Monday, April 29, 2019

Trader Joe's Jerk-Style Plantain Chips



I thought these had almost no chance of being good. I've had plantain chips before, and hated them. (Exception: TJ's own Sweet Plantain Chips.) Throwing a little spice at them ain't gonna change their fundamental problem of tasting like cardboard.

I was wrong. They're actually quite tasty. I think the spiciness is a little much if they're eaten straight from the bag. But scoop up some TJ's Hummus Dip or Chipotle Bean Dip (as I did), and they cool down or balance the heat nicely, in addition to being good flavor complements.

For the record, Nina was not as impressed with them as I was. And I didn't like the fact that the bag contained a large number of small, broken pieces. So they're not perfect, but I still think they're an unexpected win.


Will I buy it again? 

Yes.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Roundup

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


Taste test of 8 "Two Buck Chuck" wines

Why you should make Trader Joe's your next romantic date spot

Trader Joe's put a store inside an old movie theater

50,000 pounds of Trader Joe's frozen chicken lost in truck fire

Quick Trader Joe's dinners for two for under $10

The 14 healthiest things you can buy at Trader Joe's

Taste test of bargain liquor from Costco and Trader Joe's



Best tweets of the week:






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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Croissant Loaf


This is one of the most unusual loaves of bread I've ever bought. It really is as light, airy, flaky, and buttery as a croissant. (This means it kind of makes a crumbly mess when you eat it. Be prepared.) The cinnamon component is delicate, not overpowering--more "whiff of cinnamon" than CINNAMON!

I tried toasting this in my toaster, but even though this particular model is allegedly designed to accommodate thick slices, the croissant loaf was too much for it. I was able to stuff the slices in, but just barely, and it was a pain both going in and coming out. It also started burning quickly, perhaps because its thickness brought it too close to the heating elements. So for subsequent uses, I put it in my toaster oven, which is slower, but did a much better job, and without the need to manhandle the bread.

The loaf is kind of misshapen, but I ended up not caring, because it tastes so good. It's really superb for making buttered toast. In fact, it was so good after first tasting that I never could bring myself to put jam or jelly on, for fear that it might not be quite as perfect that way. You can slather huge amounts of butter on it, because it's so airy that there's tons of room for the butter to soak in without running off. I'm too lazy to make French toast for myself, but I suspect that this would be perfect for that purpose, with its thick, absorbent slices.

As you might imagine, it's completely impractical for making sandwiches. The slices are too thick and a bit too small, and the substance of the bread is really too delicate and too easily crushed. Besides, cinnamon bread as the platform for, say, ham and Swiss does not sound like a great idea. So this is a limited-purpose bread, rather than an all-purpose one.


Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's kind of a crazy idea for a bread loaf, and a wild departure from my usual bread selections, and even when it's on hand I'll need to have one of the more standard ones simultaneously available for sandwich use--but I love it anyway.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies


These tiny cookies are indisputably cute, but that's about all they have going for them. Well, I suppose that in eating them you could boast that you're so pure that even your chocolate chip cookies are organic, but I don't know why anybody would care about that. They're lifeless, lacking in flavor, dry. They fail to satisfy my sweet tooth.


Will I buy it again? 

No.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Trader Joe's Benne Wafer Cookies


Until yesterday, I had never heard of benne wafers. I did not know that benne was word of uncertain African derivation for sesame. I did not know that lowcountry (with or without capitalization; also low country) was a term for the coastal region of South Carolina. I thought it was referring to the Netherlands, and was confused as to why these were made in Savannah, Georgia. I'm still confused about why Trader Joe's didn't find a supplier in S.C., if they're going to brag about authenticity of origin. (EDIT: National Geographic says that Savannah is part of Low Country. Though others disagree, Ima go with NatGeo on this and credit TJ's with getting it right.)

So now that I've smartened up a bit about these things, how are the cookies? Great, if you ask Nina; not so great if you ask me. We both liked the crunchy texture. She liked the saltiness and the prominent sesame flavor, while I thought both were pretty subdued and the brown sugar was the dominant note, which is OK but not especially interesting. Oddly, I thought they tasted buttery, though the list of ingredients reveals that there is none present.


Will I buy it again? 

No.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Roundup

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


Trader Joe's announces recall of cantaloupe slices due to salmonella contamination

Best keto-friendly foods at Trader Joe's

Does Trader Joe's accept returns without the defective item?

Four new Trader Joe's items to try

18 Trader Joe's products that are always in our freezers

Forbes names Trader Joe's #1 best employer

Fodors list of Trader Joe's snacks to bring on a plane

12 new Trader Joe's desserts

29 affordable beauty products from Trader Joe's

19 cult-favorite Trader Joe's products

8 most unique [sic!] Trader Joe's items of 2019 so far

8 Easter gifts from Trader Joe's for under $10

3 ways to use "Everything But the Bagel" seasoning



Best tweets of the week:











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


Friday, April 19, 2019

Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil


Nina started using this as her regular cooking oil, so I decided to try it, too. It's not Trader Joe's branded, but they sell it.

Its chief advantage is an unusually high smoke point (as they boast right there on the front of the label). If it adds any flavor at all to the foods cooked in it, I am unable to discern it.

My only quibble is with the bottle. It's so tall that it won't fit in any of my kitchen's upper cupboards. I have to choose between sticking it below, in one of the lower pots-and-pans cupboards, or laying it down flat in the ones above, where such things are usually kept. With the latter choice, it takes up a lot of space and I worry that it might leak.


Will I buy it again? 

Yes. Even with the annoyance of the bottle height, I think it's an excellent cooking oil. It's quite a bit more expensive than the TJ's grapeseed oil that has been my staple for four years now, but I don't use much, so the extra cost amortized over time will have no discernible effect on my total food budget.

Consumer Reports provides this handy guide to selecting a cooking oil.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Trader Joe's Sprouted Wheat Sourdough Bread


This seems to be a hybrid of wheat and sourdough bread. Its appearance is like the former, but it has a mild version of the tang that makes sourdough what it is. Plus, you get soft wheat bits--"sprouted wheat berries"--scattered throughout. I liked it for both sandwiches and toast, which are basically the only ways I use bread.


Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's definitely good enough to earn a spot on the regular rotation. I do wish the slices were about half an inch bigger in width and height, though.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Trader Joe's Sweet Basil Foaming Hand Soap



This seems to be physically identical--both the soap and its container--to three others that I've tried before, and I suspect they all come from the same supplier: here, here, and here.

The scent imparted by this soap is pleasant enough, and mercifully mild compared to some other hand soaps from Trader Joe's that I've tried. (Ones that assault the olfactory sense include this one and this one and this one.) But as I've said many times before, I just don't want or need for my hands to smell like basil or lavender or orange or honey or any of the other zillion scents that manufacturers decide to add to soap. The whole idea seems preposterous to me.


Will I buy it again? 

No. However, if we had a king, and if the king decreed that, on penalty of death, nobody could purchase hand soap except from Trader Joe's, then this would be one of my top choices, along with the Nourish Herbal Blend, the Botanical Bounty, and the Lemon Kitchen.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Roundup

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


13 toddler-approved snacks from Trader Joe's

8 new Trader Joe's products coming this spring and summer

A Trader Joe's shopping list

The 30 yummiest Trader Joe's snacks

Hey, Trader Joe's: Less plastic with my food, please

Best butter for baking is from Trader Joe's

16 Trader Joe's salads to shake up your lunchtime routine

Trader Joe's announces recall of cantaloupe slices for possible Salmonella contamination



Best tweets of the week:










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

Friday, April 12, 2019

Trader Joe's Hummus Dip


This is definitely not a new Trader Joe's product; I find reviews of it online going back several years. Yet somehow I had never noticed it, even when I went through a period of deliberately trying to sample every hummus TJ's had to offer. Nina bought it and served it for an appetizer before a dinner at her house, which then led me to buy a tub for myself.

Let's first talk about the product name, with that suspicious word "dip" in it. Why is that there? In 2015 TJ's had one called "Freshly Made Original Hummus Dip." It boasted of having no tahini, and I speculated that that was the reason TJ's was fudging on the name and not straight-up calling it "hummus." But this one definitely has tahini and yet still gets the "dip" label. I don't see anything in the list of ingredients that is out of the ordinary for hummus. I have no good explanation for why this is a "dip." Maybe it's just to catch the attention of people who don't know what to do with hummus, but will understand what a "dip" is.

There's nothing special about it as hummus. It's just middle-of-the-road, plain stuff. I had the odd reaction of initially liking it at Nina's house, then not much caring for the tub I bought for myself. Perhaps that was due to the difference in chips used to scoop it up with.

I mentioned to Nina that I didn't like it as much as either the Cedars Zesty Lemon (for which Nina and I share a fondness), or the Whole Foods store brand lemon-flavored, which is a close knockoff of the Cedars. (And, as I've mentioned several time before, both of those take a back seat, in my view, to a couple of the heavily flavored varieties of the outstanding Roots Hummus, a local Asheville product, now distributed almost nationwide. But those are so far removed from plainer hummus that it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.) She pointed out that I could just add some lemon juice myself. So I did--and it greatly improved it, to the point that I liked it just as much as my other two go-to lemony ones.


Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's OK as is, bumped up to excellent by stirring in some extra lemon juice. And it's cheap!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Trader Joe's Rice Pudding


I had never had rice pudding before, so I don't know how this compares to others. But I found it to be basically sweetened, thickened milk with lumps of mushy rice, and I couldn't understand why anybody would want to eat it.

Am I missing something? Is this what's it's mean to be? Is all rice pudding like this? I'm left wondering these things.


Will I buy it again? 

No.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Trader Joe's Barbeque Popped Ridges


Well, I have to admit I don't really get the point of this product. The chips are very much like regular barbecue potato chips, except (1) with a little corn flavor added to the potato, (2) a little puffier, and (3) a little less crisp. I don't mind barbecue potato chips now and then, but they're rarely my first choice. On those occasions that I felt like having some, these would do as well as any others, but not superior.


Will I buy it again? 

Probably not.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Roundup

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


A sommelier compares 11 wines from Trader Joe's, Target, and Costco

10 vegan meal hacks using Trader Joe's bagged salads

Here's what foods you should pair with Trader Joe's $4 wines

The 16 best items at Trader Joe's

25 Trader Joe's items that cost less than $2



Best tweets of the week:














And finally, here's this week's cute cat with her Trader Joe's, uh, dog treats?


Friday, April 5, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Vanilla Wafer Cookies


Day 5 of Cookie Week.

I've eaten so many Nabisco Nilla Wafers in my life that they should have given me, like, 50% stock ownership in the company by now. This has given me a extremely entrenched idea of what a vanilla wafer should taste like. And Trader Joe's has missed the mark completely.

I can't put my finger on what's wrong here, but these struck me as not just "not quite what I was expecting" but positively distasteful. My reaction was so strong that I thought I might just be having an off day, so I put the bag aside for a couple of weeks. Last night I came back for a second try--and had exactly the same opinion. I seriously dislike them. I had two and couldn't stand the thought of a third.


Will I buy it again? 

No. This is one that's going back to the store for a refund.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Honey Hedgehog Cookies With Cultured Butter


Day 4 of Cookie Week.

If you want to get a mental preview of what these odd little cookies are like to eat, do this:

  • Call up your memory of animal crackers. 
  • Think smaller. 
  • Morph them into the shape of hedgehogs. 
  • Add some nice honey flavor. 
  • Add an odd "edge" of cultured butter. 
And there you go! That's what's in this box, divided into six pouches of maybe a dozen or so cookies each.

It was that last step, the cultured butter part, that was the problem for me. I just couldn't help constantly noticing and disliking it, like when there's an out-of-tune key on a piano.


Will I buy it again? 

No. Even without the cultured-butter misstep, I don't think these would have a place in my life.

But they are cute, I'll give them that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Trader Joe's Coconut Macaroons


Day 3 of Cookie Week.

Macaroons are only kinda-sorta cookies. But Wikipedia defines them as "a small biscuit/cookie"--so I say it counts!

They're basically shredded coconut and sugar, held together by egg whites. What's not to love?

Well, they could be a little chewier on the inside and a little crisper on the outside. But they're pretty darn tasty just as they are.


Will I buy it again? 

They won't be part of the regular rotation, but I can definitely foresee occasional return appearances.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Trader Joe's Lemon Creme Sandwich Cookies


Day 2 of Cookie Week.

This is the shelf-mate to the chocolate ones from yesterday. I did not like them as much. I thought they were too sweet, and the lemon tasted artificial. Nina, on the other hand, liked them better than the chocolate.

They have in common with the chocolate ones (1) the soft texture, (2) the present but hard-to-notice vanilla filling, and (3) the atrocious "1/2 cookie" serving size. As if.


Will I buy it again? 

No.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Trader Joe's Chocolate Brownie & Vanilla Creme Sandwich Cookies


It's been a long, long time since I did a theme week. Let's briefly revive the tradition (which, really, nobody but me seemed to even notice) with COOKIE WEEK!

I liked these for one simple and completely idiosyncratic reason: They reminded me strongly of the chocolate cookies my mother used to make, if you ignore the "sandwich" part. Unless you, dear reader, are one of my two siblings--and that seems highly unlikely--this will mean nothing to you. But they're soft, rich chocolate cookies with chocolate chips gratuitously thrown in.

The "vanilla creme" boasted about in the product name is certainly present, but you'd have a hard time knowing it if you ate the cookies with your eyes closed.


Will I buy it again? 

No. The value for the money isn't there, and while it was nice to press the nostalgia button once, I don't think that alone will compel another purchase.