Google Tag

Search This Blog

Friday, July 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango & Strawberry Flatbread

Well since Mr. Shelly is retiring from the wonderful world of mango product reviews, I guess it's up to me to keep the mango insanity astir on this blog. And even under threat of home invasion and sedation, that mango cookie butter is MINE! You'll never get within a hundred feet of our house without our Alfred and Sadie-driven home security system barking us awake, Russ. NEVER!

Be that as it may, I'm sure that yet another mango review is not only encouraging Big Joe to make more of these mango products, but it's also annoying the heck out of half of our readers. (Please see survey at the bottom of this review.) But honestly, I think this product is worth a looksee. It's a complicated product, far more sophisticated than most of the mango offerings we've seen this past month or so.

First of all, we have to be familiar with the Law of Balsamic Reduction. It states that "any rectangular flatbread with balsamic drizzle can be reduced into exactly five smaller rectangular flatbreads with sides exactly one fifth the size of the original rectangle, but despite maintaining the same side to side ratio, all toppings, including balsamic reduction drizzle, shall be unevenly distributed across said flatbreads." In layman's terms, this means that once cut into smaller slices, some pieces of flatbread will have tons of toppings and others will have very little—specifically, the end pieces will have an unfavorable bread to topping ratio.

Never has the Law of Balsamic Reduction been more apparent than with this ambitious attempt at a gourmet appetizer. Nevertheless, the center pieces of our flatbread came out quite tasty, in my opinion, flaunting two delicious fruits, wilted arugula, and varying amounts of the aforementioned sweet balsamic reduction drizzle. Sonia thinks the mango and balsamic together resulted in a taste too intense for her tongue. She doesn't think they clashed exactly—she just thinks one or the other would have provided adequate sweetness and that both together was overkill. I'll agree that they were both quite sweet, but they were two very different kinds of sweet, if that makes sense. 

It's definitely a roller coaster ride for the taste buds, but you know, every once in a while, I really like to take my tongue on the big boy rides.

If you're open to a suave kind of sweetness, I recommend this product wholeheartedly. My biggest complaints would be that there weren't nearly enough strawberries and that the toppings were unevenly distributed. The balsamic reduction sauce did come in a separate packet that I put on myself, so I guess if that was unevenly distributed, I only have myself to blame.

I give this product four and a half stars. Sonia will only spring for three.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Brooklyn Babka

Yes, yes...I know. Another mango product review. Believe me, I'm SICK of mango stuff. It's part of the gig - Trader Joe's leads a mango onslaught, it's my job to figure out what's good and worthwhile, and what simply isn't. Way too many products have been middling at best thus far. Seems even the TJ's employees I've talked to, informally, are tired of mango everything.

Well, here's a proclamation: I (Russ), as of the completion of this review, am DONE with any mango-related review from now on until eternity. Pretty much the only exception would be IF (and it's a big part two-part IF) something truly amazeballs would debut, like, say, mango cookie butter, and I drove to South Jersey first, and chloroformed the Rodgers clan to make sure I got to it first. That's...probably not going to happen, Pennsylvania turnpike tolls being what they are.

But I'd be absolutely derelict in my duties if I didn't tell you about Trader Joe's Mango Brooklyn Babka. Hands down, it's our absolute favorite TJ mango concoction we've had yet. And this is coming from a very mango-weary man. It's been multiple-purchase worthy, which for a treat and non-staple, is very, very high praise for our establishment.

It must be said this babka is my only frame of reference for babka - I've led a sheltered life. It's a large, weighty pastry loaf which I'd liken most closely to a danish - it's chewy and layered yet kinda flaky. I guess there's a certain denseness to it, but not as much as what I've heard re: the chocolate babka ("condensed brownie" are the words I recall). No, a slice will practically fall apart along the dough spiral lines, with a sweet, sugary, but not overkill mango puree swirled in, with extra mango flavor coming from the faintly orange dough. A little light mango glaze on top adds just that little extra oomph as well.

A little look at the ingredient list offered a surprising insight that might explain this product's overall success: that "mango puree" I mentioned? It's apples, followed by apricots, and then the mango. It's odd, because it is decidedly mangotastic...maybe the apples offer a suitable base, while the apricots seamlessly boost the flavor...I don't know...but it works. No question about it.

A slice of babka with a cup of coffee makes a nice little morning treat, or skip the coffee for some dessert. I've heard there's ways to grill babka slices (which would be awesome here, I think) or get a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go alongside. Lots of good possibilities here. If even half the mango stuff out there, in its own context, tasted as good as this babka does, there's no doubt that the Summer of Mango would have been a blockbuster.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mango Brooklyn Babka: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

You Might Like: