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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Strawberry Lime Agua Fresca

Ah, with all this rain we've been getting here on the east coast, we haven't had quite as much need for refreshing beverages as of late, but here and there we still have hot days, and lawns still need mowed, and shrubbery that's been left to grow wild, untrimmed, and unchecked by unruly tenants still needs clipped, and houses with no air conditioning and cat urine-soaked carpets still need cleaning on the needless to say, we still work up significant cravings for liquid refreshment on those days.

Sonia's very happy we reached for this flavor of agua fresca to quench our thirsts. I'm still not blown away, but this is my personal favorite flavor so far.

In case you missed either of them, our crack team of Trader Joe's product-reviewing extraordinaires has already reviewed the Hibiscus variety as well as the Pineapple Mango Mint flavor. As for this Strawberry Lime edition, it seems to me one could just take a sweeter beverage—say, the now-defunct Trader Joe's Pomegranate Limeade or Trader Joe's Organic Strawberry Lemonade and simply dilute them with one part water for every one part juice and come up with a very similar effect...or maybe just leave a glass of one of those beverages out in the rain for an hour or two. 

You could come back, and be like, "Oh look! God has miraculously multiplied my delicious fruit juice and given me twice as much!" And then if a friend pointed out the obvious fact that it was the rain and not necessarily a miracle, you could act all injured that your friend was insulting your faith and then point to the additional miracle that not only did your beverage grow in quantity, but it changed from a sticky, sugary-sweet diabetes trap guessed it: agua fresca!

Sonia likes the lightness of the flavor but does add: "It's not like Mexicans don't like sugar." That's her way of admitting that the flavor could be a little more intense and sweet. Nevertheless, she gives it four and a half stars, an impressive score indeed. In light of her very high score, I'll match this product with the last agua fresca we looked at and throw out three stars.

Finally, here's a short video "review" that plays more like a spec spot for Trader Joe's. Wanna hire us for some TV or internet ads, Big Joe?


Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trader Joe's Chicken & Mushroom Pelmeni

Let's see...Ravioli. Pot stickers. Won tons. Gyoza. Dumplings. Pierogi. Samosas. Bao. Tamales. And the undoubtedly all-American addition, the Totino's Pizza Roll.

Yes, there are all sorts of stuffed dough pocket-type constructions from all over the world. Obviously that's a short top-of-the head list. There's some differences, of course, from dough to stuffing material to size and prep methods, but it's a very common concept. Mostly because it's tasty. But until now, I've never heard of the Russian contribution to this realm, pelmeni.

Well, here's Trader Joe's Chicken & Mushroom Pelmeni on my dinner plate. All these little bite sized little dumpling deals all up in my bowl. Please God, no borscht in here....not that I have any idea what borscht really is.

Whew. No borscht! We're already ahead here!

As for everything else, it's a tasty enough bite. The dough is thin and kinda eggy but good in a comforty, nondescript way. As for the middle filling, the chicken and mushroom and whatever else gets rolled up up in some sort of soft meatball-type morsel that, strangely, doesn't taste all that much like either chicken or mushrooms. It's just kinda there. And it tastes good, again with a comfort type-vibe, but I wouldn't be able to tell you what it was. It's kinda salt and mild seasonings.

That's kinda the issue, I think. Again, nothing all that wrong with the pelmeni, but in a crowded field with so many similar products (most of them more familiar to the presumed typical consumer palate), there's nothing settting these apart. I wouldn't mind eating them again, and I'm not upset we still have a bag and a half of them in our freezer. But I'd never make a big fuss about getting them again, either.I couldn't tell you what the difference between these a regular bag of potstickers except maybe the pelmeni are more square.

Sandy and I both liked them for a midday lunch date at my work place. Our kids stuck to their cheese pierogi, because God forbid they ate something out of the usual. Then again, I can't say we really did, either. Eh well.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chicken & Mushroom Pelmeni: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trader Joe's Pollo Asado Burrito

As much as I love the English language and champion its practicality among all the tongues of the world, I've always admired Spanish for placing the noun before the adjective. Just think about it. The noun is generally more important, therefore, should come first. In this case: chicken grilled. Those of you from the west coast will know El Pollo Loco, or as I like to call it, "The Chicken Crazy," which by the way, never offered a chicken burrito quite as tasty as this one, in my humble opinion.

Sonia might disagree, and while nobody's personal assessment is more or less valid than another's, hers goes quite a long way in terms of deeming what is "authentically Mexican" and what is not. Like offerings from Qdoba and Chipotle, this burrito is highly Americanized, but still brings some distinctive Mexican, or at least "Tex-Mex," flavors. For that reason, I liked it. It had plenty of peppers, black beans, corn, and rice, and I noticed a decent amount of shredded, grilled chicken, too. Sonia didn't think there was enough of that pollo—or at least that it wasn't flavorful enough to be noticed. 

The burrito was surprisingly sweet. I'm not sure where that was coming from, although "sugar" is listed on the ingredients in at least three places. See what I mean? Americanized. Muricans gotta throw sugar into everything.

My biggest complaint, though, was a decided lack of heat. This burrito wasn't spicy at all—which was disappointing because "salsa" is mentioned right on the wrapper. I know not all salsas are five alarm fires, but I generally hope for at least a little extra kick. Not here, unfortunately. 

At just about four dollars, this isn't the cheapest grocery store burrito you'll find at Trader Joe's—or any other marketplace, for that matter. However, when compared with those above-mentioned "Mexican grill" type restaurants, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything this cheap. And quality-wise, I'd say this offering should be compared to those restaurant burritos, not the average frozen thing at the grocery store—primarily because this burrito does not come frozen, but rather, refrigerated. For that reason, I think it tastes a great deal fresher than frozen burritos with similar ingredients.

I was lazy and crass enough to heat this item in the microwave rather than the oven. But neither Sonia nor I think that would have made much difference here. Any way you slice it, I was gonna wind up liking this burrito con pollo asado, and Sonia was gonna wind up going "meh." Four stars from me. Two and a half from her.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

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