Google Tag

Search This Blog

Friday, January 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Smoked Ghost Chilies

Maybe you want to add a little extra something to your chili or soup or whatever for dinner. Maybe you had those TJ's ghost chili chips a few months back and thought, "Hey, those weren't so bad." Maybe on a recent trek to Trader Joe's you saw the Smoked Ghost Chilies grinder and thought, for $4.99, it'd add a nice little kick but something you could easily handle.

And you'd be wrong.

Listen: Unless you know what you're getting into, leave this pepper alone. It's beyond hot and spicy. The fact it comes inside a little plastic baggies inside the grinder should be a clue - I think it's so the capsaicin won't eat thru the grinder itself while still on store shelves. It's hot. Listen: most times I've used it, I've turned the grinder only the minimum necessary and let the few small flakes fall out...and that's seemed a bit much. A quarter turn would make things downright uncomfortable...a full would be a reason to go the ER.

Such is the way of the bhut jolokia, rough translation: butt igniter. Super fiery hot. Proceed with caution. No kids. No contact with eyes. No nothing. It'll take me years to get through this...and I like to think I'm a spice aficionado. I like the ghouly grinder but in small doses, and it's far from an everyday kinda thing. Maybe I'm just getting old. But be careful, kiddos.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Smoked Ghost Chilies: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers

Ah, so many fun things come from Scandinavia: vikings, danishes, Spotify, Ikea...and now this. Just what we need after a month of sweets, cakes, parties, and junk food: more candy! 

And in our house, the holiday season just ended last night. It was Three Kings Day. Some of you might know it as "Epiphany." Latin Americans often celebrate it with a rosca—a big cake full of candied fruits and a plastic baby Jesus baked into it somewhere. Tradition states that whoever gets the piece with baby Jesus has to host the party the following year. Good times. But we did without a rosca this time around. Instead, we celebrated with tres leches cake, miscellaneous libations, guessed it: these soft, seafood-themed candies.

In light of recent events, Trader Joe's seems awfully confident they won't get sued by Swedish Fish over these "Scandinavian Swimmers." We see what you did there, TJ's. Very clever. You just went slightly more vague with the terms used in your product title. could be referring to Norwegian Lobsters and Danish Dolphins for all we know. And depending on who you ask, Finnish Seahorses and Icelandic Porpoises might be included in the bunch as well. Regardless of all that, I like them. I call them "Scandies." Get it? Scandinavian candies. Scandies. It's a contraction of the tw—oh, nevermind.

There are four different flavors (and colors). I like all of them except the yellow flavor. It just doesn't taste like anything to me. It's vaguely sweet, but there's very little tart lemon essence or luscious pineapple or anything like that. It's just...there. I can't really identify any of the other distinct flavors either, but all the rest seem like they belong there, though none pack the sour, citrusy zing that we found in last year's Sour Gummies T's & J's. It might just be my imagination, but I think the blue (dolphin) flavor is slightly berry-esque and the orange (fish) flavor is sorta orangey. I'm not even going to venture a guess as to the red flavor. Maybe the ladies over at Candyology will eventually offer us some concrete insights into the matter.

Texture-wise, they're wonderfully soft, and I must admit, my inner five-year-old thinks the shapes are kinda fun. The number one ingredient is cane sugar so, as candies go, I'd say these are a higher quality product than most mainstream offerings. Neither Sonia nor I are huge candy folks, but after being wowed by the aforementioned T's & J's, we decided to check these out as well. They're certainly not bad, but both Sonia and I would take the sour gummies over these guys any day. It looks like double 3.5's on this one. I might have gone with a 4 if that yellow flavor weren't so...blah.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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    

You Might Like: