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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Kosher Hot & Spicy Dill Pickle Chips

Alrighty, confession time: it had been weeks, perhaps even months, since I'd last stepped foot inside a Trader Joe's before I went there a few days ago. Kinda surprising, but kinda how we roll, too. My lovely wife, in all her semi-stay at home mama madness, already goes to TJ's probably three or four days a week and makes a regular route to scout out anything new or exciting. I (and you, the readers) reap the spoils.

Anyways, she and the kiddos left town for a few days to visit my folks, leaving me here by myself and in need of sustenance and supplies. Off to TJ's for me! Off to wander and frolic along the aisles once more, foodstuffs untasted, yearning to be brought home with me in my week of bachelor mayhem....

Nothing. Nothing new, exciting, interesting, or untried. I looked hard, everywhere. Maybe I'm off my game. Or maybe TJ's is in that weird "prepare ye the way of pumpkin spice" mode they seem to do every August and so there's not much new til then.

While I briefly considered picking up a big hunk of some cheese so my Week of Russ could mirror the Summer of George, I settled on a jar of Trader Joe's Organic Kosher Hot & Spicy Dill Pickle Chips. Woohoo. See, dear, I told you I was behaving myself.

I like 'em, quite a bit. There's few simple little simpler pleasures than a good pickle sometimes. Kosher dills that are closer to cucumber than overly pickled ones are the best IMHO, and that's the case here. Fresh, firm, fleshy, with a little crunch - yum. The heat level is pleasantly a little spicier than anticipated - imagine a fairly feisty banana pepper, and that approximates the heat level emanating from pretty much every chip. Of course, they are decidedly more pickle-y and vinegar-y than a pepper, but it's close enough. The heat blends well with the garlic and dill to make a smooth, even, pleasant taste.

Anything that you'd like pickle chips on, these would work. Burgers, sandwiches, straight from the jar like I did for dinner last night...hey, don't judge, not my fault there was leftover pizza at work and I needed something to go with my Mountain Dew...bachelorhood for the win. And for only a couple bucks for the jar, it's a quality pickle chip too. Good times. I have nothing overtly critical to say about them one way or another - I'm not in love with them, per se, but I certainly recognize their goodness and tastiness. Just me, so I'm doubling my score.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Kosher Hot & Spicy Dill Pickle Chips: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

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

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