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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon

Used to be my lovely bride wouldn't dream of touching something such as Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon. No way, no how. I mean, when we first started dating she had all these picky rules and barely ate any meat aside from maybe chicken, and once tried to convince us to go vegetarian (which I for some reason bought into to her face while sneaking beef jerky at work).

Not any more, thank God. Good smoked meats like my dad's pastrami or my patented smashburger have convinced her that meat is perfectly acceptable. Still...salmon. She likes fish just fine, but fish that stays pink was always weird for her. Wouldn't touch it.

Notice all that past tense? Not only did Sandy alert me to the existence of this new TJ's smoked salmon, she dragged me to the store to buy it, and spotted it when I couldn't, and completely insisted we have it for dinner, forgoing bacon out of all things. Dang, girl.

And it's well worth it. This salmon is pretty dang good. Is it the seasoning? As previously reviewed, the Everything but the Bagel seasoning is absolutely delish. It's everything from an everything bagel, except the bagel. Duh. And of course it goes well on almost everything, including bagels, but in this case also on salmon, which we placed, namely, on a bagel, nova lox style.

It helps that the salmon itself is really mild, non fishy Atlantic salmon. As good as Pacific? Nah...but good. The fish gives an excellent base for the ample amounts of garlic an onion and everything else to really kinda spread out and express itself. It's really almost creamy too, and soft, as opposed to fleshy or even meaty. It's closer to, say, prosciutto than a sliced fish filet.

It's $5.49 for the smallish two serving package, which is about the going rate for these type of deals. So savor it a little bit, eh? We sure did, even though our nearly seven year old scowled through almost every small bite we gave her. That poor child, she doesn't know any better....yet. Her mama sure learned though. Go get it and don't regret it. Thumbs up all around.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate

As long as I've known her, one of Sonia's go-to beverages has been Oregon Chai. It's kind of appropriate to mention it now, since we'll be traveling through Oregon in just a few days. But anyway, she's been on a bit of a chai kick lately, even before spotting this new chai concentrate at TJ's. 

Although I rarely seek it out above other beverages, I generally enjoy chai and I've tried plenty of different varieties and brands throughout the years. Just from Trader Joe's alone, we've seen pretty decent chai tea bags and powdered chai mix, among others. So what sets this product apart from the pack?

Well, it's concentrated, obviously. The bottle asks for two parts milk or non-dairy beverage to every one part chai. We used almond milk. That 2:1 ratio seemed right on the money to me. I usually have to get rebellious when it comes to preparation instructions, but not here.

Also, this stuff is actually spicy. There's a warmth you can feel as you drink the beverage, and it lingers in the mouth for a bit after you're done. Neither of us found it unpleasant, but I could see some folks seeking out something a little less feisty. You could always just dilute the mixture a tad more if you're in that camp.

The black tea flavor, too, is strong. Sonia thinks the biggest differences between this product and Oregon Chai is the bolder black tea flavor and stronger spiciness in this Trader Joe's offering. The Oregon version is a little lighter on both counts.

Despite its intensity, the wife and I both found it highly drinkable and don't have any major complaints. When asked if she preferred this over her beloved Oregon Chai, she said neither one is head and shoulders above the other, but her preference would depend on her mood on a given day. She said this one reminded her of a certain Tazo chai she used to drink many years ago, but hasn't had in a while.

$2.49 for a pint of concentrated chai. Along with TJ's concentrated cold brew coffees, this product is a winner in our books. Four stars a piece. 

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice

Well, last week's summertime-ish cold drink experiment was a disaster, wasn't it? I mean, caramel spice...for summer? That's not exactly classic and a sure set up for, if not added scrutiny, then failure.

So let's go tried-and-true this week with Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice.

Watermelon. The classic shirts off, hose 'em down, seed-spittin' taste of summer from youth. Nothing's better than a cold wedge of watermelon on a hot day. Can't argue that away from me.

And now, here it a can!

Well...sort of.

It's undoubtedly watermelon flavored. Part of me wouldn't be surprised if the juice were the delicious byproduct of previous TJ's watermelon experiments. Wish I had some of that "jerky" still around to see if it'd puff all back to life like one of those sponge dinosaurs...oh well. life is tough.

Still, I'm not the hugest of fans. I guess it's because it's simply just so watermelon and not much else. The packaging states there's "plenty of bubbles" or something to that effect, so there was some hope there'd be some carbonation to help cut through all the sweetness. There's not, as it's more a back-end, scratch your throat on the way down kinda deal. All the watermelon taste is upfront and has a flat feel.

I guess one could pour over some ice, put a spring of rosemary, maybe even splash in some adult spirit, and that'd make a coolish drink, and that'd be good. But for me, I judge the refreshing power of a summer drink based on, "would I reach for this after mowing the lawn?" You know, when all hot and sweaty. And the answer is not really. Given the choice between this beverage or a slive of actual watermelon, I'd go for the real deal.

Of course, if on a picnic or had some other need for a portable hit of watermelon, the TJ's sparklin' stuff makes a much more convenient option, so I won't rule it out completely. Maybe it's just not totally for me.

That would make Sandy pretty happy. She loooooves this. One sip, and she was oohing and smiling as if Lin Manuel Miranda just came in the room. More for her, if she wants to pick this up I'd have no complaints. I love the receipt so need a price check, but I'm thinking it's in the general $3 range, please correct me if needed. I'll be nice and give it a 3 (maybe more for not being funky....looking at you, last week!) whereas Sandy will go a bit higher.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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