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Friday, May 27, 2022

Trader Joe's Hot Dog Buns

Unable to procure the brioche, New England style, or gluten-free hot dog buns we've heard so much about, Sonia and I grabbed these regular old Trader Joe's Hot Dog Buns for our Memorial Day festivities this year. In addition to remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and making sure the lawn is mowed and tidy, it's also obligatory to cook and consume at least one meat product outdoors on this last weekend in May, you know, if you're an American. I mean, if you're vegan or something like that, you can do veggie burgers or veggie dogs and I'm cool with that. I'm just pointing out that in our never-ending quest to pretend we're normal, Sonia and I made it a point to purchase and consume some buns and all-beef franks for this traditional kickoff-to-summer weekend—and we sampled a couple in advance for this review.

In addition to good taste and a nice, soft texture, I'm looking for at least one other thing in a hot dog bun: the ability to effectively and securely cradle a hot dog. On the taste and texture points, these buns get near top marks. On that last matter, Sonia and I both found this bread product slightly wanting.

They just aren't the ideal shape for hot dog buns. The buns splay apart and create a sort of v-shape that you can stick a hot dog into, but each side of the bun isn't particularly stable and is prone to breakage. It's like they're too square. It's very similar to eating a hot dog with two halves of a slice of regular bread—something I'm sure most of us have done, since they always put a different number of buns and dogs in single packs. You know, there's 10 hot dogs and only 8 buns. You either have to do some math and find the lowest common denominator and eat hot dogs every day for like a month, or you have a couple dogs left over—and you wind up eating them with hamburger buns, regular sliced bread, or you wind up chopping them up and eating them with mac and cheese or whatever.

But again, they tasted fine. Ours were fresh, pliable, bready, and yummy. They're about as firm as the leading brand's buns, at least in terms of mouthfeel. No complaints there. Decent value, too, at $1.99 for 8 buns. It's just they have that weird shape, and they wanted to fall apart so easily, dumping pieces of hot dog onto the ground. At least it made the dogs happy—and by "dogs" here, I mean the canines, AKA mutts, AKA Alfred and Sadie.

Three stars from the beautiful wifey. Three and a half from yours truly for Trader Joe's Hot Dog Buns.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Trader Joe's Truffle Flavored BBQ Sauce

Apparently my lawn has a lot of moisture in it, because this spring a large patch of mushrooms decided to sprout out. Was eyeballing it the other night when I was grilling out again...which made me question my use of condiments.

Yup, it was Trader Joe's Truffle Flavored BBQ Sauce. 

Sure, whatever fungi is afoot in my frontier is favorited to be funky than fancy and frankly not fit for food, but still. 

Anyways, as for the barbeque sauce, I had mixed hopes. Truffles can easily go either way for me, and sometimes make my mouth itch. Still, I was intrigued enough to give it a try.

As it turns out, I need not worry too much about the presence of truffles here...because there's not much more than a palpable hint of them in this new sauce. Seriously, it's just enough to be tasted, and not much else. The trufflometer certainly doesn't go sky high here. There's just enough of that familiar umamilicious essence to be noticeable and discernible, but not enough to take over. 

The remainder of the sauce seems to be a pretty basic Kansas City-type recipe - a little smoky, a little sweet, a touch of spice. It's kinda thick and rich and a touch gloopy. The truffles do add a nice little touch to the flavor, and it works together well, but some of the sweetness seems to cover up the truffles. Honestly, a little more truffle wouldn't have hurt. 

Or...maybe I'm a mad man...but something like a more mustard-y BBQ base, like Carolina style sauce, with truffle added? I can see that being anywhere from 0 to 11 on the ol' Golden Spoon chart, but I'd definitely have to find out, and would think it'd be a more intriguing choice than the "standard" TJ's went with here. 

Don't love it, don't hate it, will definitely use what I got and see where my hand reaches next time I wander near the sauce shelf. Use as you would with BBQ sauce of course. I think it was pretty cheap for the small bottle - in the $3ish range - so worth the gamble if you can tolerate truffles even a little, because thats about what you're gonna get.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Truffle Flavored BBQ Sauce: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

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