Google Tag

Search This Blog

Monday, June 29, 2020

Trader Joe's Creamy Cauliflower JalapeƱo Dip

The heat of the summer is definitely not a favorite time of the year for Sonia and me. Don't get me wrong, I like wearing shorts and t-shirts rather than 18 layers of flannel and heavy outer garments, and taking a dip at the local pool is always fun—although, I don't even know if public pools are open this year. Are we swimming with masks on now? Does snorkel gear count as a mask? Darn you, 2020.

Eating ice cream and popsicles makes more practical sense when the weather's warm, so there's that. Also, cold, dairy-based dips and crisp veggies are good snacks for these higher temps. And here's a fun fact: spicy foods like jalapeno are helpful when it comes to staying cool and beating the summer heat. Apparently the spice makes you sweat without moving around a lot, and the moisture helps keep your body temperature low. Just think about it: most cultures that consume a lot of hot, spicy foods are found in warmer climates. See: Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food. Yum. Makes me sweaty just thinking about it. But that's kinda gross, so never mind.

Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—this dip isn't jalapeno-ey enough to make me sweat. It just flat out needs more spice if they're going to include "jalapeno" in the title of this product. There's just enough to provide a vague background warmth after consuming numerous bites of the condiment. There's very little kick up front.

The dip is quite creamy, however, and the cauliflower actually adds to said creaminess rather than detracting from it. It also lends an earthy, rich flavor that dairy alone might lack. Texture-wise, the dairy elements are very smooth, and the cauliflower must be pureed into oblivion, because there's hardly anything cauliflower-esque about the texture. There's just a hint of gritty coarseness.

All in all, it's not a far cry from any other cream cheese-based dip I've ever had. As much as the cauliflower flavor enhances this dip, I still think it could have worked with more cauliflower and less dairy flavor. If I were re-formulating version 2.0, I'd magnify the jalapeno presence nearly tenfold. There might be microscopic little bits of jalapeno in this version. I'd add substantial jalapeno pieces. Maybe not big slices like you'd find on a stack of nachos, but quarters of slices, perhaps.

Don't think this will be a repeat purchase. It's a neat idea, but it's just not memorable or flavorful enough, and there are way too many amazing dips already available at Trader Joe's. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three stars from yours truly.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Trader Joe's Honey Aleppo Sauce

Gotta love it when a plan just falls into your lap.

My lovely bride and I picked up the new Trader Joe's Honey Aleppo Sauce at least a week or two ago, and to be honest, we had no idea what to do with it. From my vantage point, you want to give something like this its best chance to shine for review reasons, and of course I want a good tasting dinner regardless. But, alike my inner Gary Johnson, I had no idea what aleppo is. I mean, yes, I knew Aleppo is a Syrian city, so I had at least had that going for me, but an aleppo pepper? Nah, can't say I'm familiar. I wanted to make something simple, easy and awesome with the sauce, but had no idea what.

Then who came through with the plan but Big Joe himself?

Found this gem on the official TJ Instagram. Coincidentally and happily, we already had rice and shrimp, and it'd been a few weeks since we used our Instapot to make rice (which is awesome) and even longer since we've had shrimp...and boom. Dinner plan. Fist bump.

Gotta say, the honey aleppo sauce isn't precisely what I expected, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect. Taking a close look at the bottle there gives a little clue. See how it's all kinda separated? That's even after I shook it up real good. This isn't any sort of thick, goopy sauce or even anything with all that much consistency. It's almost just downright watery, aside from the bits of crushed aleppo peppers that were floating around the bottom of the bottle. For whatever reason, I equate this kinda embodiment as potential weakness.

Naturally, this was incorrect.

There's plenty of flavor here. Oooh, plenty. And the great thing is, instead of a staged or sequential experience, almost all the flavor is present at once in a multilevel setup. From start to finish there's the light sweetness of honey at the base of the sauce, which lingers on your lips. it's delicious.

But also immediately detectable is the interplay of red wine vinegar and the aleppo peppers. The peppers are pretty interesting, and kinda tough to describe. "Spicy" isn't the right word, although they have some heat that builds. I mean, my kids ate the sauce and didn't whine about it, so it can't be too hot. I'd say on a scale of 1 to 10 the heat was about maybe a 4. But still, there's plenty of flavor, and much more....kinda like cumin and raisin, maybe? Tough to say precisely. It's unlike any other pepper I've experienced.

Tying it all up is just a little sprinkle of salt, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Classic little seasoning mix right there, and for good reason. It's just about perfect as it puts a little bow on the experience. It's pretty delicious all in all, and thorough and evenhanded start to finish.

So needless to say, I lovc the sauce, and want to try it out on more dishes. The "sweet, savory, tangy and slightly spicy" description from the bottle is definitely accurate. I only wish the sauce itself were a little thicker, as I'm not sure how something olive oil and honey based can be so thin, and that'd give everything a little more boost. That's my only knock, really, and both Sandy and I said we need to get a few more bottles which is price accessible enough at $3.99 a pop. Double fours here.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Honey Aleppo Sauce: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

You Might Like: