Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Day 342 - Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite

Here’s the thing:  “internet life” is sort of like “pretend life”, isn’t it?  I mean, online, the people “aren’t real”, which is why some folks can sometimes say such mean, hateful things that they would not say in a face to face conversation; or post insane photos of themselves that they would never take out and pass around at a family gathering.  The internet can seem like a make-believe world. 

Granted, my view of life online is decidedly different than that:  I try to live a genuine “online life” just as I do in “real life”.  I don’t make things up, I don’t only post flattering photos (oh heavens, I think this blog is proof that there are some unflattering photos of David and I out in cyberspace…), and I don’t post things online that I would not want to say to someone in a real life conversation.

Even so, “internet life” and “real life” ARE different. 

But sometimes “internet life” and “real life” somehow magically intersect, and when that happens, you find yourself in a Trader Joe’s on a Sunday morning in Chelsea (NYC) saying, “Are you Ttrockwood???”.

YES!!!  I GO TO MEET TTROCKWOOD, A READER OF THIS BLOG!!!!!  (If the ALL CAPS didn’t indicate it clearly enough, I will spell it out for you:  I was very excited!)

LOOK!!!  I met Ttrockwood in REAL LIFE!  In the Trader Joe's Chelsea store.
Ttrockwood is a reader and frequent commenter here.  I always like when Ttrockwood comments.  And I already had a super cool and fun experience with Ttrockwood earlier this fall when we did a HONEY EXCHANGE – they didn’t have Tuscan honey at their Trader Joe’s, so I offered to send some (review here), and in return, Ttrockwood sent ME Mike’s Hot Honey that is only available in THEIR TJ’s (review here).  I mean, that honey exchange already sort of blew my mind – that a person I had never met in real life was interacting with me not only ONLINE but via the US POSTAL SERVICE was bizarre!!!

So when we planned a quick trip to NYC recently, I contacted Ttrockwood to ask if we could meet up.  I was a little nervous.  It was not because I was AFRAID to meet, but because I was afraid Ttrockwood might think I was a weirdo or a stalker or something!  I mean, I just emailed out of the blue and was like, “Hey, do you want to meet us at a Trader Joe’s??”.  Sorta strange…

So when a positive reply came back and a date/time were set, I was so excited!!! 

Ttrockwood teaching David some of the finer points of inner city TJ's shopping
I have to let you in on a secret – for all the months that Ttrockwood has been commenting here and I have been smiling and reading the comments out loud to David, I have been unable to identify Ttrockwood with a pronoun.  That is because I have never known if Ttrockwood was a male or female.  And that mystery was lovely!!!  I so enjoyed the verbal challenge of not applying a pronoun!  (Oh sure, I could have tried the gender neutral “Ze”* but that is quite cumbersome for some reason…)   So I would say things like, “David!!  Ttrockwood is down to meet us at the Trader Joe’s in Chelsea!  They will be there at 10:30 am!”.  J  I LIKED not knowing a gender, but I was also curious to see him/her face to face and figure out which pronoun was more appropriate!   (Side note:  in my work as a sign language interpreter I often face the challenge of unknown gender, as ASL is not as definite as English in pronouns.  So maybe it is because of this experience in my professional life that I found this challenge to be so fun in my personal life.)

Of course, Ttrockwood has seen a bazillion photos of us here, so knew who to look for when we met up.  But all I knew was that the person would be blonde and have a camo backpack.

But it turns out that info was more than enough to quickly see Ttrockwood at the TJ’s entrance and blurt out, “Hey, are you TTROCKWOOD???” and give her a big hug!! 

Introductions (and pronouns) done, we set about shopping at one of her local Trader Joe’s.  It was so fun to have a personal concierge showing us around!  She knew all of the ins and outs of the Chelsea store and was happy to teach us.  And let’s just say, there is sort of a lot to learn about shopping that urban TJ’s! 

Two long ass lines - very organized and cool
First off, the line basically goes through the whole store.  It is really well managed and moves quickly.  There is an employee at the end of the line with a cute “End of Line” banner, and an employee at the middle of the line with a “Middle of Line” banner.  The middle is important because, pay close attention here, the middle is where the line SPLITS INTO TWO lines.  “HUH???” you think.  I KNOW, crazy, eh??  And that is where having a tour guide like Ttrockwood with you makes all the difference!  She explained that if you want to grab BAKED GOODS or REFRIGREATED MEATS while waiting in line, you take the OUTSIDE/RIGHTHAND of the 2 lines, but if you want to continue shopping for FROZEN GOODS or TREATS while in line, you migrate to the INSIDE/LEFTHAND line.  Man, shopping in Chelsea is COMPLEX!!  (But cool.)

Here's the MIDDLE OF THE LINE guy, see his banner??
The store was much, much bigger than anticipated.  The footprint would be big even for a suburban location where they paid much less rent.  Ttrockwood explained that we were there at a “slow time” and amateurs like us would get eaten alive if we showed up during peak hours.  J 

Of course, many things are the same as they are in other Trader Joe’s – friendly staff, double bagged groceries, tasting station.  Actually the tasting station was funny, because it was completely obstructed by the outside line.  Oh sure, I guess you could pick the outside line to wait in if you wanted to grab a sample, but what if you were still SHOPPING and wanted a sample?  I wormed my way between the people in line to nab a tiny plop of oatmeal.  I doubt my technique was “correct” but hey, I was a tourist!!

Ttrockwood taught us her patented “drop it and grab it technique” that she uses at her crowded Trader Joe’s!  It goes like this:
1.        Take your place in the long ass line.
2.       Drop your shopping basket (the little handheld one) in your spot to save your place. 
3.       Quickly grab the desired item from the nearest aisle.
4.       Return to your basket and drop in the item before the line moves!

See, it is lessons like that that you cannot learn from a YouTube video!

Our lunch!
We decided to grab a Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite to eat later in the day, and Ttrockwood got the same salad.  That way we could review them “together” (though eating them apart).  Ttrockwood sent me her review:

Salad close up
 Ttrockwood - “I had my Mega Crunchy salad today and my deep thoughts are......

I loved the texture and fork sized bites of crunchy veggies.  The beans and quinoa were great additions, so it's a legit salad meal vs salad that leaves you starving an hour later. The cilantro dressing packet had waaaay too much for one salad.  I liked it, but didn't pay enough attention to the label so the spicy kick surprised me (be warned if you're sensitive to spicy stuff). 

I'll totally buy it again. Solid 4.5 here. “

David and I did the totalllllly tourist thing of sitting in Times Square and eating our salad.  It was a strangely warm December afternoon so a great day to dine al fresco!  We thought we sat on the “sunny side” of the steps, but shortly after we dug into the salad the skyscrapers soon blocked the sunshine L.

Panorama of our lunchtime view.  I am not sure you can see it in this photo, but on the left side there is
an ad for KINKY BOOTS very near an ad that says, "A Savior is Born".  Ahhh NYC.
I must point out:  this is the first review I have ever done where, in the middle of the review, a complete stranger walked by us with his hand DOWN HIS PANTS feeling himself.  I kid you not.  In the middle of Times Square.  He made no attempt to hide it.  He didn’t seem to be doing it to “impress” anyone.  He was simply walking up all of the steps to get to the top and take a group selfie with his friends, but along the way he decided he needed to unzip his pants and play with himself.  Only in New York…

Now, here is what we thought of Trader Joe’s Mega Crunchy Salad with a Bite (with quinoa, carrots, adzuki beans, jicama, sunflower seeds, and cranberries with a cilantro dressing) (ironically the list of ingredients on the front do not mention LETTUCE, but I can confirm there is, indeed, actual lettuce in there, too):

Tasty salad in a fun environment!
Me – I really, really liked this!  It is delicious.  Many pre-packaged salads suffer from the dreaded “not enough dressing” problem, making them dry.   THIS salad does not have that issue, in fact my lunch date put the whooooole packet of dressing on and for my taste there is a bit TOO much dressing.  I really like the dressing though!  It has something hot and spicy in it, giving it a real ZIP. 

The veggie bits in the salad are chopped very small and are, as the name promised, crunchy.  I like them a lot.  I did not notice the taste of sunflower seeds until my last bite of salad. 

When reading the list of ingredients one might fear that this salad would be “too crunchy-granola-tree-hugger-y” and that people who were not ardent vegetarians might think it was yucky, but that would be wrong.  It is good.

This is a healthy lunch and it is yummy.  It is easy to grab and go.  Don’t forget to pick up a fork at Trader Joe’s before you leave if you want to eat this on the go (we forgot and had to sneak into a Starbucks and get one).  I give this a 4.75.

We sorta look like giants here!  This was our lunch spot.
David – “THANK YOU FOR PICKING THIS SALAD OUT TTROCKWOOD!  This is a great salad, mostly because of the plethora of sauce (dressing) that you can put on it that kind of blends/melds everything together.  All of the elements are delicious and it has such great “taste-ness” because of that cilantro dressing.  I give this a 4.75.”

Post Trader Joe's selfie :)

Now on to the rating.  Of course, I give the whole experience of actually meeting one of my blog readers and shopping with her a big ol’ shiny FIVE!!!!  It was most excellent.

For the salad, I will average our scores together.  Thanks for coming to Chelsea to shop with us, Ttrockwood.  It rocked.  And guess what guys?  Later this month I get to meet another reader, Marilyn, in Winter Park, Florida!  Wheeeeeee!!!

*Here is a link to an MIT page containing “Ze”, the gender neutral pronoun I referred to earlier:  Ze link here

Chelsea TJ's signage
Price – $3.99

Rating – 4.75


  1. Hands down ny favorite post yet!! ;)

    Ha! Gotta love the whackos in times sq...