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Friday, October 5, 2018

Trader Joe's Harvest Chili

This past week, our household has been chaotic to say the least. We generally like to share a bit of our lives with you here on this blog—to mix a personal story or two in with our thoughts about whatever Trader Joe's foods we're eating. At this juncture, we're just not ready to get into specifics, but I will mention that there have been some truly wonderful, life-altering changes with us recently, as well as some terrible tragedies. They've affected our whole family, but none more than my dear wife. It's remarkable how when the tides of change are churning and this crazy world's got you on your knees, a simple song or film or photograph can generate a transcendent moment. Food can do that sometimes, too.

I'll just put it this way: Sonia is madly in love with this product. This is one of her favorite fall foods ever, which puts it high in the running for her favorite thing ever. She gobbled up her share of the soup swiftly, remarking "wonderful," "fabulous," and "amazing" as she ate. Haven't seen her this enthralled with a product in a very, very long time. She had been understandably surly and sullen just moments before, but this chili got her right real quick. She even closed her eyes, smiled, and hugged herself as if in some euphoric dreamland, punch-drunk on squash, pumpkin, and black beans, much like the dude who put the label on our tub apparently was at the moment of application. She even liked this stuff cold.

Me? I see where the wifey is coming from, and I like it, but I'm not quite as enthralled. This might be the least chili-ish chili I've ever had. It's more of a "chunky harvest squash soup" if you ask me. Chili spices? Yeah, I guess they're in there, but they're not very dominant—I wouldn't have minded a significant boost in the heat department. Also, there's not enough beans to be chili, if you ask me. I wish there were some traditional kidney beans in there. On the plus side, there isn't a whole lot of tomato flavor. There are diced tomatoes, but most of their essence gets lost in the mix. Never been big into the taste of actual tomatoes. The dominant tastes and textures here are those of squash, cauliflower, and quinoa—and a nice peppery, garlicky broth. It's certainly unique—not particularly chili-esque, but thick and tasty nonetheless.

$4.49 for a decent size tub. Plenty for both of us, either as a side dish or the main course. Five stars and several emotional tears from Sonia. Three and a half stars from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Trader Joe's Tortilla Chips Seasoned with Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Onion & Parsley

Well, this seems a sneaky trick.

I love what's going on in the flavored chip world right now. We're no longer stuck in the days of only having plain, barbeque, sour cream and onion, or salt and vinegar to choose from. Just last week, while hungrily stalking the aisles at Target, I spotted some Lay's bacon wrapped jalapeno popper chips - heck yeah. I'm pretty sure I ate half the bag standing in the parking lot.

All sorts of other flavors out there, and hopefully coming up on pone of my seasonal favorites from TJ's pretty soon...but the heck is this???

Chips...flavored with...(gulp) sprouts?

Stop trying to sneak salad into my snacks!

But such it is with Trader Joe's Tortilla Chips Seasoned with Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Onion & Parsely. Jeez, they may as well as call them "garden variety" chips or something of the sort. The name's too long, make it snappier.

Fortunately, these are pretty snackaholic-worthy crispers that, in the right mood, can go for total inhalation. It's the texture, for me. Instead of just regular corn chips, these TJ's chippies are made from a blend of corn, rice and potato, making a lighter, crispier, airier delight. If you're familiar with TJ's sweet potato tortilla chips, these seem to have a similiar feel, which I love. Much better than regular corn tortilla chips or Tostitos in my opinion.

And the thing is, you can barely taste the brussels sprouts. They're more visible as tiny green specks than tastable, I think. If I close my eyes and try hard, a little sprouty sense begins leaking through, but not much. It seems to be more power of suggestion aided by a little salt and accompanying flavors, none of them terribly obtrusive. A little garlic here, a little onion there, a wee bit salty lime over there.

These vegetable cornucopia chips taste great plain, as my whole family enjoyed while walking around on a day out this past weekend. But anythign else you could possibly use a tortilla chip in or with would almost certainly work. I can't imagine them not being a good choice, even if brussels sprouts aren't really your thing. It's a worthy buy at $2.99, so let the chips fall as they may.

Bottom line:  Trader Joe's Tortilla Chips Seasoned with Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Onion & Parsley: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, October 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Birthday Cake Popcorn

We were slightly less impressed with this product than we might have been since its advent comes so closely on the heels of another festive confectionalized corn concoction: last month's Candy Corn Popcorn. If your birthday happens to be in October, then this product is arguably seasonally-appropriate, but for the other eleven twelfths of us, the candy corn variety is a little more Halloweenish and, therefore, Octoberish.

Taste and texture-wise, this candied popcorn is remarkably similar to the candy corn version. It's still a high-quality popcorn coated in a slightly waxy, sugary glaze—sweet and a little salty, addictive, and hard to put down. It also begs comparison to Trader Joe's Birthday Cake Bar by virtue of its nearly identical packaging and presentation. Like the bar, this product boasts colorful little sprinkles. There's approximately one sprinkle per corn kernel, on average. Oddly enough, though, I felt as though I could taste them, but it could be just the power of suggestion. I know for sure I could feel them—firm, round little funfetti do-dads in nearly every bite.

As far as the coating is concerned, it's not really white chocolate like I was hoping for. 

The Birthday Cake Bar was most definitely made of delicious white chocolate, so I reasoned that TJ's would glaze this popcorn with the same. It's really just sugar, tapioca nonsense, and...well, you can read the ingredients list as well as I can. No mention of cocoa butter or anything milk-related, so...not white chocolate in my book.

And yet, it's got a similar vanilla-esque essence. It tastes very faintly of actual birthday cake somehow. In a blind taste test, I could most definitely differentiate this product from the candy corn popcorn, but the sprinkles/jimmies are the most obvious difference.

It's not a bad snack by any means. It would be perfect for parties—birthday or otherwise—although the bag would be gone in a matter of minutes. Again, Trader Joe's tells us there are five servings in the bag, but most people are gonna go with two or less. I'm a little sad there's no white chocolate, but I can't complain much other than that. Three and a half stars from me. Sonia enjoyed this just about exactly as much as she enjoyed the candy corn popcorn, so four again from her.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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