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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Trader Joe's Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

Pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. Entirely serviceable, but also entirely boring.

Maybe it's just me, but the oddly ridged shape of these nuggets made me think of inset pupae:

(Photo from here.)

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trader Joe's Savory Thin Mini Rice Crackers--Multiseed With Tamari Soy Sauce

Here's a quick primer on tamari soy sauce, in case, like me, you don't know what it is. Turns out I like it, at least as it is embodied in these little crackers. They're crisp and savory, full of flavor. I used them to scoop up some Chipotle Black Bean Dip, and it was a better pairing than I imagined--the only problem being that the crackers are too tiny for effective scooping.

Will I buy it again? 

Tough call. I like the taste, but the size makes them impractical. If they came out with a version that was more standard cracker size, then definitely.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Marinara Sauce

I first learned of the existence of this sauce when in January my daily Google news dump for anything with "Trader Joe's" in it brought me this odd article about a man upset with Trader Joe's for discontinuing his favorite marinara sauce. I next heard about it in May, when the same man wrote about his "victory" in getting TJ's to bring it back.

Now, I don't know if his blog post caught TJ's corporate attention and made them reverse course. Given my experience with TJ's products randomly disappearing for a time and then reappearing, it seems to me more likely that whatever happened had nothing at all to do with his writing. They changed to a different supplier, or the supplier had a fire at the factory and took a while to get production ramped up again, or TJ's and the supplier had a dispute about pricing that took time to resolve. Who knows?

Anyway, when I first noticed it at my local TJ's recently, I naturally had to try it to see if it was as good as Joseph Farah claimed.

I'm here to tell you that it is.

I served it with spaghetti and a fake ground beef for a dinner with Nina. She was all "meh" about it, but I immediately took to it. I finished off the can over the next two days with the leftover pasta, and liked it more with each serving.

It tastes simple and pure. The ingredients list bears this out: tomatoes, tomato puree, olive oil, onions, herbs, garlic, salt. This is probably the first commercial pasta sauce without sugar added that I've really liked. It shares a tomato-y acidity with another TJ's marinara that I like.

The container is a bit odd. TJ's choice of a can instead of a traditional jar precludes the usual easy way of putting leftover sauce away. But I can just dump what's left into a reusable plastic tub. No big deal.

I'm sorely tempted to plop this right onto my Top Ten list. I'm going to resist, at least until I've had a chance to try it again after waiting a bit, to see if I still feel it's worthy. Whether or not it ever makes that list, it's definitely not only one of my favorite TJ's pasta sauces, but one of the best commercial pasta sauces I've ever had from any source.

Will I buy it again? 

Of course. I'm confident that it will become a staple.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Agua Fresca--Hibiscus Flavor

The only time I've knowingly had hibiscus was in one of the first products I reviewed when I started this blog in the summer of 2014. It was, to be precise, the fifth review I published here, and the first time I excoriated a TJ's product--Hibiscus Cranberry Juice Blend. That post was also the first time Nina used the term "melted lollipops." Sadly, it was not the last. The Hibiscus Cranberry proved to the first in a long line of awful TJ's juice blends.

Upon tasting this new TJ's product, I was surprised to find a sense memory to the Hibiscus Cranberry. I guess there really was some hibiscus hiding in it underneath all the cranberry, apple, and grape, because I recognized a similar flavor here--but much stronger and more pleasant.

I liked this, but did not love it. I almost always serve a small glass of some variety of TJ's juice with my weekly dinner with Nina. This bottle stretched for three consecutive weeks, because I never felt like drinking any at other times.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, June 19, 2017

Trader Joe's California Persimmons

Yuck. These are dried, tough, cardboard disks, sprayed with the lightest, vaguest hint of essence of persimmon. Or at least that's how they seem. A major disservice to persimmons.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, June 17, 2017


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

Trader Joe's announces recall of Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream 

Trader Joe's announces recall of Grainless Granola

7 things you didn't know about Two-Buck Chuck

5 reasons Trader Joe's potato chips are the best

21 versatile Trader Joe's products and easy ways to use them

The 17 best Trader Joe's products, according to Today Show fans

New Trader Joe's products for June

12 of the best dips at Trader Joe's

Two things never to buy at Trader Joe's

Three ways to use Trader Joe's cauliflower pizza crust

10 weight-loss steals at Trader Joe's

Zero-waste grocery shopping 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:

A post shared by Christi Carter (@christiccarter) on

Friday, June 16, 2017

Trader Joe's Spinach Tortellini

Considering that this stuff is stuffed with stuff that should be flavorful foodstuff, it's not very stuffed with flavor. In fact, it's kind of stuffy.

Seriously, I was hard-pressed to distinguish either spinach or cheese in the filling. This should not be difficult. But the generic taste of pasta was easier to notice than either of what should be dominant flavors. This was more mysterious than disturbing, but it was kind of a turn-off. What's the point of having pasta stuffed with cheese and spinach if stuffing it with sawdust would give the same effect?

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Monterey Jack Cheese

Dull, boring, cheese, free of any discernible character. It will do if all you need is "some cheese"--because it is--but there's nothing here to enjoy, to savor, or to remember.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When I was maybe 12, I tried strawberry-rhubarb pie for the first time, and decided that I didn't like rhubarb. I stuck to that conviction and never ate it again for the next 40+ years. But then my next-door neighbor shared with me some strawberry-rhubarb stuff (crisp? strudel? cobbler?) she had made, so I decided to try it--and it was fine. So on my next run to Trader Joe's, I bought this pie.

If you were eating it blindfolded, you probably wouldn't know there was any rhubarb in it. I found none of the promised tartness. The filling really just tasted like overly sweetened strawberry. The crust was better than average for a store-bought pie, though a little soggy on the bottom.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I ate it all (except for the one piece that Nina had), but nothing about it excited me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Carrot Turmeric Juice Blend

This looks like regular ol' carrot juice, and the first one or two seconds that it's in your mouth, it tastes like regular ol' carrot juice. But then you get socked by the other stuff: black pepper, turmeric, and chili pepper. It's not bowl-you-over peppery, but it's definitely more than I expected.

I liked it at first. Then I set it aside for a week or so before I came back to finish it off, and I didn't like it much. My first sample seemed pleasantly bracing; the second was just jarring. The difference surely has much more to do with me being in some sort of different frame of mind the second time than any intrinsic change in the juice. But the result was that I couldn't bring myself to finish it, quite, and poured the last few ounces down the drain before chucking the bottle into the recycling bag.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, June 12, 2017

Trader Joe's Pollo Asado Burrito

This is one of the weirdest burritos I've ever had. The ingredients aren't too unconventional, but the overall flavor profile is. I taste basically two things: corn and sugar. If I pay attention, I can notice the presence of beans and rice, too. But while I can see the chicken and cheese, I sure can't taste them, even with effort. Really, what I kept thinking with every bite was, "Why is this so sweet? Burritos aren't supposed to be sweet."

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's weird, off-putting, and slightly disturbing. Plus there's the chicken thing.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


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

How to shop at Trader Joe's while traveling

18 Trader Joe's beers ranked

New Trader Joe's products for June

4 favorite affordable wines from Trader Joe's

Canadian TJ's reseller "Pirate Joe's" closes

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Trader Joe's Camembert Cheese And Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites

I once again either lost or somehow forgot to ever take a picture of this product when I brought it home, so I'm borrowing this one from Trader Joe's description of it, here.

I didn't treat this well. It sat in my freezer for way too many months before I got around to trying it. During that time I had a freezer failure, which probably subjected it to multiple freeze-thaw cycles and temperatures generally too warm for optimal preservation. Despite that abuse, these tiny pastries baked up with amazingly perfect, flaky texture.

There's not a lot here, volume-wise. Nina and I easily polished off all eight as a dessert.

I wished that the cranberry sauce were not as sweetened as it was; I wanted more tartness in the cranberry. Nina wanted a higher fruit:cheese ratio. But we both enjoyed them overall.

Will I buy it again? 

Not for myself. But if I lost my mind and did something crazy like host a party, they'd make a nice little thing to pass around.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Japanese Style Fried Rice With Edamame, Tofu And Hijiki Seaweed

Well, this is unlike anything I've eaten before. I've never knowingly had anything with seaweed in it, and my experiences with tofu can be counted on one hand. The third accent ingredient, edamame, was completely unknown to me until I started writing this blog, though I now eat it regularly in TJ's Soycutash, which is one of my favorite frozen veggies combos.

I'm not in love with the combination, but I didn't object to it nearly as much as I might have. Nina and I ate about half the bag as part of dinner, and I finished the rest with lunches over the next two days. There's a whole bunch of different flavors going on here, and since some of them are outside my little zone of familiarity--soy sauce, rice wine--I don't know how to unpack or analyze them.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not, but Nina liked it, so I won't be surprised if I encounter it again at her house--and that will be OK.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Trader Joe's Cowboy Caviar Corn, Black Bean & Pepper Salsa

I probably shouldn't have purchased this, because I knew that the chances of me liking it were slim to none. Salsa made primarily of corn and beans? Ridiculous.

I was so sure I would hate it that even after bringing it home, it sat on my pantry shelf for months before I decided that it was finally time to force myself to try it. It sat so long that I somehow misplaced the photo I had taken of it, and had to filch the one you see above from Trader Joe's web site. (In case you're interested, here's the company's own description of the product.)

And then, like Mikey in the old Life cereal commercial, I surprised everybody--myself not least--by actually liking it. "He likes it! Hey, Mikey!"

Nina and I ate maybe a third of the jar with tortilla chips as an appetizer before dinner a few days ago. Then last night I polished off the rest of the jar on my own, in one sitting, and I was liking it more and more with every bite--this in spite of the fact that it's hotter than my ideal salsa. It's sweeter than most salsas, which probably plays no small part in my fondness for it. I dig its complex mix of textures and flavors.

Will I buy it again? 

It's already on my shopping list for the next TJ's run. I think it's effectively tied for second place in my list of favorite TJ's salsas with the Fall Harvest (though those two products could not be more different), with the Fire-Roasted Tomato still champion.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Trader Joe's Cage-Free Fresh Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs

What you see (through the back of the package, which is clear) is what you get: hard-boiled eggs, cooked and peeled for you, ready to eat, slice, make into deviled eggs, or whatever.

They tasted fine, and they were perfectly cooked. No icky green tinge around the edge of the yolk.

How much do you pay for this luxury? $2.69 for six eggs. That's $5.38 per dozen. One dozen of TJ's organic, cage-free eggs cost $4.39 (or at least they did when I priced them two years ago). So it's costing you an extra dollar to have the cooking and peeling done on 12 eggs.

When I bought these, I thought that the whole idea of buying pre-cooked eggs was a ridiculously lazy indulgence. But now that I do the math, it seems less ridiculous. Of course, you're stuck with hard-boiled eggs, instead of all the other things you might want to do with eggs. But if you're OK with that limitation, I don't think that spending 50 cents to save the time and trouble of cooking and peeling six eggs is crazy.

Will I buy it again? 

I served these as part of dinner with Nina last night. She said, "You're never going to buy these again, are you?" I said no. But I've changed my mind. I don't eat hard-boiled eggs often--but one of the reasons is that it seems like a lot of fuss to make them (especially the peeling part, which never seems to go quite right). Buying six already prepared, I could eat two at a time three times over the course of, say, a week, and that would probably satisfy my interest in hard-boiled eggs for a few months. I'm thinking now that this is a thing that I just might do. (Shhhh--don't tell Nina.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Mango Dried Fruit Bar

This is the last of the four versions of this product. Sadly, it's also the least enjoyable. As with the apricot, the balance is off--but even more so. I had to concentrate hard to find any mango here. It was just apple apple apple. This isn't an intrinsically terrible thing; I'd buy a "dried apple bar." But it's not what the wrapper promises.

Will I buy it again? 

In spite of my griping, yes. I don't like this or the apricot varieties as much as the strawberry and raspberry, but I'll keep them all coming home with me.

Saturday, June 3, 2017


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

Aldi vs. Trader Joe's Hatch chile salsas

Pirate Joe's trademark infringement case prepares for trial

6 best frozen TJ's meals to bring to work

Try these 7 Trader Joe's cauliflower products

The one thing you have to try at Trader Joe's

The 8 best things to buy at Trader Joe's that aren't food

10 fancy party foods from Trader Joe's

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 kid in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Apricot Dried Fruit Bar

I adore apricots, so I had predicted that this would be my favorite of the four versions of Trader Joe's Dried Fruit Bars.

It wasn't. I like it just fine, but didn't love it. There's just too much apple and not enough apricot.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I think I'll still get all four of them in equal numbers, for the sake of variety.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownie Mix

My experience with Trader Joe's gluten-free products has been a decidedly mixed bag. Some have been perfectly normal products that you wouldn't know or care are gluten-free--like this. Some have been a little less desirable than the regular products for which they substitute, but would be only a modest compromise if one needed to avoid gluten--like this. And some have been just awful, completely inedible--like this.

So I had no way to predict where this brownie mix would fall on that spectrum. Trader Joe's, predictably, touts the resultant brownies as "Thick and rich, a little chewy, and wonderfully chocoately [sic]." Are they?

Yes, they really are. They have an admirable texture, marred only by being a little granular. I've now eaten enough products made from rice flour that I recognized its flavor, even before checking the list of ingredients to confirm my suspicion that that was the main constituent--but that was only a minor detraction. I think they're a little sweeter than I consider ideal, but, again, that's a small demerit.

All in all, I would deem these a perfectly acceptable substitute for a regular brownie mix. I'd even call them surprisingly good.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I won't be buying this mix again because I think several regular products are better. But if I needed a gluten-free diet, I would be ever so grateful to have this option available. It's possible that this is as good as a gluten-free brownie mix can get.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trader Joe's Le Gruyere Switzerland Cheese

To be honest, I'm not sure whether I've had this before. As I looked at it in the store, I thought that I had tried TJ's Gruyere, but also that I had not tried any cheese wrapped in paper, as this one is.

When I got home, I looked in my archives and found a 2015 review of a very similarly named cheese: "Raw Milk Le Gruyere Switzerland Cheese." The newer one says "raw milk" on the label, but not in the name of the product, though looking back at the older one, it's not entirely clear whether "raw milk" is intended to be part of the product name as I interpreted it to be at the time. The new one says "cave aged," while the older one said, "aged over 120 days." And, as mentioned, this one is wrapped in paper, not plastic. I suspect it ships packaged as you see it here, while I suspect that the older one was sliced, wrapped, and labeled at the store.

So, are they the same product, just with a different label now? I'm still not sure. What I am sure about is that I didn't like this one as much as I did the one two years ago. But I can't be confident whether that is because it's a different product (perhaps a different supplier to TJ's), or because it's genuinely the same product but with substantial batch-to-batch variation, or because it's really virtually identical to what I ate before, but my tastes have changed.

Compared to my previous description, this one was much harder, drier, harder to slice, with more of a rind at both long sides. And its flavor was less mild and pleasant--stronger and earthier. I didn't mind it (I worked my way through the whole chunk in just four evenings of snacking), but it didn't jump into my list of favorite cheeses.

Will I buy it again? 

Maybe. I'm curious to try another sample some day to gauge my reaction to it, and hope it's more like it was in 2015.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Raspberry Dried Fruit Bar

This is just like the apple-strawberry version, but with raspberry.

Because of that, I should like it better; raspberry beats strawberry as a general rule. But for reasons I can't articulate, I thought it wasn't quite as good. Close, though.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I'll be happy to keep both on hand.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Trader Joe's Refresh Citrus Body Wash

I'm not a body-wash kind of guy. Gimme a bar of soap, like a real man. There was only one body wash I ever liked, and they stopped making it about 15 years ago, so I gave up on the whole genre. When I noticed this one at Trader Joe's, I decided I would (1) try it just to fill up a space in the blog, (2) hate it, and (3) pass it on to Nina to try.

Surprise! I like it. It smells of lemon, orange, and grapefruit--all of which are actual ingredients. But it's lightly fragrant enough that I don't feel bowled over by it. It's just...pleasant. It rinses off easily, leaving no discernible residue.

Will I buy it again? 

In advance of trying it, I would have bet 10:1 against this outcome, but yes. I think I'll mostly stick to my favorite two soaps (Dove and this lavender soap sold at TJ's), but bring this in once in a while for a little something different.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


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

New products spotted at Trader Joe's

8 unhealthy Trader Joe's snacks, and 8 great alternatives

4 things to buy at Trader Joe's instead of at Costco

5 ways to use Trader Joe's new coffee syrup

The untold truth of Trader Joe's

How to save money on groceries at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week--and for some reason, it's a BUMPER CROP of good ones (or maybe I was just in a weird mood, finding everything interesting or amusing this week):

A post shared by danicatrebelworldwide (@danicatrebelworldwide) on

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Trader Joe's Girasoli Ricotta & Lemon Zest

I've had this twice now. Nina and I each bought it separately. She served it with a tomato sauce and fake ground beef. I served it with just butter.

Surprisingly, the latter worked better. Somehow, the lemon clashed with the tomato/meat sauce. It seemed too strongly lemony. But with just butter, it seemed toned down, in a better ratio with the cheese.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. I like the arugula, the cauliflower, and the goat cheese/tomato versions better than this one, so I think I would always pick one of those over this.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Strawberry Dried Fruit Bar

This is like "fruit leather," but made only from dried fruit--nothing added except ascorbic acid (vitamin C). No extra sugar, gums, etc.

And it's delicious.

Will I buy it again? 

Definitely. This is going to become a staple that I keep around all the time for snacking.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Corn Flakes

There's only one question here: How do these compare to Kellogg's?

Answer: They're pretty close. It's been a few years since I had any Kellogg's Corn Flakes, but I spent many years devouring them regularly, so I feel like I retain a good sense memory of the product. The Trader Joe's version seems a little less sweet. The flakes are a little smaller and thicker. But they're, like, 80% similar--close enough that you probably wouldn't notice if you weren't intentionally looking for differences. And nothing about the differences is a demerit to the TJ's; if anything, having less sugar added to the formula is probably a good thing.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trader Joe's Hatch Valley Salsa

I freely admit my prejudice: I have a strong preference for tomato-based salsas over non-tomato-based salsas. This selection is, obviously, the latter, so it comes to me with two strikes against it.

Its third strike is that its flavor is one-note, essentially just the Hatch chiles, as if there were nothing else in the jar. It's a little hotter than my ideal, but I'd be willing to forgive that if the flavors were richer and more interesting.

I didn't hate it; I finished it off in a few sittings. But I felt myself looking forward to getting back to my favorite, TJ's Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Trader Joe's Dishwasher Detergent Gel

In order not to use a detergent in the wrong machine again, I double-checked and then triple-checked this bottle. Yep, it definitely says "dishwasher" there. And those are clearly pictures of dishes on the front, not clothes. Then, just to be sure, I had Nina verify my impression. Being thus reasonably assured that I was doing it right, I squirted some into my dishwasher.

And the dishes came out clean!

As I've said many times, I prefer cleaning products not to be scented. This one is lemon, but very mildly so--pretty inoffensive. It didn't fill my apartment with sickening fake lemon while the machine was running, nor leave the dishes reeking of it.

Will I buy it again? 

Undecided. Though it has handled several ordinary loads of dishes just fine, I have not yet tried it with pots and pans with tough, cooked-on food remnants. I also had a hard time calculating its per-load price against my usual product, Trader Joe's Monodose Packs; because the amount to be used varies with the instructions for your particular model of dishwasher, there's no easy way to tell how many uses you can get from one container. I'm also not thrilled with the idea of adding more plastic jugs to the waste stream. So I'm leaning against ongoing use for now. But if it does a great job on pots and pans, and I can figure out a good cost estimate, that turns out to be competitive with the packs, I might buy it again.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


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

My Trader Joe's victory

Trader Joe's secrets

New Trader Joe's products for May

10 Trader Joe's meal hacks to make dinner easy

10 best buys at Trader Joe's

Favorite Trader Joe's items for easy, healthy eating

Trader Joe's makes its first entry into social media with an official Instagram account

Easy recipe for Thai coconut curry chicken from Trader Joe's ingredients

16 best weight-loss foods at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, it's not quite a cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag, but it's a cute cat in a Trader Joe's potato chip bag. Close enough!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Trader Joe's Quiche Lorraine--Uncured Ham & Cheese

I found this to be surprisingly good. I had anticipated that any decent flavor and texture of the egg and cheese would be spoiled by freezing followed by microwaving. But in reality, judging just by the filling, I doubt that I would have been able to tell that it had undergone either process.

The crust was another matter, however. About half of it was fine, but the other half was soggy. This was likely due to uneven cooking in my microwave oven. I think you'd get a better result using the conventional-oven set of instructions, if you can take the extra time. (I usually do that on these products, but was feeling more impatient than usual today.)

There is very little ham--so little that almost nothing would be lost by leaving it out completely.

The portion size is listed as 1/4 quiche, with the whole thing making four servings. Yeah, no. That's absurd. Share it with one friend, and I think you'll still each be left wanting a little more.

Will I buy it again? 

No, because ham.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trader Joe's Sponge Candy


Look, I'm incredibly tolerant of sweets--even some things that are, by any reasonable measure, too sweet, such as TJ's English Butter Fudge. But there's got to be something to them other than just sugar (like, y'know, butter), and here there isn't. This is chocolate-coated sugar, period. If you like that, more power to you, but I don't.

I think I ate three pieces before deciding that the rest was going back to the store for a refund.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trader Joe's Arugula & Parmigiano Reggiano Ravioli

This was much better than I expected it to be. I'll tolerate arugula in a good salad, but I don't like it being the dominant flavor in anything. I thought that would be the case here, but it wasn't. Instead, it played nicely with the cheeses and pasta shells.

In fact, if I exclude the meat-containing ones (which I'm not going to be buying again), this ranks near the top of Trader Joe's raviolis that I've tried. It's a notch below my two favorites--the Roasted Cauliflower & Cheese, and the Goat Cheese & Sundried Tomato--but still excellent.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trader Joe's Birthday Cake Bar

Honestly, I thought this was going to be pretty terrible--all gimmick, no quality. I was mightily surprised to find, instead, that it was the best rendition of white chocolate I can remember ever eating.

What the label calls "cookies crumbs" are something crunchy, though I kind of doubt they're literally what's claimed. They add a wonderful contrasting texture, while the "sprinkles" add whimsical color.

I've never been much of a fan of white chocolate, but this was good enough to win me over to the non-dark side.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Campfire S'Mores Bar

Gimmicky? Sure. But it also turns out to be pretty good. I think the thing that really makes it work is the crunch from the graham "nuggets" that are embedded in the chocolate. There's also a little salt, which isn't exactly in the campfire tradition, but adds a nice touch of flavor contrast.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. Interesting and enjoyable to try once as a novelty, but there are so many chocolate things that I try, mainly for purposes of writing about them, that one has to really stand out as extra-special to make it a repeat purchase for me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


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

Controversy when shopper is filmed making anti-Muslim comments in line at Trader Joe's

Snacks nutritionists buy at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's employee loses battle with bird

My favorite Trader Joe's finds

8 standout grocery stores with respect to price

Trader Joe's announces recall of Chocolate Mochi Ice Cream due to undeclared peanuts

19 Trader Joe's foods we keep our freezer stocked with

15 Trader Joe's recipes you should try

17 impossibly accurate Trader Joe's tweets

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Purple Carrot Juice

I knew that purple carrots existed. I did not know that anybody had used them to make juice. But leave it to Trader Joe's!

Even stranger than the color of this juice is its taste. If you had given me a glass of this stuff to drink with no hint about what it was, "carrot" would not have been in my first ten guesses. With almost every swallow I've taken of it, I've tried hard to match the flavor to my lifetime experience of what a carrot tastes like. No success at all. It's much sweeter than I would have imagined carrot juice could be--to the point that on my first sample of it, I walked back to the refrigerator to check the list of ingredients to see whether they had added sugar. Nope.

My best shot at a description is that it's like a beet juice base combined with either cherry or maybe grape. It's not exactly that, but that's what I would end up as my top guess in the blind taste test (with a lot of uncertainty).

Independent of my inability to recognize it, I didn't care for it much.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trader Joe's Chocolate Cara Cara Caramels

I get the feeling that somebody, somewhere, decided to make a candy combining caramel and a particular variety of orange as soon as they realized the name could be "Cara Cara Caramels." Kind of surprisingly, the combination works as well in terms of taste as it does in the name. Tasty, bite-sized morsels of goodness with an intriguing, well-calibrated blend of three dominant flavors.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not, unless maybe as a gift to a chocolate lover. It was interesting and delightful to try once, but didn't endear me enough to keep going back for more.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trader Joe's Toscano Cheese With Black Pepper

Trader Joe's has kind of a fetish about adding stuff to Toscano cheese. I tried the version with cinnamon, and didn't care for it. I tried the version with Syrah, and thought it was OK.

And now for the black pepper. I'm generally not a fan of black pepper. I keep some on hand for guests and to add to recipes when called for, but I never put black pepper on food at the table. The traditional salt and pepper shakers are baffling to me, because I would never use the latter.

But I'm surprised to discover that here it makes for a truly excellent addition to the cheese. It's distinct enough to catch my attention, but still sitting in the background, rather than transforming this into a truly peppery cheese. Even more surprising was that the cheese wasn't nearly as crumbly as the other two versions were; I had no difficulty making thin slices to put on my crackers.

Going into this taste test, I really expected that this would either be so-so (try it once for the experience, but never again), or pretty bad (TOO MUCH PEPPER!). Nope. Instead, it shoots to near the top of my favorite Trader Joe's cheese varieties. It's not quite worthy of being on my all-time Top Ten list, but if I kept a separate list of my top ten TJ's cheeses, it would definitely be included.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Beef Bolognese Ravioli

Once in a while, I forget to take a picture of something new I bring home from Trader Joe's. This was one such time. I had to fish the container out of the trash when I sat down to write this and realized I didn't have a photo.

The center of this ravioli is stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and what is effectively a pasta sauce--tomato paste and seasonings. Kind of oddly, it's as if the marinara is on the inside, instead of needing to add it to the outside.

Will I buy it again? 

No, even though I liked it a lot. This joins a line of TJ's products that I will buy once to try, but not again, because of wanting to minimize the amount of meat--especially beef and pork--in my diet.

But there's another reason here. Look closely at the list of ingredients as shown above (which I did not do until I had already finished eating). This is the second time that TJ's has slipped veal into one of its products and disclosed it only in the fine print, not prominently. My tolerance for beef and pork is low, but not zero. My tolerance for veal is zero. If you told me that this is an indefensibly arbitrary ethical line of demarcation on my part, I wouldn't argue with you. It probably is. But it's what I choose anyway. As a result, I would not have bought this if I had noticed that ingredient.

Oops: This was supposed to publish Tuesday, May 9, but I messed up the settings and it ran early. Oh well. Now that it's out in the world, I won't try to call it back.

Trader Joe's Raspberry Tart

I'm not sure what makes this a "tart" instead of a "tarte," or even just a "pie." But it's raspberry, so it must be good, right?

I admit my bias: I love raspberries. So I was predisposed to like this--and I did. I ate a third of it on each of three consecutive evenings. Nina didn't even get a bite.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. Next time I'll give Nina a little itty-bitty sliver before I devour the rest, because I'm generous like that.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


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

Trader Joe's mannequin challenge

Trader Joe's ranked #2 in Consumer Reports survey of grocery store customers

10 Trader Joe's products never to leave off of your grocery list

5 Trader Joe's hummus flavors ranked

Things I wish I could find at Trader Joe's

Lawsuit says Trader Joe's truffle oil isn't truffle oil

12 simple Trader Joe's meal hacks for new parents

15 Trader Joe's secrets shoppers need to know

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 Revi Mendelsohn 310-838-3056 (@mendelsohngroup) on