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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trader Joe's Oriental Rice Crackers

It's been a while since I've complained about the name of a Trader Joe's product. But this one affords me a golden opportunity to do so. Not Trader Joe-San? Not Trader Ming?  Perhaps the lack of an ethnic name stems from the fact that no single nationality lends itself to these crunchable little ricey puffs.

The good people at Trader Joe's, no doubt assuming that all Eastern peoples enjoy crisp ricey puff things, went with a name that suggested the entire continent of Asia. Not "Asian," of course, but "Oriental." I thought we had left that term behind in the 90's, but Trader Joe's has resurrected it successfully with these intriguing, snaxcellent morsels. Makes you wonder if TJ's will ever offer us a hot dog-ish meal or something entitled "Trader Joe's Occidental Meat Sticks."

The Rice Crackers are ultra-crispy. They taste like rice. Which, to me, is good. I like rice-based foods that taste like rice—because I enjoy the taste of rice. And yet, it's not just the taste of rice in these snacks. There's some kind of toastiness. And some kind of moderate spiciness in certain ones. And my favorites are the ones wrapped in seaweed. Yep. Some of these rice-snacks are wrapped in a bit of seaweed tasting very much like TJ's famous Seaweed Snacks. I'm not sure whether I like rice or seaweed better....hmmm....rice. No seaweed. No rice. I've just achieved the record for the greatest number of uses of the word "rice" in any What's Good at Trader Joe's paragraph ever. 10 times. Sonia, get Guinness on the phone!

Anyhoo, they're good—if you like rice and seaweed. Highly snackable, fun little shapes. They have a unique, yet somehow strangely predictable taste. I knew what they would taste like before I put them in my mouth. Which makes me think I've eaten something similar in the past. But my mind is shot these days...and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. Sorry.

Sonia says they remind her a bit of Corn Nuts. Maybe a little. That wasn't what I was thinking of. But I can see that.

Sonia gives them 3.5 stars. I'll give 'em 4.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Trader Joe's Almond Croissants

I'll admit it: Sandy and I were bad on Sunday. B-a-d bad. Let's go in reverse here. We went to a Greek food festival for lunch, where after our gyros and stuffed grape leaves got settled in, both of us shared a plateful of baklava, halvadopites, and other assorted goodies. Awesome stuff. This was right after being at church, where for some unknown reason, someone brought in white chocolate cranberry scones and brownies which we both felt a little inclined to, err, "sample" and make sure they tasted good (oh, they did). That by itself is still kinda bad, all that pastry/baked goods tastiness, but when you include what we had for breakfast, well, it's a whole 'nother level.

Oh yeah, we had Trader Joe's Almond Croissants. One of my coworkers tipped me off about the croissants, and Sandy and I finally spotted them on the freezer aisle on Saturday. Let me tell you this right off the bat: a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Oh goodness. These might have been the best thing we ate all day, and that says a lot. Upon first bite, I was in love. The buttery, crispy outer shell gave way to soft, warm flaky, melt-in-your mouth innards that were so rich, sweet and almondy that it tasted almost creamy, if that makes any sense. It was almost like eating straight-up almond paste in croissant form, with toasted almonds on top adding a complementary crunch.

If I chose to, I could have a couple quibbles. The product's real name is "Trader Joe's 4 Almond Croissants," which is goofy enough for me to refuse to really acknowledge it. There's not four types of almonds in these croissants (are there even four types of almonds?), nor just four almonds per croissant, which is the name seems it would imply over just the quantity in the box. More so, this is the rare easy-to-make treat that requires some significant planning ahead, because they have to proof overnight (ours roughly quintupled in size) and then need about 25 minutes in the oven. Because of that, these aren't doable for our normal rush-out-the-door-to-work kinda morning, but that's okay. These nutty croissants are meant to enjoy leisurely with a cup of your favorite coffee, unless TJ's discontinues yours, like they did with mine. A couple batches of these would steal the show at pretty much any brunch, and while it'd be disingenuous, I'd dare you to try and pass them off as your own. As for the nutritional's a freakin' croissant, what do you expect?

"There's really not anything that these could do any better," Sandy said between bites. Oh, I agree. No complaints at all. I just wish I remembered we had some powdered sugar I could've sprinkled on top before serving them up, but that's what next time's for. Until then, we'll be dreaming of these pastry Pantheon-worthy perfections.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Almond Croissants: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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