Monday, January 21, 2019

Trader Joe's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Imagine how good you think the world's best banana-chocolate-chip muffin can be. Get it firmly in mind--the flavors, the textures. Got it?

Bingo! Now you know what this product is.

Yeah, they're that good.

But let us not pretend that this is some sort of health food. Each muffin has 410 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 35 grams of sugar. They're perfect for a nation with the motto, "Make America Fat Again."

Will I buy it again? 

I wish I could. But in reality, if I do, it will only be because of a massive failure of every one of my self-control mechanisms.

Saturday, January 19, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

7 Trader Joe's lunch ideas

Cute boy wants to work at Trader Joe's when he grows up

A definitive ranking of Trader Joe's seasonal cookies

Trader Joe's expands recall of RxBars

Trader Joe's announces 10th annual customer choice awards

3-ingredient Trader Joe's dinners

Make smoothies with these 32 Trader Joe's ingredients

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Friday, January 18, 2019

Trader Joe's Cultivated Wild Rice

Here's an oxymoron with which to start your Friday: Cultivated wild rice.


I gather that "wild" rice doesn't actually mean "found growing spontaneously in nature" as one might think, but a group of four species--whether actually wild or cultivated--in different genera than standard rice. See Wikipedia here and here.

This stuff is a bear to cook. I was about to throw it in my rice cooker, unaware that wild rice needs much more cook time than regular rice. Nina stopped me before I found out the hard way. I looked at the directions on the back of the bag, and aborted the plan, instead opting for the regular rice that evening. Before Nina's next weekly dinner here, I did as the package suggests, and put some of the wild rice in a bowl to soak overnight.

Even after that, I kept the rice boiling for nearly 15 minutes longer than the directions suggest, because as I was sampling it, it never seemed done. I ended up keeping it on the stove until all the water had boiled off--and it still wasn't really done, even though it had some burst kernels, which this page says is an indicator that it has cooked enough. Though the process was long and frustrating, it does produce a lovely aroma that makes the kitchen smell great.

So we ate not-quite-cooked-enough rice last night, topped with some of TJ's excellent Chicken-Less Orange Mandarin Morsels. The flavor matches the adjectives that seem to be universal in describing wild rice: nutty and earthy.

Will I buy it again? 

Very unlikely, unless at some point I am determined to make a special recipe that absolutely, positively must use wild rice instead of standard rice. I don't really see that happening, but ya never know. Otherwise, it's just too much bother. Plus it's way too expensive; this little bag cost $5.49!

When I feel like something a little different from plain white or brown rice, I would instead choose this or this or this.

I took the other roughly half of the bag back to the store for a refund.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Montezuma's Chocolate Truffle Collection

These are excellent-quality chocolates that Trader Joe's has carried during the Christmas season for the last couple of years.

The box contains 16 chocolates, in seven varieties--three each of two of the flavors, and two each of the rest, which is kind of a peculiar packaging strategy.

Most of them were rather difficult to identify, even with the key on the box, because, with a couple of exceptions, the pictures don't match the chocolates at all. One is reduced to a process of elimination, eventually settling on the photo that is the least unlike the chocolate one is trying to identify.

Two of them I didn't try, because I could be pretty sure in advance that I wouldn't like them: coffee and hazelnut. Nina ate those. I tried and liked all of the other five varieties. We both thought they were uniformly superior truffles.

Will I buy it again? 

I might buy it as a gift, but it's just too expensive per piece (and with too much packaging!) to buy it for myself.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Manchego cheeses revisited

I first tried Trader Joe's "Spanish Manchego" cheese in 2015, though I didn't get around to publishing my review until August 2016. I loved it, but then kind of forgot about it.

I then tried TJ's "Manchego Anejo" (i.e., "aged") cheese in 2017, and loved it, too. I wrote, "Perhaps I would be able to tell some difference between them if I tasted them side by side, but this one exactly matches my memory of the regular Manchego. It's just as tasty and interesting as the one I had before.... I might buy another chunk of both of them just so I can try them together and see if I can detect what difference the extra aging makes." But then I didn't follow through with that.

Chapter Three of the story came last month, when I tried the new TJ's sampler pack of three Spanish cheeses, including a Manchego (which may or may not be exactly the same as either of the ones above). That reminded me that I had effused about my fondness for both of the other Manchegos but had never bought them again.

So recently I bought another block of both at the same time and did the side-by-side comparison. They are most definitely not the same. Though they are similar, with a unmistakable family resemblance, the anejo's flavor is decidedly stronger, with a slightly harsh edge to it. I usually like cheeses with more oomph in their flavors, but this time I found myself with a rather strong preference for the plain, non-aged Manchego. The quality that develops with aging I found to be a detraction--not a major one, but one that I'd prefer to do without. And the non-aged version is cheaper, too!

Will I buy it again? 

Manchego sí; Manchego anejo no.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's.

50 tweets that sum up shopping at Trader Joe's

8 foods you should always buy at Trader Joe's

11 healthy snacks from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's top-ranked grocery store chain

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Mini Blueberry Tea Scones

I have virtually no experience with scones generally, or with "tea scones" specifically, if those are something different. But whatever these are, and however they may or may not match up to their platonic ideal, I like them. They're sweet, soft, and flavorful--in every way pleasant to eat. I'm a sucker for that large-grained sugar they sprinkle on top.

Will I buy it again? 

To my surprise, yes. I did not expect that a plastic bag of mass-produced baked goods would be this tasty.