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Friday, April 10, 2015

Trader Joe's Soft & Juicy Mandarins

So, everyone has their own little pet irrational fears, right? I sure do. My big one is being buried alive. No idea where that one comes from...but just imagine the horror. No. Not going there. This scene from Kill Bill alternately inspires and scares the living bejeezus out of me. When I've shuffled off this mortal coil (or, aheam, appeared to have enough), cremate me, please. I wish to take no chances.

To a much lesser (though perhaps more realistic) extent: Scurvy. Not that I have a great grasp of what it actually is. But it just sounds so...unpleasant. And it can be deadly. Or maybe just mostly deadly, just enough for everyone to think you've crossed over to the other side, have your burial, just for you to wake up...ugh, there I go again.

Anyways, scurvy adversion must be high on my priority list, because I love me some citrus, especially mandarins and clementines and all sorts of goodies chock full of Vitamin C. At family meals where clementines are present (like a holiday brunch), it's not uncommon for me to chow down at least four while wondering how many more I can sneak without my mom or sister-in-law giving me the stinkeye. It's practically tradition at this point.

Here's another great way to enjoy them: Trader Joe's Soft & Juicy Mandarins. No peeling. No sticky fingers. No random juice puddles, and the chances of a stragglin' seed are pretty slim. No potentially offensive odors (I have a coworker who has a reaction to even the smell of oranges). Just soft, juicy, ultra sweet mandarin sections.

Each piece, though dried and tissue-y feeling on the outside, still has a fair amount of squish inside. It's not like the firm flesh of a fresh fruit, of course, but that nice dried feel, like a dried apricot. With a little imagination, like a big, soft jelly bean or so I told myself eating them over the past week or so while the coworkers were passing around the Jelly Bellies. A lot of the natural flavor comes through, too - so sweet and tart, like a fresh segment - despite the added sugar that I somehow missed in the initial version of this post. Ugh. Why do that to some perfectly good fruit? Or add sulfur to preserve? I'd prefer neither to be there, but the end result (unlike these abominations) is tasty enough that I don't wish to create a huge fuss about it either. Edit, note, and move on.

Anyways, it defintiely takes some restraint for me to not eat the whole bag over the course of just a shift or two at work. It's an easy reachable munchie that's pretty darn healthy, for a good price too (about $3). The soft 'n juicy mandarins are tentatively joining my usual work snack rotation - oh, if not for the added sugar... Sandy likes 'em quite a bit too just for their kinda-candy-but-not vibe and quick bite pick me up value.She gives them a four, while I have to slide in a little lower.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Soft & Juicy Mandarins: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Precisely what we need once Easter has passed and all the candy that we haven't devoured or the bunny hasn't doled out is now on clearance - another sweet treat review!!! Wilfred Brimley, just send me the box, stat, I'm gonna get me a case of the diabeetus any day now.

Yeah, a lot of fuss gets made this time of the year about Easter candy, like the peanut butter eggs (oh goodness), the jelly beans, the candy eggs, the chocolate bunnies. For me, and I know I'm weird and about to gross out 90% of you, but black jelly beans - those are where it's at. My absolute favorite. Aside from maybe Cadbury Creme Eggs. And anything Reese's-related.

But ever hear anything about Passover treats? No? Me neither. I guess in the name of equal opportunity sweet-samplin', when Sandy and I spotted the Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Macaroons with the "Kosher for Passover" label stamped right up top, we just had to try.

To get this out of the way right now, check this handy visual guide to distinguish between macarons and macaroons. These, with the double-o diphthong, are of the coconuttier non-sandwich variety. Or at least they're supposed to be. Honestly, you could tell me they were a special edition Entenmann's concoction, and I would have believed you, because it's pretty much exactly what they taste like. Whereas almost every other macaroon I've ever had were chockfull of chewy coconut, these aren't. Instead these macaroons, while definitely having coconut flavor (and a good dash of citrusy orange peel, too), the overriding texture and taste is just super dense cake-y stuff. I don't really understand how that works, seeing as "shredded coconut" is the number one ingredient. I could understand if it were almond or coconut flour, because of the density, but honestly, there just wasn't that much shredded coconut in ours. Great, now I'm questioning my sanity. The chocolate coating tastes and feels just like the gas station packaged donut variety too - not bad, but nothing too terribly special either.

Anyways, Sandy and I weren't saddened to pick the macaroons up for the $3.99 they set us back. But a repeat purchase just isn't too likely. After I sampled two of them, I more than had my fill. The remaining ones slowly trickled away the next couple days and when I saw the empty container in the trash, I wasn't bitter. If you need some macaroons for a Passover partaking, or if you just have a good hankerin' for some, go to your local bakery instead - clear advantage even considering the "convenience cost" as well as potentially higher actual cost. Some things are okay to do halfway, others aren't. Speaking of halfway....

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Macaroons: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Cookie Butter Filled Elephant Dung Espresso Beans

We sh...err, kid, you not.

I mean, talk about taking a real crapshoot with a product. It's not the first time that Big Joe has gambled big and sent us a product to sample and grade before hitting the markets...athough those salmon muffins didn't work due to spontaneous human combustion concerns, and that people food product last year just didn't get enough people's tails wagging, apparently. Not every product can create a splash.

Well, here's one that really pushes it to a new extreme: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Speculoos Cookie Butter Filled Elephant Dung Espresso Beans. Read it over again.


That's right.

Elephant. Dung.

Okay, okay, okay. Don't poop yourself out over this. Relax. And allow us to drop these info nuggets on you.

Coffee beans and elephant dung are an actual thing. It's called Black Ivory Coffee, which, according to this article, is the world's most expensive coffee at north of $70 a cup. Apparently, the pachydermal digestive process sweetens the natural bitterness of coffee through some type of fermentation process that heightens the natural sugars within the bean itself. Interesting. And apparently pretty tasty.

That's all well and good, you say, but those coffee beans get cleaned up before making their way to the roaster. This is something else entirely. Well, we're trusting this isn't a load of bull, but we've heard that apparently there was an incident one day at the elephant reservation/coffee plantation that involved a cookie butter tanker being stampeded, overturned, and emptied by a herd of hangry over-caffeinated mastodons. The result? A day long bingefest on cookie butter, with only an occasional coffee break. Or, as we would probably call it, heaven. Now, when the time came to collect the passed coffee beans, one of the workers noticed that there was a very distinct aroma that was not the usual brand wafting around. It smelled...speculoosy. Even...gulp...deliciously speculoosy. He then had the brilliant insight that whatever goes in would be exactly what came out, and if the elephants had had only coffee beans and cookie butter, well...Out of the most daring taste test of all time, we now have these pootie pellets, only covered with dark chocolate to literally help sugarcoat the whole experience.

So, how does it taste?

Tastes like the bomb. You have good, kinda fruity, sweet coffee beans. There's the cookie butter, um, "filling" that tastes a lot like cookie butter, just a tad earthier and nuttier. And the dark chocolate helps bind it all together and serves as a remarkably convincing textural deceiver. There's no exact explanation for it all - just dare yourself and plop one in. You'll be well relieved afterwards, trust me.

Despite my initial hesitation, I'm glad I've decided to endure the manure and give these bowel-y bonbons a try. I mean, now we have definitive proof that cookie butter will make anything taste good. Next time someone tells me to go eat poop, well, I've got my go-to poo-poo. Literally. A five. Sandy, although she likes them, still can't quite get over the whole concept, and can give them nothing more than a solid number 2.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Speculoos Cookie Butter Filled Elephant Dung Espresso Beans: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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