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Monday, May 24, 2021

Trader Joe's Carne Asada Burritos

A lot of my gringo friends think I must be eating things like tacos, nachos, and carne asada burritos on the regular since I'm married to a Latina of Mexican descent. While I am treated to an authentic dish from time to time, courtesy of the beautiful wifey or possibly her mom, it's usually a dish native to southern Mexico, specifically the state of Oaxaca. We're talking stuff like salsa de queso and tlayuda topped with quesillo cheese. Yum.

While similar to the cuisine of northern Mexico, the food my wife's family makes only occasionally contains red meat and is virtually never presented in a burrito-type format. All that to say, we're not really carne asada burrito experts or connoisseurs, although living in Los Angeles for seven years and thirty-one years, respectively, might mean we've had more decent Mexican food than the average American. If I have only one good thing to say about SoCal, it's that there's plenty of well-above-par Mexican at surprisingly affordable prices, if you know where to look.

After resisting the urge to heat the burritos in the air fryer, I opted for the oven. 20 minutes at 450 degrees as per the heating instructions yielded a warm outer shell and a nearly-still-frozen center. So I continued heating.

Another ten minutes at 450 seemed to do the trick. I tried the burrito plain at first. The meat was a little gristly. If I'm going to eat beef, I prefer it ground. If it's steak or carne asada, I'm not a big fan of wads of fat and sinewy textures. There was definitely a bit of that here. If you don't mind your meat a tad chewy, at least I can tell you there's plenty of it—at least one or two chunks of carne in every bite. 

Taste-wise, the blend of onions, chiles, and cilantro was underwhelming. There's a very mild heat and just a moderate amount of extra savory flavors. The product needed cheese, salsa, and sour cream to be truly palatable for either of us.

In the end, we each finished our burrito in one sitting, but we wound up giving any beef chunks that floated out of the crispy shell to the dogs, who didn't mind the bit of gristle at all.

$4.99 for two burritos. Two stars a piece on this one. Not a repeat purchase.

Bottom line: 4 out of 10.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Trader Joe's Southern Peach Crisp Ice Cream

 It's May in Pittsburgh. Know why they call it that? It *may* freeze. It *may* rain. Heck it *may* hail or flood. With a little luck it *may* be springlike for a few days...before it *may* get hot and burny and kinda gross. At least it's not awfully humid yet. And I just *may* live in an old brick house that two weeks ago I was pumping the heat in to keep it above freezing and now wish my our stackpipe didn't burst a few weeks ago, kinda depleting our extra funds for some HVAC stuff...including emphasis on the AC. 

Ugh. it just *may* be another long, hot summer we're just starting. Get the ice cream. 

Specifically...get the new Trader Joe's Southern Peach Crisp Ice Cream. 

Ho. Lee. Sheet. It's been a hot minute since TJ's debuted an ice cream that truly impressed us - we're kinda snobby when it comes to our frozen scoops. the wait is over. Soft and creamy right out of the freezer, and a palty $2.99 a pint, this is gonna be my lovely bride's and my ticket to chill this summer. 

The sweet cream base is 100% on point, and the right call. Vanilla would have been a bit too plain, and while something like a bourbon base would be a bold strategy (and welcomed here!), there's perhaps a bit too much risk for the masses. Sweet cream? Don't mind if ya do! Soft, sweet, creamy, and perfectly delish in its own right. Nom.

Add in some peach puree, though? Great touch! We didn't hit much of a vein our carton, but we had was a great touch. Peachy keen. At certain points, the classic combo of peaches and cream approached the point of perhaps a little too cloyingly sweet, but it never strayed over the line. Even more delish. Nomnom. 

But wait...there's more. 'Crunchy buttery oat crisp"? Shut the front door. YES. Though somehow amiss in my photo, there's ample little pebbles and dust and itty bitty clumps of this around. A little salty, earthy, oaty, buttery, crispy, brown sugar and cinnamony - all classic, and amazing, and really puts the final touch on the whole scoop. It's irresistibly good, and adds the impression of peach pie a la mode...except a lot more ice cream.  Nomnomnomnomnom...I could go on...

Love it. Maybe have bourbon on the side. Awesome ice cream. If this were an option at a local ice cream stand, we'd go often for it. Still gonna support local this summer, absolutely, but there's nothing wrong with having a sure thing at home. No real complaints except maybe a touch more peach, but the mileage may vary in your own respective carton. Go get it, you won't regret it. No ifs, ands, buts, or *may*s about it. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Southern Peach Crisp Ice Cream: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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