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Monday, May 10, 2021

Trader Joe's Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

We've seen a lot of great sweet treats and after-dinner desserts from Trader Joe's over the years, and reviews of them generally do pretty well here on the blog. For example, our most popular post of all time by far, based on total page views, is my review of the original speculoos cookie butter. Or if you go by Farcebook likes, it's my review of cookie butter ice cream. Neither product is completely unique to Trader Joe's, but in both cases, they offered something that, at the time of release, wasn't widely available in the United States at your average, everyday grocery store. Those types of imported flavors tend to be the most popular, most successful, and in my opinion, most interesting offerings from Trader Joe's. For one thing, even if their speculoos cookie butter weren't the very best example of such a product, the average American shopper wouldn't even know the difference, because a good portion of us hadn't ever tried cookie butter at the point when TJ's made it popular.

However, most of us have had strawberry cheesecake...and I'd even venture to say most of us have tried very, very delectable, mouthwatering strawberry cheesecake that nears culinary perfection. So...if you're gonna tackle something with a high standard already established, you better bring your A game, you feel me?

Let's just say we're in a parallel reality where cheesecake hasn't come to America for whatever reason. It's popular in Europe and a few Yanks have tried it and they tell tales of this rich, sweet, creamy dessert when they come back stateside and get all their friends excited to either travel abroad or have some imported. Then Trader Joe's, out of the blue, begins offering Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake. Okay. Then I'd probably be pretty enthused. Everyone would be.

But I must say, not only is this not the best strawberry cheesecake I've ever had, but it's not even the best frozen cheesecake I've ever had. Archer Farms and Cheesecake Factory both make (or made) pretty decent offerings in that department.

This product might have been a contender if they'd simply swirled that strawberry gel all throughout the middle of the product. As it is, it's only on top. And it's by far the best part of the cheesecake, at least as far as Sonia and I are concerned. The cheesecake itself seems a little dull and boring, as cheesecakes go. The graham crust is pretty decent, I must admit.

It's a sweet dessert that's adequate for a small group for an after-dinner treat or what have you, and most people would be perfectly fine downing a slice or two, just so long as they don't overthink or overanalyze like I'm doing right now. But this isn't even the best cheesecake we've seen from Trader Joe's. It's not like they messed it up, but they didn't make it particularly memorable, either.

Three stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Trader Joe's Pulled Jackfruit in Smoky BBQ Sauce

Though mainly carnivorous in nature, in all honesty, a little vegan meat substitution here and there doesn't bother me. Need proof? All the things TJ's sells, it was none other than the original TJ's soy chorizo that got me interested in helping jumpstart this here fine blog over ten years ago. Think I'm long, wordy, pointless, and all that now? Ha! You have no idea how lucky you kids are these days. 

That being said, I've been meaning to and wanting to try out Trader Joe's Pulled Jackfruit in Smoky BBQ Sauce for quite some time. Love pulled pork, but it doesn't always love me the same way back. I've heard rumors that jackfruit easily emulates all that pulled pork can offer, and well, here's an easy chance to draw my own conclusion at the expense of $1.99 and a minute in the microwave. 

Surprisingly, to a newbie like me, decent. Take a look at my product pic. It definitely looks the part, right? Saucy, stringly, a little chunky. At first glance I thought maybe onions were involved, but the ingredients make no mention of them, so i presume it's all jackfruit and sauce. 

The bite is definitely softer than even slow-and-low smoked pulled prok, and not as stringy either. I miss that little bite, but not the little bits that inevitably get stuck in my teeth, so there's that. There was a small plastic-y square in mine - not sure if actual part of package made it's way in, a foreign intruder at the packing plant, or just a pretty not-so-great part of jackfruit. Cast aside without much drama and worries.  Everything else was great - small strands, bigger chunks with more "meat" to them - but no bark though. Oh well. 

The fruit itself is mild, without much flavor by itself. That works because that really helps take on the flavor of the sauce...and man. this BBQ Sauce is pretty legit. Thick, a touch sweet, tangy, with a upper medium kick - it's definitely Kansas City, the American classic, style. I wouldn't say "smoky" quite as much but the little touch that's there iss okay - if liquid smoke were added for the kill shotit'd be an absolutely no go for me. Hate that junk. As it was, that BBQ sauce was finger-lickin' good.

In all it was definitely a decent lunch. I ate mine plain in a bowl, but I think it'd go well over rice. In a sandwich, with a sturdy roll, I feel the texture of the carbs would heavily outweigh the bite of the fruit, so all would be tasted and sensed would be sauce. For the cost and convenience I'll absolutely buy again without a dount. My lovely bride opted for something else for lunch, but I was happy to nosh down the entire package myself as not much of a stomach stretcher. Without going into detail, I'm having some mild digestive issues which I can only really attribute to the jackfruit, but it's nothing too troublesome. Tasty, tasty, tasty, and pretty darn good. Here's another fake meat win for you, TJ's!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Pulled Jackfruit in Smoky BBQ Sauce: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons. 

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