Saturday, November 11, 2017

Honey Crisp Apple Cider is BACK!

Everyone who is a regular at Trader Joe's has their "go to" items, their favorites.  We mourn them if TJ's discontinues them.  But if they are seasonal, we DELIGHT when their season rolls around and they magically appear on the shelves again...

May I have a drum roll please....

Party in the juice aisle - Honey Crisp Apple Cider is BACK!

If you haven't had the pleasure of drinking this cider, boy are you in for a treat :) .  It.  Is.  Delicious!  I have to warn you though - last year I developed a bit of an "addiction" to it...  Every afternoon last winter for about 90 days I would get incredibly sleepy around 3:00 pm.  It was like clockwork!  The clock struck 3:00, my yawning started.  But the yawning was accompanied by a CRAVING...  I neeeeeeeeed a mug of hot Trader Joe's Honey Crisp Apple Cider!  Lucky for me, that is an easy, healthy, cheap, and legal craving to satisfy!  So for about a month and a half there, I drank a mug of this warmed up every afternoon!

And, truth be told, I sort of drank too much of it.  "OD-ed" on it, if you will.  I had stocked up on a few bottles, but left them untouched until this fall rolled around.  I have since busted them open and resumed my adoration of this cider.  And you should, too!!!

Who has 2 thumbs and think this price point is perfect for a cider this good?  THIS GIRL!!
If you have tried the other TJ's ciders and think those are good - well I hate to say you are wrong, because we all have our own preferences.  But...  TRY THIS ONE, TOO!

And if you like it (and you will) make sure to squirrel away a few bottle down in your wine cellar (ok, seriously, is anyone who shops at TJ's rich enough to have a WINE CELLAR?  Perhaps I guess.  I squirrel away my collection WITH the wine in the basement, which just so happens to be stored in a rack on top of a shrunk (which is like an extra pantry closet). 

Wherever you have room to store it, all I am saying is, get a few bottles!  Because it is seasonal, and like most good things, seasons will change and this will disappear until next year. 

Price:  the same as it has been since I first wrote about it 2 years ago, $2.99 and not a penny higher
Rating: still an amazing 5 stars

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pain Au Lait

The package says, “ ‘Pain Au Lait’ translates to MILK BREAD, a humble name for these slight sweet and elegant rolls.  Moist and straight forward, they pair well with butter and jam and are perfect for dunking in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for a classic French breakfast or a pick me up.”

This is the bag you are looking for
These are produced in France and I bought them at the Trader Joe’s near Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.  They looked great in the bag and I was excited to try them.  The shape is fun – they are a tiny bit smaller than a hotdog bun and sort of similar in shape (from what I remember) to TJ’s pretzel bread. 

First let’s hear what David, a person who has consumed more than his share of French bakery products, thinks of them:

See?  It may have been past noon, but we were still in our robes and
messy morning hair, so this is BREAKFAST!
“I think these are delicious.  I used to see these things in Parisian bakeries and wonder why a person would get THAT when sweet cakes were available (i.e. pain au chocolate).  But now that I taste this it is delightful!  It is soft and sweet in a gentle way, and is a good carrier of this lovely jam and butter.  Without the jam and butter, it might be a little bit bland, but still pleasant.  As a carrier for butter and jam this can’t be beat.  It might even be better than challah.  (The editor stepped in here to ask if the ones in France were the same shape as the ones Trader Joe’s is selling.)  Yes – little hot dog buns.  I give these a 4.5.”

I thought the shape of these were funny and I presumed maybe Trader Joe’s had “Americanized” the shape to the familiar hot dog bun, but the expert says this is normal, so there ya go!  I think these are really good!

New!  Pain Au Lait
When I bought these pain au lait they were a bit cold and there was some condensation in the package.  This leads me to believe that, like many TJ’s bread products, each store probably gets them frozen and keeps them that way until they put them out on the shelves.  We ate them the morning after I bought them because I wanted to make sure they were fresh.  I topped mine with Kerrygold butter (our go to butter, reviewed here:  Kerrygold Butter link) and an amazing thing we got on a road trip that took us through Georgia.  We stopped at PEACH WORLD (for the love of peaches!) and bought a little jar of Praline Pecan Honey Butter.  The stuff is to die for!  You can bet on our next drive through Georgia we will be picking up some more.  If you do not plan on making a road trip in that direction soon, you can find it online here: Georgia Peach World .

Hey!  Georgia Peach World also has these fun face-cut-out things you can snap your photo in!  Only,
I didn't know I was going to use the photo in a review, so we didn't take any pictures of US, only of our
travel companion (never before seen in this blog...) SPICEY ON A STICK!  Anyway, he thought Peach World
was the bomb, too!
I served the pain au lait with Trader Joe’s coffee, TJ’s half and half, TJ’s clementine, and TJ’s blueberries 😊 .   We warmed the pain au lait in the oven (I had seen a comment online that someone did that and loved it, they were right). 

A delightful way to start the day
These are easy to split down the middle (like a hot dog bun) to put your butter or honey or whatever inside.  I think these make a great breakfast!!  We ate ours on a weekend, meaning we slept in so this “breakfast” was served at 12:15 pm (does that make it lunch?  Philosophical question…).  We call the first meal of the day breakfast, regardless of the time we eat it.

These would be great for kids to eat for breakfast, and would be fun to pack in a kid’s lunch, too.  They are a little bit sweet but not “dessert sweet”.  When we ate one with just butter, David identified that they taste very similar to Parker House rolls.  We prefer this pain au lait with both butter AND jam. 

This is the Praline Pecan Honey Butter.  Trust me, you need it...
I wish Trader Joe's sold it!  Alas, you can order at the link above.
TJ’s bread does not have preservatives so it goes bad (moldy) faster than breads you would buy at other grocery stores.  If you are prepared to eat them quickly after you purchase them you will avoid that issue.  I give these puppies a 4.5

Price:  $2.99
Rating:  4.5

Sunday, October 29, 2017

True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon

Full disclosure – normally when we buy wines at Trader Joe’s, we buy the cheaper bottles.  I mean, isn’t that why people GO to the Trader Joe’s wine department, to score inexpensive wine?? 

But every once in a while, an occasion calls for something special.  Something FANCY.  Don’t you agree??

Either those grooms are very tall, or that "reverend" is very short...  Do you
recognize the officiant?  It was a BEAUTIFUL wedding!
The first time we purchased this wine was for one of those special occasions.  My nephew Jordan married Zach, the love of his life, this January.  For their honeymoon get-a-way they escaped to our Florida house, chillaxing at the beach and playing mini-golf 😊 .  David and I happened to be in Florida right before the love birds came, so before we left we organized little surprise gifts from each family member to greet the newlyweds when they arrived.  One thing Jordan’s parents wanted to give was a nice bottle of wine, so we scoured the shelves at Trader Joe’s and found this True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Isn't the label beautiful?
One of the things I was looking for when I was trying to pick the perfect bottle was a suitable pretty LABEL.  Cuz it was a HONEYMOON, and you simply can’t have an ugly bottle of wine for the treat!!  (And before anyone comments on this – yes, I know TJ’s sells “Honeymoon Viognier”.  That just seemed, well, too obvious a choice!!)  But the beautiful butterflies on the True Myth label seemed perfect, and the price point was higher than most TJ’s wines without being outrageous (plus, it left money in the pot to buy a gift certificate for a dinner out at a fancy restaurant!). 

It's not $2 buck chuck, but it is not crazy expensive either
So, while Jordan and Zach had enjoyed a bottle of True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon (and reported that it was delicious), we had not treated ourselves to one!  Until Mary Day 2017 that is!!  Yes, to celebrate the end to another Mary Day, I brought home a bottle of this wine.  After all, my mom enjoyed a good wine, so this was fitting on her day.

Since we are talking about weddings, and since I mentioned my mom,
here she is in her wedding gown!  (In one of those bizarrely colorized black and white photos.)
Here is what David thought of this wine:  “This wine is strong, deep, and rich.  It is a little bit “tannin-y” at the end.  It is nice.  It is a bit “woody” tasting and full bodied.  I would definitely pair this with a strong food to eat, like a steak or something.  We had it with snicky-snacks, so it was a little bit overpowering.  I think this is a good wine.  I give it a 4.5.”

A lovely glass of wine at the end of a day of shopping 
Here's my take on it:  I really like it.  Maybe this is a psychological thing – I know it cost more than most wines we pick up, so it is “supposed” to taste good, right?  (I heard an NPR story on that topic once and it was fascinating!  They served people unmarked glasses of wine, and even total wine snobs, like, sommeliers, couldn’t tell the difference between the pricey stuff and the cheap-o kind!) 

Anyway, this wine is very rich.  It tastes very “dark” (can “dark” be a taste??).  There are fruity notes, which I enjoyed.  I think it would be amazing with steak or a pot roast.  In fact, a TJ’s filet mignon roast (reviewed here:  Filet Mignon Roast ) served with mashed potatoes would be a perfect fit with this wine.  Anything with mushrooms would be a compliment.  But I like it even with snacks!  We ate it with walnuts and some super fancy chocolates I got for Mary Day (alas, not at Trader Joe’s, but at a little boutique candy shop) and I liked it even with that pairing!  I guess I am not fussy. 

This is a nice, smooth red wine.  We will get it again.  I give it a 4.75.

And here is one of the very best photos of Jordan and Zach's wedding.  If you can't see the love emanating from there here, you need to have your eyeglass prescription checked.

Congratulations to the happy couple!!!!

Price: $16.99

Rating:  4.75

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream Trio

A terrific holiday product is BACK, and this is your alert to get some NOW before they are gone!

All of those boxes of magic, just waiting to go home with someone!
The ultra moisturizing hand cream trio quietly made its way back to Trader Joe’s shelves.  This stuff is the bomb!!!  As I said in my original review of it, it is exactly like tubes of hand cream at L’Occitane, an ultra chi-chi expensive store.  I mean, it is just like that stuff, only more reasonably priced! 

Here is the original review:  Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream Trio review 

Goes on so smooth.  Has a very delicate scent, not overpowering at all.
And not greasy!  What more could you want??
As you can see in that review, I rated this stuff a 4.75.  But because I am an equal opportunity reviewer, I averaged my score with my nephew Jordan’s, and that brought the overall score down to a 4.5.  However, THIS YEAR Jordan is not here as I am writing, so I get to pick the rating all by myself!  Hence, it is getting the 4.75 it deserves!!!

This is what the box looked like in 2015 - I THINK it is the same now.
If not, it is very similar.
Go get yourself a box.  And get another box to give as a gift.  It would be a perfect present for a teacher.  Or a friend.  Or you can open the box and give individual tubes to 3 different people!  Just make sure you keep at least 1 for yourself, cuz you are gonna love it.

Price in 2015
Price in 2017 - not a penny more!


Plus, HELLO, it is the same exact price it was 2 years ago!  No inflation!!!  Seriously, go get some soon.  They won’t stock it for very long, and when it is gone, it is gone.  Your hands will thank you for it.

Price:  still the low low price of $7.99 (for 3 tubes!)
Rating:  4.75

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Chocolate Filled Crepes

I love crepes.  I like chocolate crepes.  So, I was very excited when I saw these in the frozen food section at Trader Joe’s!!

Apparently THIS is my excited face.
We used to live in Paris, and I loooved getting crepes from the little stands on the street corners.  I especially loved the simple butter and sugar crepes…  Ahhhh, just writing about them brings back memories and makes my mouth water!  If digital cameras had been around when we lived there, I am quite certain I would have photos of us sitting at some café eating crepes, but sadly, that was back in the time of 35 mm film…  I do, however, have a couple of old Paris vacation photos.  😊

David, long hair and leather jacket, sipping coffee at a Parisian Cafe circa 1998
(You cannot tell me this look is not sexy...)

Us, touring the Paris sewers in 1989.  It looks like I am wearing a shirt I borrowed from someone who wore
 8 sizes bigger than me, no?  What was I thinking... 
All that being said, I guess you could say that I have sort of high standards where crepes are concerned.  However, I do not know how to MAKE CREPES myself, so I do not have a lot of room to judge or criticize other people’s crepes!  However, review is what I am here to do, so let’s set about reviewing these TRADER JOE’S CHOCOLATE CREPES, shall we?

Here's the box!  
First, they are frozen and so easy to prepare.  You just put them on a plate, bung them in the microwave, and voila – it is crepe time! 

My first reaction the first time we had these was, “Well, they are better than not having any crepe, that’s for sure.  But it is definitely not as good as having a “real crepe” on the streets of Paris.  The crepe part is a little bit rubbery, but it is nice that it holds all of the chocolate filling in.  you can pick it up like a sandwich, you don’t even have to use a fork if you do not want to.  In my opinion, the chocolate filling tastes a bit like melted ganache.  The size of each crepe is rather small, but that is not a negative in my book.  We have had them for snacks, dessert, and breakfasts (I prefer breakfast with a nice cup of coffee or cappuccino). 

Look!  A bit of chocolate is peeking out!  So pretty.  I served them with blueberries
 from TJ's,  a fig from our garden, and cappuccinos.  
I think these would be good if you added fresh whipped cream, or strawberries, or banana slices on top.  That would add some pizazz, but even without those additions I think these are a winner.  I give them a 4.25.

David’s opinion:  “I think these are very good.  I like the rubbery crepe quality of them, because the taste of the crepe is really quite flavorful.  I love that they managed to figure out how to make it a nice little sealed rectangular pocket so that stuff doesn’t gush out at the bottom.  I think the taste of the chocolate is quite nice – it is dark chocolate-y and there is not too much of it.  if the crepe itself didn’t taste so good I might say there wasn’t enough chocolate, but as it is I think it is a great balance.  I am going to give this a 4.25.”
These things are CHEAP!
Price:  $2.69 (which comes out to a whopping .38 cents per crepe, cheaper than a candy bar!!)
Rating:  4.25

Bonus Paris photo - lunch outdoors for my birthday - 2007

Friday, October 20, 2017


This is not a "normal post".  This is a special one for Mary Day, a holiday we celebrate every October 20th.  It is the anniversary of my mom's death.  On Mary Day, we celebrate her by doing things she loved and remembering her.  

My mom and I all decked out.  I think I was almost 2. 
Check out our "vintage" furniture and tv, super hip at the time I am sure.
 Yes, today is Mary Day.  The day every year where I sappily remind you to LOVE YOUR MOTHER (or maybe jealously remind you that you still have a mother and I do not…).  The point is:  if you are lucky enough to still have a mom that is living and breathing, today is a good day to appreciate her.  Oh sure, she expects it every Mother’s Day, but won’t she be surprised if you reach out TODAY?  Write her a poem.  Send her a card.  Call her.  And please, tell her you love her.

It’s been 15 years to the day since I have been able to tell my mom (in person) that I love her.  Sure, I go visit her grave and cry while recounting all the things happening in our family, in my life, in the world.  But trust me, the one-way conversation at the grave is not the same as sitting across the table from her over dinner.  Or hearing her voice on my voice mail.  Or picking up the mail and seeing a letter addressed to me in her handwriting. 
My mom with my sisters and I in November 1999 
Maybe it is because yet another pair of her shoes that I inherited disintegrated on my feet this week, but I have been mulling over how things melt away over time.  Things I thought I could never, ever forget became more and more faint – the sounds, the smells of my mom.  That fact used to make me so sad.  I didn’t WANT any of the memories to fade – I needed them.  Perhaps because I myself am getting older and thus closer to my “grand finale”, but the fading is not as painful as it used to be.  It’s more of a passage of time now. 

Thinking of my mom makes me smile, and for that I am grateful.  She was strong.  She was adventurous.  She was caring.  And she was ever so generous.  I am thankful for the time I had with her, and for the memories.  I will spend today thinking of her, doing things she enjoyed (shopping, drinking wine, I won’t go so far as cleaning, which she also adored…). 

Mom and Dad
Please think of your mom today, too.   And if you are lucky enough to still have her on the planet – GO VISIT HER OR CALL HER.  Pick her up some flowers from Trader Joe's.  Or some lotion from the personal care section.  Get her a card, they are only a buck...  Maybe a bottle of wine.  But whatever you do, if you are fortunate enough to be able to see her in person, hug her extra hard today for me.  Thanks. 

P.S. – this might sound like a rant, but if you are a MOM, please BE IN THE PHOTOS!  Make sure you are not always BEHIND the camera, be IN FRONT OF IT!  Trust me, when you are gone and photos are all that is left, your children will be so grateful they have images of you to smile at. 

This is how I love to remember her - not sick and going through treatment for cancer,
but LAUGHING and enjoying life

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


And no sooner had I ranted and raved about Wasabi Mayo disappearing from the shelves of Trader Joe's did it RETURN!  If only all discontinued products had the same fate!  (Well, all of the good discontinued products that is.  I am perfectly fine if they stop selling the crappy products forever :) ).

Wasabi Mayo - I was sad it was gone, and I am psyched it is back!!!
But seriously, Wasabi Mayo is a king among condiments.  Wasabi Mayo is creamy.  It is sharp.  It is spicy.  It is freakin' awesome.  And I am glad it is back.  Here is a link to my original review of it:  Wasabi Mayo Review

Same great price - well worth the 3 bucks I swear
I have purchased a new jar, of coooourse, but I have not opened it yet to give it a taste.  I still have a teeny weenie little bit left in my old jar, the one I have been hoarding and using with extreme caution ever since I learned they pulled this mayo off the shelves.  Word on the street was that the NEW version might be from a different manufacturer.  I put the two jars side by side so we could take a quick peek:

Old jar on the left, new jar on the right
I guess I won't know for sure if this new version tastes the same until I crack it open and eat some!  And now that I know I can get MORE, I do not have to fret about finishing my old jar.

Life is good.

Me, having a quiet moment with my Wasabi Mayo while in the wine department
(P.S. - I am a pretty easy girl to please really!)

(P.P.S. - David was out of town at CLOWN CAMP last week, so instead of grocery shopping with him I went alone.  That means that these photos of me with mayo were taken by ME.  Alone.  In Trader Joe's.  Cuz we do not normally look foolish enough when we snap a zillion photos in TJs, so this time I had to set my camera up on a timer while kissing one of my favorite products...)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pumpkin Body Butter - THIS YEAR'S WARNING

It's that time of year!!!

Pumpkin season at Trader Joe's is here!
Yes, it is time for my annual warning:
Pumpkin Body Butter has hit the shelves
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Body Butter is gross!!!

Take my advice - steer clear!
If you are into pumpkin, go crazy, buy all the other pumpkin merch at TJ's.  But for heaven's sake, unless you want to walk around smelling like a Thanksgiving table decoration, do not buy TRADER JOE'S PUMPKIN BODY BUTTER.  :)

Here is the link to my original review of it:  Pumpkin Body Butter Review October 2015

And here is the link to last year's warning:  Pumpkin Body Butter 2016

Monday, October 9, 2017

Panilonco Carmenere

                                                                              I.  Did.  It.

            This silly little blog, this fun, crazy “hobby”, has hit half a million views!!!!!

I was traveling last week for work.  As I left town, I was a couple hundred hits shy of the exciting 500,000 mark.  I knew it would happen while I was on the road, and I wanted to write about it as it occurred, but see above, I was WORKING, and at a super hard assignment as well.  So, even though I wanted to sit down, write, and celebrate, I had to focus, people!  Priorities, ya know?

But I am home now – so let’s par-tay!!

I know that some bloggers have a bazillion times more views than I do, but I bet you none of them are as happy about it as I am with this half a million! 

OK, now that the celebrating is out of the way, we should probably review something, eh?  How about a wine, I haven’t reviewed a wine in a while. 

Panilonco Carmenere (2016 Reserve)  

This is a red wine from Chile.  We bought it because it is a Carmenere, and David likes to put on what he thinks is a Chilean accent and say that name loudly (much like he likes to stroll around the kitchen spouting, “montepulciano d'abruzzo” – you don’t know how many glasses of montepulciano d'abruzzo we have drunk in restaurants just so he can say the name…).  Anyway, here is what he thought of this Panilonco Carmenere:

I should add a sound file here so you can hear the name of this wine
roll off of David's tongue...
“This wine is bold and full flavored like a Cabernet Sauvignon, but kind of rough around the edges.  It doesn’t taste like turpentine, but it is not a wine that fancy French aristocrats drink while sitting around a café table.  This is a wine that is drunk by Chilean cowboys, and that’s alright!  I give it a 4.25.”

We have actually had this wine before, but I don’t think we reviewed it.  So, first things first – the LABEL is not pretty.  As we all know, first impressions count, and this wine is not one that immediately attracts the eye on the shelf.  Lucky for us, the name attracted David, so into our cart it went.

As for me, I think this is a nice red!  I really, really like it.  it is not pretentious.  It is not fruity.  It is a little bit peppery, maybe with a hint of black cherry.  Simply put, this is just a RED WINE.  We drank it with TJ’s Southwestern Chopped Salad (recently reviewed here), TJ’s pasta, TJ’s Just Sauce Turkey Bolognese (a staple in our freezer and the very first TJ’s product I ever reviewed back on January 1, 2015 here), and the TJ’s olives that I adore (reviewed here).  This wine was a really good fit with the meal.  I want to get more bottles of this one, especially now that we are switching over to red wines for the winter season. 

A nice, sturdy, reliable red.  
This win, at $5.99, is also very well priced.  And, like David said, it is not pretentious.  We went through a bunch of quasi-official wine snob reviewer sounding descriptions for what we tasted: sawdust, black pepper, cigar…  Obviously, we are not wine experts, so we checked the back label to see what the winery thought we should be tasting:  “Deep colored, concentrated and attractive nose, with notes of blackberries and mint.  The spicy flavors combines (TYPO – oops, note to label maker, that should be “combine”) with the silky tannins and the toasted vanilla from the barrel.  Delicious on its own, this wine is the perfect partner for Italian cuisine and spicy courses.”

I think this is really a good red table wine.  If you come over for dinner this winter at the Big Yellow House this may well be on offer.  I agree with David on the score – 4.25.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping me hit this milestone!  See ya at the 1,000,000 mark!  Until then, keep drinking wine (and shopping at Trader Joe’s)!

Bonus jumping photo - the one where David jumped so high he is almost out of frame :)
Price:  $5.99
Rating:  4.25

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Southwestern Chopped Salad

I was a new Trader Joe's product for us.  We do not normally buy “salad kits”, because, not to brag here, but salads are one of my specialties.  I can whip up a lovely salad (if I do say so myself)!  So, if we buy premade salad at TJ’s, it is usually an already made salad in a plastic container that I eat for lunch (like my favorite, Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite, reviewed here: Mega Crunch Salad with a Bite review ), and not a kit in a bag like this one is.  But hey, I am all about trying new stuff, so I threw this in our cart.

A complete salad kit - ok, we will try it
Here are the ingredients listed on the FRONT of the bag, not in the teeny tiny mouse print on the back:  green cabbage, romaine, cotija cheese, roasted pepitas, tortilla strips, green onion, cilantro, and a spicy southwest avocado dressing.  There are more ingredients on the back, but these are the “big guns” listed on the front to get your attention.  The bag tells us, “Trader Joe’s Southwestern Chopped Salad is an homage to the bright, spicy, flavorful dishes of its namesake region.  Green cabbage, carrots, and radish have been chopped into small pieces and mixed with pepitas, tortilla stripped, green onions and cilantro.  Toss with the included cotija cheese and spicy avocado dressing for a fresh, complete salad.”

$3.29 for a bag
David put this salad together while I worked on other parts of dinner.  He reported there was the loose cabbage part in the bag, then a package that contained 3 smaller packets:  the dressing, the cheese cubes, and tortilla strips.  Here is what we thought of it:

And here is David’s take: “I think it is excellent!  I was a little concerned when I first dumped out the majority of the package - it looked like a lot of cabbage. But flavor-wise, with the added pepitas and the cheese and the dressing, it really is a very nicely balanced mix.  Also, little tiny bits of tortilla – all in very nice balance.  I gotta say – it is very nice.  It doesn’t have any of the nice tomato things that you might think of as more lush in a salad, but, that’s not what it’s trying to do.  So, I’m gonna give this a 4.5.”

Please wait until we sit down to dinner, David...
And here is what I thought:  I am surprised that one of the adjectives used on the bag is “spicy”.  To me this salad is not spicy at all.  I am also surprised that the bag said it contained green onion, because I cannot even taste them.  For my first few bites, I was like, “I don’t know what cotija cheese is, but it sure is tasteless…”.  Then I got a better chunk of it and it had some taste…  Normally in salad we go for feta (Trader Joe's has an excellent feta that is a staple at our house, reviewed here:  Greek Feta in Brine  ) or blue cheese, both of which are extremely flavorful.  This cotija is a much more mild cheese than I am used to in my salads.  We also do not normally put tortilla strips in our salads.  I know that is a hip thing to do, so color us unhip.  The texture of that is, to me, a bit strange, but the taste of the tortillas is good.

For me, the whole salad is a little bit bland.  Everything is chopped super tiny.  It is not quite a COLESLAW, but in my book it is also not a SALAD.  It is all chopped a little bit too tiny for me.  I like to eat my salad with a FORK, and this is a SPOON SALAD.  My favorite part is the pepitas – they are really nice. 

David, the in-store TJ's salad model
Overall – I do not taste spicy, I do not taste avocado, I do not taste green onion, and I really do not taste the cilantro.  I like it – I am not saying it is BAD – but it would not be my “go to salad”.  I give this a 3.75.

Price:  $3.29

Rating (average of 2 raters):  4

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tiramisu Torte

First off, let me say this:  I MADE A HUGE PARTY FAUX PAS.  I was invited to a Cinco de Mayo dinner (yes, I am THAT FAR BEHIND in reviews, I am writing on September 20th about something I ate on May 5th, don’t judge…).  Anyway, I was invited to a Cinco de Mayo dinner and asked to bring dessert.  Not only did I not bake or make anything, I didn’t even bring anything appropriate for the theme!!!  Yes, I was “that guest” that showed up at a dinner with a boxed dessert from TJ’s, an Italian Tiramisu to be precise.

But, but, butttt, to make matters even worse, it turns out that the party hosts (who I am related to and should know better) are not fans of tiramisu.

Fail fail fail on all fronts, Susan (I say to myself in the third person).  You win the SUCKY GUEST award.

Hey, at least I didn't just bring it over still in the BOX!  As you can see here when you peek
into our fridge, I put it on a very pretty plate (and you can also see that we have a 3/4 empty
bottle of margarita mix and some left over pizza in the fridge...  Charming.)
Ok, now that I have gotten that off my chest, let’s take a look at Trader Joe’s Tiramisu Torte, shall we??  (NOTE – until today when I finally wrote up this review, I thought we had been eating and reviewing Tiramisu, not Tiramisu Torte…  See note at the end of this article.)

It looks pretty on the box, no?
I shared this product with my in-laws, Greg, Joan, and Chris.  I served tiny slices since we had just indulged in lots of tacos for dinner.  Here is what people thought:

Chris:  Chris is a college student who had just returned home for the summer. He is not a fan of coffee (an important element of tiramisu….).  Here is what he thought, “It… Ummm…  It is not BAD….  I am not the biggest fan of coffee and coffee flavors, so naturally I am not THAT keen on it…  But the coffee flavor is not so overwhelming that I can’t continue eating it.  It’s good.  I give it a 1.75.”  (Editor’s note:  for someone who hates coffee, he sure did eat the whole piece of tiramisu.)

Me:  I didn’t choke on this tiramisu, and I have choked on others in the past.  You know that whole thing where you accidentally suck a big breath in just as your fork-load of tiramisu reaches your mouth, and you choke on the powder??  (Crickets…)  Umm, you don’t know that feeling?  Is it just ME then??  Well, this particular tiramisu did not have that weird affect, so that’s a plus.  I like the texture of this dessert – the bottom layer was not what I would call a “normal” tiramisu layer.  I also liked that the dessert had some little chunks in it – little chocolate bits, which tasted good.  The middle layer seemed almost ice cream-ish, almost like an ice cream cake.  It was obviously very easy to prepare.  I like it.  it would be nice to pair with an espresso if you are a coffee lover.  I do think it is sort of expensive when you compare it to other stuff at Trader Joe's.  I give this a 3.75.

As you can see, David thought it was going to be a good dessert.
Sadly, he didn't even get to eat any of it, since he was busy that night and couldn't come to the dinner.
Greg (father of the family also not a coffee fan, which I obviously forgot before I brought this dessert to the gathering):  “It is sweet.  The texture is good.  But it is coffee.  I give it a 2.”  (Editor’s note:  he DID finish his whole piece.)

Joan (mother of the family, liker of coffee):  “There was nothing exactly bad about this, but if you could only eat one dessert, I would choose many other desserts over this…  The best part were the fresh raspberries (editor:  I added those, they do not come in the box 😊 ).  The bottom is like chocolate cake, not the traditional tiramisu layer.  It did not appear to have been SOAKED in coffee.  It was somewhat dry-ish.  The coffee flavor reminded me more of Kahlua than coffee – so more like a coffee syrup.  In general I am not a big fan of tiramisu.  This was not tiramisu-ish, so I thought it would be better for me…  But I would prefer a cheesecake to this.  This looked more like cheesecake than tiramisu actually, though it had a nipple…  (Greg pointed out that the nipple was an indicator that it was mass produced.  The TJ's price tag says it is handmade, so...  Not sure.)  The cocoa powder was the highlight for me.  I would give this tiramisu a 1.”

The raspberries (also from Trader Joe's, of course) made the plates look pretty and were Joan's favorite part.
Ok then…  This tiramisu is made in ITALY.  Maybe this is more like a real ITALIAN version of the dessert?  It is hard to know what to give the product overall, since most of the taste testers were not fans of the ingredients, let alone the final product.  But I think the fact that I, someone who likes tiramisu, and Joan, someone who may not be the biggest tiramisu fan but a lover of coffee, both were not bowled away by this dessert says something.  I am not going to score this with a mathematical average of all reviewers because that seems harsh, but I am going to take all viewpoints into consideration before slapping on a final number.

Also, now that I look at the photos I took, I see this is not called TIRAMISU, it is called TIRAMISU TORTE…  So obviously, that explains why it didn’t seem like “regular” tiramisu and we were looking at it thru the wrong lens!!!

Does that fact negate our reviews??  Perhaps…  But I still think our opinions were pretty clear – this isn’t a “must eat” dessert, no matter what you call it.  whether you are counting calories or counting pennies, I would use your diet and your money in another manner…

Price tag

Price:  $6.99

Rating: 2.75