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Friday, March 6, 2015

Trader Giotto's Kale, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Pizza

Ciao, Trader Giotto, it's been a while!

Seriously, it has been. Last time we saw Giotto was nearly nine long months ago. Is it just me, or do the different foreign Trader Joe names seem to falling out of use a little bit more? We rarely see Trader Jose, Trader Ming, Baker Josef or any of them. Anyone remember Thai Joe? We do... barely.

There's also an ampersand. Those also seem to be falling a little bit more to the wayside in favor of "and." Give me silly, stupid character names and rarely used punctuation along with your Hawaiian shirts...oh wait, crap, I can't remember the last time I saw a crew member wear one! What's going on!?!?!

Anyways, here's a throwback name for a decent little pizza: Trader Giotto's Kale, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Pizza. You can tack on the "With Parmigiana Reggiano Cheese" portion of the title (or not) at your own discretion. While it's certainly better, this particular pizza won't get me rapping like the last Giotto pie we reviewed. But it'll probably get our repeat business.

There's a lot to like here. Let's start with the crust and go up. Ohhhh...the crust. Crispy, crunchy, cracker-y, light and airy but a firm foundation. I can't recall ever having a crust so crunchy without charring the bottom to a blackened stump. While the crust could use a little more dough and girth, it was still solidly tasty if not a little basic otherwise. As you probably could guess, instead of a red or white sauce base, it's a sweet potato puree for the saucy layer, topped by ample chopped kale and chunky butternut squash. All that seems to work together alright - the squash does seem a little sweet, without a counterbalance, though.

As for the cheese, there's a plus and a minus. The plus - I've had Parmigiano-Reggiano straight from the source on several occasions (courtesy of my wife's coworkers, who have gone to Reggio, Italy on business trips several times). It's been a while, so a direct comparison would be tough to pull off , but neither Sandy nor I would ever confuse it with the stuff from a green shaker. It's definitely not "Parmesan." That's good, but there's not quite enough. There were three or four flakes and shreds, but that was really about it. A little more, please.

Overall, though, it's a good, light pizza. I do mean light. Sandy and I made it for dinner, along side some roasted broccoli, and even though we're both increasingly cognizant of portioning, it just wasn't quite enough. If we were characters on Oregon Trail, this would classified as a "meager" meal - certainly not "bare bones" but far from "filling", and now I'm paranoid one of us will get typhoid and the oxen will run away. Great. At least we had some ice cream sandwiches deep in the depths of the freezer to combat all of those healthy things we just ate.

For $3.99 (I think), it's tough to argue with, but that doesn't mean complete satisfaction. Sandy likes it a little more than me, to the tune of a four. Loves that crust. To me, it lacks just enough in a few key departments that I can't go much higher than a three.   

Bottom line: Trader Giotto's Kale, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Pizza: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Trader Joe's Kettle Popped Sweet & Salty Popcorn Chips

Trader Joe's Kettle Popped Sweet and Salty Popcorn Chips, Whole Grain with Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Whole Quinoa, Sunflower Seeds.

That's the entire title of this product. It's like a paragraph by itself. I mean, not technically. I just mean it's really long. In a way, it's all you need to know about this product, and it's all printed right there on the front of the bag. If you like all that stuff, you'll like this product. But I guess the point of a food review is to tell you whether WE liked these popcorn chips or not.

And the answer is YES, we did. I REALLY like the ingredients list. Nothing I can't pronounce. Nothing I needed to Google. 

They're low in fat, salty and sweet, just like the bag says. Plus, TJ's has found another creative way to stick quinoa in our junk food. But as "junk food" goes, these chips are fairly low-guilt. Even the sodium isn't excessive. And as far as Sonia and I can tell, the taste doesn't suffer at all.

Not sure who the supplier is for this product, but like most TJ's items, it undoubtedly comes from a third party. Regardless, I think this type of product is what attracted me to TJ's in the first place: stuff that effectively curbs the munchies with significantly less bad stuff than traditional snacks. I mean, I LOVE the cookie butter stuff like most of you, but those treats just can't be everyday snacks unless you workout like a madman or are cool with weighing 300 pounds.

These popcorn chips have a nice light flavor that lets the natural grains through, but it has just enough cane sugar that it tastes indulgent and satisfies the sweet tooth. The flavor is more complex than other popcorn chips I've tried because of all the "ancient grain" type ingredients. The texture is crispy, crunchy, and just about perfect. $1.99 for a bag is a pretty reasonable price point, too, if you ask me.

Sonia was an even bigger fan than I was—she really digs the whole sweet and salty thing and thinks these chips nailed it. Four and a half stars from her. Four from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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