Trader Joe’s yea/nay/meh 2021

It’s funny–I’d heard “brooding” as a descriptor for Tavel, then I went to a rose tasting, and the word was exactly right.

Given my current mood, I think I need some of this Taval very soon.


Update on the Instant Cold Brew (which I think I must have mentioned in last year’s thread): over time, it gets very clumpy, and when it’s clumpy it doesn’t dissolve nearly as well–and dissolving in cold water is kind of the point of the product. For next year’s trip I’ll either buy this closer to the trip (so it isn’t around long enough to get clumpy), or throw in a desiccant packet from some other product. Maybe both.


The Sweet Hot Pickled Jalapenos are gone but I did pick up a new product - Habanero Chili Crisp. I haven’t tried it yet tho’.

Edited to add: Apparently the crisp isn’t that new - just new to me.

Crisp is good, just hard to pair in my experience. It overpowers most things.

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On further inspection, though I still haven’t opened my jar, it appears that I was mistaken thinking this is chili crisp made with habbies, but rather is crisp whole habaneros in oil?

That will certainly make it more problematic to actually use.


Don’t know if this is new or if it’s been mentioned before. For me it was a waste. I don’t know what this is supposed to taste like but I found almost no
flavor at all. Can’t recommend.



YEA: Crispy Jalapeno Pieces (new item). Think crispy fried onions, only with jalapenos. Not super-spicy, but plenty of jalapeno flavor. They’d be good as a topping for salads or soups, but tbh I had to stop myself from just eating them by the fistful.

Update: the last couple of times I was there these were not. Probably seasonal; I just hope they aren’t a one-off.

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I already know some peeps disagree, but I didn’t like the onion version of these. Initially I bought them as a quick sub for fried shallots in a green papaya salad. Then I made the salad and forgot to include them! They sat for a while because I couldn’t think of another use. Finally I decided I’d try to pulverize them and mix with sour cream for a “french onion” type chip dip. But they are so sweet. Not at all savory like I’d hoped for…

I think they’re meant to be a sub for French’s - they originally came out as a seasonal item before thanksgiving a few years ago.

They’re very different from the crisp fried shallots at Asian stores.

I agree on use, though - I just ended up snacking on them, and sometimes I topped soup with them as a garnish.

Haven’t looked - willful blindness for some products is my only defense (there’s a long list)

I saw someone post that a different crisp chilli - maybe scotch bonnet - is on the shelves again, but iirc that’s much spicier.

Then there’s the Thai chili and sesame “snack” in a bag, that’s also spicy but addictive.

They are really working this fried chilli thing all around :joy:

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Alas I wasn’t in or near the Asian grocery, so I grabbed what I thought I could sub out instead. I don’t think it would’ve been good in the papaya salad, and it didn’t make a great chip dip. It’s ok. Try something new, play the odds. It keeps life interesting. I’ve never had French’s onions! Are they similarly sweet rather than savory?

Me neither, and I bought these for the same reason as you - my shallots from Chinatown had finally gone rancid.

But these are a completely different item.

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I bought this, too but not sure what to do with it beside sprinkling on popcorn.

How are you using it?

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Smoked sesame crusted ahi tuna is a nay for me, darn it. I wanted to like it but it just wasn’t that tasty and I didn’t care for the texture. I finished it but won’t buy it again.

Thanks for sharing - I’ve thought about that one many times.

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Crispy Habaneros were in stock, so I bought them to try. MOUTH ON FIRE! This will be sparingly used (like spicy pickle) with otherwise bland food. or gifted to my friends who have much higher spice tolerance.

Garlic Achaar Sauce - Tastes like watered down and sweetened garlic pickle. No, it’s not bad - the pureed form makes it eminently usable. It’s just not punchy like my other garlic pickles. It reminds me of the Amba sauce they had for a while, which to an Indian palate tastes exactly equivalent - pureed, watered down mango pickle that’s been sweetened. Also not a negative - just different applications.


After I bought it I realized I have a truckload of the Indian equivalent of this :woman_facepalming:t2:

But to answer your question, you can use it as a seasoning during cooking, or as a sprinkle after. The bitter note from fenugreek goes well with anything Indian or middle eastern. In addition to the original eastern european, of course.


The heat doesn’t bother me as much. I like the product, but habaneros have a strong flavor that overpowers everything, so it’s difficult to use.

I think you’re right. It wasn’t just the heat, it was the flavor.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold