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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Trader Joe's Fiery Chicken Curry

Despite all proceeding evidence to the contrary, I really thought this was shrimp.

Maybe it was just a weird random parallel pescaterian universe portal that let me see this, but I really thought I read this as "Trader Joe's Fiery Shrimp Curry," not "Trader Joe's Fiery Chicken Curry." I was on a solo parenting trip, so no witnessses. And it being a hot day, with no plans to go right home afterwards, and this being a frozen entree, it made a purchase unwise at that time. I thought about taking a pic, but TJ's doesn't really like that, and I've bent enough rules in the past by recording a podcast there, so I relied on my old, thought-to-be-rustproof memory. I'll just tell Sandy to get it next time she goes. No biggie. shrimpy. Internet searches and calls to all the area TJ's confirmed. It's chicken, not shrimp. It's still an acceptable protein, of course...but it ain't shrimp.

It's kinda too bad, as the chicken in the new TJ's fiery chicken curry is kinda the weak point. Not that I reasonably expect high quality pollo from a frozen dinner that cost $3.49. But I'd expect better than what I got here. The package states upfront it's chicken breast AKA white meat. Now, I have no real problem, generally, with dark thigh meat, but when you expect a few choice-ish morsels of white meat but get only three of them, and about three dense, grisly dark meat pieces it kinda throws you off. It'd be more acceptable if somewhat expected.

Everything else? On point. Gotta give it to TJ's on the sauces for their frozen dishes, particularly the Indian ones. This curry sauce is awesome. Coconutty, sweet, layered, peppery, fiery, spicy, with intensifying and lingering heat....yes to all of those. It wasn't too spicy for either Sandy or I, but could be for some of y'all out there. If the sauce were sold separately as "fiery curry sauce" we'd buy again and again and probably prop it to our pantheon on here.

Turmeric rice is turmeric rice. Helps fill out the meal and soak up all the sauce. Nice work, rice. Represent.

Still, with this being chicken and not shrimp I feel an opportunity got missed. And lo and behold I'm not completely crazy. The term "Goan-inspired" made me Wiki up some info, and, well, look: "Goan food is considered incomplete without fish." With some high quality shrimp, and even at a mildly increased price point, this dish could be a real absolute winner that'd help make up for a rare shrimp miss on TJ's part. Oh well.

The fiery chicken curry is definitely repeat purchase worthy if for no other reason than to get another hit of that tasty tasty sauce. Love it. Makes a perfect microwavable meal for my heavily birddogged no-less-than-28-but-absolutely-no-more-than-32-minutes lunch break for me. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Fiery Chicken Curry: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Trader Joe's Honey Pale Ale Mustard

When I first met Sonia, she was going through a mustard phase. She absolutely slathered her food with mustard—even stuff that didn't necessarily call for mustard, like egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches. I thought it was weird, but you know, we all have our quirks. When friends would say, "Hey tell me about that girl you're dating now." I'd reply, "Well, she really likes mustard."

Myself? The older I've gotten, the more I've come to appreciate mustard. I wouldn't touch the stuff as a kid, but by the end of high school, I developed an appreciation for plain yellow. In later years, I came to know and love darker mustards, as well as sweeter ones. This particular selection has elements of both of the latter camps—it has a complex flavor like a darker mustard, but it also has a fair amount of honey sweetness.

I don't know about "pale ale" here. I love beer. I love ales. I love pale ales. But as far as hops, malt, and fermentation are concerned, neither Sonia nor I are tasting anything as specific as pale ale, although I do see there's a bit of it in there at the tail end of the ingredients list. 

Nevertheless, this is a tasty mustard by both our reckonings. It has the best of both a honey mustard and a dark type mustard, but without the spice of a traditional dijon. Sonia loved it with a salted soft pretzel. I had it with a turkey and swiss bagel sandwich, and it worked quite nicely. I'm sure it would go with anything traditional like burgers, too. I'd be interested if it would work with something like salmon even...? Haven't tried it yet, but let us know if you have.

It's going to get a thumbs up from each of us, though perhaps a bit more enthusiastic one from the mustard connoisseur. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Trader Joe's Strawberry Fruit Spread with Natural Rose Flavor

Sometimes, only a good biscuit will do.

You know the type. Warm, soft and flaky inside. Slight crispy and greasy outside. Buttermilky. Carby. So amazingly, deliciously good, a little disc of heaven here on earth. Nothing can make them better, right?

Man, I wish that either my wife or I could make biscuits like that. Because we can't, and that means I can't put some Trader Joe's Strawberry Fruit Spread with Natural Rose Flavor all over top of them.

I weep.

This spread is totally my jam. Totally. It's soft, smooth and 100% spreadable all over the place. Aside from an occasional crispy from a stray seed, it's practically melt in your mouth good.

And taste? Dang. The spread is unmistakably strawberryesque and sweet, but not in an over-the-top, cloying way. I mean, yes, there's some added sugar but when isn't there in any type of fruit spread? Just goes with the territory. Plus the rose flavor seems to help keep the sugariness in check by offering just the right amount of balance. It's really quite something to taste.

It's not biscuits that came to mind for Sandy when she first sampled this new TJ's strawberry spread. Nope. Her first thought: Cupcakes, and using the spread as a fruity filling. I can get 100% behind that. Both of us aren't that big into cream-cheese-and-jam type deals but if you are, this would probably work. Or in some yogurt with a little granola. Or most anything else one could use jelly for...keep it outta the pb&j's, though. Or at least the ones for the kiddos. I have absolutely zero complaints, while Sandy only notes she wishes it were a little more rose-flavored. Regardless it's a great little pickup, and spread some on some tasty biscuits for us. Lucky.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Strawberry Fruit Spread with Natural Rose Flavor: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Banana & Almond Butter Protein Smoothie Beverage

I used to be in love with smoothies. I had Jamba Juice for dinner at least three or four nights a week when I lived in L.A. While living on the east coast, I missed my Jamba. There was exactly one location in the Philly area, but it wasn't at a convenient location for me.

Since Sonia and I have been traveling, we've found Jamba Juice in the most random locations: Utah, Idaho, and all over Washington State, among others. It's safe to say they have a much greater foothold out west. There still aren't enough locations, though, that we can have it with any regularity. So we're always sampling other brands of juice blends and smoothies.

This selection isn't bad if you're seeking a fast and easy protein source. The taste? It's nothing to write home about. Sonia almost never craves more sweetness, but she did in this instance. Considering "banana" is the first word in the title, I think there could have been a lot more banana flavor. That would have helped with the sweetness factor, as well as the overall taste.

It's really not terrible, either. You can taste a hint of banana flavor and there's definitely almond butter up in the mix, and something very...proteiny? My auto spell check is insisting that "proteiny" isn't a word. But it should be. Because it describes the finish of this beverage perfectly. It must be the "pea protein." Peas are never something I'm looking for in a smoothie. I know, I know. Pea protein is a thing. It's a good way to get protein in just about anything, I guess. I'm just not thrilled to see it here.

They've packed a fair amount of protein, good fat, and calories into a one pint bottle for three bucks. It's filling. It's not going to kill you. But for me to drink something like this with any consistency, it's just gotta taste a liiiiittle bit better than this. There's also a slight notion that "pureed gravel" is an ingredient, as far as the texture goes. I promise you there's no gravel in any form in there, but the back of my throat and tongue attest otherwise. Please note I said "pureed" gravel, not just plain gravel—basically, it's a bit chalky. It's really not that bad. I'm just good at complaining. 

Probably not a repeat purchase for us, but if you're looking for a compact, convenient drinkable lunch or supplement, it'll pass as a protein shake. I'll throw out three stars. Sonia will go half a star higher. 

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Spud Crunchies

"But what if I don't like ketchup?"

Whoomp there it is.

That question hung in the air, pregnantly. Even I, who spoke it, couldn't believe it left my mouth. Karen, who is our family's favorite local TJ's employees, was experiencing some minor shock. I mean, there she was, working the sample station, giving my kids animal crackers, and telling what new and fun things I needed to try...and I laid that on her. I, Russ, who lives in Pittsburgh, within easy walking distance of where Heinz Ketchup was originally both created and manufactured, as a full red blooded American, admitted that I don't like ketchup. Never have, not even as a kid.

"Ummm...welll...I don't know how to answer that. But you oughtta try them, I guess. They're excellent," Karen finally said. "I don't know how to not like ketchup though."

Of course all of this was in reference to Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Spud Crunchies. Who better than me, lifelong ketchup skeptic, to review, right?

I don't know why I don't like ketchup, and after having about half the bag of these stick shape snacks, I still couldn't tell you. These are great. Each spud stick is liberally coated with a dusting of ketchup flavoring, and there's no mistaking it when it hits the taste buds. Initially, it's a touch tomato-ey sweet before moving on to other various flavors, like vinegar, onion and garlic. It's all very well balanced and ends with a touch of mild spice. In some ways the flavor is almost ultra-mild barbecue sauce....which is just another way of saying ketchup, I suppose. I like barbecue sauce though. Through it all, there's definitely the potato flavor coming through too, so overall the flavor impression of the spud crunchies is probably pretty close to eating some fries with ketchup, just in dry form.

Love the fry shape too. For whatever reason, potato sticks are more fun that potato chips, and they definitely give a different crunch. Remember Andy Capp Fries? I ate way too many of them in my formative years. These TJ's crunchers are fairly similar, except maybe a touch softer and not quite as "stale" feeling. Of course, my frame of reference is the snack bags from my middle school vending machine, so take that as you will. The sticks are easily snackable, poppable and portable. Yum.

I like them, I really do. I may not like ketchup (as reconfirmed recently on our family vacation) but apparently I like ketchup flavor, so there's that. Make out of that as you will. Each four serving bag is $1.99 which seems a reasonable enough price. I'll give 'em four spoons, and while Sandy actually hasn't had enough of them to warrant much opinion, our four year old wants to give them "100 golden spoons cuz they so yummy!" I'll take that as perfect score from her.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Spud Crunchies: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, July 19, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Cashew Cultured Yogurt Alternative

When I was a kid, my mother was nuts about nuts. She was also a little nutty. She passed her love of nuts on to me, as well as her nuttiness.

Cashews were always among her favorite, so I too developed an affinity for the oddly-shaped tree-borne seeds at an early age.

Significantly thicker than cashew milk and significantly thinner than cashew butter, we find ourselves looking at cashew yogurt. There's a substantial amount of innate cashew flavor here, so I would think an appreciation for, or at least tolerance of, cashews will be in order for this product.

Thinking about what I know of cashew butter, I assumed I'd like the vanilla bean flavor more. Call it confirmation bias, but my instincts were correct. Think of cool, runny cashew butter mixed with real vanilla flavor. It works, at least in my book.

Sonia liked the strawberry flavor a little more. I felt as if vanilla and cashew complemented one another while strawberry and cashew competed, if that makes sense. Sonia just appreciated the fruitiness of the latter and felt that there was a stronger overall flavor. I certainly didn't hate it, but I've never had a craving for a cashew butter and strawberry jelly sandwich ever in my life, and similarly, I doubt I'll ever get it in my mind to seek out strawberry cashew yogurt in the future, but who knows?

$1.69 per cup. This could be a bigger deal for lactose-intolerant people, vegans, or folks that have an aversion to almond or coconut milk yogurts than it is for us. But neither flavor is bad by any means. I'd pick up the vanilla flavor as a snack in the future. Sonia would consider a re-purchase of strawberry. I'll go a half star or so higher on vanilla bean, while Sonia will follow suit on the berry variety, so our scores will offset one another, yielding the same overall mark for both flavors.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Trader Joe's Turmeric Ginger Coconut Beverage

Remember a few summers ago when it was Mango Mania at TJ's?

We sure as heck do. Mango this, that, Mango here, mango there, mango mango everywhere. Move aside and let the mango through and all that. Every new item was mango-fied. So many mangoes. I was sick of them by the end of summer.

This summer is much less thematic and far more sporadic as far as new offerings...which is how Sandy and I end up buying things like Trader Joe's Turmeric Ginger Coconut Beverage. It's at least kinda mango colored, isn't it?

This product is a true rarity in our household. Sandy's made very similar beverages in the past to drink either hot or cold, and was downright joyous when she saw it on the shelf for about $3. I wasn't along and don't have the receipt handy so I'm guessing, feel free to correct me. I've never tried such drinks but am pretty open-minded and was excited enough to give it a try.

It's a strikeout for both of us. Big time.

For my wife, far more the expert here than me, it's the composition. For her, the beverage is far too thin. When she's made it, she's used a thicker variety of coconut milk which she prefers, I guess. But it's bugging her how thin this stuff is.

For me, it's more the flavor. It's a bit odd. With turmeric and ginger and coconut, I feel more like I'm drinking some sort of curry broth. Which isn't a bad thing, but then my mind switches into "curry mode" and my taste buds start looking for spices and complexity and whatnot that just isn't here. There's a little dash of black pepper, and the turmeric and ginger add more flavor "warmth" than anything. On a whim, I tried some straight out of the fridge, and also some with ice in it. When super chilled, some of the sweeter elements come out more - namely, coconut and honey - but when just sipped, everything seems pretty muted, with the aftertaste kinda lingering around like all the super orangey residue in your glass.

Apparently beverages like these are popular in India and called "golden milk." I'm not completely turned off by the idea - I really think drinks like this have huge potential to be extremely tasty - but I'm just not fond of this particular version. Neither is my lovely bride. Our four year old is, though, so there's that.

Not much more to say. I'd take mango anything over this any day. Sandy gives it a stunningly low one spoon, and while I think it deserves better, it doesn't by much. I'll be kind with a two.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Turmeric Ginger Coconut Beverage: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, July 15, 2019

Trader Joe's French Crêpe Wafer Cookies

More. Freaking. Cookies. 

I'm baffled as to why Trader Joe's makes so many different kinds of cookies, and I'm even more confused about why we bother reviewing them so religiously.

At least I was confused...before I shoveled a bunch of these delightful, crispy, buttery, flavorful, snacky sweet, angular edibles into my mouth—all the lightness and deliciousness of crepes in wafer cookie form. Now these could be one of my "desert island cookies." As of right now, they're definitely on Sonia's short list, too. 

They're tasty by themselves or slathered with cookie butter or served with ice cream...and I'm sure most of you readers have come up with dozens of ridiculously wondrous things to do with them that never occurred to me. I'll admit I was so enamored with them that I gobbled up most of my share plain before I tried putting any fixins on them. Sonia was the one that got creative with cookie butter and ice cream. 

Looks like is suggesting we serve them with banana slices and chocolate syrup. That could work, as well, and it's probably more authentically crepey. 

$2.49 for a box with two separate little plastic trays covered in cellophane. Packaging overkill? Perhaps. But I'm sure it's there in hopes of preserving the outstanding buttery flavor of these wafers a little longer. There's also a delicate, multi-layered crispness that's hard to describe.

3.5 servings? Seems like a very random number to me, but whatever you say, Trader Joe.

The isosceles triangle is relatively unexplored territory in the world of geometrically-inspired snacking. I guess tortilla chips are isosceles, at least some of the time, too—and they are also quite tasty. They should offer isosceles triangle-shaped pancakes and pyramid-shaped cakes and pies and see if it makes them more delicious. 

Four and a half stars from Sonia once again. And another four from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Coffee Lover's Espresso Beans

Alright, everyone: Best road trip snacks. Go!

I've gone through different phases. A pack of minty gum is always good, but you need more. Sometimes pretzels, sometimes Combos. Some gummy candies are always welcome. For a while I was really into baby carrots for whatever reason, and I recall my brother saying once he liked having clementines along because they had the added bonus of making his car "smell nice." And of course, caffeine in some form, whether soda or more preferably coffee.

After our most recent vacation, Sandy and I may have a new favorite to add to the rotation. You guessed, it, it's Trader Joe's Coffee Lover's Espresso Beans.

Chocolate covered coffee beans are just about dang perfect for the road. You get a little inital sugar rush and then a good coffee buzz to keep you alert, without adding a bunch of liquid to your system that will make you stop every other travel plaza.

These TJ's coffee chocobeans aren't an exception. Just a few will get you going for sure. Plus, it's kinda fun with the different colors of them - the dark brown, the tan, the offwhite ones - even if they all kinda taste the same.

Yeah, I'd say that's the one downside. With the various shades and them "being inspired by your favorite sweet coffee combinations" I was hoping for, say, some caramel machiato ones, some "regular", some cappuccino type flavors, but nah, not so much. And it's a bit odd that TJ's markets it as chocolate, because it seems more of a creamy, sweet, sugary candy melt type coating than actual real chocolate. I'd somewhat discount my take - after all, I was popping them in while keeping the family minivan from hitting all the dang interstate potholes (seriously, NY, get your stuff together), but Sandy said much the same.

Other than that, I definitely enjoyed popping a couple in, waiting for the candy to soften a bit, and then crunch on down and get that hit. The small package cost no more than a couple bucks but kept Sandy and I going for hours. The beans were good enough for a nearly immediate rebuy for use at home and work, too - not just for the road, of course. Double fours for sure.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Coffee Lover's Espresso Beans: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Trader Joe's Strawberry Greek Frozen Yogurt Parfait Bars

On hot summer days, I'll pop open the freezer to see what frozen goodies the wife has stashed away. I'll often find a box of Outshine yogurt bars hiding behind stacks of frozen veggies and waffles. Sonia knows better than to advertise such purchases to me. After grocery runs, she'll discreetly put them in the back of the ice box when I'm not looking. 

It's not that she wants to keep them all to herself. She's smart enough to know that I'll eat the entire box in a day if I'm aware of them right away. So generally, she'll consume the first bar or two in the day following their arrival to our freezer, and all the rest will rapidly fall prey to my insatiable sweet tooth. For those of you who like to preach "self-control" and "willpower," I'd like to point out that there are, in fact, different kinds of self-control. Mine is the kind that refrains from purchasing sweets while at the grocery store in the first place. Once they're in the house, it's game-over for me, provided that I'm aware of their presence.

I'm pretty sure these parfait bars will take the place of Outshine in our freezer now. Sonia is a huge fan. And that's a good thing. Because she'll make sure she eats at least half of them right off the bat. This first box didn't even last a full hour between the two of us. We ate two immediately upon arrival, semi-melted from the July heat, while the remaining two re-froze for a bit.

The flavor is excellent. Not too sticky sweet, not too tangy. It's strawberry yogurt at its best—creamy, flavorful, and satisfying. The granola is a wonderful addition. It's not intrusive or excessive, and it adds a little body and fullness to the texture. If you're expecting super crunchy granola, you might be a bit disappointed. It's "soggy" granola, for lack of a better word, but we both like it just fine. It's like the granola you might find in one of the "bowl" offerings from Jamba Juice or somewhere similar. The bars are relatively small, but they're fairly filling.

$2.99 for four bars. Pretty decent numbers as far as fat and calories are concerned. There's a fair amount of added sugars, but when balanced against the overall satisfaction factor, it's definitely not a deal-breaker here.

Four and a half stars and an enthusiastic thumbs up from Sonia. Four stars from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Trader Joe's Shrimp Scampi Lasagna

Hmmm...., bubbly, cheesy lasagna...

...baking at 400 degrees for nearly an hour...

...on a hot, humid July evening... an insulated, Thermosified brick oven of a house, with no AC...

...just to sit in your stomach, requiring a shower after to cool down from. With your house all heated up from that oven.

Yeah, I'd almost pretty much have to say no to that.

Except we're talking about Trader Joe's Shrimp Scampi Lasagna. It's all the rage on Instagram from what I hear from my lovely bride. So, off to do our sacred duty once more.

The whole premise of this product sounds great, right? Make a decent shrimp scampi except in lasagna form, with the layered noodles and whatnot. Add enough garlic and butter to make a sanguivoriphobic Paula Deen blush and it should be a slam dunk, right? How can this lose?

For perhaps the first time in reviewing TJ's products, I'd say the failure is the shrimp itself.

Listen, I get what they're going for here. With the open intent of making the product even more lasagna-esque (and likely also to help obfuscate how many shrimp are actually in here), the shrimp here are ground up. As in, not whole. As in, not fleshy and firm but instead little mealy tidbits kinda resembling really bad ground turkey. It just doesn't work. The shrimp tastes fine but still just seems wrong, if that makes any sense. Ground shrimp? That'd be a no from me.

Everything else works well enough if graded on a frozen pasta curve. There's plenty of the mozzarella/Parmesan cheese mix to go around - even my cheese loving kids said there was a little bit too much. I got a pretty good guilty pleasure from scraping some of the last remnants from the tray that had some extra butter and garlic on them. The white wine sauce was solid if not overly notable except a little tick up in spice from some crushed red pepper, and noodles were fine and firm and all that.

Still, yeah, the shrimp...the scampi lasagna would have been better with whole shrimp, even if it meant shrimp in less bites. Quality over quantity.

The setup costs $5.99 and comes as 3.5 serving tray. We picked up two to have for our family and it seemed about the right idea. My lovely bride enjoyed the shrimp lasagna just fine, without the same qualms I had. One kid scrunched her nose at it but ate it anyways, mostly, while another one asked for seconds, so there's a plus. I don't love it, I don't hate it, there's a good chance I wouldn't buy it again but wouldn't be upset if we did.

Maybe we can wait til it's cooler out though.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Shrimp Scampi Lasagna: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, July 5, 2019

Trader Joe's Soft Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

For a grocery store chain that's known for carrying exotic fare and maintaining at least a facade of healthiness, they sure roll out a lot of dang cookies. By a quick count, we've reviewed somewhere in the ballpark of 60 or 70 different types of Trader Joe's brand cookies on this blog alone. 

That's a lot of cookies, the vast majority of which aren't reduced guilt or low calorie or anything like that. If you click that link, it'll show you the results for searching "cookies" on this blog. Apparently some browsers are covering the additional pages of results with a banner ad. I'm looking at you, Google Chrome. Worked fine on Firefox for me. But most of you aren't going to wade through seven pages of cookie reviews spanning the past decade anyway. I wouldn't blame you. 

Because many of these cookie varieties aren't particularly memorable. A few are, but I highly doubt we'll agree on which two or three of those Trader Joe's baked goods we want to take to our desert island and survive on for the rest of our life.

Funfact: the cookie on the packaging is actual size. See pic above.

This particular offering isn't bad, but it's definitely not one of my desert island choices. And, I mean, I LOVE peanut butter. 

You can taste the peanut butter for sure. These are basically typical, everyday peanut butter cookies that happen to be full of chocolate chips. They're a little softer than your average peanut butter cookie, I guess, and perhaps a tad thicker, both of which are pleasant variations on the classic cookie. Still, I would have preferred them to be even softer, chewier. They're kind of crumbly and dry as they are. 

The flavor is fine. There is peanut butter and there is chocolate, but they never really come together in that special way that Reese's seem to. The bread part of the cookie seems oddly dominant, and there's a bit of an aftertaste.

Sonia seemed to like them more than I did, which was unexpected. She'll give these three and a half stars. I give 'em three.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch

In my neighborhood growing up, every couple years, PENNDOT would oil and chip all the street tops. It'd drive everyone in my family crazy. For me and my siblings, it was so much harder to bike on, and when your biggest source of income was an after-school paper route for which you needed to bike, it made for the rough juvenile equivalent of a hard day at the office. For my parents, it'd ding up the bottom of the cars and set my dad off on an occasional "this crap is what they do with my taxes??" rant (usually mild around us kids)...but I could tell it was just one more thing to aggravate the living heck out of them. As a parent now myself, I can understand it - one added thing atop of work, family, bills, taxes, whatever else. It'd set me off too.

Wait a minute delivering newspapers after school? Did I just date myself? I'm only in my mid-thirties I swear.

Anyways, oil and chips...kinda like Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch.

No, no, I'm not suggesting this newish product tastes like asphalt. Indeed, it's infinitely more suitable for a potluck rather than a pothole.

Just open it though. There's a huge pool of olive oil at the top. Stir it up, and you can hear all the crunchy tidbits swirling around. Crunchunchunchcrunch. It's absolutely audible, in some sort of edible slurry concoction. Dried onions. Dried garlic. More dried onions. Dried peppers. All literally swimming in oil in still crunchified state.

Needless to say, this is some oily, gritty stuff. I can absolutely see this being a textural stumbling block for some people. Sandy and I plopped some atop some grill-toasted baguette and it worked well as the bread sopped up the oil a bit leaving only the crunchers. Could work tossed in with some veggies or on some grilled chicken or pork, too. But something like eggs? No way, at least not in my book. Gritty eggs. Blecch.

And taste? Ehhh. The chili onion crunch got a little heat, that's for sure. It's more palpable if you get a heavy dose. But really, what the dominant flavor seems to be is the garlic. And it's not necessarily good garlic either, depending on your criteria. Karen, our favorite local TJ's employee, warned it was garlicky but "not in a good way" and I can see what she means. Garlic can either be strong and robust, or kinda "musty" for a lack of better word. This stuff strays towards the garlic stank and not the garlic strength. Any other flavor kinda fills in a little bit to give a little body to lead up towards the heat.

In the end, I think this could be one of those "a little goes a long way" type items. Add a little atop a burger, on some bread, mixed in with some grilled veggies or whatever, but just enough to get a little added flavor, and not enough to turn your dish into an oily, gritty, garlic-stanked dish. We'll use it for sure but I'm not yet convinced it's a repurchase. Set us back about $3 if I recall right.

Four spoons from the Mrs - she loved it more than I did. I'll be nice and give it a 3.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, July 1, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Carrots of Many Colors

The grape carrots are my favorite, followed closely by the lemon carrots and cherry carrots.

I'm just kidding. There's only one flavor here: carrot. Carrot-flavored carrots are all the rage in some modern snacking circles, or so I've heard. This new Trader Joe's product is sure to be a hit with those folks.

For the rest of us, I'm not so sure.

The colors seem like a fun gimmick to get kids to eat more carrots. I know purple carrots exist naturally, and so do orange, yellow, and red. It's not like they added any extra colors here, which is always nice. In fact, they only added sea salt. Nothing else. Plus, they're organic. Unless you're on a salt-free diet, not many complaints can be filed in the "not healthy enough" department.

Texture-wise, they're super crunchy, crispy, brittle. Almost reminiscent of potato chips, they're just ever so slightly more airy...almost poofy in a way. There's a styrofoam quality about them. Sonia thinks they're exceedingly dry—like, unpleasantly devoid of moisture. I think they were kinda going for a dry feel when they decided to dehydrate the carrots, so...yeah. Dry. But that's not a dealbreaker for me.

The taste was less pleasant than the texture for me. And yes, I know what carrots taste like. But something happens to the flavor when they're dehydrated. I feel like that carroty flavor that we've all come to know and tolerate becomes a little more bitter than I'd like it to be. These carrot chips are even more planty and perhaps less sweet than they are in their normal, water-ful form. Also, they don't taste very salty at all. 310mg of sodium in the whole bag. 13% of your RDA. I guess that's not much salt. But it tastes even less salty than I was expecting. 

Sonia thinks they might lose some of their natural sugar when they're dehydrated, and I think she might be right on that one. $2.99 for the single serving bag, which could be stretched to more than one serving if you're sharing the bag with someone else and both of you are only moderately enjoying them and attempting to pawn the remainder of the bag off on the other. We both prefer raw carrots in the end.

Once again, three stars a piece.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

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