Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup

This is Day Three of New Products Week.

This soup is definitely better than its shelfmate, the Organic Split Pea Soup--but that's not saying much. My first impression was "mediocre." On reheating the leftovers, it improved to "pretty decent." But no number of tastings, I think, would ever elevate it beyond that. The soup definitely tastes of lentils, but if any of the other ingredients contribute additional flavors, they were lost on me.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 30, 2016

Trader Joe's Just Beets

This is Day Two of New Products Week. 

This is a brand-new product. See Trader Joe's introduction to it here. $2.99 for a very small bag. Do not confuse it with this very similarly named item.

As the name says, there's nothing here but dehydrated beets--no oil, no seasonings. TJ's says that the beets are blanched in boiling water just enough to allow the skins to be removed. Other than that, there is no cooking involved.

So you end up with thin chips, approximately the texture of slightly soft potato chips, but tasting exactly like, well, beets. I found it a strange sensory combination, because my brain associates that flavor with the typical firm but not crunchy texture of beets. It's not unpleasant--just unexpected and slightly confusing.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I'm happy to have tried them once, but I think that's enough--especially given the steep price per ounce.

Nina's View

Not a success. Have a beet the way nature intended it, or a fried beet chip instead.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Split Pea Soup

We've been kind of neglecting the new items lately, so it's time to focus on them with seven reviews in a row. Yes, that means it's another New Products Week! 

This is a brand-new product; no information posted about it on TJ's web site yet. $1.99.

I wish the actual soup looked as good as it does on the package. Instead, it's a monochrome, unappetizing, green glop. It's so thick that it actually comes out of the box as a solid, retaining the shape of its former container until heated.

The taste isn't much better. It's bland, with something weirdly off. If I were fed this without knowing what the main ingredient was, would I correctly identify it as "peas"? I'm not sure--it's a close call.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It is mediocre at best.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


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

The best grocery store for snacks is Trader Joe's

New Trader Joe's products for May

"Deceptive labeling" class-action lawsuit against Trader Joe's dismissed

"Let's Talk TJ's" podcast #24

Trader Joe's is among the retailers making phone-pay systems worse

Best tweets of the week:



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

Trader Joe's Ham & Swiss Sandwich

If you're thinking that this doesn't look like the kind of TJ's purchase I usually make, you're right. It was the result of that familiar problem of grocery shopping while hungry. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have realized:
  • I haven't had ham in maybe a year, and really don't want to start again. 
  • It is not possible to assemble a sandwich in a factory kitchen somewhere, wrap it in plastic, ship it to grocery stores, have it sit on the shelves for a day or two, and end up with a sandwich that is "fresh," as the label claims. 
The lettuce was wilted. The dijon mustard, while tasty, had soaked into the bread and was all concentrated right in the middle of the sandwich. The ham was weirdly--almost alarmingly--discolored, an unappealing gray. I know there was a slice of Swiss cheese in there, because I partially disassembled the sandwich looking for it, after discovering that its flavor was completely AWOL.

This sandwich was a colossal failure.

Will I buy it again? 

Only if I lose my ever-lovin' mind.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Panko Breaded Tilapia Fillets

If like me you don't know what "panko" is, see here.

Nina had me over for dinner and served this. It's among the most pleasant pieces of fish I've ever had--though truth be told, that doesn't encompass a large number of experiences. It's about as mild and non-fishy as I can imagine any fish being. The coating is nice and crunchy.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not--not because there's anything wrong with it, but because I have never chosen fish over other protein sources, and don't expect to in the future. However, I certainly wouldn't mind having it again. In fact, if somebody put a gun to my head and told me that I had to go to a store and buy fish (other than tuna) and eat it, this would likely be my first choice.

Nina's View

I've now made these a couple more times for myself, and I hereby promote them to Nina's Top Ten status. They are simple to prepare, reliably tasty, and lend themselves to a variety of different serving options.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trader Joe's Belgian Butter Waffle Cookies

Have you ever been to an ice-cream parlor and ordered your ice cream in a waffle cone? If so, then you already know what's in this box. The cookies are just like pieces of waffle cones--maybe a little more butter flavor, a little thinner, and a bit more brittle, but basically the same. They're so close that eating them causes me to have a nearly continuous feeling of missing the ice cream.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I like them, but (1) there are lots of other cookies that I like more, and (2) I feel like I get enough with an occasional ice cream cone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trader Joe's Indian Fare--Madras Lentil

This has happened more times than I can count: I spot something in Trader Joe's and think, "I can't tell if I'll like that or not, but I should probably try it." Then I bring it home. Then it sits in my cupboard forever because the little blip of adventurousness that hit me at the store has left, and every time I think about trying it, I second-guess myself and choose instead some safer, better-known entity.

But that story has many different endings. Sometimes my hesitation was justified and it proves to be as awful as my worst fears. Sometimes it's just okay. And once in a while, I end up kicking myself for waiting so long to try it, after discovering a new love.

I'm pleased to say that Madras Lentil joins that last category. I waited so long to try it that it was actually three months past its freshness date by the time I finally opened it. Oh well.

It's not obvious from the packaging, but inside the box is a foil pouch with the whole mess already blended and cooked. You can heat the pouch in boiling water on the stove, or dump the contents into a microwave-safe bowl and zap it. I took the latter, easier route, then spooned it over some of TJ's lovely Brown Jasmine Rice.

I liked it immediately, and liked it more with every bite. It's milder than I had anticipated. In fact, being just a tad on the bland side might be its main fault. That factor makes it a little shy of the excellence needed to become a member of my Top Ten list, but I nevertheless liked it very much.

Tasty, nutritious, super easy to prepare, and cheap. With those qualities, how could it not be a winner?

Will I buy it again? 

Definitely. I think it's going to become a staple that I keep around all the time.

Nina's View

I'm going to try very, very hard not to let my own food prejudices color this comment. 

Given that this dish is something you might find in a (non-xenophobic) prepper's bunker, it's quite good. It's even possible that it's got a decent amount of nutrition in it. I find it quite dull in flavor, especially as it is claiming Indian heritage.

Dal (or dahl, as you prefer) is one of my favorite foods. There are a zillion kinds of lentils, Indian cuisine has a zillion different ways to spice them, and they are pretty much all delicious.  These are not those lentils. As long as you're aware of that, and are looking for a quick, acceptable meal, they'll do.

Lentils are easy to cook—although some varieties take quite awhile or need soaking beforehand. I realize that I need to make some lentils for Bob.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trader Joe's Vanilla Meringues

I had never noticed or heard of these until recently when somebody on Twitter posted a photo and said that they taste just like the marshmallow bits in Lucky Charms cereal.

Well! I have eaten a ton of Lucky Charms in my life, and I always felt that eating the cereal part was the price you had to pay in order to get to eat the yummy marshmallow bits. So if Trader Joe's was selling something that was like a giant Lucky Charms marshmallow piece, Ima be all over that.

You know what? That woman on Twitter was right. These really do taste a lot like the marshmallow bits from Lucky Charms--so much so that it's hard to think of anything else when eating them.

But they're just too much of a good thing. I find that I quickly get sated of that taste. It feels like a struggle to finish just one of these giant things. The label says that a serving size is four, which seems impossible to me. I like them--but nowhere near that much.

Will I buy it again? 

It was fun and interesting to try them once, but that's plenty for this lifetime.


I had about six of these. I think I had two the first night, then one per night for the next few days. And that was the end of it. I liked each one less than the one before, and finally gave up on them entirely. They went back to the store for a refund.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trader Joe's Brown Jasmine Rice From Thailand

See Trader Joe's guide to its various rices here.

I think this is my favorite TJ's rice yet. It's flavorful, pleasantly firm to chew, long-grained, cooks up easily and consistently, never sticky, leaving little residue lining my rice cooker.

The main thing wrong with it is the damnable package, with the resealable opening partway down the front of the bag instead of at the top, where nature intended it to be. This maddening design is enough to make me believe in demonic spirits, because who else could have thought it a good idea? It's impossible to pour out rice without spilling.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. After I try another two or three varieties for blogging purposes, I think this is likely to become my default choice.

Nina's View

In general, I am not a fan of brown rice. I am well aware of all the arguments in its favor. And yet, I still prefer their paler pals.

Having bared my prejudice to the world, I will nevertheless aver that this is BY FAR my favorite brown rice. It is flavorful, has a nice toothsome texture, and is neither gummy nor heavy. It's good stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


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

Thoughts you have while shopping at Trader Joe's

Ranking Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck wines

5 easy weeknight recipes, thanks to Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:




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

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate (Filled With) Caramel

Disappointing. Chocolate is weak and waxy. Filling is only vaguely caramelly. And the one I bought was broken in many pieces.

I love both caramel and chocolate, but I found nothing to love here. I wish it were otherwise.

Will I buy it again? 



At some point after writing the above, I had forgotten about my bad experience, and I bought another one. In fact, I didn't remember writing that review until I sat down to write what I thought was a new one, and found it. The candy still wasn't great, but it was less disappointing than my first reaction. (I think "less disappointing" is the very definition of damning with faint praise.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa

Too much peach, not enough tomato. It ends up more like a slightly spicy peach marmalade than salsa.

I don't think I would have finished the jar on its own--just not good enough to enjoy. However, Nina cleverly found a way to save it. After some tinkering she found that a roughly 60:40 mix of my beloved Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa and this peach salsa makes an excellent combination. The peach adds some sweetness and fruitiness to what is admittedly a kind of one-note, tomato-heavy salsa.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Mayonnaise

The only thing for which I use mayonnaise (or mayonnaise-like condiments, to be more precise) is tuna salad for sandwiches. My strong preference, since childhood, has been Kraft Miracle Whip--a statement that will make mayonnaise purists shudder in revulsion, I'm sure. But that's my truth.

How does this compare? Horribly. The texture is fine, but there is almost no flavor. There is certainly no zest, no tanginess, no sweetness.

I used it only once. It was so unacceptable that I knew instantly that I could not and would not power my way through the rest of the jar, and took it back to the store for a refund.

Colossal fail.

Will I buy it again? 



I invited Nina to add her own comments, as I always do when we have both tried a product. She said she doesn't remember this one.

Well, I remember her trying it. We were having fake-meat burgers. She always likes mayo on hers. So I opened this new jar for her. She stuck the tip of her knife into the jar, tasted a bit of the mayonnaise, put the lid back on the jar, and said, "No." She then went to the refrigerator, where I keep a jar of Hellmann's for her. While spreading that on her burger, she explained that the Trader Joe's was, by comparison, completely lacking in any desirable characteristics--and, incidentally, that the world would be better off if nobody but Hellmann's made mayonnaise.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Tricolor Quinoa

Prior to this purchase, I had never bought quinoa before. I would have said that I had never ever eaten it, except as a minor component of some dish or salad at a restaurant--but when I said that to Nina, she told me that she had served it to me before. I believe her, though I still don't really remember it.

Anyway, the point is that quinoa is still basically a new thing to me, so once again I have no mental database against which to compare this particular product. (If you've noticed that I say that a lot, you'll understand what a limited range of food has been my diet most of my life, and what a change it is to have decided to expand and explore.)

That said, I liked it. It was super-easy to prepare perfectly in my rice cooker (add 2 parts water, press the switch, and walk away). It's pretty. It tastes good. It seems that I can use it nearly everywhere I would otherwise use rice. I'm not sure it's better than rice, but it's a nice little change-up.

How it might compare to other quinoa, I'm not qualified to say. If we're lucky, Nina might chime in on that.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, though I'd like to try some other varieties first, before coming back to this one.

Nina's View

I like quinoa.

I have indeed served it to Bob before, as I generally blend it half-and-half with rice. They have the same cooking times and proportions, and you get something like a nice textured pilaf as a result. It has a nutty flavor and a toothsome little chew to it.

I like plain quinoa. I like tricolor quinoa. I like red quinoa. It's all good. (And good for you.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Trader Joe's Soy Cheese Blend Cheese Alternative

This tastes nothing like cheese. It doesn't melt as nicely. And it's made with dairy-derived casein, so it's not even vegan-friendly.

Frankly, I can't imagine why anybody would want to use it.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 16, 2016

Trader Joe's Dark Morello Cherries In Light Syrup

I'm not what anybody would call an expert on cherries. I just know that I like them. I had never heard of morello cherries. But I've had a lot of home-canned cherries in my life, and never ran into any that I didn't love. I assumed that these would be pretty much the same.

I was wrong. These are extremely tart/sour--on the edge of being unpleasantly so. They are similar in flavor to the cherries found in canned cherry pie filling, but quite a bit more tart. They are not--repeat, NOT--sweet cherries.

I found that this quality made it hard to enjoy them. After half a dozen, I've had about all the tartness I can stand. If these were sweet cherries, I could guzzle them.

I gather from Wikipedia that morello cherries are one variety of sour cherries, Prunus cerasus

Will I buy it again? 

Sadly, no. Too sour for my taste. I'll stick with the lovely frozen cherries that TJ's sells.


A funny thing happened between the writing of the above and the publication of this post: I ate more of the cherries. And they were not as sour as my first impression of them had it.

In retrospect, it's clear to me what happened. I went at the first tasting expecting sweet cherries, so these seemed exceedingly sour. Then I had fixed in my mind that these were exceedingly sour cherries, and with that expectation, when I sat down a few days later to a second helping, I was surprised to find that they were sour, but not exceedingly sour. This is obviously the interplay of sensation with expectation.

I still don't like them enough to buy more. But I'm going to enjoy finishing off this jar of them. With my expectation more closely aligned with reality, it's easier to appreciate them for what they are.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Trader Joe's Double Roasted Salsa

I wondered at first how this would differ from Trader Joe's Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa, which I adore.

Well, in terms of how it's made, the chief difference is that it's the green chiles that are roasted here, rather than the tomatoes. ("Double roasted," we are told, means that they get roasted once whole, then again after being peeled.)

In terms of taste, I noticed two things, chiefly: First, there's more heat. This is confirmed by a higher level shown on the little TJ's thermometer pictogram that they helpfully include on their salsa labels. It's just a tad higher than I like. Second, there's more cilantro, which has a flavor that always seems bitter and unpleasant to me.

I didn't hate this. I finished off the jar. But I liked it less than others I have tried.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

Raise your hand if you're surprised that I liked this much better than Bob did.

I thought so.

De gustibus non disputandum. (Shyeah. As if. I am right and he is wrong… for me.)


Many weeks after writing the above, I was at Nina's house for dinner, and she put out this salsa with some crackers, and I thought it was mighty fine. But I couldn't be sure whether I was having second thoughts about the salsa itself, or if it was just that particular combination of salsa and crackers that was such a winner. Or maybe I was just extra-hungry, making everything taste better.

So I bought another jar, and tried it side-by-side against my current salsa champion, the Fire-Roasted Tomato. Using ordinary corn chips as the vehicle, I quickly established again that I do like the latter better than the Double Roasted.


I gave Nina the same opportunity, and, fiddler that she is, she took it upon herself to mix the two salsas together, about 50:50. She declared the mixture to be greater than the sum of its parts. I had to admit it was pretty good.

Over the next few days, I repeated the experiment, using three small bowls--one of each of the two salsas, and one of the blend. I ended up convinced that Nina was correct: The mixture is superior to either one alone. So you might want to try that.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


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

Trader Joe's listeria-related recall expands to include two kinds of veggie burger

Trader Joe's announces recall of kale/edamame salad for salmonella contamination

Gary Gulman's ode to Trader Joe's (5-minute video)

Trader Joe's recipes helped book author lose weight

Rating Trader Joe's new products for May

Three things I love about Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:






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

Trader Joe's Scalloped Potatoes With Quattro Formaggio

Scalloped potatoes with cheese. Not terrible, but completely boring. Nearly all flavor has been whipped out of this dish by the Trader Joe's Blandification Committee. (There's a residual hint of onion--yuck--but not so much that I had to reject it wholesale.) The cheese part could have been interesting, but the blend of four different cheeses means that no one flavor stands out, and instead you get just a generic cheesiness. Picking any one of the four and using it exclusively probably would have been a better choice.

Will I buy it again? 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Trader Joe's Spinach & Kale Bites

These are, as the name implies, basically just balls of chopped spinach and kale. They are held together by egg and bread crumbs as a binder, with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top (which I could neither see nor taste), plus a little onion (fortunately not detectable), salt, and pepper.

I found these to be tolerable, though short of enjoyable. However, if you grade on a curve, I'd say that these bites are among the better ways I've experienced eating spinach and kale.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But it's nice to know that spinach and kale can be made palatable in ways other than as part of a salad.

Nina's View

I thought these were pretty good. I think they were a tad over-baked, and thus less succulent than would be optimal.

[Bob notes: That was my fault. At the end of the prescribed baking time, I thought they didn't feel as hot to the touch as they should, so I gave them another 5 minutes. This decision was probably influenced by having so many previous TJ's products needing more oven time than the label says. I maybe should have just gone with the directions instead of my not-so-keen culinary instincts.]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Trader Joe's 100% Cranberry Juice Not From Concentrate

Nina and I often differ widely in our opinions of various Trader Joe's products. But in one category, we have had considerable accord: juices. Specifically, most of the juice blends in the big jugs have been pretty dismal. Conversely, TJ's single-ingredient pure juices have almost all been outstanding.

This one continues that trend. 100% cranberry juice is not for everyone. There are no sweeteners here to soften the blow, no raspberry or grape or apple to meld harmoniously with the tart cran. Nope. Drinking this is like taking a shot of whiskey, or chugging a cup of strong, black coffee--it'll wake you up and grow hair on your chest.

This is absolutely the real deal, with only one item on the list of ingredients: juice from whole cranberries. It's not even reconstituted from concentrate, though they do pasteurize it so that you don't come down with, I dunno, brucellosis or something and sue them.

I like this stuff. It's not something I'd want to have every day, but once in a while as a break from the milder, sweeter things, it's refreshingly bracing, like the cold slap in the face of those old Mennen commercials.

Thanks. I needed that.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. Good stuff.

Nina's View

Pour a glass. Admire the deep ruby hue. And then brace yourself. 

I believe the first word out of my mouth after I sipped this was "Yowza!" It is not kid stuff. Bob is right to compare it to a shot of liquor—it's that intense. You will not want to glug this stuff. You'll sip it, catch your breath, and sip it again.

You might also chose to use it to blend with other juices, or in cocktails, or even in a sauce reduction.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Trader Joe's Cookie Thins--Triple Ginger

Given how much I liked the two other varieties in this cookie line--Meyer lemon and toasted coconut--there was little doubt that I would like these, too. The only question was, how much?

The answer: a lot.

Because of my impaired sense-memory, I couldn't be sure whether I liked them more or less than what I consider the all-time TJ's cookie champion, Triple Ginger Snaps, so I decided that I would just have to make the sacrifice for my readers of buying and eating another tub of the latter, so that I could sample the two contenders side by side. The things I have to do for you people!

After doing so, I still can't decide which I like better. They're as different as two ginger cookies could be. These are light, thin, and delicate. The Triple Ginger Snaps are thick, kind of tough, and in-your-face with their ramped-up ginger flavor and hunks of actual chewy ginger. They're completely different approaches to making a ginger cookie--almost polar opposites. But going back and forth between them, I couldn't find a clear preference. They're both just superb in their own ways.

Therefore, since I like them just as much as the reigning champion, they must be inducted into my Top Ten list (which, as regular readers know by now, is not limited to ten items).

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Pasta--Vegetable Radiatore

If this pasta tastes any different from any other, it is beyond my meager ability to appreciate. The only reason to buy it, then, is that it's pretty, and different from most plates of pasta that you usually serve. That's probably reason enough once in a while, though not as a regular thing.

Will I buy it again? 

Some day, sure.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits

These "biscuits" are a puzzling thing. They're certainly nothing like what is conjured up in the typical American mind by the word "biscuits." I'm not sure they're even what would be conjured up in the typical British mind by their very different use of the same word, though it would be a closer match.

They're like thin blueberry cookies, but with an unusually strong grain-like flavor. I'm not sure if that is attributable to the rye or the oats (the "biscuits" contain both, second and third on the list of ingredients, respectively), or maybe the combination. But whatever is doing it, the result is a powerful cereal-y/granola-y accompaniment to what is otherwise a nice, distinct blueberry flavor.

And, for me, that's what keeps these from being something I'll want again. They feel too dessertish to be a good breakfast food, and too breakfastish to be a dessert.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

I liked these quite a bit. The best part is that the blueberry flavor tastes genuine. I enjoyed them with a glass of soy milk and with coffee.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower

If this looks like a product we've reviewed before, well, it kinda is, kinda isn't. Trader Joe's now has not one but two "riced cauliflower" products. The first to come out was this frozen organic one. Later, they brought out the one you see here--not organic, and refrigerated rather than frozen. $2.49 per bag.

It was released a couple of months ago, but I could never find it in my local TJ's until this week. I suspect the reason is that the paleo diet people, when they find either of the two products, buy it all up. Following the #TraderJoes hashtag on Twitter, I frequently see comments about the store being out of riced cauliflower again, or squealing with delight at finally finding it in stock, or stories of people fighting over the last bag available, or bragging about buying a whole freezer's worth of it. As far as I know, these two products are the only things for which TJ's outlets routinely impose purchase restrictions--usually a two-bags-per-customer limit.

Here are a couple of typical examples just from the past several days:

One recent article I found compared the two TJ's products with two methods of preparing your own riced cauliflower. They concluded that the TJ's frozen was better than the refrigerated.

I beg to differ. I thought this stuff was much better than the frozen--at least it's better than my memory of the frozen, which admittedly may be in error. I suppose the easiest way to phrase it is that this stuff tasted like good cauliflower, while the frozen tasted like mediocre cauliflower. To be sure, that may well reflect more of a batch-to-batch variation than any intrinsic difference, but that was my experience with one sample of each.

Will I buy it again? 

No. As I said in the first review, if I want cauliflower, I'll have cauliflower, and if I want rice, I'll have rice. Because I do not stand in mortal fear of carbohydrates, I have no reason to have one masquerade as the other.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


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

Important: Trader Joe's announces recall of frozen vegetables

Excellent NPR background reporting on the listeria outbreak/recall here

A second listeria-related recall: broccoli slaw/kale/chicken salad

Third listeria-related recall of the week: frozen corn

Rainier Beach neighborhood makes a web commercial to lure Trader Joe's

Why Whole Foods's CEO envies Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's best frozen meals, according to employees

"Let's Talk TJ's" podcast #23

Best tweets of the week:





And finally, in lieu of the usual cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag, here's a cute dog playing with a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Raspberry Sorbet

Nina bought this. I ate some at her house, but forgot to take a picture of it, so took this one in the store.

I thought it was quite good, but not spectacular. Put another way, it's what I would expect from store-bought sorbet, but not as good as I expected Trader Joe's to make it, after falling in love with some of their other frozen desserts.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

I keep going to Trader Joe's and looking for the pomegranate sorbet [Bob notes: sherbet] and not finding it. I bought this because what could go wrong? And nothing did, it was fine. But it was not POMEGRANATE SORBET.

Last time I went to TJ's not only did they not have the aforemention Po. Me. Gran. Ate. sorbet, they didn't have ANY sorbet.

End times, people. End times.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Vegetarian Chili With Red Beans & Onion

Trader Joe's carried a vegetarian chili for a long time, but then it disappeared before I got around to trying it. Now it's back, reformulated with all organic ingredients. (It's not explicitly labeled as vegan, but that's not because of any dairy ingredients. No explanation is given for why it doesn't get the "V" symbol. I'm guessing it has something to do with being made in a facility that also makes stuff with milk products, so they can't guarantee that there isn't some trace of such things making its way into this stuff.)

I was worried about buying something with "onion" in the product name, but I was relieved to find that the onion is not prominent in either taste or appearance. In fact, the only thing that's prominent in taste is pepper. There's a moderate level of hotness, but not a lot else going on. That is, there's not the happy party of flavors that characterize really good chili.

I didn't mind eating it for dinner last night. And today I'll polish off the leftovers for my lunch, and be content. But it basically leaves me bored.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Trader Joe's Tarte Au Brie Et Aux Tomates (A Very French Thin Crust With Brie And Tomatoes)

I was alerted to the existence of this product by an article in a recent Fearless Flyer. It's sorta pizza, but also sorta not: I can pretty much guarantee that it's the thinnest pizza crust you've ever had, and the brie cheese is obviously not exactly your standard pizza topping.

Still, it's quite good. Sadly, ours was undercooked, despite getting the full recommended 10 minutes at a true 450 degrees (verified, as always, with an oven thermometer); the center of the crust was limp and soggy. I liked it anyway. The braided edge of the crust is a nice touch.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. It's tasty, but loaded with fat: One serving (half of the pizza) has 50% of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat. That's a bit much for me to make a habit of.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trader Joe's Chile Lime Chicken Burgers

This is a perennial best-seller at Trader Joe's, one of those products that people rave about and hope they never stop making. Because of that buzz, I was excited to finally try it.

I was severely disappointed. They're not bad chicken burgers, but they're nothing special. I have been able to taste nothing specifically "chile" about them, and definitely no lime. They do smell of onion while cooking, which for me is always an ominous sign, but fortunately no distinct onion flavor came through. Frankly, they were just completely boring--the work of the TJ's Blandification Committee, no doubt.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, May 3, 2016


I usually just stick recall notices in my weekly Roundup posts. But that's because they're usually not for truly dangerous things. This one is different. Listeria is a really nasty bug that can cause serious harm. Don't shrug it off. If you buy any of these products, you really should check the lot numbers, and toss or return them if they're covered by the recall. I have two bags of the "Petite Peas" in my freezer that will go back to the store for a refund.


Trader Joe's Mini Pie Medley

These look so good, don't they? And it's not just a photographer's trick--they pretty much look like the package photo, except that the fruity stuff poking out looks less like actual pieces of fruit and more like colored filling.

And therein lies the problem. The fruit filling is nearly all filling, very little fruit--and there's not much of it. The crust:filling ratio is way too high, and what there is of the filling looks and tastes like chemical, gelatinous, fake fruit. It's a major disappointment.

Great idea, lousy execution.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Vegetable Melange In Seasoned Butter Sauce

There's nothing Trader-Joe's-y about this. That is, there's nothing that makes you go, "Wow, who ever would have thought of that?!" It's just peas, carrots, corn, and cauliflower in a tiny bit of butter and seasoning. You could probably find an equivalent product in any grocery store freezer aisle. It serves its purpose, but then is immediately forgotten.

Will I buy it again? 

Sure. Everybody needs some boring vegetables once in a while.

Nina's View

Snooze. When it's all just too too much to be bothered to cook some fresh vegetables, these will do.