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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Trader Joe's Garlic and Onion Pistachios

In the entertainment industry, when an actor has something to do in a scene other than just walking or talking, it's called "business." It usually has nothing to do with the plot, but it might have to do with the development of the character. It might not even be in the script—something simply improvised on the spot.

"Give the lead actor some business. He looks awkward just standing there," a director might say.

Examples include: swishing the ice around in a cocktail glass and taking a drink, smoking, rolling dice or a stress ball around in his hand, or...yep, you guessed it: shelling and eating pistachios. That's a great example of "business." I used to hate eating unshelled pistachios because of the extra work. But now, I feel like it gives me something cool to do. It's good "business." If I ever re-enter the world of independent filmmaking, I'll insist there's a character that has a bag of unshelled pistachios with him all the time.

There's something very visceral about the sound of shelling a nut, the crunching of said nut between teeth, and the dropping of the shell into a bowl or other container full of other pistachio shells. I find it a pleasant accompaniment to whatever brooding nonsense I'm sputtering on about these days. It's somehow less vulgar than spitting sunflower seed shells and more refined than peeling peanuts. I suppose eating walnuts with a steel cracker would be just as cool, but I simply like the taste of pistachios more than walnuts.

Sonia grew up noshing on pistachios from a glass bowl on the coffee table of a celebrity couple her mom kept house for in the 80's and 90's. Her family seldom had pistachios on hand at home, so having access to such an expensive snack was always a treat for her. In short, we both like unshelled pistachios.

Upon first taste of these garlic and onion dealies, I was slightly dismayed that the garlic and onion flavors weren't significantly stronger. Oddly, Sonia was struck with the opposite notion. She thought the garlic and onion taste was bordering on too strong. She's a fan of garlic and onion flavors just as much as I am, so I found her take on the product surprising.

As we plowed through nut after nut, I did find that the garlic and onion flavors built up on my tongue, but I still wouldn't have minded them a little more on the pungent side. Pistachio is still very much the dominant flavor here, rather than garlic or onion. 

A number of the nuts stuck to their shells and refused to be separated from them. They'd split in half, but each section of nut was still fused to the outer shell. This happened in a minority of cases, but it was still enough to be mildly off-putting and frustrating.

Despite their perceived lack of potent garlic flavor, they were still addicting. We didn't finish the bag in one sitting or anything like that, but I'm pretty sure we each had our 1/4 cup standard serving size each and then some. I don't think this bag will be sitting around our place for more than a few days or so. 

All things considered, it's a good quality snack for about $7. I don't know if we'll buy them again any time soon, but I'd probably reach for these before I'd buy a bag of plain pistachios. A subtle garlic and onion flavor is better than no garlic and onion flavor IMO. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Trader Joe's Organic Sweet & Spicy Pineapple BBQ Sauce

Always gotta be on the lookout for a new barbecue sauce around these parts. Always, but especially this past spring and summer, because, well, you know. All this extra "free time" at home has meant my grill and smoker have gotten more of a workout since March than all previous years accumulated in totality. Not much else to really do, you know, other than sit outside with a cold beer or three and watch the kids in the sprinkler while prepping some tasty, homecooked food. It's not that bad.

And seasonings and flavors? You gotta do them right. Granted, a little S&P is the choice for me for steaks, which are a (medium) rare treat, but stuff like pulled pork or ribs or grilled chicken need a little saucy action more times than not...

...which makes them perfect for Trader Joe's Organic Sweet & Spicy Pineapple BBQ Sauce.

Love it! This is one pretty terrific sauce, and pretty new unless I am somehow mistaken. Do you like pineapple? Do you like barbecue sauce? Does the idea of the two of them together sound even remotely appetizing? Then you'll love this stuff, I can (almost) guarantee it.

At the base is a pretty strong, traditional style BBQ sauce. Dare I even say Kansas City-esque style? That sounds about right. It's thick and goopy with a bite of tang but a little heavy on the black pepper for a little extra kick. All that is delicious, of course, but a little plain by itself...

Enter pineapple.

Granted, it's not overflowing with citrusy pineapple taste, but it's definitely there, as a balanced extra dose of sweetness and tang that mingles in well with the rest of the sauce. If trying the TJ sauce by itself, the pineapple doesn't stand out as more than a hint or two, but when heated and basted it definitely expresses itself more strongly, but never too much. Indeed, the sauce sides more towards spicy than sweet, as our kiddos will sure attest to.

Winner winner. We like it, and it serves as a great summery mix up to one of our still standing all time favorites. Gonna stock up on this while we can...never know what's gonna happen next. Til then, we grill. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Sweet & Spicy Pineapple BBQ Sauce: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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