Saturday, December 30, 2017


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

The best and worst high-protein pastas

Trader Joe's vs. Aldi price comparison

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

Trader Joe's Servilleta Goat's Milk Cheese

This is the latest in my occasion ventures to try unfamiliar cheeses.

I didn't care for it. It wasn't horrible, and I ate it all, but I kept wishing it were one of my favorites instead of what it is. There's a little bitterness to it, and a lot of earthiness. Maybe it was just my imagination acting on the knowledge that it was goat cheese, but I could have sworn it tasted something like how goats smell. That is not a compliment.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger

My experience is that there's a wide range of "kick" in ginger. Sometimes you get your hair blown back, and sometimes there's just a tiny tingle.

The ginger used here seems to be of the latter variety--so mild that it's actually bland and boring. Coating it in mediocre chocolate does not help it.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Authentic Italian Penne Arrabbiata

This is very ordinary frozen pasta. Arrabbiata (i.e., "angry") sauce is supposed to be extra spicy. This was not. It doesn't deserve the label. It's just regular ol' pasta sauce.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I don't think it's any easier to warm this up than to cook some pasta, and I like the results better when I do it myself.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Trader Joe's Romano Caesar Dressing

I would never have bought this for myself, but Nina had it at her house, so I tried it.

I suppose the most salient fact is that I used it several times, and still couldn't remember anything about it. Each time, I would make a mental note to pay attention to it, then get lost in conversation and finish the salad without registering any particular like or dislike. This means that it's good enough that it doesn't trigger a "yuck" alert for me, as most salad dressings do. (It's one of the food categories about which I'm still a very picky eater.) But it wasn't good enough to trigger a "yum" hit in my brain's pleasure center, either. It just kind of slid by with little notice.

Tasting it on a fingertip, it's strongly cheesy, but that seems to kind of fade away in a salad.

Will I buy it again? 

No, not good enough for that. But I find it at least acceptable.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels

These turned out to be much better than I had expected. The chocolate is good. The caramel is rich and just the right texture--soft enough not to stick your teeth together, without being runny and messy.

Will I buy it again? 

Yep. It has earned a place in my regular rotation of chocolates.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


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

Grocery store price comparison

What to buy and skip at Trader Joe's this Christmas

The best and worst Trader Joe's yogurts

Holiday Trader Joe's items you need to try

13 holiday 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:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Trader Joe's Smoky Honey Seasoned Kettle Chips

If I had tasted these blindfolded, I would have thought they were barbecue flavored. Nina thought they evoked bacon. Neither of us could specifically identify honey.

I thought they were pretty good. Nina? Well, to use her exact words, "I'm in love with these chips." But also, "I will never, ever buy these." Though she has an iron will in many facets of life, good flavored potato chips are her kryptonite, so she practices avoidance.

Will I buy it again? 

Maybe once in a while, but I'm so fond of plain potato chips that it's really hard to put any flavorings on them that make me prefer them to plain.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Hold The Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones--Peppermint Flavored

I've previously described two other versions of this same basic product: vanilla and pumpkin-ginger. But these are the best yet. These are what the evolution of the idea was always leading to. They are the Platonic ideal of mini ice cream cones. The combination of chocolate cones plus chocolate coating perfectly balances the peppermint ice cream.

I ate four (half the box) in one sitting, and had to restrain myself from polishing off the rest.

They're so good, I'm adding them to my Top Ten list.

I assume that this is a limited-time seasonal item, so get 'em while you can.

Will I buy it again? 

Heading to the store today for a refill.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Trader Joe's A Dozen Macarons Varies

You get two each of six different flavors. I thought the apricot and coconut were the real standouts. All of the others were good, but not great.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But definitely interesting to try once.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Trader Joe's Chopped Spinach

I didn't know that this or any such product existed, until Nina concocted a soup in which this was a main ingredient. It worked fine in that context, and was much more convenient than chopping up fresh spinach. So this review is basically just to announce that this stuff exists, for those (like me) who didn't know, and might find it useful. It's not exciting, but sometimes utilitarian is all you need.

Will I buy it again? 

Me? No. But I suspect Nina will, and I'll happily eat whatever results.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Trader Joe's Vanilla Ice Cream Bon Bons With Chocolate Cookie Crust

Yah, they're as good as they look.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. Not because I didn't like them, but because my expanding waistline can't handle them.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


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

First visit to Trader Joe's

Five holiday movies paired with Trader Joe's snacks

12 favorite food finds from Trader Joe's

We taste-tested Trader Joe's holiday treats

Best holiday comfort foods and desserts at Trader Joe's

Taste test of egg nogs

Taste test of maple syrups

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Mini Chocolate Mousse Presents

These are the same basic product as has appeared in two other holiday guises in the past--see here and here. Which means that they're wonderful and delectable and you should run out and get some while you can.

Will I buy it again? 

I will buy one container every time TJ's issues them in any form.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Cheesy Trees

In their favor, these are the cheesiest cheese crackers I've ever had.

But on the demerit side, they're unforgivable brittle. No more than a quarter of the crackers were intact in the box, and even those would break on the first dip into anything denser than water. This property renders them useless for anything other than eating straight, or perhaps crumbling onto the top of soup.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Holiday Frosted Sugar Cookies

These are OK, but not great. They're among the softest sugar cookies I've ever had, which is not a compliment. A little frosting on sugar cookies is acceptable, but it's much too thick here.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Store-bought sugar cookies are never as good as homemade, but even with appropriately lowered expectations, these don't measure up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Cake

The texture of this is not bad for a gluten-free cake--surprisingly normal, in fact.

The flavor is strong on the orange, not so much on the cranberry portion. I didn't like the big dollops of icing on top. Let's stick to the traditional even layer, please.

Will I buy it again? 

No, it didn't excite me that much. But if you're going to have holiday guests who eat gluten-free, it's not a bad choice.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Trader Joe's Hasselback Potatoes With Butter & Sea Salt

What you see is what you get (though the bits of green garnish in the photo are a "serving suggestion," not part of the product you buy). It's a potato, sliced, with butter and salt, and baked for you--though it still takes 30 minutes in the oven to take it from frozen to hot enough to serve.

It's hard to see the point of this. There's so little butter and salt that both Nina and I decided we needed to add more anyway. It's an entirely average potato otherwise--nothing special.

And do we really need to be flying potatoes here from FRANCE? Did Idaho and Oregon fall off the continent without anybody telling me?

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, December 9, 2017


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

6 specific feelings you'll only understand if you shop Trader Joe's on weekends

Trader Joe's peppermint items tasted and ranked

10 stocking stuffers from Trader Joe's

25 Trader Joe's holiday treats tasted and ranked

Trader Joe's frozen foods that are high in salt, and ones that are not

Best tweets of the week:

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

A post shared by Stephanie Vie (@viestephanie) on

Friday, December 8, 2017

Trader Joe's ABC + K Slaw

Eating this slaw was the first occasion in my life in which I've been inclined to say, "There's not enough kale here."

Because of how it's packed, with the kale on top, it's easy to believe there's more of it than turns out to be so. In reality, you end up with a kind of gloppy mix of carrot shreds and beet shreds, with an occasion stray kale leaf, and some glops of apple. Nothing mixes together well.

That said, when I bought it I thought there was about a 75% chance that I'd hate it and not even finish one serving. I didn't hate it. In fact, I liked it better than Nina did, which I would have estimated had a 0.00000001% chance of being true. That doesn't mean that I loved it, but I didn't mind it--and I ate all of mine, while she quit about halfway through hers. I even went back and had two more servings of it over the next couple of days.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I think apples, beets, and carrots pretty much need to stay in their own lanes.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Trader Joe's Marbellous Chocolate Bar

As you can see from the packaging, this is intended as a gift. It even opens as a gift card before you get to the pouch that holds the chocolate. (The back of the package steals the strange phrase "strikingly visual bar" from the Marbled Mint Crunch Chocolate Bar. Both are listed as products of Ireland. Dollars to doughnuts, they're made by the same supplier.)

The chocolate bar is really pretty--even more so than the small part you can through the window above. But it's kind of odd-tasting. I think this must be because of the large percentage of white chocolate. The dark chocolate parts remind me strongly of Hershey's chocolate syrup from my childhood.

Will I buy it again? 

No. One was plenty.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Trader Joe's Pitted Amarena Cherries With Stems In Syrup

I had never heard of Amarena cherries before spotting this jar at Trader Joe's. I bought it anyway. They're cherries; they can't be bad.

And they're not. But the way they're presented here, you can't just sit down and eat a bowlful. (After all, life isn't just a bowl of cherries.) The syrup here is heavily sugared, turning the cherries into something akin to Maraschino cherries--preserved, essentially. They work as a garnish, but in no other way.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I just don't have any use for this kind of thing.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trader Joe's Unsulfured Dried Pear Slices

I expected that I would love these, but they were no good. Too dry and tough, not flavorful enough.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, December 4, 2017

Trader Joe's Chocolate Mint Flavored Cupcakes

Oh, these are truly excellent--and an innovative twist on the age-old chocolate/mint flavor combination. At least I've never seen anything like them.

All the description you need is right there under the product name on the label. What you need from me, then, is simply confirmation that it's not misleading or overly hyped. It is, in fact, quite accurate on all points. But they left out that there's a mint-chocolate star cookie on top.

Will I buy it again? 

Well, they're far too rich to have often, even if they were going to be available all year 'round. But if Trader Joe's could suck all the calories out of these cupcakes without ruining them, I'd snarf them down daily.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


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

Why nutritionists love these 17 Trader Joe's foods

The 10 best Trader Joe's snacks

The 10 best Trader Joe's cookies

Trader Joe's swears it's not selling that drug from "Riverdale"

9 Trader Joe's products that make great stocking stuffers

Discover Trader Joe's gingerbread products

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute something with a Trader Joe's something:

Friday, December 1, 2017

Trader Joe's Winter Snowflake Pasta

In flavor, this is, predictably, just like any other dried wheat pasta. It takes a little longer to cook than thin strands, but that's a minor inconvenience. Somewhat surprisingly, there wasn't much damage to the shapes from being agitated and stirred in the pot of boiling water. I thought they might fall apart, but no.

It's unusually pretty on the plate, for not being a multi-colored beauty like this one or this one. The snowflakes also make convenient bite sizes.

But its greatest advantage over standard pasta shapes is that all the little holes and ridges are supremely good at holding on to pasta sauce. I like that. In fact, I usually go out of my way to buy "rigate" forms of pasta specifically because I like having more sauce cling to my pasta. This is absolutely the best pasta form I've ever encountered for this quality.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. In fact, I liked it so much that I'm going to stock up on it while I can, then mourn the day that I use the last of it and have to wait until next winter to get more.