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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trader Joe's Cinnamon British Style Crumpets

I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity, or perhaps my 'Murican-ness, or whatever it is I have to be comfortable with, to admit that I watch (and love) Downton Abbey. In fact, Sonia and I recently visited the Downton Abbey exhibit at the Winterthur estate in Wilmington, DE. Fun stuff if you're in the area.

And maybe it's the few drops of English nobility in my blood, but every once in a while I get a thirst for a spot of tea. I've often proclaimed in my best British accent—imitating Lord Grantham—that it's "time for tea and crumpets," but until this fateful first full week of 2015, have never actually had crumpets on hand. Generally, I had to substitute toast for crumpets, but now, thanks to Trader Joe, that's changed.

I'm pretty sure the traditional English crumpet isn't necessarily cinnamon-flavored like these muffins are, but the cinnamon was very subtle in this particular instance. They still tasted good with grape jelly, but I preferred mine heated in the toaster and eaten plain with butter—or even with a bit of maple syrup, which I suppose is more Canadian than British, but hey, I'm international like that.

They were almost like a hybrid of traditional pancakes and English muffins, but doughier than either of those. They were similar to little round sponges, soaking up whatever we put on them very quickly. We ate them for breakfast, served with TJ's Earl Grey Tea, and it was wonderful—enough to keep me speaking with an obnoxious British accent for hours, which by the way, is an excellent way to drive away strangers seeking small talk at bus stops and such, just in case you're tragically introverted and antisocial like I am.

At $2.49 for six, this product is simply brill. Sonia gives them 4.5 stars, and I give 'em 4. Really, really darn good.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Trader Joe's Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

Talk about starting off the new year with a bang.

Just look at the name of the newest products to hit the shelves: Trader Joe's Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce. Daaaang. The first half is uber-hipster-buzzword-happy ("Trader Joe's," "Organic", and "Sriracha") while the second half just promises to be full of flavor. Add the two together, and it sounds like we got the makings of one very potent, very flavorful, very intense condimental companion to your next dinner time. Tastebuds, consider the gauntlet thrown.

That is not an understatement.

This one very serious, pretty boss sauce. Not any where in my recent memory have I had anything quite like this. There's some burning heat. There's smokiness. Lots of garlic. But even then, there's some tanginess and sweetness that all kind of balls up together in one solid, succinct yet complex flavor wave. It's tough to describe exactly - the first taste starts off relatively sweet enouh, with a little garicky crescendo - must be that roasted garlic goodness. But once the heat hits, it hits - there's no dillydallying here. Habaneros are listed as an active ingredient, after all. Although intense, the spiciness is a somewhat nuanced one, offset by some classic smoky barbeque flavor, with still a little bit more garlic poking through. And naturally there's a lingering hot peppery aftertaste which only grows with each successive bite.

As far as consistency, the sriracha barbeque sauce is a good, thicker, goopier kinda of concoction, with little bits of minced garlic floating around. That was a minus for Sandy - it seemed a bit too weird of a textural offset for her.

She and I are on our second bottle already. Our first go-around with the sauce was on New Year's Eve, when on a last second audible we switched the plan from grape jelly meatballs to simmering said meatballs in the crockpot all slathered up in this instead. Good call. The time in the slowcooker seemed to cancel out the heat a tad, though, while accentuating the roasted garlic - pretty good, nonetheless, and made the second time a pleasant surprise for its heat and potency. Tasted awesome with chicken, terrific with some peppers and carrots dabbed in, although (probably not suprisingly) not so wonderful with pineapple - the heat, yes, the garlic, no. Something independently propelled both Sandy and I to do that, though, so perhaps we're not too crazy.

No question about it: the TJ's sriracha-garlic BBQ is going to end up as a new favorite. It warms our hearts as much as it warms our bellies. Other than the small bits of garlic interfering with an otherwise smooth-as-can-be delivery, there's no complaints here. None.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons    

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