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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peaberry Coffee Beans

The whole chocolate-covered espresso bean/coffee bean thing is growing on me. Bite-sized blasts of earthy cocoa, sugar, and caffeine were never my go-to pick-me-up, but even non-coffee drinkers like me have to admit, there's a lot of good stuff going on here.

I've had quite a few different brands and varieties of this sort of snack, but this is probably the best one I've tried so far. Sonia agrees, and she's far more into coffee and its derivative products than I am. There's a delightful depth to the taste of these beans that blends seamlessly with the bittersweet chocolate. Everything from the crunch of the beans to the texture of the coating is on-point and amazing. 

When I walk into a coffee shop, I always smell the enticing aromas of roasting beans and steaming milk, but when I purchase that rare cup of coffee or espresso, I'm almost always let down. Even with the best blends, I always feel like the taste of coffee can't compete with its fantastic fragrance. Not here. These beans taste like that coffee shop smells: sweet, rich, robust, and downright delicious.

The biggest drawback to these peaberry beans is the inevitable urge to eat way more than you should in one sitting—not just for the calorie count, but also because you'll be buzzing and bouncing well into the night. If you want to play a really mean trick on someone, give them a tub of these treats right before bedtime and watch them try to eat just one.

Sonia will go with four and a half stars for these comestible coffee beans. I'm still not the biggest coffee bean backer or dark chocolate devotee in the world, but I can't go with less than four here.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Chicken Spring Rolls

Although not quite as traditionally 'Murican as chicken soup or chicken pot pie, these chicken spring rolls are new to TJ's and review-worthy, so let's take a brief look, shall we?

The flour wrapper comes out nice and crispy when cooked according to the instructions. And I did. Aren't you proud of me that I didn't try to use the microwave? 

The filling is a nice soft blend of chicken, cabbage, and seasonings, with a detectable amount of sweetness, too. I've had spring rolls and egg rolls before, and I've never noticed anything sweet in the appetizer itself—perhaps in a paired dipping sauce, but not in the roll. Perusing the ingredients, I noted "sugar" right there in between green onion and basil. Interesting. Don't get me wrong, it's not excessively sweet by any means. Overall, the flavor is savory, salty, and somewhat successful, in my opinion.

Also, wouldn't these be egg rolls? After a brief Google research session, the main qualifications I found for something to be a spring roll were "not (usually) fried," "with no chicken or meat," and "with a thin translucent or transparent rice wrapper," none of which apply to these happy little snacks. 

And before someone scolds me for not knowing that all spring rolls have sugar in them or the reason why these are spring rolls and not egg rolls, let me remind you that I'm the dude that just asked you to praise me for using the stove top instead of the microwave a couple paragraphs ago. I'm not exactly a gourmet cooking authority.

But if you want my opinion on these rolls, I say they're teetering on the brink of "not bad" and "really darn good." Three and a half stars from me. Four stars from Sonia will push this in the direction of "really darn good." Her only complaint is that they don't come with a dipping sauce.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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