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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Trader Joe's Mini Pecan Pies

I'm not sure how old Nathan is, but he must be older than I thought, or at least he has a much more old school music taste than I do. While I consider myself having a fairly encyclopedic song knowledge base, when he referenced that "Sweet Little Lies" song a few weeks back for a previous review of Trader Joe's Mini Pie Medley, I couldn't place that song whatsoever. Still can't. And it's not the first time that's happened, either.

I do, however, know another song called "Sweet Little Lies" by Michael Franti (one of the best concerts my wife and have been to, despite Franti's recent and kinda disappointing career turn), which she and I nearly simultaneously broke out into upon our first bite of Trader Joe's Mini Pecan Pies: "Give me pies, pies, pies, sweet little pies/ I gots to feed my sweet tooth/ Give me pies, pies, pies, sweet little pites/ Ummmm.....Help me fit into a toll booth?"

We added that last line because man, look at the nutritional information for these guys. Or maybe don't. Make of it what you will, but.....daaaaang. All that for a couple little bites of a little pie, when I honestly could eat two or three and not feel guilty until I looked at that? I'm 31, balding, mortgage, wife, kid, regular chiropractic appointments....I need to start watching that stuff.

So the question naturally becomes, are the micro-pies worth it? An excellent question, and I kinda waver back and forth on it. In the end, I'd say probably not, because I can't decide how much I like them. I mean, they're tasty, but....probably the tastiest part is the actual pie crust itself. It's shortbread style with some sugar glazed over top to add some sweetness that lingers and lingers well after the taste of the nut filling has gone away. It's like they put a lot of effort into the crust, and succeeded, but only to cover up the deficiency of the insides. It's a fair amount of pecans, and tons of brown sugar, and it tastes a little nutty and sweet but there's something missing. I'm not sure what it is. I've admitted before that I'm a pecan pie snob thanks to my Aunt Brenda's traditional Thanksgiving pie, and I'm not sure what she does differently (maybe she just licks her fingers while making the pie), and I know that it's probably not really a fair comparison, but man....there is something missing, and I can't shake that thought.

Regardless, the pies make for an okay dessert pick up. Just eat lots of raw veggies the rest of the day. I think the six pack cost somewhere around four or five bucks, and heat up in the oven in about 10 minutes. There's also a thaw-on-the-counter option, but that's been not-so-great before, so Sandy and I skipped out on that. Just a word to the wise: give them a few minutes to cool off before consuming, because the filling gets white-hot and stays that way for about five minutes after baking. Right, dear? Sandy liked them plenty, saying she wished there was more filling in them. About the only way that could happen would be a bigger pie, as they are amply engorged with the nutty parts. She gives them a four. I counter with a 2.5,

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mini Pecan Pies: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, November 4, 2013

Trader Joe's Thai Lime Shrimp Skewers

I've never been to a Thai restaurant outside of Pittsburgh, so I don't know if this is the usual protocol or not, but when you order your fried rice or curry or what have you out here, you're asked how spicy you want it on a scale of 1 to 10. There are certain things I may do in my life with a questionable percentage of my gluteus maximus invested, but heat is not usually one of them. I have to go ten. Sometimes, I get extra spice on the side. One particular time several years ago, an acquaintance whom I was dining with stated he could handle hotter food than I ever could. Game on. Ordered a ten, got extra spice, coated every bite with the hottest chile powder, peppers and curry paste, and didn't take a single sip of water, drip one tear, or heck, even cough. He tried to match me, and it was a cute effort, but it fell far short. That guy's still intimidated of me to this very day.

So, yeah, the Thai spices. Love 'em, though I'm also learning to appreciate other flavors and aspects of Thai cuisine, like sweet coconut undertones, and as experienced here and there, lime leaves. It's a good thing, because otherwise, these Trader Joe's Thai Lime Shrimp Skewers would've been a rather large disappointment.

If you have any preconceived notions that all Thai food is spicy, throw it completely out the window here. These are not spicy at all, in any way that any tongue, branch of science, or philosopher could ever discern. In yet another example of TJ's exemplary track record in overall shrimp quality, each one of these are firm, fresh, non-fishy tidbits that heat up quickly and easily. For flavor, instead of the usual spicy suspects, it's all about the lime, but not in a citrusy Warhead-esque way, It's more refined. Such is the way of the kaffir lime. Not sure how to accurately describe it - Wikipedia uses words like "aromatic" and "astringent" which sounds like a smelly zit remover description to me - but perhaps it's like a limey answer to lemongrass. The citrus is subtle, while the herbal taste isn't but it isn't overpowering either. It's just good.

However, it ain't all perfect. This is yet another silly pet peeve that I'm slowly becoming more cognizant that I have, but the tails on? Really? Haven't we evolved past this? I hate shrimp tails, especially because it's not always easy to get the last little shrimp nub in them. My toddler daughter also kept reaching for pile of tails, much like she usually does while making a scene trying to grab clementine peels, except she loves clementines and didn't care for this shrimp whatsoever. Also, these got cold really fast after finishing cooking them. I'm talking ice cold in about three minutes. That might be more me than my little crustacean cronies - anybody with some insight? I could also live without the skewer itself, but meh. Also, please just a little spice. Please.

All told, the shrimp skewers aren't a bad buy. They're definitely much better than our previous meat-unnecessarily-on-a-stick purchase. You get five sticks with five shrimp on each for either five or six bucks. That's less than a quarter each, and given that I saw a bar advertising 90 cent wings as a special the other day, I'm thinking a restaurant would charge much more. Sandy liked 'em enough to score them a four without much to say one way or the other. I'll counter with a three.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Thai Lime Shrimp Skewers: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


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