I mean, I get the basis for comparison for the elote chips...there are some similar elements...but these chips are better, so much better. I tasted both side by side while tailgating for baseball's opening day, and the TJ's Mexican corn chips absolutely blow Doritos out of the water, by a long shot.

These chips are awesome just by themselves. Really, yes, they are made for dipping into something, but it's 100% not necessary. Unless you have guacamole. Oh man. Pair them up and you'll see. My goodness.

They're $2.29 a serving, I mean bag. I need to stop buying them. I don't want to. Sandy loves them just as much as I do, I think....which is a lot. I cannot think of a single negative thing to say. Amazing. I want to go finish off that bag right's open and taunting me...double fives for the first perfect ten on anything on here since I have no idea when.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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