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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Trader Joe's Olive & Herbs Mixed Nuts

Well, working from home has been an adventure thus far.

For about the past week, I've been set up on a card table in the basement. It's a bit cool and drafty down there, but it works. I never knew I was raising a herd of elephants though - man, my kids are LOUD stomping around. My colleagues are still kinda catty, and the commute still kinda stinks (I mean, I walk right by the litter box), so not everything is completely different...

One thing that'll never change: need work snacks.

Vending machine or work cafe not an option for now, so instead I gave Trader Joe's Olive & Herbs Mixed Nuts a try.

I always gotta try new and interesting looking nut mixes, especially ones that aren't primarily peanuts. I have nothing really against peanuts, but nothing really for them...I mean, technically, they're not even a nut. There's just so many better nuts out there, especially cashews and pecans, and almonds aren't that bad, either.

Those aforementioned nuts are the basis of this entire snack. If asked for ratios, my bag seemed to be about half almonds at most, then a quarter each of cashews and pecans. That's above and beyond acceptable in my box. Each nut is roasted nicely,, enough to give them a satisfying crunch and bite, while displaying their respective nutty earthy flavors.

But that's not quite all.

Nah, you see, when I read the "Olive & Herbs" part of the title, I presumed without looking further that it meant just the flavoring sprinkled atop. Indeed, there's a lot of herbal medley plastered everywhere, and while I'm not knowledgeable enough to really point out which herb was strongest - there was some variance from bite to bite - I figured olive would be a flavor in the mix, too.


Dried Kalamata olives, in the actual mix, along side the nuts.

Wasn't prepared for that.

Maybe I'm over-sheltered but I've never had dried olives before, I don't think. They're...a bit odd. Think dried out raisin, not chewy, more of a just a shell than anything. Olive mummies, maybe. Their oddness stands out more if consumed solo, but with a couple cashews, the bite is pretty seamless. In fact, I wasn't even aware I had some in a handful until I tasted them, because it's unmistakable. So potent. So strong and vibrant. So...dry. How is this even possible? I don't know.

Good thing my brilliant and lovely bride had the foresight to pick up not one but two bags - one for her, and one for me. At $4.99 for a 10 oz sack, it's not an awful deal by any stretch. Over the past two days I've eaten my entire ration, leaving me wondering what I'll find to graze on today. I'll have to go to work on that, I guess. For a unique-to-me snack at a good value, and all those cashews and tasty olives, I gotta go full five. Wouldn't change a thing. Sandy, who has way more self control than I do, shrugged and gave 'em a four based on her few small handfuls.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Olive & Herbs Mixed Nuts: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Trader Joe's Chile & Garlic Cashews

Cashews have never been cheap. I grew up in a home full of nuts. And I mean that as a double entendre. All three of us in the home were nuts, and likewise, we frequently consumed nuts. All manner of nuts: pecans, pistachios, almonds, macadamias, and of course, cashews were very often our go-to snacks. 

I can recall, sometime in the middle of college, or perhaps shortly after graduating, getting a craving for cashews rather out of the blue. I walked into a convenience store in downtown State College, PA and tracked down a little bag of cashews. I don't remember exactly how much they were, but it was enough that I immediately dismissed the cashew craving and opted for a fifty cent bag of peanuts instead. My parents weren't wealthy people. Not sure how we afforded things like macadamia nuts and cashews on the regular. No wonder my dad had trouble paying the mortgage throughout my childhood.

But regardless of financial status, you've gotta splurge once in a while. These particular cashews are a good choice in our opinions. Six bucks for the bag is a little steep, but they are oh-so-tasty.

On top of the classic flavor of salted cashews, the blend of chile powder, garlic powder, and onion powder makes them even more savory, flavorful, and full of a spicy kick. It tingles the tongue and warms the back of the throat and begs to be chased by a cold beverage. These cashews will definitely make you thirsty. Sonia and I both absolutely love their flavor. 

They're roasted to perfection, pleasantly crunchy, and not too salty. There's a decent amount of sodium and fat, but you'll find that with many nut mixes. It's mostly "good fat" or so I'm told. 

I'd complain about them being imported all the way from India, but apparently there are very few places in the United States with a warm enough climate for cashew farming, so "buy American" can't really apply here. That's probably the main reason for the hefty price tags.

Sonia's going to try adding these to a stir fry. I'm sure they'll blend in seamlessly. We'll report back if anybody's interested...

Four and a half stars from Sonia. Four from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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