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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Chai Tea Latte

I already used a clever "tai chi and chai tea" line in my review of Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Latte. So what should I say at the opening of this review? Hmm. How about this? A quote from Angel Taylor: "On a get some chai tea lattes. You open the door for me always."

I'm not sure if she's referring to her date being a gentleman and opening the door for her, or if she's referring to the chai itself, which might open a figurative door to India for her...or something like that. But either way, I think she and her bf should swing by TJ's and check this stuff out.

When Trader Joe's puts the word "salt" or "salted" in the actual title of one of their products, they usually want to draw special attention to it. And in most cases, at least for me, it makes me raise an eyebrow. But after successes like Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds and the Dark Chocolate Caramel with Black Sea Salt Bar, I'm usually curious and optimistic about their "salted" products.

As was the case with previous "salty" products, you can definitely taste the salt. Rather than it just being another ingredient to blend in with all the other flavors, it somehow becomes a featured flavor. You can distinctly taste salt, caramel, and chai, no matter how you prepare this beverage.

The canister simply calls for hot water. We've even had comments on our Facebook page concurring that all you need to use is water when mixing up a "cuppa" this chai. Sure, it's drinkable that way. You can still taste the aforementioned salt, caramel, and chai-ness...but both Sonia and I agree that it's a hundred times better when made with milk.

We used 1%. It comes out thick, rich, sweet, and filling. When made with just water, the tea can still be hot—and still great for these chilly January days, but when made with milk, it's a hearty, dessert-ish, restaurant-quality treat. It felt and tasted like a powdered mix when we used water. But that's just our take on it. Tell us what you make it with in the comments below. I'm sure one of you has completely reinvented the wheel and used almond milk or something like that that will make us feel stupid for using cow's milk...but let us have it! I assure you that any pride that I project in this blog or in real life is simply part of an act—a cry for help, really.

But anyhoo, we really liked it with milk. We'd give it something like 3 stars a piece if we had only ever made it with water. But since we used milk, we'll give it 4 stars a piece.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trader Joe's Perline Pasta & Prosciutto

Happy New Year!

No doubt, it's a pretty widespread tradition to have pork on New Year's. Something about pigs only being able to go forward. I'm not sure if that's really true, but then again, I've never seen a pig do the moonwalk...have you? Anyways, that's not exactly how us Shelly's roll. Last night, while everyone was no doubt ringing in the New Year with some champagne (or a reasonable facsimile), we were at home, on the couch, sipping on some iced tea and egg nog, content to watch the local telecast because let's face it, Times Square isn't the same without Dick Clark, despite, well, you know. Yup, we're apparently getting old and lame. At least Baby M was pretty ecstatic before passing out at right about 12:07am.

Anyways, despite our lack of pork today, at least we had some last night with Trader Joe's Perline Pasta & Prosciutto. Prosciutto is a mighty fine cut of meat, perhaps not as high up as pastrami on "meats that begin with 'P'" ranking, but when done well, certainly above pepperoni. And I love pepperoni. Sandy picked these up last week on one of her rare solo grocery shopping trips, and made them up for dinner with a little organic vodka sauce.

They're not too bad. I'm not sure if vodka sauce would be the right accompaniment for them, as it seemed to hide a little flavor subtlety that I could almost sense, but then again, I'm not sure what sauce would be. As is, the pasta kinda reminded me of little squid-shaped sacks with little balls of meat for its brains. The pasta part tastes pretty good - there's at least something that visually resembles rosemary in it, and it kinda tastes like it too - while the meat part took me a few bites to get into it. It's prosciutto kinda all ground up and mixed in with some beef and breadcrumbs and whoknowswhatelse to make a little meatball. To be honest, the first few felt a little gritty and smushy and I wondered where the flavor was. But then it kinda all started kicking in, and I could taste all the little different parts working together to make the filling a fairly unique concoction. I'm not sure I would make prosciutto, beef, breadcrumbs and whoknowswhatelse a regular meatball recipe, but I'm not sure I wouldn't try it out anyways. It works, but for me, just barely, at least in this iteration.

Sandy loves these little prosciutto pasta purses though. Loves them. When she brought out our bowls, she had that look on her face and tone in her voice when she said, "You're gonna hate these. I'll do you a favor and just eat them for you." That's a thinly veiled code in our house that we want something all to ourselves nearly as bad as Smeagol wants the One Ring. She gives them a four and a half, and stated the only thing that keeps them from being a full-handed five is the nutritional info (egads!  look at the sodium and cholesterol!). Me? Kinda like this other fresh pasta concoction, I could make do with or without them, but with the right sauce, maybe I'd be more on board. I'll say a three.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Perline Pasta and Prosciutto: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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