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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Trader Joe's Artichoke Timbales

Never had a timbale before. Even after doing some internet research, I'm still not sure how to pronounce it. I got at least three different versions. My natural inclination would be to pronounce it the Spanish way: teem-BALL-ey. The one thing every source agreed upon was that timbales are named after a type of drum, although which type of drum was yet another point of contention. It's either a timpani, a kettledrum, or a tom-tom.

But I suppose that since we're just talking about a general shape, all of the above could be applicable at least somewhat. At any rate, that's probably enough blabbering on about the name and shape of this food. How does it taste?

Well,'s nothing to write home about. I mean, there are obviously artichoke hearts in there, and I like artichoke hearts. But even the hearts aren't bursting with flavor. They're more salty than anything else. The quiche-like base doesn't add a whole lot to the flavor, either.

Sonia commented, "there's an earthy, planty taste about them." I totally agree with that assessment, although she apparently meant it as praise. I'd say the conglomeration is a little too planty. There's almost a bitterness about the whole thing. The two cheeses, mozzarella and grana padano, don't provide enough flavor to save the dish. There's a significant presence of olive oil—like you can actually taste the olive oil, which isn't necessarily something I look for in an appetizer. Although there was no broccoli mentioned in the ingredients, the beautiful wifey and I both tasted something decidedly broccoli-ish.

A more impressive, more complementary, or more potent spice blend might have gone a long way with this hors d'oeuvre, but it's just not there. I tried numerous additives, but nothing redeemed it completely. I guess I should give an honorable mention to the Italian Style Sprinkle, but even that failed to completely exonerate these pseudo-souffles.

There's nothing to complain about as far as the texture is concerned. It's slightly crispy on the top and softer toward the middle and bottom. The artichoke hearts floating throughout the mixture aren't chewy or stringy at all, so that's a plus. The overall texture is not unlike that of a quiche or souffle as mentioned above, although there are very different ingredients used here. Looks like the body is made of potato starch, rice starch, extra virgin olive oil, and vegetable bouillon, among other things.

Once again Trader Joe's introduces us to an exotic, foreign appetizer for a mere five bucks or so, brought to us all the way from Italy. I can't fault them for that, but I wouldn't buy these apps again. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Two stars from me.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Trader Joe's Ube Spread


Ube? Oh boy. 

Purplepotatopalooza is apparently continuing at your local neighborhood TJ's, this time around with Trader Joe's Ube Spread.

Not sure what to expect outta ube in spread form? Don't worry, I wasn't either. Going into this, I could see it going any number of ways, some way more delectable than others. 

Fortunately it seems TJ's nailed it. Admittedly, I was more concerned about texture than taste. The ube spread is surprisingly smooth, akin to perhaps a slightly firmer apple butter-like consistency. There's a small amount of starchiness to it, but no overt graininess or grittiness. Instead, unlike my high school personality, it's just cool and smooth, and easy spreadable. There's even a little melty butteriness to it that was brought out when spread on some hot-off -the-griddle pancakes.

And taste? It's just about right.  There's enough sugar in there to sway more towards a sweet or dessertlike flavor, and not perhaps not quite as savory. Still, it's not quite overkill. The coconut cream is present and adds a nice little balance, and perhaps adds to that slightly buttery kinda feel...even though there's actual butter butter in there is this stuff only 3g of fat per 18g serving? That's kinda mysterious. 

Anyways, if you like ube, you'll like this alkmost guaranteed. We'll be using it on toast and waffles and pancakes and all sorts of things like that. The jar suggests also ice cream - I wonder if using it on something chilly would somehow be different. Have experience with that? Share away. The jar was only about $3 or $4 and seems about right, and worthy of repeat purchases. Yum yum. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ube Spread: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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