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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Trader Joe's Key Lime Kettle Popcorn

Random amazing facts:

Both Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery were almost in the Lord of the Rings movies as Aragorn and Gandalf, respectively. That woulda been interesting, especially if somehow the famous quote from The Rock (kinda NSFWish) got referenced...

Actually, no, my mind is too blown at that to really go on too much more down that rabbit hole, but let's just also mention that somehow, corn is not the number one ingredient in the new Trader Joe's Key Lime Kettle Popcorn. 

Naw, fam, it's good ol sugar. 

More sugar than corn in popcorn - what? Does that technically make this a candy? Can this legally be labelled as popcorn? Who knows? 

At first thought, lime and popcorn seem odd bedfellows, especially key lime for a more dessert-y take than, say, a Mexican-style. But, really, it works. Must be all the sugar. The basis, of course, is a crunchy, fluffy, good ol' fashioned kettle corn kernel, which admittedly I was too busy shoveling into my mouth to snap a pic of...yet again...sorry, fans. The kernels themselves have this somewhat odd looking coloring, almost like a green fluorescent highlighter than may or may not be glow in the dark. But apparently that's all the key lime, because it hits - bright, citrusy, very lime, and super delicious. It's important to note that this is not key lime pie flavor, so don't expect hints of pie crust or cream topping or anything - nah, just good ol' lime. It works, it really works, and in my opinion really oughtta be tasted to have it make sense. It will. 

All the descriptors on the packaging work. Sweet? Yes, obviously. Salty? Of course. Tart? Heck yeah. Tangy? Sure thing. One thing to note: coconut oil is used as the popping oil, and while that doesn't add any obvious flavor, it's something to be aware of for allergen reasons.

We got one bag for our family to take on a picnic dinner to an outdoor concert in the park in the other night, and within seconds each of us were clamoring for the bag and trying to horde as many handfuls as we could. Kids loved it. We loved it. Absolutely we're going to have buy more, and my lovely bride even did some recon on buying a case - it's something like 64 bags, and while that seems a bit overkill, I don't think I'd be terribly upset about it either, long as it got eaten. Hate wasting food. 

Sandy will give it a four, only because she's "not the biggest fan" of kettle corn in general. C'mon now....ok, yes dear. I'll have to go above that. We're gonna have to try our best to bring some more back home and have at it. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Key Lime Kettle Popcorn: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, June 28, 2021

Trader Joe's Red Curry Thai Noodles

Time to break out something from the back of the pantry. Red curry Thai noodles. The name sounds appetizing enough. The packaging? Not so much. I've had some truly awful noodle offerings in big paper bowls that look very similar to this one. Hopefully it's just a trick of the eye and this will be on par with or better than the other instant curry options we've seen from Trader Joe's over the years.

After a quick glance at the heating instructions, something stands out to me: there's no mention of adding water. Huh? You mean these things are already full of their own moisture? Or maybe they'll have enough just from the sauce packet mentioned on the packaging..? Not adding water to this big bowl of noodles goes against my every instinct. But I'll be a good boy this time and follow the directions.

Preparation involves opening two big pouches, one full of noodles, one full of sauce and veggies. Then you simply nuke for 90 seconds. Simple enough. No water involved.

Things came out perfectly after following the heating instructions. I stirred the elements around a bit, since the noodles are so tightly packed from being smooshed in their vacuum sealed pouch for goodness knows how long.

The noodles are nice and thick, almost like udon. They've got some body to them. They're nothing like cheap ramen noodles. They're more like soba noodles in terms of thickness, though they're not as dark as buckwheat noodles. Although it's not apparent in the photo I took, there's the perfect amount of sauce to coat all the noodles, which is good because the noodles don't bring a whole lot to the table in terms of flavor just by themselves. There are peas in the mix and also bamboo shoots, which remind me of carrots in terms of texture and maybe even a little in terms of flavor.

The sauce steals the show. It's coconutty, sweet, spicy, and flavorful. I'll almost always want more heat in a product like this one, but I'm honestly surprised just how much spice there is in this bowl—more than enough to keep it interesting. I'm not saying I didn't crave a little more of that Thai red chili spice, but the amount I got was acceptable. I really expected this product to be bland and unappetizing, but I was pleasantly surprised.

I'd ask for more peas, bamboo shoots, and maybe some other veggies in the mix. A little more heat never hurts a dish like this. All in all, not a bad lunch for $2.49. Shelf-stable, pescatarian, easy to prepare, and surprisingly good as far as taste is concerned.

7.5 out of 10.

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