Saturday, May 19, 2018


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

Trader Joe's gets woman a stash of her favorite discontinued chocolate bars after fire

20 Trader Joe's products for quicker dinners

5 cheeses from Trader Joe's for a stellar cheese board

5 wellness pros' must-buys at Trader Joe's

Make your own lemon-elderflower cake to celebrate the royal wedding

Best tweets of the week:

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018


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

Inside Trader Joe's secretive tasting kitchen

Interview with TJ's Vice-President of Innovation (video)

Trader Joe's is #2 on the Forbes list of best employers

4 spectacular party menus under $25 from Trader Joe's

The 7 healthiest breakfast foods at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi

This is one of those occasional Trader Joe's products that I see people on social media get excited about a dozen or more times in the first few days, before I've even had a chance to get to the store. There are also several food-related click-bait web sites that keep up a steady output of Trader Joe's posts ("The [insert number] best [insert type of food] items at Trader Joe's"), and every one of them put up something about the new cauliflower gnocchi within the first week, all with their usual breathless "OMG!" rhetoric.

So how is it really? Well, it's hard to say--because I messed up the preparation.

See those "Pan saute" directions below?

Well, I was following them. But I had a brain fart, and stopped reading after the "about 6 to 8 minutes." Somehow I had mentally put, "And then you're done!" at the end of that first sentence. So they ended up hot but not really cooked right. And they were too sticky. All my fault. I did think it was strange that they weren't browned at all, and they were still kinda gloppy and sticking together, but those misgivings were not enough to prompt me to look at the directions again.

But they tasted decent--just the very mild cauliflower flavor that you'd expect. The only other ingredients are cassava flour, potato starch, olive oil, and salt. So they taste like cauliflower because that's all they can taste like.

Will I buy it again? 

Well, I have to, in order to do the cooking right and report back in an addendum to this post. After that, though, I'm already pretty sure it will be a no. On the rare occasions that I feel like having gnocchi, I would just use the standard potato version. I ain't afraid of no carbs.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trader Joe's Chicken & Vegetable Wonton Soup

I had to look at this several times to be sure I was grasping the concept correctly: frozen soup??? Yep.

You take the bowl from the freezer, peel back the plastic film just enough to be able to add water to the indicated fill line, then microwave for five minutes--that's it.

It smelled strongly of onion while it was cooking, which worried me, but the flavor of onion was not enough to be a problem.

If you've paid attention to the discrepancies between manufactured food package photographs and actual products, you know not to expect the soup to look as you see here. It's much more broth and much less solid ingredients. In particular, it's seriously lacking in vegetables compared to the picture. There are some carrot shreds (not cut pieces as shown), and a few flat bean pods, but that's about it.

The wontons are decent, but so big they're hard to eat. I'd prefer if they miniaturized them down to bite-size, spoon-size.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It wasn't as bad as my worst fears, and actually made a fairly nice centerpiece of my lunch. But between having chicken (which I try to avoid), having a hard plastic one-time-use bowl to add to a landfill, and being only OK instead of something great, this will remain a one-time experiment in a little TJ's oddity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels

These are...kind of weird. The dark chocolate shell is nice enough. But the little bit of caramel (seriously not oozing out, the way the picture shows) doesn't seem to add anything. I can see sesame seeds if I look, but I can't taste anything from them. Really, the only thing I detect other than the chocolate is the taste and texture of some bits of cookie--which aren't mentioned on the front of the package but are listed in the ingredients on the back.

It's a mystery to me what they were trying to accomplish here. If it was highlighting the sesame seeds, as the product name implies, it's a complete fail.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trader Joe's Dutch Gouda

I liked this. It's a nice, normal Gouda. In both texture and flavor, it steers a middle course between the unusually creamy and mild Double Cream Gouda and the unusually hard and intense 1,000 Day Gouda.

I still had some of the latter on hand when I brought this one home, so I tried them side by side last night. It's hard to believe that one name, Gouda, can describe them both. They're so completely different that it doesn't seem to make sense to consider them in the same family.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, once in a while. Overall, I have a fairly strong preference for my Gouda to be smoked, as in this one, or this one. But when I feel like having a non-smoked version, it will be a toss-up between the Double Cream, the Goat's Milk Gouda, and this.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Lemonade

This is pretty decent, though unextraordinary, lemonade--not much other than water, sugar, and lemon juice. Nina thought it was too sweet, but I think it gets the sweet/tart balance about right.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I'd rather have either the frozen concentrate and mix it up myself, or this version in a carton (and skip the plastic jug).