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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trader Joe's Sutter's Formula Cookies

I've searched the interwebs high and low and everywhere in between and have come to this conclusion: I have no idea where the Trader Joe's Sutter's Formula Cookies get their name from. Absolutely none. There's not quite a lack of famous-ish folks with the last name Sutter. For instance, there's John Sutter, a prominent Californian at the time of the gold rush, and his son, creatively named John Jr, who was the founder of the city of Sacramento. Enough social studies there. There's the famous Sutter family tree in hockey, of course, and Bruce Sutter, who's not only a Hall of Fame relief pitcher from the '70s and '80s but also is my personal facial hair role model. Other than that, I haven't stumbled across any scientists or mathematicians named Sutter, and certainly not anything relating to any formula. Uncharacteristically, the packaging offers no hints either, so I'll just presume that these cookies were partially inspired by all the aforementioned Sutters, thus giving me an excuse to stealthily sneak as many bad puns into the next paragraph or so as I can. See how many you can sift out.

All you really need to know about these cookies is, if you like that constantly irresistible combo of chocolate and peanut butter, you'll want to make a bee-line for these. These are treats worthy of a king. Unlike a lot of "fresh-baked" sugar pucks masquerading as cookies from other grocery stores with the onsite bakeries, these Sutter cookies maintain their freshness and composure for days after opening. They're soft and crumbly yet chewy and satisfying - what a great prospect. Even when your teeth hit one of the big old milk chocolate nuggets, it won't throw you for a curve. Flavor-wise, these cookies are a big old slap shot to the tastebuds. The peanut butter flavor is impeccably rich and hard-hitting, and while dark chocolate has surpassed milk chocolate in my mind, in this instance it's not a strike. I believe there was a sign at TJ's stating these were fresh-baked and delivered every day, which might be part of the sales pitch, but I'd say it pans out.  Watch out or you'll get hooked.

Oh goodness, let's get some relief from that. Sandy and I loved every single one of these cookies we ate. I cannot think of a single argument against them. Yes, they're full of sugar and fat and calories and all sorts of general unhealthiness, but it's a cookie, and one more than worth the indulgence at that. If you feel guilty about eating one of these, go eat some kale or something afterwards and tell yourself it evens out.  Sandy and I aren't going to buy them every time we go, but I promise you, the thought will cross our minds. "I really really really like them," Sandy said. "They're soft, they're chewy, they're peanut-buttery....what more can a girl want?" Well, only one of those adjectives readily describes me....I digress. These confections are near perfection. Our score says it all.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sutter Formula Cookies: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Filet of Sole

After a "reduced guilt" disappointment or two, and a Trader Joe's fishy failure or two, I was thinking this product might be a bit of a gamble.

But on a recommendation from one of our readers (Thanks shanaelyse), I decided it might be worth taking my chances. With a price tag under $3 at our local Trader Joe's, not much is lost if it isn't the best thing ever. And, to be fair, we've seen our share of tasty fish from TJ's: think Fish Nuggets, Cod Fillets [sic]*, and Mahi Mahi.

I went ahead and took the lazy route and microwaved the fish. It was extremely simple and involved poking holes in the plastic wrapping and pressing a few buttons on my magical radiation machine. The total heating time was 8 or 9 minutes, which isn't bad if you're cooking it at home, unless you have some serious patience issues, which is entirely feasible in this age of instant gratification. But the 8 or 9 minutes might glean you dirty looks from co-workers if you're heating this fish in a heavily-used office break room microwave. My point is that it's all relative. Even I can wait 9 minutes for tasty fish, and I'm one of the least-disciplined people I know.

And, incidentally, it was tasty. Surprisingly so. The fish was tender, moist, and only tasted mildly fishy. It flaked off the filet with the slightest touch of my fork. The flavor of the fish was delicate and light, and it let all of the other amazing flavors through. Though I was a fan of the fish, I must say that all of the other ingredients were even better.

The sauce was excellent. It was savory, flavorful, and matched perfectly with the taste of everything else in the dish. You can see there in the ingredients list it contains molasses and soy sauce. I've never had anything quite like it before. The butter beans were plump and delicious, and even the soggy spinach leaves were cooked to perfection and blended right in with each of the other elements.

This is one of the biggest pleasant surprises we've had from Trader Joe's in quite a while—at least compared to what we expected. And even though it's not quite Pantheon quality, it comes darn close in our opinion. 4.5 stars from Sonia, who was floored when she saw that this dish o' fish only contains 2 grams of fat. Same score from me.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.
*I'm not sure why there's a discrepancy between TJ's spelling "fillet" with two "l's" when it's cod and only one "l" when it's sole. I just wanted you to know it's TJ's fault, not mine. I'm a good speller. It just seems like they should be consistent, right? Please reference this article for more info.

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