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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Trader Joe's Meter Long Beer Bratwurst

Alright, alright, alright. Let's be upfront and get this out of the way already here.Yes, there's a lot of jokes that can be made about a, ahem, sausage of this size. No, I'm not going to repeat any of them here. One of my buddies and I sure made enough of them on New Year's Eve when I brought over Trader Joe's Meter Long Beer Bratwurst, much to the annoyance of our two much more lovely, much more mature, and absolutely more sober wives. We had our meat, we had our drink, we had our fun, now it's time to get down to the business of reviewing this fairly significant feat o' meat...

Hrmm, "Feat o' Meat" - that has a nice ring to it. I like it. How about naming it that, or similarly, "Three Feet of Meat"? If you must stick to that silly, worldly, completely logical metric system. how about "Meat-er Long Brat"? C'mon, it's quite possibly the longest, most readily-commercially available meat product out there - have some fun with it!

Relatedly, I may have just blown any chance of ever landing a gig with the Fearless Flyer. Drats.

This one heckuva monu-meat-al achievement though. As in, it's a seriously good brat. As you can easily tell from my picture, my buddy Nick tossed it on the grill for about a good 20 to 25 mins, flipping halfway through, to get a good, charred, cracked casing. In my opinion, that's really the only way to cook such a thing. The end result was positively mouthwatering: hot, sizzly, juicy, like a sausagey siren bent on leading me and my diet astray. Like any bratwurst worth the name, TJ's beer brat is a good mix of both pork and beef - I can't say exact ratio, but noticeably more pork. It's a good blend, though - not too grainy or rubbery like some I've had, but even and intact inside the pork casing.

And, of course, there's beer! Due to silly Quaker-heritage Pennsylvania laws, I haven't had the pleasure of Trader Joe's Vintage Ale too very often, so had to look up what the experts have to say about it. Hrmm, okay, yeasty, bready, some "banana esters" (whatever those are)...okay, I kinda remember that one I had a couple years back. To be honest, I didn't pick up too much of the actual beer flavor in the brats, but I'm willing to bet that's more my palate's shortcomings, as I rarely can in any beer brat. I mean, there was some beery aspects, but not enough to make it super noticeable or give me pause. I more noticed the paprika and peppery aspects than any beer ones. That's all well and good, since the flavor is mild enough to make it prime for pairing with any of your favorite sauces or mustard or whatever, while still enjoyable enough to consume straight up..

All to say, I really enjoyed shuffling off this meat-al coil. I definitely ate more of it than I intended to, I think - my intake modulator wasn't working that night. Good thing it's a great deal - it's over a pound and a half, and costs only $6.99. I'm pretty sure I've seen it around for a while, so hopefully it'll continue to stick around for a bit. Both Sandy and I are wavering around a 4 to a 4.5, so let's call it one of each.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Meter Long Beer Bratwurst: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons    

Monday, January 4, 2016

Trader Joe's Jicama Sticks

Sonia had purchased this product on one of her solo TJ's runs, so it was a surprise when I found it on the kitchen counter. "What are these Ticama Sticks?" I asked. Just then, I noticed it said "Jicama Sticks," with a "J." I had been thrown off by the peculiar font TJ's chose. 

So I re-phrased my question to: "What are these Jai-camma Sticks?" butchering the product name like a true 'Murican. Sonia's reply came back with the correct pronunciation. "Oh, the Hee-comma Sticks? They're really good! I used to eat these growing up. My mom would give them to me when I was sick."

They're basically just run-of-the-mill root vegetables, similar to radishes or turnips, but sliced into long, narrow sticks. When you Google the phrase "jicama tastes like," the top two auto-fill choices that pop up are "like apple" and "like dirt," a not so subtle clue that there may be two distinct camps when it comes to jicama appreciation. I'll agree the texture is very similar to a fresh, crisp apple, but I must admit, when it comes to taste, I fall squarely in the "tastes like dirt" category.

I can appreciate fresh root vegetables: potatoes and carrots are great, radishes are nice in salads, and even beets have their place, but jicama? Meh. Not for me. Sonia loves it, though—at least most of the time. Must be a Latin/Hispanic thing.

I'm a fan of almost anything with a few drops of lemon juice and a dusting of chili powder, but even that combo couldn't redeem these things in my humble opinion. Sonia describes jicama sticks as "nutty and lightly sweet." She's got a great imagination when it comes to jicama apparently—although she did dock some points in this case because Trader Joe's selection was "not as sweet as the jicama (she) grew up on."

Sonia's going to go with a 3.5. Even though they're not the greatest representation of jicama, she's quite impressed that TJ's carries them at all. I'm tempted to go with one star, but I'll go with a 2 since they're healthy and nutritious, cheap and convenient.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

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