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Monday, January 10, 2022

Trader Joe's Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

That cheese section at TJ's can be dangerous. There are so many interesting choices, it would be very much within the realm of possibility to blow your entire grocery budget before even getting out of the cheese department. I mean, good cheese isn't exactly cheap, and it's getting even pricier these days. I generally just steer clear altogether. That's why I have ordained the lovely Sonia with the title: Resident Fromager de Chateau Rodgers.

Apparently this item has been around for a number of years. I wasn't aware. Shows how much time I spend in Trader Joe's cheese area. I probably would have picked it up sooner since I'm generally more of a lemonophile than the wifey...although fruit-flavored cheeses aren't necessarily something I'd gravitate towards. What this is: a mild cheese with a modest amount of lemon flavor. What it isn't: a stand-alone dessert food.

The texture is almost spongy, yet creamy. It's nice and soft, supple, and not very dense. The rind is, of course, significantly darker and firmer than the inner portions of the wedge. The picture included might have an inordinate amount of rind represented (the brown parts) but at least you get an idea of what the cheese itself looks like.

I could see this working well in baking applications. You could easily create some kind of lemon pastry by baking this stuff into something bready and topping with lemon curd or some other type of citrusy icing.

Surprisingly, Sonia liked this cheese more than I did. She was fine snacking on it plain. We both had some on crackers. It worked okay with any type of neutrally-flavored crackers like water crackers and butter crackers. I think it would have clashed with anything with seeds or garlicky flavors or anything like that.

Next time, we'll have to get more adventurous in the kitchen and see if we can whip up something lemontastic despite our lack of mad baking skills. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Trader Joe's Organic Cacio e Pepe Puffs

Poor little thing never really stood a chance. 

On one hand, it's not at fault. Things like Pirate Booty and anything else we could generally call "baby popcorn" get devoured on the regular in our house. It's one of our favorite go-to snackies, whether it's after work or school or during a lazy movie night. When it's in the house, it's a daily grazer. 

On the other hand...why did Trader Joe's Organic Cacio e Pepe Puffs have to be so incredibly good?

First off, there's the bite. There's an extra crispity-crunch to these little nuggets that make them stand up more than a usual puffed corn. I love that crumbly texture, but the mouthfeel of these particular peppery puffies was a welcome change up. It must be the rice flour added in, which also made them not too terribly greasy. Each bite had a certain satisfaction to it. Me likey. 

And then, the taste! Yums abound. Somehow, in some way, each puff held a respectable amount of cacio e pepe i.e. cheese and pepper flavor without being overly greasy or dusty. Nah, it was more a dry dust feel. But that didn't translate to a skimp on taste by any stretch. Mild at first then gradually growing, each bite had a distinct romano/cheddar blend that was creamy and delicious, with some pepper spiked in to give it just a hint of spice. It's really well balanced, though i could have done without the white pepper personally. Not sure how to define it, but white pepper also leaves an uncertain taste in my mouth - I'm quite sure I don't hate it, but not sure I'd choose it either, if that makes sense. 

Anyways, needless to say, my lovely bride, our ravenous pack of munchkins, and I devoured the whole bag easily at snacktime the other day. Gone, without a thought. Goodbye, farewell, gone. Ciao. And we all wanted more, so that says to me if I see these again at TJ's (pleasepleaseplease) I should probably pick up at least two bags. At  about $2 for the bag that's not a bad deal at all. 

Thumbs up all around. Next round, you've been warned. We're gonna go double fours. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Cacio e Pepe Puffs: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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