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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Trader Joe's Apple Caramel Greek Yogurt

Of the Greek yogurts we've tried from Trader Joe's, this one's the best. It's a lot more caramelly than I expected. The apple flavor is there, but subtle. It's tangy and tart, too, like you'd predict from a typical Greek yogurt. The wife was kind enough to head up a mini video review shoot in the backyard, which captured our candid first impressions of the product. It's only a minute and sixteen seconds, so give it a watch! Click here to see the nutrition info.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Harissa Salsa

"Hey! Stop eating all the kids' Halloween candy!"

That wasn't exactly what Sandy exclaimed while sitting down to watch Game 6 of the World Series, but her eyes, staring at the Reeses' and Butterfingers I had stockpiled on the couch, pretty much said that, with the heavy suggestion to find something else to snack on while trying to relax after a long, stressful day.

So, chips and salsa? That was never part of the trick-or-treat strategic reserves, so fair game. And with a new treat, Trader Joe's Harissa Salsa, in our possession, I could bear the thought of putting down the fun sized kiddie candies for at least a few minutes.

Not familiar with harissa? You're in good company. Neither was I. Kinda like the Korean barbeque sauce I reviewed last week, this is my first go-around. Tunisian and Moroccan inspired? Yes please.

First thing to notice: the aroma. This isn't a typical tomato-based salsa. Instead, the harissa literally reeks of paprika. That's meant as a compliment - because it smells FANTASTIC. It's an authentically deep aroma, a fragrant offering with some layers to it. With a little care, the bell peppers are also detectable, as well as jalapenos, but overwhelmingly, it's the paprika.

And, naturally, the taste carries through on all those premises. The milder elements are more upfront but quickly give way to that heavy, smoky paprika dose. It doesn't fool around or play games, but instead delivers the burn, and not like one I can recall from any other jarred salsa. If you can't stand spicy, stay the heck away...but if heat draws you in, you'll want to stand next to this fire.

The salsa is also smoother than it appears at first - it almost resembles a veggie salsa at first, with lots of pepper chunks - but they're all soft with no bite to them. There's no textural challenge presented by them, which I appreciate.

Sandy and I can't wait to try on more than just tortilla chips. Eggs, chicken, fish....yes to all that. There's a suggestion on the jar to pair with hummus, which would be fantastic. Because of the heat, uniqueness and presumed versatility, it's tough for either one of us to go with a score lower than four.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Harissa Salso: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Trader Joe's Gingerbread Cookie Sticks

Happy All Saints' Day, everybody. Now that the Halloween season is over, it's time for something new. 

I must admit, I do think of gingerbread as a Christmassy kind of treat, but considering the decided lack of new turkey-related items at TJ's, as well as the fact that my last post made Sonia and I sound like ginger-haters, I feel this product is an appropriate follow-up, since we've got nothing to share but ginger-love in this case.

There's "ground ginger" in the ingredients here. And the product smells and tastes a lot like ginger. But in this case, the ginger is balanced out with other spices and plenty of sweetness, including molasses and big, square, crunchy sugar granules. It's almost a homemade gingerbread cookie kind of vibe. Maybe not just like mom used to make, but certainly better than any run-of-the-mill grocery store bakery offering.

And the cookie sticks are soft! Both Sonia and I assumed they'd be crunchy for some reason. But they're as moist and soft as you'd want them to be.

Despite an overall positive impression, we do have a few negatives to point out. First, the packaging: Not a huge fan of cookies in cellophane bags—especially when they're not resealable. The product comes with a red ribbon that must be untied and re-tied each time you open the bag—otherwise the cookies are just left in the open air. Obviously, you could solve the problem by putting the cookies in some kind of tupperware, or if you've got a five-year-old handy, you could have him practice doing his shoelaces by tying the red ribbon in a bow each time the package is opened.

Also, the spices are kind of potent. It's not so much the ginger this time, but the clove and nutmeg do build up on your palate, making it difficult to eat more than one cookie at a time. I guess that's not really a bad thing, since I shouldn't be eating more than one cookie at a time anyway.

Sonia is anxious to try these cookies dunked in coffee. She'll throw out four stars this time. That sounds about right to me, too.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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