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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter

Alongside cheap fastfood breakfast sandwiches and Shamrock Shakes, peanut butter is a weakness of mine. God, I love peanut butter. If I had to choose one food I had to eat every day for the rest of my life, a big ol' jar of Jif would be under heavy consideration. My hypothetical decision may rest on whether not different varieties of tacos could be considered or not. Anything you can put peanut butter in...heck, I've even had peanut butter on a burger and peanut butter beer, and have loved them all. Chances are if I'm raiding a kitchen late at night, I got PB on the mind.

This committed infatuation just doesn't extend over to other nut butters for me. I've dabbled in almond and cashew, and they're okay, but in the end, they taste like settling for a subpar burger when I could be having steak. Maybe it's partially because the words "nut butter" just don't sound right to me. I have the mind of a fifth grader, apparently.

So, forgive me for not being overly enamored with Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter. It's not a bad mix, at all - as you can see, almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecans - kinda akin to a high quality mixed nut canister. No peanuts in their pseudo-nut/really-actually-legume ways.

First turn off: the consistency. It's oily and drippy and saucy, even after refrigeration. There's a reason I mentioned Jif uptop: that thick, sticky, smooth feel? That's what I like, even if that's not always indicative of a "good" or "healthy" butter. But even by other butter standards, this goop seems thin and faintly gritty, with a fine sand-like feel. Meh.

And, despite all the nuts listed, I really can only taste two: almonds and cashews. Maybe  a little walnut here and there. Maybe. But it's primarily those two nuts, with a little salt, tasting all roasty and earthy and a bit dry and whatnot, but if you're hoping to taste all the nuts here, you're probably not going to.

All that being said, I think it's alright. A good breakfast/late night snack for me is an apple with some peanut butter, and this butter makes fine substitute. My wife Sandy made some chick pea blondies-dessert type deal* with half a cup of it scooped in, and it worked great for that - much more delicious than it sounds at first. So fluffy! And I'll admit to having one or two extra tastes right before writing this in the name of "making sure what I report is accurate."

Not perfect. Can use more taste of other nuts, and if given the choice, I would have preferred more of a chunky version. But not bad either. If I keep up with the apples and nut butter thing for breakfast, that can reduce my chances of going through the drive thru for a couple McGriddles and a shake...which would be awful(ly awesome) and my healthier breakfast is more satisfying anyways (or so I'll tell myself). I'll be fair and toss a three at it, and same goes for the wife.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Pear & Persimmon Tarte

My father is getting married today. Never thought I'd live to see the day. He clearly doesn't share my disdain for Valentine's Day, but even I must admit that V.D. is just as good a time as any to tie the knot. 

I just hope the happy couple's commitment to one another transcends the triviality of this silly holiday. Sonia and I don't know his new bride particularly well, but we trust the old man knows what he's doing.

It's kind of like pears and persimmons. We both know pears like the back of our hands, but persimmons are a bit more of a mystery to us. Can the couple work together? 

In this case, yes they can. Sonia and I shared this tarte as a romantic non-Valentine's treat. We both enjoyed it. We tasted the sweetness of the pears in the filling, but we had a hard time picking out the taste and texture of the persimmons. 

I tried to pull my old Wikipedia trick where I read a paragraph or two and try to sound like an expert when I regurgitate the knowledge in my own words on this blog. Either my brain isn't functioning at full capacity today or this particular Wikipedia contributor just went above and beyond what the average layman wants to know about persimmons, but there was just too much talk of tannins, astringency, and bletting to wrap my brain around at this juncture. But if you want to give it a shot, be my guest: Persimmon - Wikipedia.

What I can tell you is that this tarte is tasty. The crust is buttery and soft, and the filling is sweet and fruity. There are chunks of pears and, we assume, persimmons as well. There was even "spiced frangipane" almond paste in the breading. It was most noticeable in the outer sections where the fruit filling was more sparse. Nutty, sweet, and delicious.

It's a very high quality tarte at a very reasonable price ($1.99). An hour to thaw and 10 minutes in the oven? Even I can do that...and I did. In fact, that's my hand in that oven mitt. Sonia's proven her worth in the kitchen many, many times over, but I'm still a little challenged in the field of "domestic sciences."

I guess the takeaway here is that unexpected couplings can work. Pears and persimmons are just like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. 

Plus, Happy Valentine's if you're into that whole thing. And congrats to Dad and Patty.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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