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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trader Joe's Natural Buffalo Jerky

I was going to buy more turkey jerky, but I was afraid I might gobblegobble it all up.

Then I thought maybe I'd get more salmon jerky. I wonder what in the heck spawned that idea.

Then I recalled my coworker promised me some kangaroo jerky, and that made feel very hoppy. 

But I got me some Trader Joe's Natural Buffalo Jerky anyways because, umm, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo? Right. I have no idea what that means, and I'm not even an intimidating American bison from Western New York State.

Nah, I bought the buffalo jerky because of the high recommendations of you, our faithful readers, and needing a shelf stable, tasty, protein-laced snack for work as part of a diet/exercise regimen I'm trying out (down about 4 pounds in a week!). As much as I'd love to have a Foreman grill at my cubicle, I don't think I could swing that. I'd rather fight for a yoga ball to sit (a la the mayor in "Portlandia") on instead of our 0 WAR* office chairs anyways.

You know, I swore I had this a few months back while on a massive jerky tilt, and thought I wasn't too terribly impressed. I remembered dry, tough stringiness without much flavor. Maybe that was just an exceptionally sad sack, or equally as possible, my brain checked out completely, because this is good, good, good jerky. Darn good. Each chunk I sampled was actually soft and tender, like 90% dehydrated slices of buffalo steak rather than jerky. No stringiness. No tough little bits to dig out from molar crevices. Just soft, sweet buffalo meat.

And I do mean sweet. Apple cider vinegar was a brilliant call as it shines through, yet it's balanced out by a little smokiness and slight bit of sugar. Very tasty. says "spicy" on the package. I don't expect a Tabasco-laden karate chop to the taste buds, but there's not quite enough, at least not upfront. Some sneaks back up the windpipe, but just even a scant shake of black or even crushed red pepper, just to give a little hint of heat, would've really taken it to the next level. Still, I'm very appreciative of the flavor which, even though there's a good bit of sodium each serving, is still much less than many competitors.

Alan, my loyal jerky companion (who actually did supply some kangaroo jerky, which was also tasty yet strangely reminiscent of a Hebrew National hot dog) agreed, giving a description that only he can. I quote: "More buffalo tender than jerky.  Consistent meat, no filler, smooth like the first hit off a Marlboro Red.  Perfection transcended upon the combination of sugar, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar.  Creeper spice, nothing on initial tasting, but snuck up behind and bit the tongue."

I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want: the term "creeper spice" to catch on. Wonder which one she was. Zig a zig ha!

Seriously, though, good jerky, probably the best I've had in recent memory. Price isn't too bad: $5.99 for a 3.5 ounce bag. You'd be hard-pressed to spend less elsewhere, even at the online mecca of Amazon. Just needs that extra kick of spice, and it'd be a Pantheon shoo-in. As is, it knocks at the very door.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Natural Buffalo Jerky: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons
* Sorry, baseball nerd's almost Opening Day! And yes, our office chairs are Ryan best. Which is kinda appropriate if you think about it.       

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Spicy Ranchero Egg White Salad

I think the most common problem I've come across in three and a half years' worth of Trader Joe's reviews is blandness. TJ's foods seldom taste bad in my opinion, but they occasionally taste like nothing at all. I don't know that we've run into that problem much in recent history, but it has been an overarching trend since the beginning of this blog. TJ's foods are at least as "healthy" as food in mainstream grocery stores. And for some reason, I feel like they seldom offer foods with terrible textures—granted, many TJ's products are far from perfect in the texture department, but the "feel" of their foods is usually at least acceptable. So yeah, I think a lack of flavor is one of the few negative trends we've discerned among Trader Joe's brand food products.

That's what we've got here. After eating a forkful of this product, I smacked my lips and desperately tried to taste it. Eggs? Mayo? Anything? There might have been hints of vinegar or something, but I couldn't really tell. So just as I was about to give up and take another forkful, a mild to moderate tingling came over my tongue. "Ah, that's the 'spicy' part mentioned on the packaging," I thought. Sonia swears she actually tasted bell peppers. There might have been traces of pepper like from a pepper shaker, but I didn't notice the taste of any vegetables. To me, this egg salad was like a bit of hot sauce with an unusually complicated texture.

But I liked the texture. Sonia didn't. She thought the eggs were too firm. I agree that they were firmer than normal egg whites, which was weird, but I found that to be a welcome surprise in an otherwise totally unremarkable product. You can also feel little bits of vegetabley things and a semi-velvety sauce. It had a nice mouthfeel. And FYI, "mouthfeel" is not one of my many made-up words. Food rheologists use it all the time...apparently.

Although someone will inevitably disagree, we're gonna go ahead and tell you that this isn't a great stand-alone food. Neither of us could eat it straight out of the tub the way we could the Curried Chicken Salad. Truth be told, this egg salad isn't terrible when eaten with other foods because it's so neutral. It just adds a little tingle to whatever you're having. You can't even taste the 360mg of sodium in each serving. But in the end, Sonia and I both say "fail." 2 stars from her, 2 from me.

Bottom line: 4 out of 10. 

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