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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trader Joe's Non Fat Plain Frozen Yogurt

Sandy looooooooves blogs. Loves them. I have no idea how many she follows but her Google Reader feed is usually so filled with posts and articles about how to make the new cool animal of the day out of popsicle sticks that usually any of our posts are something like #376 on her list. I have no problem with that. She's unearthed a guest blogger opportunity for me on one of her favorites, Children of the '90s, so check that, especially you baseball fans. The one blog that she continually rambles on and on about (other than this one, of course) is Hungry Runner Girl. Oh man. She could talk about it literally all day, about how cool the writer, Janae, is, how fast she can run, how far she can run (20+ miles a day?!?!), how much she can eat (I'll admit, it's quite impressive) and how pretty the pictures she takes are. But the one big thing they share is their love of frozen yogurt. There's this place in Utah that Ms. HRG goes to called Yogurtland that's a selfserve, pile-as-many-toppings-on, pay-by-the-ounce kinda deal that she continually raves about. There's similar places around the 'burgh like Razzy Fresh that while Sandy really enjoys, I'm not that into. Not that I've tried it, either. I don't know. I like delicious frozen treats as much as anyone, and have absolutely nothing against frozen yogurt, but that concept just doesn't appeal to me for whatever reason, and usually when Sandy mentions going out for a cold treat I'll steer the car towards Rita's instead. I'm probably just weird, with this frozen yogurt shop aversion and all, but hey, I'm the same guy who detests ketchup (that's a story for another day). So yeah, I got my food hang-ups, and that's one of them.

Anyways, since we never go out for some "fro-yo" (as Sandy loves to call it with all sorts of different intonations ranging from little kid to slightly ghetto), she implicitly insisted we bring some home from our last TJ's trip. She spotted the Non Fat Plain Frozen Yogurt, and I'm guessing with the idea of flavoring our own bowlful with whatever we see fit, that's what we got.

Well, Sandy loves the TJ fro-yo. Oh man, she does. Right after her first bite she smiled and said "Mmmm, it tastes very yo-ey. Me gusta." Right away she went into a whole litany of ideas as to what to top hers with, ranging from honey to one of TJ's new-fangled grindy guys to exotic stuff like cinnamon pear vinegar. She's been going through a whole yogurt kick recently so it's no wonder to me that she enjoys it. Me? Eh. I get that it's healthier than ice cream, and there's little bad that can be said about frozen treats. Except...the taste. I don't know. I've never had a frozen yogurt that tasted so, well, yogurty. The Ben & Jerry's-esque carton claims it's "pleasantly tart." I'd up that to "nearly overwhelmingly." It's so tart it's nearly sour like a yogurt-flavored Warhead. With my first bite, I took to wincing a bit while stomping my foot (that's my normal reaction to tastes that catch me off guard, don't ask) under the sheer tartness of it all. It's too much. I gave it a second go-around just before writing this and while taking a plain bite, I could brace myself better but still found it to be too much. I then tried to cover it up by dumping some Hershey's and peanuts on, and while it helped, the yogurt taste still hacked its way through like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. There's got to be something that will make it better - fresh fruit? - but it's just a bit too much for me. Got a suggestion? Leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page and I'll take it under consideration.

Sandy's all about it. She can't say anything wrong about it whatsoever and she probably can't wait to eat this every single night. Sandy gives it a whopping 4.5 out of 5. Me? Sigh. This won't be the largest disparity in our rankings ever, but it'll be close. Too darn yo-ey. I'm going with a 2, though I'm open to revising that if I can find the right stuff to go with it.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trader Joe's Shrimp with Spicy Green Curry

There's a greater sense of authenicity when one uses chopsticks while eating any kind of Asian cuisine. It's as if the experience gains an extra dimension. Most dining affairs rely heavily upon our senses of taste and smell, and of course, the presentation of the food appeals to our sense of sight. And one might argue that the chewing of the food, and feeling its texture in our mouths is dependent upon our sense of touch. That's true. But with chopsticks, we feel the food before we even start eating it. We get more familiar with it somehow than when we use a fork or spoon. That's why I love that Trader Joe's put chopsticks in the picture on the box of this green curry shrimp.

I did use a pair of wooden chopsticks I saved from a local Chinese restaurant. However, I guess I defeated the purpose of the chopsticks to a degree when I ate the dish straight out of the microwavable plastic packaging. An artfully designed blue ceramic bowl would have been much nicer. But there was a certain functionality with the plastic, dual-compartment tray. After microwaving, it was malleable enough to deliberately spill the curry side onto the rice side bit by bit. There's something a little incongruous about using wooden chopsticks to eat Asian food out of a flexible plastic tray. But nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

The jasmine rice is exactly the same as all of Trader Joe's jasmine rice, included in many of their Thai and Indian dishes. No complaints there. The texture of the shrimp was surprisingly good for a frozen meal. And the green curry added a truly unique flavor to the food. I don't recall the exact wording of it now, but the box described the green curry as something along the lines of "a mild curry, yet not without some heat." I'd say that's a fairly accurate statement. It's moderately spicy. It's a flavorful kind of kick. It agitates the insides of the mouth a bit, but does not do so in vain. It adds a wonderful amount of zesty taste.

My biggest issue with this product was the miscellaneous matter that found itself swimming about within the curry. There were little bits of vegetables that I found quite unnecessary, and finally there was an unidentifiable substance with a texture not unlike that of sand. Fortunately, since I swished the curry over onto the rice gradually, I didn't really take note of this sandy silt until I was nearly finished with the dish, since it had mostly settled to the bottom of the curry side of the partition.

Sonia did not partake of this dish with me. Thus, I shall follow our precedent for such an instance and simply double my own score. I give it three and a half out of five stars, with virtually all of the points lost due to the bizarre textures lurking at the bottom of the little pool of mostly-delicious curry.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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