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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Trader José's Chile & Onion Flour Tortillas

Some things in life just aren't fair. For a pretty benign example, imagine being a Pennsylvania resident (which I am) and going to an out-of-state Trader Joe's (which I have, on numerous occasions) and surveying the vast selections of consumable goods that just aren't available in your local store. It's unfair. I mean, I've been to the Woodmere, OH store on multiple occasions, and each time, I enviously eye them up. It's literally a whole section of the store. Why, as a PA resident, can I not buy the same goodies as a native of the good state of Ohio? Is it antiquated state law? Market demands?  Lingering animosity over the Buckeyes-Nittany Lions rivalry? I don't know, but it's not fair. Somebody get the governor on the phone.

Lest you think I'm talking about beer and wine (for those not in the know, PA does have antiquated state laws not allowing for alcohol sales in most retail channels, including grocery stores, so we're living in roughly the year 1792 here), this time I'm not. Though I did get some on my most recent trip, there's nothing I felt too compelled to review yet. The Stockyard Oatmeal Stout's pretty tasty, the Simple Times lager isn't great but is much better than their other cheapo option, and perhaps once we get in our new house Sandy and I will have the occasion to break out the wine.

But I am talking about the Trader Jose Chile & Onion Flour Tortillas. I first spotted these several years ago there and just had to try them, I loved them, an hoped they'd migrate just a little further east and south to my Pittsburgh home store. When they hadn't, I assumed they got discontinued for whatever reason. But no, they're still up at the Woodmere store, just outside Cleveland, along with other tortilla flavors that we in the 'burgh just don't have. We only have the run-of-the-mill flour and corn variety, with the Habenero and Lime  for an exotic option, which gets old after a while.

If these were regularly available to me, these would be my everyday tortilla. And I eat a lot of tortillas. They're just perfect. Take a good flour tortilla and add in onion and some actually legitimate chile spice, and BAM. They taste good plain, pair wonderfully with my fake chorizo/rice/bean delight I regularly make, and even taste alright and hold up okay after zapping a microwave quesadilla. Tell you what, though: fry them up in a little butter for a stove top quesadilla, and they are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The tortillas crisp up perfectly, absorb in a little butter, and get all nice and flaky while the flavor just pops then. They're spicy enough to keep me intrigued but probably accessible enough to most flavor palettes. I've tried replicating their exact spice level by tossing in some red pepper flakes into the cheesy portion, but it just doesn't work the same.

These are some seriously good hombres, and they need to find a new home: Pittsburgh. Please come. I may be the bigger fan of these tortillas. Sandy kinda shrugged and said "I like 'em. They're good. I like 'em. Quote that." As you wish. I just wish I didn't finally eat the last one of them the other night after savoring them for a while. I'm giving them a perfect five and guessing for Sandy's score...

Bottom line: Trader Jose's Chile & Onion Flour Tortillas: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons    

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims

I'm usually not one to toot my own horn too terribly much, but you know what? Today, I am. You see, yesterday was Labor Day, which I celebrated the good ol' fashioned 'merican Way by going to work. Meanwhile, my wife and now officially toddlin' lil' toddler were going to the local waterpark for a fun day of splashing and spraying. It sucks to miss out on those kinda days. Add in that I'm adjusting to a recent promotion with a bunch of added responsibilities at work (stress) plus we're right in the thick of selling our house, got back the inspection report, and there's some stuff our sellers want us to do, and we're waiting to get it nailed down with them before we make an offer on another house, meaning at present time I'm not 100% sure where my family is going to be living in a month (much, much more stress), and yeah, yesterday was a baldspot-inducing day. Sorry about that hideous run-on there, but man it felt good. My normal reaction to stress is 1) sleep more and 2) eat more, especially junk food.

I made an early morning solo run to TJ's yesterday to get some fruit for a Labor Day breakfast our brother was having, and right there, at the checkout, taunting me mercilessly, was his Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims. So,  I bought 'em, and if I would have devoured them while at work like I wanted to over and over again (it didn't help that our vending machine which conveniently takes fives didn't give me change back after getting a Dr Pepper, shorting me $3.75 to get another snack), Sandy would have never ever known. But, as the loving, sweet, kind, sharing husband I am, I brought them home, seal intact, for the two of us to share after our daughter finally settled down for the night dreaming sweet 'lil toddler dreams.

Anyways, enough about me, let's talk about these choco-tasties. I like 'em. Sandy likes 'em. They're pretty straightforward in every sense. By now, I'd imagine everyone's had a pretzel slim or chip or whatever you'd call it, and has had dark chocolate, and has had a chocolate covered pretzel, and so you can mentally add all those experiences together and imagine roughly what this would taste like, and you'd be pretty darn close. They're as light as something covered in chocolate can be, and crispy, and salty and chocolatey, and highly, highly snackable. It was way too easy to polish off the whole bag within a couple minutes.

It's not to say they're perfect. First, light handling is recommended, unless you enjoy random choco-smears everywhere. Seriously, these are some melty dudes. I'd say so much so that these are probably only a Mama and Daddy treat. Also, while I liked the crispiness of the pretzel slims, it make me wish there was a rod or twist or some sort of full pretzel in all its full pretzel-ly glory just to get some added crunch and girth to it. Lastly, I'm not sure what kinda difference two days really makes when it comes to a snack like this, but I didn't realize until I took the picture that the sell-by date was August 31 and I bought them on September 2. Not a big deal, but, well, there you go.

Sandy agreed the meltiness factor was its huge error. After every bite she had to lick off her fingers so she could continue to hit up Pinterest in search of all sorts of decoration ideas for the house we're eying. Chocolate + keyboard = bad news. The fact she's insistent on no mini-fridges in what she calls the "family playroom" and I call the "man loft" = even worse news. We both agree these are a bigger win than the chocolate chips we had a while ago and not since, as these are a conceivable repeat purchase for the $2.99 they cost. Sandy says a four while I say just a small step behind.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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