Monday, August 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Extra Sharp Canadian Cheddar Cheese

First, apologies for the photo above. I was halfway through the cheese when I sat down to write this review and discovered that I had forgotten to take a picture of it before I opened it.

Of the dozens of cheese varieties I've tried from Trader Joe's, I have found only two really first-rate white cheddars. There was Mull of Kintyre, but that appears to have been a limited-run item--or perhaps it will be back periodically, but either way, it's not one you can buy just any old time. Then there's the Lite Sharp Celtic Cheddar. It's superb, but its unusual sharpness and low-fat formulation make it kind of a special category of one.

I think I've finally found the definitive always-available, classic white cheddar, hiding in plain sight in this rather undistinguished label.

It's richly flavored, sharp without being harsh, smooth, and slices neatly and cleanly. It is, as far as I can tell, perfect, and much deserving a place on my Top Ten list.

For several other white cheddars, I've given an unenthusiastic "yes" or "maybe" to the question of whether I would buy them again. They were all good, but not outstanding. (See, e.g., here, here, and here.) Those answers will now all effectively change to "no," because I would always choose this Canadian variety over them.

Will I buy it again? 

Absolutely. This and the Lite Sharp Celtic will now be my cheddar mainstays when I'm not investigating something new.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


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

How I shop at Trader Joe's

Healthiest foods at Trader Joe's

The only 6 Trader Joe's products worth braving the parking lots for

Best tweets of the week:

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

A post shared by Mona Olszewski (@monao991) on

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trader Joe's Sparkling Mandarin Orange Spring Water

This is the second of four flavors in Trader Joe's new line of sparkling waters. I reviewed the raspberry-lime version here.

I did not like this one as much. This is probably attributable to nothing other than my general preference of raspberry over orange. Nina said she liked this one better. De gustibus, etc.

It has the same heavy carbonation as the raspberry. I found it had less of the false sensation of sweetness.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trader Joe's Gone Bananas!

I've occasionally seen folks on Twitter rave about this product, more than seems justifiable from its description. It has made me roll my eyes. I mean, come one--it's banana slices dipped in chocolate. Sure, it's probably good, but it cannot be a transformative life experience.

OK, so maybe it's not a transformative life experience, but I will confess that I seriously underestimated how good it is. I love these things. Eating them straight out of the freezer, as the package sternly commands, makes them pretty amazing. One doesn't often encounter chocolate and banana together outside the realm of banana splits at the ice cream shop. Add to that the unusual texture imposed by eating them frozen, and you've got a surprisingly delightful dessert experience in store--and with zero work of preparation!

After Nina and I had each eaten a couple, she looked up at me and asked, "Are these going on your Top Ten list?"

Yes they are, my love. Yes they are.

Will I buy them again? 

Oh my yes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pizza Crust

People have been going gaga over this item since it first hit the Trader Joe's shelves a couple of months ago. It sells out everywhere about as fast as they get it in. I've seen the space for it in my local store's freezer case, but it had always been empty until about two weeks ago, when I was finally able to nab one.

The cooking directions are a little peculiar: 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes on one side, then flip it over and repeat, then add toppings and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes. I did it, using TJ's excellent pizza sauce, TJ's organic mozzarella shreds, and Morning Star fake bacon pieces. The result was one of the best homemade pizzas of my life.

Surprisingly, the crust was almost completely neutral in flavor, not nearly as distinctly cauliflower as I had assumed it would be. It basically served as a physical vehicle for the toppings, rather than as a key ingredient in its own right. I'm going to try the same toppings with a more standard crust soon, and I suspect the result will be even better.

Will I buy it again? 

No, not unless some occasion arises in which I will need to make pizza for guests who are avoiding carbs and/or gluten. Those are really the only reasons one would pick this over a traditional crust, and since neither applies to me, I don't have any need for this special product. But if I did, I'd be happy to have it available.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

This is the best-tasting shredded mozzarella I've ever had--fresh and flavorful. It's my new standard. On those occasions when I'm making a pizza at home, this is what I will put on it, abjuring all other similar products.

Will I buy it again? 

Most assuredly yes.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Just Coconut Chunks

As you'd expect, the contents of this bag are just chunks of raw coconut, cut away from the shell, but otherwise unprocessed. No added sugar, preservatives, etc. You just pour out what you'll want to use, let the chunks thaw, and eat them--or add them to a fruit salad, or whatever.

The chunks are quite uniform, about an inch square, and maybe a third of an inch thick. I think they're excellent for just munching on, but not everybody shares my affection for unadulterated coconut.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. The main factor limiting my snacking on coconut is the work involved in cracking open the shell and separating the meat from it. This completely eliminates that barrier, and makes eating plain, raw, delicious pieces of coconut easier than I've ever known it could be.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


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

16 best cheeses at Trader Joe's

Back-to-school favorites from Trader Joe's

Some Trader Joe's suppliers unmasked

Trader Joe's puts the private in private-label

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Trader Joe's Raspberry Chevre

This has the same basic problem as the blueberry vanilla chevre: Though the fruit flavor is nice, it totally overwhelms the cheese, and the stuff ends up tasting like a fruit spread rather than like a cheese with an added accent flavor.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trader Joe's Manchego Anejo Cheese

I've previously tried and liked Trader Joe's Spanish Manchego cheese. This is not quite the same. It's Manchego Anejo--i.e., aged.

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.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's a favorite. 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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trader Joe's Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

When I lived in Minnesota in the 1990s and early 2000s, I remember frequently buying ice cream sandwiches from a convenience store near my house, and they were the best I've had--huge, completely decadent. I no longer remember the brand name.

These from Trader Joe's come close. They are, I believe, the second-best ice cream sandwiches I've ever had--and it's possible that if I compared them directly against the ones I'm remembering, instead of against a decade-old memory of the same, I'd judge them to be the best.

In any event, they're essentially perfect. I honestly can't think of a thing I'd ask TJ's to change about them. The size, thickness, texture, sweetness, ratio of the components--they're all exactly right.

When I was buying them, the TJ's cashier commented that they were the best ice cream sandwiches in the world. I'm used to the TJ's cashiers talking up random items, and I don't put much stock in their salesmanship. But for once, he may not have been exaggerating, at least not much.

By about the third bite of my first of these four, I knew they were headed to my Top Ten list. They're that good.

Will I buy it again? 

I'm already on my second box. May they never be discontinued.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Sparkling Raspberry Lime Spring Water

This has a surprisingly strong raspberry flavor. Surprising, that is, based on my experience of other sparkling waters, which tend to be quite lightly flavored. The heavier dosing of flavor here produces an unusual sensation of sweetness, even though it contains zero sugars and zero calories. It's also more heavily carbonated than any other such product I've had before--right up there with sugary sodas.

The claimed lime, however, is absent from the flavor profile.

Will I buy it again? 

I did like it, but it's just not a product category for which I have much use. When I want water, I want just water. When I want soda, I want soda. This is sort of halfway between, and I think I would never pick it over the two things it's sorta trying to be.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Trader Joe's Satay Peanut Sauce

I'm often more adventurous in buying unfamiliar things than in actually using them once I get them home. So it was with this. I bought it over a year ago, and it just sat in my pantry, because I didn't know what to do with it. I finally asked Nina, and she suggested putting it over fake chicken strips with rice. And that's what I did.

And it was pretty good! For something that I knew zero about and had never even heard of before, just being not-awful is a win; being "pretty good" is a major victory. It means that there's a small sector of the food spectrum--satay sauce--that is now open to me when it was effectively closed before.

The taste mostly follows the ingredients list: peanuts, soy sauce, and chili peppers. Coconut extract is supposedly there, too, though I couldn't taste it.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, once in a while.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


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

33 delicious Trader Joe's recipes

Top 5 favorite Trader Joe's items

16 paleo-friendly snacks from Trader Joe's

33 underrated Trader Joe's products

A week of Trader Joe's dinners for $25

Trader Joe's dinner for two for less than $10

Proximity to a Trader Joe's could boost your home value

Best frozen Japanese foods from Trader Joe's

14 secrets of Trader Joe's employees

5 products from Trader Joe's versus Brandless

10 Trader Joe's beauty buys

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in on a Trader Joe's grocery bag. Hmmm--she looks familiar. Oh, hey, that's MY cat, Lucy! We moved to a new house last week, and she promptly found a safe place to hide from the moving-in chaos: in a cupboard, on the shelf on which I had placed my used bags.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trader Joe's Peach Bellini Jam

This is excellent peach jam. As for the Bellini part? Not so much. Frankly, I wouldn't know prosecco if you hit me in the face with it; my experience with all wines is extremely limited, nearly nonexistent. But I don't taste anything here that suggests white wine--sparkling or not.

It doesn't matter to me, though. I care only whether it's good peach jam, and it most certainly is, with big chunks of flavorful peach, not overly sweetened.

Will I buy it again? 

I eat more strawberry and raspberry than peach jam, but yes, as a once-in-a-while change from my routine.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Trader Joe's Sambal Matah Indonesian Salsa

And yet again I have misplaced the photo I took of this when I bought it. I'm not getting senile. (At least I don't think I am.) But I did have a computer meltdown that required a fresh installation of Windows, followed by trying to restore my files from backup. This was followed by a move to a new house last week. All sorts of things got misplaced in July. The photo you see is from an page.


Nina and I tried this a few days ago. Taking a hint from the "salsa" in the product description, and from the explicit claim elsewhere on the label that it's great as a dip, we ate it as if it were regular ol' salsa, with tortilla chips. 

The effect is basically one of hot pepper pieces floating in way too much oil. It's excessively hot and excessively oily. Both of these are unpleasant characteristics. I powered through maybe ten chips dipped in some of this stuff, and then I just couldn't do it anymore. I think Nina stopped after the first one. 

Will I buy it again? 

No. Did not like it at all. Besides, I hear it's been discontinued. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Trader Joe's Tiramisu Torte

This time I'm using a Trader Joe's photo instead of one of my own because I didn't buy this product. The people in my little 4-unit apartment building had a potluck dinner party last week because I was moving out, and one of my neighbors brought this for our dessert.

Nina immediately predicted that I wouldn't like it because I don't like coffee. This was a perfectly sensible projection from a true fact. But it proved to be wrong. I did like this, though I would have liked it even better if the coffee flavor had been absent. As it was, it was mild enough that I could pretty much ignore it and enjoy the chocolate, cocoa, and cream.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not for myself, but it seems universally liked, so I might well take it to a gathering of people like last week's.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries

I liked these, but did not love them. There was too little of real cranberry flavor in them. In fact, I had a couple handfuls one night while watching TV, and kept thinking I was eating chocolate-covered raisins. Now, I love chocolate-covered raisins, so that doesn't mean they tasted bad--but it does mean that they didn't taste like chocolate-covered cranberries.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, July 31, 2017

"The Loving Dead" by Amelia Beamer

You visit this site for Trader Joe's product reviews, and end up with a post about a sexy zombie novel. What has gone wrong?

Well, nothing, really. Today you just get a different kind of Trader Joe's post. You see, the characters in this novel are Trader Joe's employees, and one of the major scenes takes place at their store.

Look, this isn't high art. But it's better-written than you'd expect from the genre. It's a fun, fast read. And it's the first novel I've ever read where Trader Joe's features prominently.

Here's the summary from Amazon, where you can buy it in various formats:
Kate and Michael are roommates living in the Oakland hills, working at the same Trader Joes supermarket. A night of drunken revelry changes their lives forever, but not in the way that anyone would expect. A slow-spreading plague of zombie-ism breaks out at their house party, spreading amongst their circle of friends, and simultaneously through the Bay Area. This zombie plague — an STD of sorts — is spread through sex and kissing, turning its victims into mindless, horny, voracious killers. Thrust into extremes by this slow- motion tragedy, Kate and Michael are forced to confront the choices they've made in their lives, and their fears of commitment, while trying to stay alive and reunite in the one place in the Bay Area that's likely to be safe and secure from the zombie hoards: Alcatraz.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


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

12 best vegan finds at Trader Joe's

New Trader Joe's products for July

Best and worst Trader Joe's cookies

15 Trader Joe's breakfast staples

10 Trader Joe's beauty buys

What to buy at Trader Joe's

10 delicious dairy-free snacks from Trader Joe's

13 things that prove Trader Joe's is the greatest grocery store

10 best Trader Joe's snacks for under $5

7 Trader Joe's foods pretty enough for Instagram

12 back-to-school essentials

Best tweets of the week:

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

A post shared by Στεφανία Αναστασία (@steph.maks) on

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lenny & Larry's The Complete Cookie--Double Chocolate

The first of this line that I tried, the plain chocolate chip, was bad enough that I probably would not have bought its companion here had I known. But I bought them both at the same time, so I guess fate had ordained that I try them both.

This one is marginally better, but not enough to actually be good. It, too, lacks the sweetness one expects from a cookie. Nina had half of it, and said it seemed to be just a single note throughout.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Ricotta & Spinach Filled Ravioli With Tomato Basil Sauce

Unlike most of the many refrigerated variations on the ravioli theme we've tried from Trader Joe's, this one is frozen. That means that it's not suitable for the familiar boiling-water method of preparation. Instead, TJ's offers you either microwave or stove-top directions. I chose the latter, which involves adding water and olive oil.

It came out great, in terms of texture and temperature. I liked the flavor of the ravioli itself--cheese and spinach both discernible, without either one dominating too much.

But the tomato sauce in which they're bathed is a disappointment. Nina characterized it as "Literally no flavor."

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trader Joe's White Pine Moisturizing Hand Soap and Lotion

This pair comes as you see it, including the little wire rack to keep them together. I bought it in December, so it's possible that it's a seasonal item. I haven't checked to see if it's available all year.

It's a reasonably attractive set, I'll give it that. But otherwise, I do not like. The soap is way too heavily scented for my taste. And pine? Well, if I close my eyes and try to force myself to interpret what I'm smelling as "pine," maybe. But it's sure not anything like a close match to my sense-memory of how a pine tree smells.

The lotion is light, yet takes forever to absorb. By about three minutes into trying to get it to be finished with the absorption process, I began to feel that I might still be rubbing my lotioned-up hands together as the heat death of the universe approached.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trader Joe's Four Cheese Jumbo Ravioli

Trader Joe's has produced a whole lot of different raviolis. This one isn't as interesting as some of the more oddball varieties, but it's high-quality and tastes great. And unlike virtually every other ravioli variant I've had from TJ's, none of them broke open while tumbling about in the boiling water.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. There are some of the more unconventional kinds that I've liked better, but if I wanted a straightforward cheese ravioli, this would be my first choice.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Lemon Ginger Herbal Flavored Water

See here for my comments on this product's shelfmate, the lemongrass-spearmint version.

I like this one less. It has both lemon and ginger flavors readily apparent, and the ginger certainly kicks it up a notch over ordinary lemon water. But it still lacks the interesting little zing that the spearmint delivers in the other one.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I drink a lot of water, but--heathen that I am--I'm content to get it from the kitchen faucet. No lemon, no ginger, no "organic." Just wet.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


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

Trader Joe's has better prices than the new

Shopping tips from Trader Joe's employees

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Jalapeno Limeade

Trader Joe's is making a big sales push on this; I've heard promos for it several times on the radio. Apparently its main intended use is as a margarita mixer. Well, I don't make margaritas, so I'm stuck with just drinking it straight.

Which turns out to be a pretty good thing to do. It's completely different from anything else I've ever had. The jalapeno is much stronger than I anticipated, and it's great--bracing, without getting into the "painful" zone. Its pairing with the lime is perfect.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's not going to be an every day sort of thing, but I'd like to revisit it now and then.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trader Joe's Caramel Ginger Popcorn

And yet again I seem to have misplaced the photo I took of this. I don't know why this is happening so often lately. But the one above is swiped from Trader Joe's own introduction to the product, here.

It's pretty good stuff. The caramel is lighter than it is in my favorite commercial caramel popcorn, which is TJ's own--one of the first members of my Top Ten list. But in compensation, you get the lovely bits of crystallized ginger clinging to some of the popped kernels. This adds a surprising snappiness to the flavor profile.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. If you have any inclination to try it, I'd encourage you to do so. It's an interesting variation on a traditional idea. But I think I'd always choose my long-time favorite over this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lenny & Larry's The Complete Cookie--Chocolate Chip

I gather that this is suppose to be a more healthful alternative to standard cookies. And I assume that it achieves that goal. But it does so at the cost of tasting good. It's just not as sweet as a cookie should be. It's probably not quite into the cardboard/sawdust zone, but it's much closer to that territory than a cookie should be.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trader Joe's Spinach Lasagna

Easy to prepare. Decent flavors in the noodles, cheese, and tomato sauce. But way, way too much spinach. It's like stacks of spinach, interspersed with the occasional layer of pasta or cheese.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, July 17, 2017

Trader Joe's Blueberry Vanilla Chevre

I had seen this in the Trader Joe's cheese section many times, but I always passed it by. I thought it looked too weird to enjoy. Even after I bought it, it sat uneaten in my refrigerator for about three weeks, because I was so leery of its strangeness that night after night I saw it sitting there, but picked something else for my nighttime snack, telling myself that I'd get to the weird cheese "tomorrow."

Now, this isn't an entirely rational attitude. After all, I've tried cheese with cinnamonsriracha sauceblack pepperpaprikaSyrahpestobaconapricotsapple pie ingredientssmoked chilesrosemary and olive oil, and apple and cinnamon, and I liked most of them, so I shouldn't perceive this stuff as too far outside my experience. And yet I did.

But I had to try it because of having made a promise. I recently gained two new neighbors in the apartment next to mine. When they learned of my odd TJ's blogging hobby, one of them, Kendra Warren, told me this was her favorite TJ's thing, and said I had to try it, and I promised that I would. That's why I bought it, and that's why backing out on the taste test wasn't an option, despite my trepidations. Besides, how bad could it be? I like cheese, I like vanilla, and I like blueberries.

So I finally got to it. Verdict: It's just as peculiar as I had anticipated. Vanilla and blueberry are not flavors that my tongue expects when I tell it that a piece of cheese is incoming.

The main problem I have with this product is that it's hard to tell it's cheese. The blueberries so dominate the flavor that it's hard for me to tell that anything else is there. Even when I carefully cut around them to try some blueberry-free cheese, I tasted mostly vanilla (which seems to be blended into the cheese, not just added to the surface). If Clara Peller were doing a TV commercial, she'd bark, "Where's the cheese?"

Also, this is the messiest cheese I think I've ever tried. I found no way to attack it that didn't involve getting most of my fingers sticky and stained blue. It's about as soft as cheese can be without actually flowing, so it's hard to slice.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I enjoyed eating it--much more than I had thought I would, in fact. But that's because I like blueberries (in this case, with a little vanilla added in), not because I like it as cheese.  So if I want blueberries, I'll eat some blueberries. If I want cheese, I'll select something else. Sorry, Kendra! De gustibus non est disputandum. 

Speaking of my friend Kendra, a little plugging is in order. She is a fine musician and model, and you should seek out/listen to/hire her as appropriate. Here's a fun music video she did, singing the true story of her dad burning down the mountain on which the family home sat:

Saturday, July 15, 2017


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

History of Trader Joe's

The 7 healthiest frozen foods at Trader Joe's

Best Indian foods from Trader Joe's

15 Trader Joe's desserts for when you're feeling something sweet

The best and worst of Trader Joe's granola bars

6 Trader Joe's products that are meal-prepping game-changers

Best French foods at Trader Joe's

The 12 best Trader Joe's macarons

Price comparison of 5 discount grocers

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Lemongrass Spearmint Herbal Flavored Water

I would never have purchased this if not for this blog and my attempt to try every new TJ's product that I think won't be completely terrible.

I know I've had lemongrass before, because I recognize it as an ingredient from the menus of Asian restaurants. But I don't have any sense of what it is supposed to taste like on its own. Or at least I didn't until now.

I didn't mind it, but I'm not wowed by it, either. The more interesting part is the little aftertaste and tingle that comes from the touch of spearmint thrown in.

Will I buy it again? 

No. This belongs in the big category of "things I'm glad I tried once, but don't need in my life in the future."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Calamansi Cooler

Try to read about calamansi and you'll end up more confused than before you started. It seems to also be called calamondin, golden lime, Panama orange, and several other names. It is thought to be a hybrid of mandarin orange and kumquat.

Anyway, its juice, as presented here by Trader Joe's, is pleasant enough. This is not, however, anything like a pure fruit juice, as the "beverage" wording on the can sort of warns you. Water is the first ingredient, followed by sugar, and only then we get to the calamansi puree.

Fortunately, it doesn't taste like overly sweetened glop. It's light, citrusy, refreshing. Both Nina and I thought that it would be improved by light carbonation, though. She said it reminded her most of kumquat, but I don't have enough sense memory of kumquat to have an opinion on that. (In fact, I don't even remember ever having eaten kumquats, but Nina insists that she has seen me do so.)

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trader Joe's Mashed Cauliflower

I lost the picture I took of this, so the one above is stolen from Trader Joe's introduction to the product, here. This accident conveys the additional advantage that you can see the form the stuff takes--those frozen pellets in the background. That should make it easy to dispense and prepare a consistent amount when you don't want the whole bag at once.

But for me, that convenience is about all this item has going for it. Sure, it's cauliflower, and tastes as cauliflower should. But I eat plenty of cauliflower as it is; I don't need more in my diet. And sure, it has fewer carbohydrates than an equivalent amount of mashed potatoes, but I don't feel any need to avoid carbs by such substitutions. Worse, it came out watery and soupy, despite my having followed the cooking directions. And vegans, take note: This is not for you, as it is made with milk and cream.

Will I buy it again? 

No. This is just not a thing I need in my life. I'll continue to eat my broccoli/cauliflower mix in native form several times a week. And on the occasions that I want mashed potatoes, I'll have mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trader Joe's Mango & Cream Ice Cream

I remember in the 1980s when the first Macintosh computers hit the market, it was amazing that the font of text you saw on the screen was the same as would come out of the printer. This phenomenon was so out of step with the PCs that had gone before that it quickly developed a semi-pronounceable acronym: WYSIWYG--"what you see is what you get." Nobody uses that anymore because it has now been established as the norm for so long that it doesn't need to be specified or talked about.

Well, I'd resurrect WYSIWYG for this ice cream. Both the name of the product and the photo on the carton perfectly capture what you can expect from it. It's a swirled blend of mango ice cream and unflavored--i.e., "cream"--ice cream.

It's quite good. The mango is neither overpowering nor overly sweetened, but just right. The cream portion tastes like real cream--presumably because it is.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I'm happy to have tried it once, and it's probably as good as a product of this general description can be, but it didn't wow me enough to want more.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Trader Joe's Sourdough Boule

I had never heard of a boule before spotting this new sourdough on the shelves at Trader Joe's. Here's Wikipedia's helpful information:
Boule, from the French for "ball", is a traditional shape of French bread, resembling a squashed ball. It is a rustic loaf shape that can be made of any type of flour. A boule can be leavened with commercial yeast, chemical leavening, or even wild yeast sourdough. The name of this bread is the reason a bread baker is referred to as a "boulanger" in French, and a bread bakery a "boulangerie."
This is decent sourdough bread. It's perhaps somewhat lacking in the distinctive sourdough bite, but, as if in compensation, it has a superior crust--thick and chewy, with an attractive glaze.

Its main downside for me is the shape of the slices. They just vary too much from one end of the loaf to the middle and then to the other end. Two slices of toast from the middle can be twice as much bread as two slices from near an end. I consider this unacceptable.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, July 8, 2017


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

Trader Joe's vs. Whole Foods, state by state

9 Trader Joe's products you need for the 4th of July

Best new products from Trader Joe's

The best and worst of Trader Joe's pasta

Trader Joe's announces recall of CLIF brand bars 

Best knockoff products from Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

A post shared by Margaret Mae (@xfilesmaven) on

Friday, July 7, 2017

Trader Joe's Sweet Corn, Burrata & Basil Ravioli

Yet another in Trader Joe's seemingly endless line of ravioli variants.

I like the appearance, with that unusual orange stripe. But that's about it for the enjoyment. One of them fell apart in the boiling pot of water, leaving a mess of corn kernels and granular cheese floating around. And they're just not that pleasurable to eat. The corn is an odd match with the pasta shell and the cheese, and the basil seems to be completely missing in action.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Driscoll's Sunshine Raspberries

Just like regular red raspberries, except kind of yellowish in color. Nothing wrong with them, but I have a hard time seeing the point, unless it's just to add some variety to the appearance of a fruit plate.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trader Joe's Sriracha English Cheddar Cheese

I expected this to be pretty bad, but I tried it anyway and got a pleasant surprise. I actually like it a lot. The heat is just about right to form a pleasant and interesting contrast with the mildness of the cheese, without becoming just a mouthful of solidified hot sauce.

There is, however, a problem with texture. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that there are little clumps of white and orange cheese. I don't know what process they use to add the sriracha, but it's obviously the cause of this clumpiness. They don't stick together well. Try to slice the cheese, and it tends to crumble--not because it's hard and dry, but because it's literally incoherent. This is an annoyance to an eater who likes nice, clean, uniform cheese slices.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's not an all-time favorite, but it's good enough and unusual enough to make for a nice break from the cheese routine once in a while.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This is the third in the "gluten-free, crispy-crunchy cookie" product line, following the Ginger Chunk and Chocolate Chip versions. My feeling about them is about the same as for those varieties: They're OK, and perhaps a godsend if you really need to avoid gluten, but not as good as standard cookies. On my personal preference scale, they're roughly tied with the chocolate chip, not as nice as the ginger chunk.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, July 3, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Agua Fresca--Pineapple Mango With Natural Mint Flavor

For the most part, this is what you'd expect--good but unremarkable pineapple-mango juice. The surprise comes mostly in the aftertaste, when the shot of mint kicks in, and it works nicely. I don't think I've ever had juice with mint in it before. It's a different experience, well worth trying.

Will I buy it again? 

No. You should definitely try it once, though.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


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

10 best new Trader Joe's products of 2017

Costco versus Trader Joe's wine

The 16 best Italian foods at Trader Joe's

Vegan shopping list for Trader Joe's

13 paleo snacks from Trader Joe's

17 Trader Joe's essentials for easy summer sides

What a nutritionist buys at Trader Joe's

Guide to Trader Joe's Greek yogurt

Best and worst Trader Joe's ice cream flavors

Best tweets of the week:

Sadly, I don't have a new photo of a cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag to share.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Trader Joe's Ranch Seasoned Crispy Chickpeas

These have a delightfully crunchy texture. Just don't expect much of the claimed ranch seasoning to make an appearance. You get mostly salt, not much of anything else in terms of flavoring. I don't think that's bad, since I'm not a big fan of ranch dressing, but it will probably be disappointing to those who are.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. Nice to try once, but I think that's it.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trader Joe's Peaches & Cream Tarte

This appears to be the same basic product as the Pear & Persimmon Tarte, but with different filling. I think it's much better. Both main components of the filling--peaches and cream--are rich and prominent. The peach slices, however, were kind of tough, as if they weren't ripe. This marred an otherwise excellent pastry.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I liked it, and, besides, I want to see if the seemingly unripe peaches were a one-off flaw.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trader Joe's Original Savory Thin Mini Crackers

I think these are made with the same recipe as the Original Savory Thins. But they have little of the unpleasant, bitter taste I detected in those. They're OK, but too small. I still managed to use them for scooping up some thick hummus and Chipotle Black Bean Dip. They were, surprisingly, strong enough for this without much breakage. One advantage is that they hold so little at a time that it feels like you've eaten a lot when you really haven't.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. The mini size is the main impediment to most uses.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Shaved Cheese Blend

This is a superb cheese blend. All three components are strong and flavorful, without clashing. It tastes great.

There are, however, some practical problems with its use. First, though I can't be absolutely sure of this, it seems that the three cheeses are shaved differently. I think all the smallest bits are Parmesan (and they're all on the bottom), and the largest are cheddar (and they're all on the top). It's hard to grab some and get a good mix of all three parts. Second, it started going moldy faster than bags of shredded cheese usually do. I don't know if that was an anomaly in my one sample, or if it's an intrinsic risk of the product. Third, it's expensive.

But if you can tolerate or work around those issues, you'll have a fine blend to work with.

Will I buy it again? 

Not regularly, but I expect there will be times that it will prove useful.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trader Joe's Queso Cheese Dip

Good queso. Just the right amount of spiciness and chunkiness. Of course it's loaded with everything that's terrible for your diet, but you don't exactly buy queso because of its medicinal qualities, do you?

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's too fat-laden to become a staple, but I think I'll indulge as an occasional treat.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


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

12 of the best dips from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's beauty products

The best vegan products at Trader Joe's

10 things I buy from Trader Joe's for no-cook dinners

20+ summery snacks from Trader Joe's

Best frozen entrees from Trader Joe's

Make jalapeno margaritas with this Trader Joe's mixer

New products spotted on Trader Joe's shelves

Best frozen treats at Trader Joe's

Brits can't believe Trader Joe's is taking credit for inventing the sausage roll

Best tweets of the week:

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

A post shared by Tracy Yndestad (@yndetr) on