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Monday, July 30, 2018

Trader Joe's Milk & Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Bits Bar

I really can't believe what I'm about to write here...

...but, skipping all formalities and warmth and fuzziness, don't bother with Trader Joe's Milk & Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Bits Bar. At all. It's completely unenjoyable and will make you question who thought of such of an awful concoction.

No, this isn't some sort of warped attempt to dissuade all potential buyers so I can corner the market and stockpile all of them for myself. I'm serious. Don't' Buy. Ever. I don't care that it's $1.79 and sounds delicious, because that's exactly how Sandy and I got suckered in during a recent trip that we made while bordering on raging hangriness.

I'll give it this much, as it's only postive point. The chocolate, both the milk and dark (as nicely swirled on the bottom of the bar), are delicious. If you know TJ's chocolate, you know it's pretty much always on point. That's the case here, and the milk and the dark meld together nicely in a contrasting tones of creamy and solid, with sweetness and depth. That part is good, but it's what's kinda expected at this point.

Everything else? Awful. Butterscotch bits? Are you kidding me? There's probably more butterscotch bits in Milton Hershey's couch cushions than in this bar. I detected a few crystallized crumbs here and there, but it could be anything in the world, there's not enough to detect any hint of butterscotch. In the half a bar I ate, I encountered a possible butterscotch essence maybe once. It could have been miniscule bits of gravel in there for all I could tell.

But it gets worse. This is one chocolate bar that's actually painful to eat. How to'd be better if we took a picture of it but we thought the bottom swirls were pretty and more photogenic before cramming in the piehole. It's one of those bars alternates in form between divots and chunks. Like plateaus and valleys, so as to segment a bar, or as Sandy more succinctly put it, a beefed-up Toberlone candy bar. That's fine...but the "plateaus" are so tall and steep, yet so small with so little space between them, that biting into one of these is a nightmare. Your teeth naturally go sledding downhill, leaving the plateaued parts to jab your in the gums. I'm not making this up. Sandy had much the same experience. I guess, maybe in retrospect, if eaten one segment at a time and consumed sideways, it could have worked better...but still. it's as if whoever came up with the form of this bar didn't understand teeth or resented poeple who had them. It hurts. And this isn't a case of it getting too hard because of being in the fridge or freezer these hot summer months...we ate it within an hour of purchase, so it was basically at warmish room temperature.

And to top it off, it's a ten segment bar, with the chocolate bar consisting of three servings per the label. "That's not even fair or right!" Sandy the serving-size policewoman expressed dejectedly. 

Not a fan. At all. A little butterscotch could have redeemed the bar quite a bit, but I'm grasping at saying much of anything nice. Quality chocolate can be had very easily at TJ's, with actual other flavors mixed in, and so far not any other one made my mouth hurt. In all, this TJ's butterscotch chocolate bar is one of the most disappointing purchases I've ever made at TJ's, rivaled perhaps only by these failures. Maybe this is just some built up angst and spite, but I'm going zero here, while Sandy chimes in with a one simply because it's chocolate.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Milk & Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Bits Bar: 1 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, July 27, 2018

Trader Joe's Creamy Polenta

Usually, when Sonia's home, she insists on doing the cooking. I'll admit, she's a little more skilled in the culinary arts than I am, but she's so adamant about always doing the kitchen stuff, I'm beginning to think she has serious doubts about my competence. I don't blame her.

For one, she always insists on washing the skillet thoroughly between each meal. But I always make the point that the remnants of the last meal simply yield "more flavor" in whatever's being prepared currently. She disagrees. She says that idea is "just a guy thing." From what we've heard from other couples, there's not much disagreement on that point.

Fortunately, for this meal, I was home alone and was left to run amok, unchecked by my better half and her pretentious ideas about culinary propriety. There were remnants of a makeshift stir-fry in the pan. I left it there. I mean, I took out the actual food—at first. But I left the remnants in there without washing anything. It was mostly bits of onion with a few shards of green bean and a thin coating of olive oil.

I'm sure this polenta would have been delightful without the onions, green beans, and olive oil, but I'm pretty sure they didn't hurt either. In fact, I liked them with the polenta so much, that I later mixed in the actual leftover stir-fry. Delish.

But I made sure to try the polenta by itself for the sake of this review. Thanks to reader Carissa E, who left a comment on this English muffin review from 2014 encouraging us to try this polenta. She says she'd give it an 11 out of 10. Sorry, Carissa. The scale only goes to 10. 

"These go to 11," right?

I must admit, it's pretty tasty, though. It's very creamy, as the name would suggest. When frozen, the "cream" comes in the form of large pellets that look like oversized white chocolate kisses. There's lots of spinach and plenty of carrot bits. The texture is indeed creamalicious. It's thicker than a soup, but still much more mushy than solid. The carrots didn't add a whole lot to the taste, but they lend a bit of substance to the otherwise porridge-like consistency.

It's got a savory flavor, with plenty of spinach taste to it. There's a buttery/milky flavor, as well. It's a nice comforting taste, with an almost homemade-quality to it. I agree with Carissa that it's much better than the Polenta Provencale. Sonia wishes there were a little more pepper and garlic seasoning in this dish, but was very happy with it other than that. It doesn't say gluten-free on the bag, but we're wondering why it wouldn't be. Cornmeal shouldn't have gluten, should it?

Four stars a piece here.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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