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Friday, August 24, 2018

Trader Joe's Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas

"If they're called 'vegetable' quesadillas, there should be more vegetables," stated Sonia. "I want sliced-up zucchini or eggplant or peppers in there. Corn and beans aren't enough."

This is coming from the only human being I know who eats plain cheese quesadillas for a meal—nothing but a tortilla with melted cheese—on average about twice a week. If she'd add beans, corn, and chipotle sauce, I could probably live off her quesadillas, because I enjoy the taste enough, and also, I'm guessing, there'd be enough nutritional value in there.

Likewise, I could live off these quesadillas. I really like their simplicity and flavor. I'll admit we heated them in the microwave, but I was more than pleased with the result. 

Sonia? Not so much. Sometimes I think she feels threatened by Trader Joe's Mexican offerings—as if I'll suddenly ask her to never cook again and demand the freezer be stockpiled with Trader José's comida Mexicana. Where is José these days, anyway? Don't worry, wifey. I'll never get tired of your salsa de queso.

Sonia's other major complaint was the price. $3.49 for two quesadillas. I'll admit they're not exactly giving them away, but each quesadilla could stand as a meal in and of itself. That seems like a pretty standard price point for frozen foods to me. I think Sonia has a problem with it because she can make about 500 of her plain quesadillas with an inexpensive stack of corn or flour tortillas and a hunk of cheese from the grocery store, and they wind up costing about 15 cents each.

The balance of corn, beans, and cheese is on point here in these "vegetable" quesadillas, and the chipotle flavor is almost perfect, too. There's a hint of heat, but it's not overwhelming. If I were in the mood for something with a significant kick, I would have to put some kind of hot sauce on them, but for most occasions, they're perfect just the way they are. 

Sonia didn't really have any specific complaints about the taste or texture. She just thinks they'd be better with another ingredient or two. Fair enough. Two and a half stars from her. 

That's a painfully low score for these, in my opinion. Four and a half stars from me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Simpler Wines Rosè

For my family, we seem to have a pretty set vacation template for a good time. Go somewhere to go to a zoo, a baseball game...and a Trader Joe's. It's just what we do. We're not particularly outdoorsy or beach folks or lounge all day by a pool or go fancy-schmancy stuff. And yes, we do hit up Trader Joe's in other states as much as we can. We just got back from a southern swing and added on three new states (North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky) to our growing list. By my count we're up to 16 states.

What's the appeal? Hard to exactly say...but we need to eat and get snacks and well, you never know what you might see or find, or who you might encounter. It's cool to see the different set-ups and artwork and have the kids look around for the animal...although Nashville, you don't have one? That's odd.

And of course, since we live in an oddball state a little too dedicated to its Quaker heritage by not allowing most grocery stores to sell alcohol, there's a whole branch of TJ's beverages we can't get on the regular around home. Got a fair amount of them while out and about which we'll be drinking and reviewing our way through in the coming times.

First up: Simpler Wines. AKA wine in a can. Though not branded as "Trader Joe's", as far as I can tell it's a TJ's exclusive and related to Simpler Times canned lager which replaced it's "Name Tag" line I *think* it's TJ's enough. Plus, it's wine! In a can! How cool is that?

I'm not gonna lie and say I'm a wine expert. Most wine experts aren't all that expert-y either. So I'm just going to ask myself a simple question: Did I like this particular rosè, can and all?

Yup! Sure did. It's light and floral and subtly sweet, with perhaps a bit more carbonation than anticipated. Perhaps it's because it's from a can so my taste buds are thinking more soda/sparkly water. Regardless, the rosè is a pretty decent, refreshing summer drink, and at about 10% it carries a little punch.

And of course, since it's in a can, this potent potable's potential portable possibilities prolong past previously prescripted parameters. Primarily, picnics. Perhaps parks or for pedestrian pastimes. No glasses needed - just pop open and enjoy, all with any local open container laws in mind, of course. Plus, well, wine in a can is still kinda novelty, so why not?

It's $5.99-ish for the four pack of 250mL cans. A liter of decent wine for $6? Not bad at all. In addition to the rosè there's also canned chardonnay. Both Sandy and I enjoyed after getting the rugrats in bed for some late night Netflix and chill - another vacation classic. Double fours.

Bottom line: Simpler Wines Rosè: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Multigrain Bread and Trader Joe's Spanish Olive Cream Cheese Spread

I think my lovely wife fulfilled the creativity quota for this review in the short video below, so I'll just jump right in to the nitty gritty of these products:

We've seen sliced gluten free bread from TJ's before. This stuff is even better. The flavor is richer, nuttier. The texture is even closer to traditional multi-grain offerings than the previously-reviewed "Whole Grain" variety. It's roughly the same price at $4.49 for the loaf, and it might just be the best gluten-free bread I've ever had. Four and a half stars a piece on this product.

The cream cheese is moderately olivey. I think it tastes more like "olive juice" than actual olives—like they just mixed the olive brine water with cream cheese. It's not bad, though. There are very tiny pieces of olive in the mix. I wouldn't have minded them a little bigger—or maybe even olive slices rather than teeny-tiny little bits. Sonia seemed to like the creaminess and lack of olive chunks more than I did. It's an earthy, salty, savory flavor mixed in with the milky creaminess of traditional cream cheese. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

For more of Sonia's thoughts, check out the video review below!

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Multigrain Bread: Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Trader Joe's Spanish Olive Cream Cheese Spread: Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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