Google Tag

Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Brooklyn Babka

Let's say my review of the Chocolate Brooklyn Babka was Episode IV, A New Hope: an unfamiliar genre of food at TJ's; a baked good by which to measure all others of its kind. Well then, logically, Mr. Shelly's look at the Mango Brooklyn Babka was The Empire Strikes Back, with mango playing the role of Lando Calrissian. At first, both mango and Lando seem super cool. But then, you realize you don't want to spend a ton of time with them, particularly when they betray you to Darth Vader and/or spoil your summer TJ's runs with ridiculous amounts of mango-infused nonsense. But in the end, Lando turns out to be okay and joins the rebellion, just as certain mango products are very welcome, despite having to keep your guard up just a little bit whenever you're around them.

So that leads us to this product: Pumpkin Spice Brooklyn Babka. If we're sticking with our Star Wars metaphors, then we've arrived, inexorably, at The Return of the Jedi. Can you guess what role "pumpkin spice" plays here? 

That's right. Ewoks.

Super divisive, either love 'em or hate 'em, overly cutesy, give their fans the warm fuzzies, some might say unnecessary, yet as they stand, an integral part of the season/story.

If you don't like Ewoks, they'll ruin Episode VI for you. If you don't like pumpkin spice, it'll probably ruin this babka in a similar fashion. I embrace both for what they are, although, even I have my limits. There's just no justifying those god-awful pumpkin caramels or The Battle for Endor

But back to the babka. I looked up what kinds of babkas exist in normal New York bakeries, and pretty consistently, chocolate and cinnamon were the only flavors to come up in the articles I found. Neither mango nor pumpkin spice were mentioned. Ever. But hey, this isn't a bakery in Boro Park, this is Trader Joe's. They can do what they want. But I would like to ask them: why wouldn't you want to make a Cookie Butter Brooklyn Babka? Not such a far cry from cinnamon, I would think. But what do I know?

On a podcast episode long ago, Russ mentioned the lightness and airiness of the mango babka (just like Cloud City). Sonia and I were perplexed, as the chocolate variety was quite dense, rich, and heavy. Now we know what he was talking about, as the bread within this pumpkin spice version, too, is nice and light. Fluffy almost. The top of the babka is the exception to the airiness. It's thicker, heavier, and more flavorful than the rest of the product, and both Sonia and I agree it's our favorite part.

There's a fair amount of pumpkin spice flavor throughout. Sonia says she tastes an abundance of allspice in particular. She wishes there were a little less of it. I have a hard time identifying individual pumpkin spice flavors, but I do notice a slightly-more-pungent-than-usual pumpkin spice flavor that's just a little unappealing. It also leaves a slight aftertaste. That must be what she's talking about.

All in all, the flavor's about what you'd expect for a pumpkin spice pastry. The texture is pleasant and inviting. Personally, I'd put this on par with the chocolate babka, score-wise. If I wanted something rich and heavy, I'd grab the chocolate kind. If I wanted something light and fall-ish, I'd grab this one. Either way, these babkas will obliterate your munchies like a massive battle station with enough firepower to destroy an entire planet.

Three and a half Death Stars from me. Four from Sonia.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trader Joe's Roasted Tomatillo & Mango Salsa

Ya know, in retrospect, it was probably unfair of me to say I was done with any Trader Joe's new fangled mango products. Truth was, as probably all of the rest of you, I was just sick of them, and poor Nathan had to pick up the blog slack, which in true Rodgers fashion, was done admirably.

But now, it's *sigh* pumpkin spice season. Unless there's some flashy irresistible bang-up product that I just can't resist (unlikely, but possible), I'm probably leaving all that alone, so if there's a new mango product I could possibly be interested in, I think I oughtta pick it up.

Actually, I have no idea if Trader Joe's Roasted Tomatillo & Mango Salsa is new or not. October doesn't exactly scream "Fruit Salsa Appreciation Month," so it seems weird to think it's new...but then again, I hadn't seen it. Maybe I just had my anti-mango horse blinders on. You tell me.

Would've been a shame to miss out on it. This salsa is mighty fine. There's a lot of sweetness, seemingly more from roasted tomatillo than anything else. And heat. lots of heat. Look at the ingredients - there' ghost pepper in here, which gives off a lot of spice, more than otherwise anticipated from appearances.

In what seems to be a strange step of salsa science, there's also corn and black beans tossed in the mix. I'm not really sure why that is...they're not exactly unwelcome, but it's not like any flavor gets added by them.

Maybe it's just to hide the mangoes.

I mean, there are mangoes in here...some decent sized pieces...but unless you happen to bite square into one, and pay some attention to it, it's easy to miss. With all of those aforementioned factors - roasty tomatillo sweetness, spicy heat, added texture of beans and corn - it's kinda easy to skip over the fact that there's mangoes involved. Even after repeated tastings, I'm not sure if I want to say that they're approaching indetectability or if they inconspicuously tie it all together.

Regardless of whichever answer, I'll come back for more and more. It's pretty fantastic salsa, which i found paired exceptionally well with some multigrain tortilla chips. Sandy's a huge fan because of the heat and absence of tomatoes, and as for me, I like the experimental feel to it - it's an odd hodge-podge that in the end works rather well. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Roasted Tomatillo & Mango Salsa: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

You Might Like: