Sunday, December 13, 2015

Day 347 - Blueberry Vanilla Chevre (and ALDI)


There, I said it.  Aldi!

There is much confusion over Aldi, a German grocery store chain that has some stores in the United States.  Some people have told me it IS related to Trader Joe’s, others have said it is NOT.  I cannot find any info on the relationship on the official Trader Joe’s website, but there are loads of articles online is you search.  The majority point to this:  Aldi and Trader Joe’s are separate companies owned by German BROTHERS.  Apparently they used to run a company together in Germany (called Aldi), but, like their country, Aldi SPLIT into Aldi North (Aldi Nord) and Aldi South (Aldi Sud) after the siblings got into what I can only presume was a huge fight (the article here says the fight was over selling cigarettes:  Aldi article.

So now Aldi SOUTH operates Aldi, and Aldi NORTH operates Trader Joe’s. 

At least that is the version of the story I am going with until someone from corporate offices of Aldi and/or Trader Joe’s tells me differently.

So, while they stores are not directly related, their OWNERS are siblings.  I wonder if they get along?  Imagine that holiday meal – Aldi South brother brings Aldi food to the party, while Aldi North brother insists on bringing only Trader Joe’s stuff…  Ahhh, families. 

I have long heard about Aldi but didn’t get to visit one until I was in Omaha recently.  My sister Sherry took me to Aldi, and as you can see from this photo I was excited to go!!

I get to check out an ALDI!!  Omaha (actually Bellevue), NE
First off, the grocery carts are EUROPEAN style.  You deposit a quarter, release your cart, and use it.  Then, at the end of your shopping trip, you return the cart and get your quarter back.  I love it!  (People who leave their carts in parking lots are one of my pet peeves, and this system offers an incentive to return your cart.)

Sherry investing in our shopping cart
Aldi stores are not nearly as well appointed, well lit, or well stocked as Trader Joe’s.  Each Aldi only has a very few number of people working at any given time (I think 3 or 4 employees run the entire store – stock, cashier, do everything).  The displays are not the least bit fancy.  You pay for your shopping bag.  You bag your own groceries.  You are not greeted with a smile or helped to find a product if you need it.  There is not a lush, vibrant produce department.  The aisles are not wide and welcoming.

But ALDI IS CHEAP.  Like, super cheap!!  And that can make it fun!!

Aldi, like Trader Joe’s, mostly carries plain label products, not nationally known brands.  But there were some big brands there.  There are not CHOICES in brands like you would find at other supermarkets though.

(My sister and I had another thing happen at Aldi that made our shopping fun:  there was a super cranky and a bit “off” old man shopping when we were there.  We made the mistake of engaging him in conversation, and h e basically stalked us after that.  He kept FINDING us in aisles and criticizing every single item we put in our cart.  It was hilarious.  He thought everything we were buying was terrible, and even said the PAPER TOWELS we had chosen would kill us.  It became apparent through our “conversation” (which was mostly HIM talking and us being berated…) that he was a veteran.  Well, I politely thanked him for his service, and his reply was, “They all say that.  Then they say F*&%  YOU!!!”.  Bwahahahaha.  That was the first time a service member replied THAT way when I thanked them!!)

Anyway, I wanted to make sure to compare prices while at Aldi, so I looked for things that I knew Trader Joe’s also carried.  One thing I found to compare was Kerrygold Butter.  It is our very favorite butter and I reviewed it for this blog here:  butter review   In the review, I bragged that it is much cheaper at Trader Joe’s than it is at other stores, but guess what?  It is even CHEAPER at Aldi!!!  You can save an extra .30 cents by picking it up at Aldi!  Awesome!

Same butter, even CHEAPER!
Another thing I saw at Aldi that I knew Trader Joe’s carried was Blueberry Vanilla Chevre.  Now that we have picked up a log at Trader Joe’s, I see that the packaging is different (though I suspect the quality is the same?) and the TJ’s version, though one dollar more, is two ounces more. 

Seasonal item at Aldi's.

OK, speaking of Blueberry Vanilla Chevre, let me finally get to today’s review and let you know what we thought of it!!!!

We first had it months ago at Trader Joe’s when they were sampling this cheese spread on top of Triple Ginger Snap Cookies (cookie review).  The taste was deeeelicious, which both surprised and delighted us!  So we decided to buy the cheese and cookies and serve them as appetizers recently at a birthday dinner we hosted.

Don't they look PRETTY??
Turns out that was a big mistake.  Though I am totally cool with “desserts as appetizers”, it turns out our guests view appetizers in a more traditional sense and didn’t like the “sweet for starters” concept.  I am afraid my “eat dessert first” mentality hurt the overall score of this product and for that I apologize, but here is what everyone thought:

Joan (the birthday girl) – “It’s not my favorite.  I love blueberries.  I like chevre on crackers.  I would like this better if the combination was not together.  I prefer plain chevre and plain blueberries rather than the combination.  I don’t think I would have liked it better on a cracker because of the sweetness.  I think I liked it on the ginger, but as an appetizer it was a little sweet for my palate.  It would be an excellent dessert.  As a dessert I would enjoy it with a glass of ice wine.  I give it a 2.”

Greg (Joan’s husband and David’s brother) – “I support my wife in everything, in this as well.  I agree with her – because of the blueberries and the ginger snaps it tasted more of a dessert instead of an appetizer.  If it was dessert I would toss the chevre and just have the blueberries and ginger snaps and that would be fine.  The chevre is frankly overpowered by the blueberries and ginger snaps.  I couldn’t really taste much in the way of chevre, which is a shame because I like chevre…    I would give it a 1.5.”

Isn't it a pretty color??
David –  “I liked it.  I am embarrassed that my family is so critical.  Although it is sweet and you don’t get to taste the chevre as much as you would like, it is its own thing.  Particularly the concept of the ginger snap – it is certainly a dessert.  When we had it in the store it had less blueberry in it.  I give it a 3.5.”

Me – I think it is super kinky to have this cheese on a ginger snap, that is why I like it.  I think the chevre is tangy, the ginger snap is sweet, and the blueberries are neutral.  That’s why I like it – it is like three different tastes in one.  it says there is vanilla, too, but I don’t really taste the vanilla.  I would give it a 4 when served in this combination with the cookies.

Here is what the package looks like
Whew – those reviews are all over the map, eh?

Want to see if there is an Aldi in your area?  Check out this site:  Aldi site

Price (at Trader Joe’s) – $4.99

Rating (4 reviewers averaged) – 2.75 (I really think it should be at least a 3, but I am honoring the math, sigh)


  1. I think you are correct about the Aldi/TJ's thing. At least your understanding exactly matches mine.

  2. You need to do a review of the Wine Country Chicken Salad. It is one of our absolute favorite TJ's products!

    1. I am not sure who wrote this CHICKEN SALAD comment, but a thing is spoken, a thing is done: WE JUST WENT TO TRADER JOE'S AND BOUGHT IT. :) Review forthcoming.

    2. Had to get the recommendation in before the end of the year! (although still hoping you continue this into 2016)

  3. They opened an Aldi in our city during the summer. Items like the Kerrygold butter are not sold year-round. They have weekly sales that start on Wednesdays. Like TJ's, they aren't really sales like you see in traditional grocery stores. Often the items in the ad will have a theme. They have some German weeks during the year when a lot of food is imported from Germany. Right now, they have been having a lot of seasonal ads which feature special cheeses, baking products, and Christmas decorations. We tend to go on the first day of the ad if there is something we want and stock up on it then. We bought the last two Kerrygold butters at our store on Wednesday. They were left over from the previous week's ad.

    The main difference with TJ's and Aldi is that Aldi allows things in the US food that TJ's does not, so if you are trying to avoid HFCS, GMOs, or certain artificial flavors, be sure to read the labels. On the other hand, Aldi has removed synthetic colors, MSG, and trans-fats, so the products are better than a lot in a typical grocery store.

    They have a few organic items that are year-round, but also have organic weeks where they have really great deals on products brought in for that week. The chocolate that is imported from Germany is also very good. Five chocolate bars (dark or milk) for only $1.99. Most of the items imported from Europe do not have any questionable ingredients. When they have a German week, they usually have their take on UK Jaffa cakes. They are delicious and only $1.99.

    1. Wow, you are an ALDI EXPERT!!! I shopped at this one when I was on a trip (visiting family) but I do not think there is an Aldi close to me. HOWEVER, I heard they are buidling one! I will most certainly check it out more in depth when that happens.

    2. A few years ago, I watched a couple of documentaries and read some books about various food issues. I became vegetarian at the same time, so had to pay close attention to food labels. I often have to do a lot of research to find out about ingredients. Having a teaching degree, I guess I get interested in the research and one thing leads to another.

  4. What a fun trip!! And that crazy shopper veteran sounds like a borderline whacko.....
    I've been to the Aldi here once, your description is spot on, totally bare bones.
    But! Serious score on european goodies like fabulous jam, a great (cheap!) selection of chocolates- i got this dark chocolate chestnut bar that was so amazing- and fun stuff like museli.

    I think your appetizer sounds delicious! Just the wrong audience:P didn't i see a cranberry goat cheese there recently? Same idea different flavor for the holidaze i guess

    1. We are going to check out an Aldi's in Florida this week or next! I bet this is the time of year to go there to score good deals on fancy ass European chocolates.