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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trader Joe's Marinated White Fish Vera Cruz

You know that person. Every office or work place has one, and most people hate them. If you are that person at your particular place of employment, may God have mercy upon your soul. This person I speak of...well, whatever you do in the privacy and ideally foul-stank containing walls of your home, go for it, live and let live, but the person who brings leftover fish for lunch at work and has the sheer audacity to microwave it so the aroma infiltrates and rudely intrudes the entirety of the circulation/ventilation system of your workplace, so everyone has to smell the scant traces of its fishy foulness...I have no words. That is a party foul that just high-fived all of humanity in its very face. DON"T DO IT. Even if you have leftover fish and have to decide between that and a sketchy dollar burrito from the roach coach. Even if you have nothing else to eat, or God forbid, have to choose between one of these atrocities and micro-zapped pescetarian remnants from the night before.

Which is why, when Sandy and I were enjoying the a dinner of rice, steamed veggies, and some Trader Joe's Marinated White Fish Vera Cruz the other night, when she suggested I take the third filet for lunch the next day, I really had to explain the blank, open-mouthed stare I shot her direction. No, dear, I wasn't throwing a fit of serving-size righteousness and indignation, I just didn't want to be that person who got shot a stinkeye the rest of the week. Nobody would be my friend at work anymore. I would be the very shame of my particular version of Cubicleville.

Good thing, this particular fishy delight is just good enough and intriguing enough to warrant a few extra bites, so deciding to share the third wasn't too much of a struggle. By "white fish", Trader Joe's actually meant "swai fish." I thought maybe this was a Swedish/Thai crossbreed or perhaps another name for one of the Swedish Chef specialties, but no. Come to find out, it's an Asian breed of "shark catfish" that would rank behind Sharknado as the most popular shark crossover product if it were actually, indeed, shark. I don't know, Wikipedia it. It's a popular for its moist flakiness and mild flavor, which I'll agree this particular version is, and it also made a good base for the "Vera Cruz-iness" of the dish. There's fancier versions around, which I'll admit to not having yet. Think of fairly spicy, semi-sweet salsa with a heavy dose of green olives, and that's more or less the marinade and topping for the TJ's version. Ours actually veered to almost too olivey, so it was a little out of whack with the lotso-heat/little sweet flavor profile, but it worked just enough to keep us going. The fish filets themselves were marinated deep enough that a lot of the flavor worked itself right into the flesh, which Sandy liked because she scraped off anything resembling a veggie due to textural concerns.

 In all, for a couple folks who are trying to eat fish once a week and needed a change-up from our usual fish o' choice and chili lime rub, the white fish Vera Cruz (sounds like a boat name, almost) wasn't a bad choice, and it's one we'll probably make again. For $5.99 a pound and getting three good sized pieces (pictured above is one that broke in half), it seems like a decent enough value. We're not overly wowed nor terribly turned off. A little less green olive would go a long way.

Just, please, don't microwave it at work. Please.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's White Fish Vera Cruz: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons   

Friday, August 23, 2013

Trader Joe's Tropical Sweetened Matcha Green Tea Mix

I've never been a huge fan of matcha, but Sonia loves the stuff. The first time I ever had it was in a Jamba Juice smoothie. It was the first Jamba product I didn't like. Since then, I've had matcha mochi and regular green tea matcha. In each case, not a fan. 

Some types of green tea products do float my proverbial boat, although our cross-state blogging comrades might not be quite as enthused. Sonia's tried everything matcha mentioned above, and then some. She particularly likes the matcha green tea from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. She's an aficionado. She thinks it's delicious. Well...most of the time.

In this case, there's an abundance of mango and passion fruit flavor. Those seemed like odd flavors to mix with matcha to us, but who are we to question TJ's zany ideas, many of which actually work?

It's a very sweet mixture, and Sonia and I agree that the fruitiness outshines the matcha-ness. But conversely, the matcha is there enough to prevent this from being a fruit-flavored beverage. To both of us, it's just a very strange flavor that doesn't quite work. If it had just been me, we might have chalked it up to my not liking matcha, and had it only been Sonia, we might have attributed it to her being a matcha snob. But considering we both dislike this product quite a bit, we're going to have to declare this a Trader Joe's FAIL.

It's kind of "apples and oranges," but if you're looking for a sweet TJ's tea mix that's actually good, we recommend the Salted Caramel Chai.

Sonia gives this product 2.5 stars. I give it 2.

Bottom line: 4.5 out of 10

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers

Alright, so, listen: there's not too much point in delaying to make the obvious comparison here: Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers, on first impression at least, are pretty much just like those big ol' Frito scoopers you can get at pretty much any corner store these days. I'm pretty sure the average consumer (who I definitely lump myself in with) would not be able to tell the difference in a blindfolded taste test. In fact, I can't convince myself that these TJ dippy chippies are not Fritos. That's an intentional double negative there, folks. It means two things: it's 1 a.m. when I'm writing this, and I mean business.

All that being said, there might be a small teeny tiny infinitesimal difference tastewise between the two possibly competing brands. I think these guys are a little thicker, a little crunchier, and perhaps a tad less salty and greasy. I don't eat Fritos often though, and when I do it's normally the regular sized ones, so maybe I'm pulling that comparison out of my arse. I don't know. But I like the fact that these are organic, and while not perfect, Trader Joe's has a respectable enough hisotry with labeling their snackfoods while Frito-Lay....not so much. Not that if I'm to be watching my health and caloric intake that one type of corn chip is really all that better in the grand scheme than another, but any slight edge here and there, I'll take.

Though certainly not bad, these dipper-doodles aren't quite perfect. The lovely specimen I have pictured to the left (smothered in Wal-Mart brand salsa, which is as appetizing as it sounds) is a fine chip made for heavy dipping and lifting duty, I could probably use it as a soup spoon. Too bad not all the chips were like that. Naturally some were more hairpin or latched shaped which made for suboptimal performance. It's a good thing these taste fine enough on their own, or good crumbled up on top of a bowl of chili, that the slightly-more-than-occasional faulty fellow isn't too much of a loss. 
 With football season in a few weeks and baseball playoffs starting just a little after that, I'd humbly recommend adding these to the snacking rotation with some guac or salsa or the TJ's pub cheese I keep meaning to try. Just skip the TJ black bean dip because nothing tastes good with that junk, unfortunately. If you're having the gang over and you're concerned that your moronic buddy who always calls end-arounds a reverse will start making foo-foo jokes about your dainty organic chips, just dump them in a bowl and he'll be none the wiser. It'll also save a couple bucks too - I think these were about $2 while the big boys cost something like $3 or $4. Sandy had a complete lack of anything interesting/slightly comical/vaguely embarrassing things to say about these chips, but I know she liked 'em, as did I, so split the score as you see fit. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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