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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Trader Joe's Wild King Salmon Jerky

At about 46:20 of Let's Talk TJ's! Podcast Episode 6, there's a fairly entertaining discourse about the Wild Salmon Jerky Russ reviewed last year. Near the end of that conversation, I volunteered to be the What's Good at Trader Joe's guinea pig for "Salmon Jerky version 2.0." I try to be a man of my word, so yesterday morning I shelled out the $5.49 for the small three ounce bag and "took one for the team," all in the name of intrepid food blogging. 

This uncommon jerky is a new product that no longer uses chum salmon as the primary ingredient, but instead employs the use of regal, fresh, Alaskan king salmon. Some have speculated that chum salmon was also sometimes referred to as "dog salmon" because Alaskan native peoples would only feed it to their sled dogs. Others claim the nickname came from the fish's canine-esque mandibles and many teeth. Either way, it's a fact that chum salmon are commercially undesirable, and so king salmon are a big step in the right direction. And best of all, they're still "wild," or "free range," like the salmon in those fictional breakfast muffins.

But still, this product is amazingly fishy. I mean, it's almost completely made of fish, so I don't know exactly what I was expecting. I guess I was thinking that the jerkifying process would make it significantly less fishy. But no. Still quite fishy. And to add to the fishiness, you can actually see where the scales were on the salmon chunks (see pic). So yeah. Fishy.

Good thing I like fish. My dogs do, too. No matter where in the house I opened this package of salmon jerky, the dogs smelled it immediately and were at my heels, begging for scraps. I mean, sure, they do that for everything, but they seemed especially enthused about this product—probably because of the fairly pungent fishy smell. I'm pretty sure if they were going to score this product, it would get 10 stars. But unfortunately, the humans in the house weren't quite as wowed.

However, I must admit the quality of the "meat" itself is pretty good. There's a nice smoky, spicy, sweet flavor to it. And it does taste like salmon—certainly not the best salmon I've ever had, but not the worst salmon I've ever had either. The texture is pretty close to traditional jerky, although this salmon stuff has a tendency to flake off in little angular chunks, similar to the way a normal fish fillet would. It's also more oily than any other jerky I've had lately. You'll pine for moist towelettes after handling it.

Even if you're a huge fan of the taste and texture, it's a little on the pricey side. I can't see this ever becoming a regular purchase in our house. It's not terrible, though. I'm just glad I'm not the one who tried the version with chum in it. 3 stars from me. Sonia was initially overwhelmed by the fishy smell, but got over it quickly. She gives this product 3.5 stars, and insists that it tastes somewhat like bacon. I'm not sure where she's getting that from. Silly Sonia.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Josephsbrau Plznr

Ah, Princeton, NJ. Once known as an Ivy League town, prided on top-notch schooling and producing some of the nation's elite scholars, engineers, educators, and financiers, has become known to my wife and I as a fun place to go geocaching, and more importantly, Trader Joe's Beverage Central—as it is apparently known to quite a few here in the Mid-Atlantic region, including the Pittsburgh-based Shellys (who don't actually drive 5 1/2 hours JUST to buy Trader Joe's brand alcoholic beverages—they apparently have family in the area). I understand those liberal New Yorkers have quite a few options when it comes to Trader Joe's brand libations, but those of us in South Jersey, Delaware, and the Quaker State have one heck of a time procuring the stuff. It's a little over an hour's drive for us, so we only go when we have other reasons to be in the area. But recently, business took us to Tiger territory...and we found a fascinating brew or two.

And so, it's time for a beer review. In 685 posts on this blog, this is only the fourth post dedicated to actual alcoholic beer, and the first featuring Trader Joe's Josephsbrau label. Five years back, Sonia and I took a look at TJ's Corona Light knockoff and found it to be a pretty decent imitation of the original. On that particular shopping excursion, there had been no full-calorie Corona-esque beers available, and their selection (at least at that location in Los Angeles) was vastly inferior to the selection we find currently at suds-friendly TJ's locations here on the East Coast. And fortunately for me, as my taste in beers has migrated from mass-produced lagers to more interesting craft brews over the last five years, so, apparently, has Trader Joe's selection moved in the same direction.

I'm far from a beer expert, but I know enough about pilsners and beer in general to know that, despite the claims made on the can itself, Miller Lite is NOT a "fine pilsner beer." Just like a brew Russ reviewed many moons ago, pilsners are originally from the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. As I learned on Wikipedia, they were made with soft water, pale malts, noble hops, and bottom-fermenting yeasts. 

Similar to other pilsners I've had, this beer poured a light straw-ish color with a fairly small head of foam. With an average alcohol content (5.4% ABV) the flavor was bready more than malty and there was a sharp bitterness to it. It left a slightly bitter aftertaste, too. It was well-carbonated, but not overly so. If you've been reading this blog a while, you know I LOVE fizzy beverages.

Another interesting note about this product is the peculiar spelling of "pilsner." There are plenty of other acceptable ways to spell the word, but this is the first I've seen "PLZNR." claims it's simply because the beer is unique, but I'm wondering if, similar to the band "Chvrches," it has to do with search engine optimization? Both the band and the beer are "not bad" in my humble opinion, but I'd say the unique spellings are strokes of marketing genius. Sonia agrees about the beer, but no so much about the weird spellings.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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