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Monday, February 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp

It should be pretty simple, really. Read a food package, have a reasonable understanding of what's inside and what it would taste like. Or read the ingredients or nutrition label, and figure out if it's a product you should/want to eat or not. That's not so easily always the case, of course, and I'm not talking about personal error to cause a misjudgement (though those rolls were still gross). Just last week I reviewed Trader Joe's Honey Butter Chips, and made mention of the bag stating 70 calories per serving. That caused several readers to report seeing signs at their local TJ's stating they were actually 150 calories per serving. Upon further reflection, a label error makes more sense than chips made from more or less the usual ingredients having half the caloric value of their fried spud brethren. Doesn't make that any less frustrating, of course.

Here's a less devious example: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp.

Should be easy, right? Honey. Walnuts. Shrimp. I know what all those taste like separate, and can imagine what they would be like altogether, and my mental tongue thinks its delicious. Can't be much more straightforward than that.

So why do I taste nothing but pineapple?

Well, yes, the walnuts and shrimp are also present, and obviously so, but the honey? Not so much. It's there as a subtly sweet lingering flavor, in a delicious manner, but the overarching taste by far is pineapple. It totally takes over the milky sauce that, like other similar TJ's products, comes in a separate packet to defrost and pour over/mix in the shrimp. Unlike most other TJ's products, there's actually more than enough sauce, enough to leave a veritable puddle, instead of the usual just-barely-enough portions. Wish we had some cauliflower rice on hand to help sop all that up, because it's pretty tangy, sweet, and know, like a pineapple should be, at the expense of honey flavor that I'd be hardpressed to discern if I didn't know to look out for it.

It's all pretty good otherwise. The shrimp baked up extremely well in the oven, and were firm and fresh with a crispy tempiura batter that held up well in the sauce. TJ's got that down to a science. The walnuts were a little sparse, but when present added a little earthy crunch. Pretty tasty overall, but only if you like pineapple.

Sandy swears this is very similar to a dish we ate two years ago at a Chinese New Year celebration we attended. I'll take her word for it...I can barely remember dinner from two days ago, let alone two years ago on a night we were served about 20 different dishes. It was about $6 or $7 for the shrimp, and was ample enough portion for us two adults, so a good value compared to take out/delivery. We both enjoyed it quite a bit, but really, a more accurate product name would be Pineapple Walnut Shrimp, which sounds just as delicious to me. What say you?

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Raspberry and Apple Apricot Dried Fruit Bars

Just in case Trader Joe is neglecting to push his latest offerings on me in the checkout area like Heisenberg peddling a fresh batch of Blue Ice, every once in a while, I like to glance at that little out-of-the-way section where most Trader Joe's stores like to stash their inexpensive fruit bars, fruit leather, and fruit snacky type things, often in a rustic wooden rack or small woven baskets. That's where I discovered these Apple Raspberry and Apple Apricot Dried Fruit Bars.

We've seen quite a few incarnations of these fruit strips throughout the years, including: Fiberful Handmade Dried Fruit Bars, Organic 100% Natural Fruit Wraps, and several different Apple + Fruit bars. Here's our take on this newest gluten-free, kosher version, straight outta New Zealand (you'd think they'd offer Apple Kiwi flavor, no?)

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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