Thursday, May 31, 2018

Trader Joe's Berry Flavored Soft Licorice Twists

This is a continuation of the line that has previously featured black licorice and strawberry varieties. These are the best of the three. Super delicious. Garrett Morris might said that they are "berry berry good."

I could eat them all day, and then use all my retirement savings to pay my dentist to repair the cavities resulting from the chewy, sticky candy residue eating holes in my teeth.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. Don't tell my dentist.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Trader Joe's White Stilton Cheese With Mango & Ginger

When I saw this in the store, and realized that they had put mangoes and pieces of ginger into the cheese, two movie clips came to mind:

To be sure, this is not Trader Joe's first time adulterating cheese by adding stuff that doesn't belong. They've toyed with cinnamonpeppers, raspberries, blueberries and vanilla, sriracha sauce, black pepper, paprika, wine, pesto, bacon, apricots, apple pie, rosemary and olive oil, apples and cinnamon. I've tried them all. Plus, I've passed by other examples that I'm pretty sure I would hate, spiked with beer and truffles and onions.

But, surprisingly, the Stilton/mango/ginger combo works pretty well. The mango primarily adds a fruity sweetness (I would have thought they were apricot bits, if the label hadn't said otherwise), while the ginger contributes an interesting edge of brightness. Somehow, the crazy Apparently the mad scientists weren't so mad after all.

Sadly, like all Stilton cheeses, this is terribly crumbly. It's impossible to slice; passing a knife through it just makes it all fall apart. To put some on a cracker, I have to scoop up a bunch of crumbs. I find this intolerably annoying.

Will I buy it again? 

No. The texture problem is too much. But I'm glad I tried it once, to be reminded that crazy ideas sometimes work out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Air Popped Popcorn

World's most boring popcorn. Seriously, it's just a bag of plain popcorn with a tiny bit of salt. It makes me sad just thinking about popcorn this lifeless.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 28, 2018

Trader Joe's 4 Authentic Belgian Waffles

These are the best frozen waffles I've ever had. Of course they're not as good as ones you make yourself, but they're a lot less work.

The directions say to heat them in a toaster, but in reality they're too thick for that. Even my wide-mouthed toaster wouldn't take them. But my toaster oven worked great.

They're light and flavorful. They crisp up nicely and stand up well to the heavy-syruped strawberries I spooned on top of them.

Will I buy it again? 

It's been a long time since waffles have been part of my life, but these were good enough to make me think I might find a place for them again--more in the dessert realm than for breakfast.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


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

15 things all Trader Joe's employees know but most customers don't

Trader Joe's produce hates single people

12 of the best vegan products at Trader Joe's

Podcast: Trader Hoe's

12 Trader Joe's bakery items that take dessert to the next level

6 tips for getting the best deals at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

Sorry, but I have seen no new pictures of cute cats in Trader Joe's grocery bags lately.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Trader Joe's Spicy Cheese Crunchies

These are just like the Baked Cheese Crunchies, but hotter. They are not kidding about the "spicy." Chew up a couple and swallow, and a few seconds later you'll be hit with the peppery aftertaste. (I tried to figure out what kind of pepper they use, but the list of ingredients doesn't specify anything beyond "natural flavors.")

Personally, I think they took it a little bit too far, and the munchability factor would be improved by dialing back the heat by about 25%. But Nina loved them--to the point that she had to command me to take them away, lest she eat the whole bag.

Will I buy them again? 

Yes. I think they can be an occasional part of the snackage lineup around here.

Addendum, 5/28/18

I got to like them more and more, after getting used to the heat factor. Will definitely be getting them again.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Trader Joe's Carrot Ginger Miso Salad Dressing

I passed this by several times, primarily because of the word "shallots" in the description. Like "scallions," "shallots" is a word that the dirty stinkin' Commies use to try to trick decent American folks into eating disgusting onions without knowing it. I WILL NOT BE FOOLED!

But eventually I decided I could give it a try, hoping that the other ingredients would drown out the poison.

And they do. The carrot, by dint of its sheer volume, and the ginger and miso, by dint of their potency, make the onion fade far into the background. The result is unusual, unlike any salad dressing I've had before. The effect of the combination of carrot, ginger, and miso is not what I would have predicted from memory of the three individual flavors. I'm not sure I especially like it, but I don't mind it, and it's kind of an intriguing bit of culinary voodoo.

What I definitely don't like is the texture. It's extremely thick and gloppy, hard to pour. It doesn't disperse nicely when you toss a salad with it; it just clumps defiantly.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But I'm going to finish off the bottle--in spite of the forbidden ingredient.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry

I avoided buying this for myself because of "spring onions" in the description. I hate onions. But I guess I hate them a little less than I used to. Nina bought this and served it as part of dinner one night at her place. I could taste some onion in every bite, and didn't like it--but unlike in earlier stages of my life, that didn't inhibit me from finishing off a serving.

When I try to imagine the product without the onion part, I rather like it. Nina liked it even without doing the mental subtraction.

Will I buy it again? 

Nope. Three reasons: (1) Onions. (2) I eat plenty of cauliflower already, and don't need it snuck into my diet as riced cauliflower. (3) I would strongly prefer rice in a product like this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Gruyere Cheese

Pleasant, mild flavor. Slices easily. No complaints.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. If it showed up in my refrigerator, I'd happily eat it again. But there are too many others that I've liked better to spend money on one that is good but nothing special. If I'm going to have a TJ's Gruyere again, I'd prefer the Cheddar-Gruyere Melange.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Trader Joe's Sliced Fresh Gold Pineapple Spears

This is an improvement on Trader Joe's previous attempt to sell fresh pineapple slices as rings. You get two more ounces for the same price ($3.49), I think the spears are easier to eat than the rings, and, at least in this sample, the fruit was sweeter and better-tasting.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. As mentioned in the review of the rings, other grocery stores sell fresh pineapple that I have found to be consistently better quality for less money.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


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

Trader Joe's gets woman a stash of her favorite discontinued chocolate bars after fire

20 Trader Joe's products for quicker dinners

5 cheeses from Trader Joe's for a stellar cheese board

5 wellness pros' must-buys at Trader Joe's

Make your own lemon-elderflower cake to celebrate the royal wedding

Best tweets of the week:

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018


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

Inside Trader Joe's secretive tasting kitchen

Interview with TJ's Vice-President of Innovation (video)

Trader Joe's is #2 on the Forbes list of best employers

4 spectacular party menus under $25 from Trader Joe's

The 7 healthiest breakfast foods 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:

Friday, May 11, 2018

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi

This is one of those occasional Trader Joe's products that I see people on social media get excited about a dozen or more times in the first few days, before I've even had a chance to get to the store. There are also several food-related click-bait web sites that keep up a steady output of Trader Joe's posts ("The [insert number] best [insert type of food] items at Trader Joe's"), and every one of them put up something about the new cauliflower gnocchi within the first week, all with their usual breathless "OMG!" rhetoric.

So how is it really? Well, it's hard to say--because I messed up the preparation.

See those "Pan saute" directions below?

Well, I was following them. But I had a brain fart, and stopped reading after the "about 6 to 8 minutes." Somehow I had mentally put, "And then you're done!" at the end of that first sentence. So they ended up hot but not really cooked right. And they were too sticky. All my fault. I did think it was strange that they weren't browned at all, and they were still kinda gloppy and sticking together, but those misgivings were not enough to prompt me to look at the directions again.

But they tasted decent--just the very mild cauliflower flavor that you'd expect. The only other ingredients are cassava flour, potato starch, olive oil, and salt. So they taste like cauliflower because that's all they can taste like.

Will I buy it again? 

Well, I have to, in order to do the cooking right and report back in an addendum to this post. After that, though, I'm already pretty sure it will be a no. On the rare occasions that I feel like having gnocchi, I would just use the standard potato version. I ain't afraid of no carbs.

Addendum, 1/15/20: 

Apparently the texture is not good even if you follow the directions exactly. There are now a bunch of articles telling you better ways to cook these than the manufacturer came up with. For your convenience, I've assembled them:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trader Joe's Chicken & Vegetable Wonton Soup

I had to look at this several times to be sure I was grasping the concept correctly: frozen soup??? Yep.

You take the bowl from the freezer, peel back the plastic film just enough to be able to add water to the indicated fill line, then microwave for five minutes--that's it.

It smelled strongly of onion while it was cooking, which worried me, but the flavor of onion was not enough to be a problem.

If you've paid attention to the discrepancies between manufactured food package photographs and actual products, you know not to expect the soup to look as you see here. It's much more broth and much less solid ingredients. In particular, it's seriously lacking in vegetables compared to the picture. There are some carrot shreds (not cut pieces as shown), and a few flat bean pods, but that's about it.

The wontons are decent, but so big they're hard to eat. I'd prefer if they miniaturized them down to bite-size, spoon-size.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It wasn't as bad as my worst fears, and actually made a fairly nice centerpiece of my lunch. But between having chicken (which I try to avoid), having a hard plastic one-time-use bowl to add to a landfill, and being only OK instead of something great, this will remain a one-time experiment in a little TJ's oddity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels

These are...kind of weird. The dark chocolate shell is nice enough. But the little bit of caramel (seriously not oozing out, the way the picture shows) doesn't seem to add anything. I can see sesame seeds if I look, but I can't taste anything from them. Really, the only thing I detect other than the chocolate is the taste and texture of some bits of cookie--which aren't mentioned on the front of the package but are listed in the ingredients on the back.

It's a mystery to me what they were trying to accomplish here. If it was highlighting the sesame seeds, as the product name implies, it's a complete fail.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trader Joe's Dutch Gouda

I liked this. It's a nice, normal Gouda. In both texture and flavor, it steers a middle course between the unusually creamy and mild Double Cream Gouda and the unusually hard and intense 1,000 Day Gouda.

I still had some of the latter on hand when I brought this one home, so I tried them side by side last night. It's hard to believe that one name, Gouda, can describe them both. They're so completely different that it doesn't seem to make sense to consider them in the same family.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, once in a while. Overall, I have a fairly strong preference for my Gouda to be smoked, as in this one, or this one. But when I feel like having a non-smoked version, it will be a toss-up between the Double Cream, the Goat's Milk Gouda, and this.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Lemonade

This is pretty decent, though unextraordinary, lemonade--not much other than water, sugar, and lemon juice. Nina thought it was too sweet, but I think it gets the sweet/tart balance about right.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I'd rather have either the frozen concentrate and mix it up myself, or this version in a carton (and skip the plastic jug).

Saturday, May 5, 2018


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

15 easy Trader Joe's recipes

Study claims Trader Joe's dark chocolate improves vision (no, really!)

My latest Trader Joe's favorites

Trader Joe's launches its own podcast

Nutritionist-approved Trader Joe's foods for under $5

Why Trader Joe's sells cheap bananas

Reward offered in string of Trader Joe's robberies

A handy guide to maximizing your Trader Joe's experience

11 things you should never buy at Trader Joe's

9 awesome new Trader Joe's products and the perfect recipes to use them

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Trader Joe's Blooming Mini Plant

At the Asheville Trader Joe's today, they had a large display of potted flowers outside. As I looked them over, I noticed that part of one shelf contained these tiny pots of tiny flowers. They were adorable--and only $1.99! So I bought one of the cups with pink roses for Nina, though they had several other varieties from which one could choose.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, unless Nina tells me there's something wrong with it, like it dies in two days or something.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Trader Joe's 1,000 Day Gouda Cheese

This is unlike any Gouda cheese I've had before. The extra-long aging dramatically changes it. The flavor is incredibly intense--more than I ever would have guessed possible for a Gouda. In fact, I found it past the point of optimal flavor, just too much.

As a lesser concern, I also found it difficult to remove the waxy rind. It wouldn't peel off except in small bits, and it was tough to cut.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I'm glad I tried it, because it's kind of an eye-opening experience about what aging a cheese can do. But I think they took a good thing too far.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trader Joe's Asparagus Risotto

The big win here is that I did not hate it, as I do most things containing asparagus. In fact, I found it rather pleasant in both flavor and texture. And it takes no work at all to prepare--freezer to microwave to table in mere minutes.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not for myself, simply because I get plenty of rice already without it. But it would be among my choices for dinner guests. What's more, Nina liked it even more than I did, and I hereby give her permission to serve it when it's her turn to make dinner, without worrying that I will reject it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Crunch Dried Honeycrisp Apples

My local Trader Joe's store had a big display of this new product right inside the front door--the first thing a customer would see. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Well, that's a slam-dunk winner." Honeycrisps are my favorite apples, and I like dried fruit generally. What's not to like?

Plenty, as it turned out. Nearly all of the contents of my bag were small fragments, not apple slices. And the drying is so extreme that it left those fragments hard and brittle.

There is a solid honeycrisp flavor, but the unhappy texture and size of the small, broken pieces far outweighed that niceness.

Will I buy it again? 

No. For dried apples, the New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings are the ones to get.