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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Taffy

Sonia and I have made it to campgrounds in the Jersey Shore area a couple times this year, but we haven't spent much time on the beach or on the boardwalk, and thus, we haven't really indulged in the official state candy of New Jersey recently. In lieu of said saltwater taffy, we picked up this mango stuff from TJ's. It's not bad. In fact, I think both of us would choose it over most brands of saltwater taffy we've tried. Granted, we're not huge into taffy in general, but we've had enough to know decent taffy when we taste it. 

The first thing that jumps out at me about this candy is how incredibly soft it is. Oh, wait. That's probably just the near 100 degree temperatures and ridiculous humidity making it extra squishy. Somehow, it works, though. It's still solid enough that you can slurp it off the wax paper wrapping in one piece. We cranked the AC for a while and found an unusually solid specimen for the pic on the right.

Now, I might be alone here, but I swear there's this moment while I'm eating the taffy where it feels like it's not going to dissolve properly in my mouth. It seems to display the physical properties of chewing gum for a few brief moments and my gag reflex wants to kick in. But before it does, the taffy finally thins and magically deliquesces down my throat and into my belly.

Flavor-wise, it's a sugary, yet natural-ish kind of mango flavor—not quite like the actual fruit, although there is "mango juice concentrate" listed in the ingredients—but similar to what you might expect from mango gummies or mango sorbet. It's a candied mango kind of taste—very pleasant if you enjoy mango-flavored things.

In most cases, this would not be my dessert of choice, just because I'm rarely in the mood for taffy. But as taffy goes, I must admit it meets, if not exceeds, my expectations. Three and a half from me. Sonia, also not really a taffy girl, was even more impressed. Four from her.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic 100% Melon Juice


There's such a thing as orange honeydew? I've only ever seen green ones...the only orange melon I can think of are cantaloupes...but an orange honeydew? Dang.

Shows what a sheltered life I've lived for close to 34 years. File this away under "something new every day." And I now feel as knowledgable about fruit as my 20 month old daughter who calls every fruit an "apple." Gets me every time.

Anyways, there is a TJ's variant of a cold-pressed cantaloupe juice floating around, which I knew this wasn't, but when seeing the label and shade of Trader Joe's Organic 100% Melon Juice, I presumed it was cantaloupe.

Which made my first sip very interesting...because, naturally, it tasted pretty much just like honeydew. Perhaps the orange variety are a a slight touch sweeter, because there seemed to be a little extra natural sugar at play here. Also, I'm perfectly comfortable with being further labelled as a fool for saying so, but I also tasted a small amount of subtle astringency here. Maybe that's stemming from the optical illusion that this murky orangey semi-greenish water could kinda kinda look like some type of citrus green tea variant.

Eh, whatever. It works. It's a clean, simple healthy juice that tastes like it's straight from the Sledge-O-Matic and refreshes nicely on a hot summer day. I'd still prefer to reach for some tasty lemonade after mowing the lawn, but if this was all we had, there'd be no disappointment. Winner in the wife and kids' eyes too, so not bad at all for just three bucks.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic 100% Melon Juice: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Trader Joe's Stacked Eggplant Parmesan

If someone asks you if you've tried "Trader Joe's Eggplant Parm," you've got to ask them if they mean this Stacked Eggplant Parmesan or, you know, that other abomination. Because in my opinion, this stuff is in every way superior to that Trader Giotto's eggplant dish that comes in a tray. The nutrition info for both products is comparable, although the serving size for the Stacked is somewhat smaller than the other dish. The only good thing about Trader Giotto's Eggplant Parm is that our review of it sparked a dialogue about this delicious offering. I'm super glad we tried it.

Far from being chewy like the previously-reviewed parm, the stacked variety, if anything, is too supple and soft. I understand some people prefer their eggplant on the crispy side. If you're in that boat, then I guess you might have a legitimate complaint about this particular product. I felt like it flaunted a nice "melt-in-your-mouth" quality, but Sonia thought it fell apart a little too easily. That's not to say she didn't enjoy it. She loved the flavor. And what's not to love? It's a collection of every stereotypical tasty ingredient commonly found in Italian food all mixed in and "stacked" on amazing eggplant. Especially impressive was the ricotta cheese. Tomato, bell pepper, and bread crumbs help round out the taste and texture.

We ate ours with pasta, and it worked really well. I'd be perfectly happy eating this dish all by itself, or you could slap a slab of this in between some quality Italian bread and make a sandwich of sorts. I'm not known for my culinary creativity, but I'm sure some of you guys have come up with some interesting ways to eat this entree. 

Apparently there's a third TJ's brand eggplant parm product that has somehow eluded us up to this point: Trader Giotto's Eggplant Parmesan Towers. Let us know if any of you have tried that one and we'll add it to our shopping list. Sonia and I haven't been on a proper TJ's run in a hot minute—we actually had these stacked eggplant parms a while back—but now we know there's a Pokéstop right next to the local TJ's, we have another good reason to go!

Four stars a piece.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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