Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 182 - HALF WAY POINT and Review of Dulce de Leche

THE YEAR IS EXACTLY HALF WAY OVER!  The way I figure it, there are 365 days in a year.  Divide that by two to get the midpoint, which is 182.5.  So the way I figure it, half way through day 182 (which is July 1, 2015) is THE MIDDLE OF THIS YEAR LONG BLOG!!!
This has nothing to do with Trader Joe's.  It is a fuzzy photo of me on the beach in my pajamas and pink Crocs on
Christmas Day 2014 :)
Yes, I have done 182 reviews.  That sounds like a ton to me, especially when I think, “Wait, that means I still have 182 more reviews to write???”.  The majority of the work on this project has been very fun.  I have visited (I think) a total of 13 different Trader Joe’s stores in 8 different states (well, one was a District) with 2 more states and stores (that I know of) planned for this summer!  When I count them all up it makes it sound like I have been to a lot of states and stores!!  I have taken photos inside all of the stores we visited (and outside many of them) and never once gotten in trouble or even asked, “Why are you taking a close up photo of that pricing sign??”.  One time an employee did politely decline to be IN one of my photos, which was perfectly acceptable to me. 

I would say of all of the stores I have been in, my favorite one was probably on U Street in Washington DC.  They had free parking with a super cool parking attendant that really made us laugh.  They also had the best artwork behind their customer service station.  You can see it if you check out Day 106.  The worst parking lot of any Trader Joe’s I have seen so far is by far the La Jolla, CA store.  If that was my local store I would go nuts trying to park there.

The coolest store was obviously the New York City WINE store – a whole Trader Joe’s with just wine.  Ahhhh heaven.  Annnd they do free wine tastings every single day.  Day 95 has a photo of my opinion on this store J .

As far as reviews go, at this half-way point there have been definite winners and some downright CLUNKERS.  17 products have garnered rave 5 STAR reviews, and 2 have bottomed out with 0 stars…  The most commonly given star number in the reviews so far is a 4 (33 products have gotten a 4). 

As far as the blog itself goes, the most views of any review is by far Head to Toe Moisturizing Balm.  It was a clunker of a product (only got a 1.5 star review on Day 89) but as of June 30th it had 426 views!  Maybe it’s because the review is pretty funny.  Another often read post is the one on Chicken Pot Pie Ravioli (Day 160), which has 203 views.  I think people are finding that one because they are considering buying it and wonder if such a weird product would taste good (the answer is – YES it does).  Ocarossa Wine is also one that gets a lot of views (178 views) on day 26. 

So let me take a peek at the first 182 days – the first half of this project – and tell you know how some things stand:

·         Best Red Wine – Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, 4.5 stars on Day 2
·         Best White Wine – tie between Kono Sauvignon Blanc, 4.0 stars on Day 174 and Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio, 4.0 stars on Day 43
·         Worst Wine – Grand Reserve Meritage, .5 stars on Day 13
·         Best Coffee (out of 9 Trader Joe’s (I think) coffees that I have tried so far this year) – Ethiopian, 4.25 stars on Day 138
·         Best Dessert – Cocoa Dusted Truffles with Toffee Bits, 4.75 stars on Day 126
·         Worst Dessert – Pumpkin Scones, 0 stars on Day 23
·         Close 2nd in the category of Worst Dessert – Peach Raspberry Pie, 15 stars on Day 35
·         Best Drink – San Pellegrino Limonata, 5 stars (and a hilarious review) on Day 141
·         Worst Drink – Cranberry Juice, 0 stars on Day 163
·         Best Toiletry Item – Lavender Hand Lotion, 5 stars on Day 120
·         Worst Toiletry Item – Head to Toe Moisturizing Lotion, 1.5 stars on Day 89
·         Best New Finds:
o   Chicken Pot Pie Raviolli, 4.75 stars on Day 160
o   Chicago Popcorn (aka Caramel and Cheddar Mix), 5 stars on Day 100
o   Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce, 4.75 stars on Day 135
o   Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels, 4.5 stars on Day 111
o   Kale Sprouts, 5 stars on Day 36
o   Saucy Scallions with Mushrooms, 4.75 stars on Day 91
o   Cara Cara Navel Oranges, 5 stars on day 66
·         Best Snacks – tie between Omega Trek Mix, 4.75 stars on Day 82, and Partially Popped Popcorn, 4.75 stars on Day 74
·         Best Meat – Filet Mignon, 4.75 stars on Day 114
·         Best Salad – Greens and Seeds, 4.75 on Day 121
·         Best Snack Food – Mediterranean Hummus, 4.75 stars on Day 154
·         Staples we were reminded of and continue to love:
o   Sunflower Seed Butter, 4.75 stars on Day 96
o   Eggs, 5 stars on Day 64
o   Capers, 5 stars on Day 58

But writing this blog has not been ALL fun and eating.  It can get a bit stressful and tiring feeling that I MUST write a new review of a different product every single day.  I go through periods where I really ENJOY the shopping, tasting, and writing, and periods where it is more of a chore.   Especially if I am travelling to a city that does not have a Trader Joe’s and I am not “ahead” in my reviews – I have to PACK Trader Joe’s food to bring, eat, and review.  But I definitely want to see this mission through to completion!  I am HALF WAY DONE and, as they say on one of the world’s worst “reality” TV shows that I hate to admit I watch (“Naked and Afraid”), “I am not tapping out!”.  (Side note:  I really feel the producers need to make them say QUIT.  Because QUIT is what tapping out is…  Every time they say “tap out” David and I look at each other and say, “Do you mean quit??”.  But I digress…)

See how many TJ's products I have to squirrel away when I go to a place without a TJ's??  It is difficult!  (And right after we took this photo I found about 5 more products I had brought with me to review...)
I am writing this entry the evening of June 30th – the night before it will be posted.  The blog has almoooost 8,000 views, averaging out to 44 views per day.  Every great once in a while someone will post a comment, which always makes me have a huge smile.  If you enjoy reading it or find it worthwhile, please share the URL with a friend.  Thanks.

And now, onto TODAY’S REVIEW!

Dulce de leche! 

A good price for a jar of deliciousness...
I found this lovely little jar on the shelf of our local Northern Virginia Trader Joe’s recently and knew it would be good to bring on the road for being in a location with no TJ’s.  I just looked up the word “dulce de leche” and learned that it means “candy (or sweet) made from milk”.  Hey, it is made from MILK?  That means it is HEALTHY, right?  I’m in!!

Creamy-smooth is not a lie - it IS creamy-smooth!
 This is very tasty!  I had it this morning on a piece of toast (as that was one of the recommended ways to serve it listed on the jar).  It reminds me of one of my favorite TJ’s products, a sauce that is almost the same color and I think the jar it is in is the same size as this one – Fleur Del Sel Caramel Sauce (which got a 5 star review on day 132).  In fact, now that I look at the review for the caramel sauce, I realize I should have sliced up a banana this morning and put it on my toast with this dulce de leche sauce! 

Ahhh - breakfast.  Orange juice, coffee, toast with Dulce de Leche, and PARCHEESI!
But seriously, this product is totally worth a try.  It is sweet and creamy and delicious.  Another serving suggestion is to eat it with a big chunk of chocolate – oh yeah – I am going to have to try THAT ONE… 

If you want to learn more about dulce de leche in general, check out the Wikipedia article about it:

Price - $2.99
Rating – 4.75


  1. I'll have to try this on an English Muffin some morning. That's about the only kind of "toast" I eat. I enjoy this blog and your reviews. I tend to wait a week then read several at once. 1/2 way go, girl!

  2. Oops...sent before done. Dulce de Leche is also a popular cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. I've also seen it in a local Gelato shop too.

  3. OH Ken - an English muffin is a swell idea. It would get down there in the nooks and crannies... My mouth is watering. That would be even better than TOAST!

  4. Help, I can't stop reading!
    - S