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Monday, July 27, 2015

Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral

Every once in a while, someone makes the assertion that I am a talented writer. Even more every once in a while, that someone is not my mom. And then, yet even more every once in a while, I get the question of why I basically only write about Trader Joe's products, and not things like politics or social issues or other weighty, important muckity muck like that.

Easy. We all need a break from that. Just check your Facebook newsfeed. And just consider me pretty hesitant to add yet another clamoring voice to that festering noise pile of opinion, when really, at the end of the day, I'll either agree with you, or we'll balance each other out, so either way we're good in my opinion. Let's talk happy stuff like food instead.

That's why in this review of Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral, I'll avoid all that Greek/EU economic WTFery going on (that's a Greek spiral in its own way). Instead, revisit my classic 5 Cheese Frusta review here, because perfect segue...

Much like that frusta, all the cheeses in this spirally guy just kinda melt all together in an indistinguishable meld. And instead of cheesy, I'd say it tastes more salty and perhaps even gritty. I know for sure what gouda is supposed to taste like - not there. And I've been to enough Greek food festivals to be confident that I'd be able to identify the others, even if I'm not 100% sure what either "semi-hard" (flaccid?) or "blue" (not "bleu") cheese is...and no feta? Hrmmm.

That's not quite all, either. The phyllo roll seems to be one long, long section of dough sheets rolled up, but no base to hold them together, so cutting the pie-shaped section like the one picture on the box front results in multiple crescent-shaped sections. Plus, while baking in the oven, the whole thing was just kinda spewing out grease and stuff, which dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. It's not like that should have been unexpected, but still. The end result is a greasy, crispy, kinda bland, yet kinda salty dish that would be okay alongside some other, more successful Greek-inspired TJ's products, but don't make this one the star of a Greek feast.

 Not too much else to say. Sandy seemed indifferent when we ate this about a week ago, so I was surprised when she decided to give it a four. "Just so crispy!" she exclaimed. I'll give it that....but not much else.  It takes a little more to get my zorbas dancing.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trader Joe's Fig Bites

I like to think I'm pretty good at guessing what's inside packages and wrapped gifts. Sort an annoying habit for all of those around me, I know, but I've just always been that way. There's a whole routine - a little shake, a couple taps or a knock (depending on size), another few wiggles. Usually I'm pretty close - the only significant, way-off guess I can recall is when I thought I was going to get a bike as my big Christmas present one year, but I'll chalk that more up to my then-five year old mind not being able to comprehend the magnitude of awesomeness that a G.I. Joe aircraft carrier is.

This is mentioned in relation to Trader Joe's Fig Bites because on our latest podcast, Sonia mentioned seeing them in store and not knowing what they could be. Sure enough, when I found them a few days later, there's the opaque packaging, with very few (if any) clues on the write up on them. But I can feel a plastic tray....with rows?...yeah, there's rows...with little squares inside of them that most be the aforementioned Fig Bites....

"They're just Fig Newtons," Sandy blurted out. "Stop making a spectacle."

Sigh. Was just about there, but you beat me to it, wifey. Thanks. And I wasn't making that much of a spectacle, either.

Anyways, yes, take a look at the product shot on the left. "Just Fig Newtons" is about the most accurate description possible for them. Now, it's been a long time (years?) since I've had an actual authentic Fig Newton Fig Newton, so I may be a little off base, but there's not too much distinction I can draw between the two. The cookie casing might be a little cakier and not quite as chewy, with the fig portion a slight bit different too...but really, they're just about the same. Nutritionally, they're about the same, as well, but with the Trader Joe's advantage of no high fructose corn syrup. If there's any built-in advantage to a Turkish fig, well, someone will have to fill me in here, I'm ignorant. Really, if someone made me do a side-by-side comparison, I'm thinking I'd be hard pressed to tell them apart.

All of this makes for a kind of "meh" experience for me. I have nothing really against them....but there's nothing for me to loove here either. The best enjoyment I got from these cookies was my eight month old baby girl smacking her lips while she watched me eat them, as if to say "Daddy, pleasepleaseplease, can I have a bite?" I'd be inclined but we're trying to save the sweets 'til her first birthday. Our toddler seemed to like them, enough to ask for seconds (and maybe thirds), while Sandy kinda joined me in the meh-ish middle. For the couple bucks pick up, we'll probably get them again, but we won't go out of our ways, either.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Fig Bites: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

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