Trader Joe's Yea/Nay/Meh: 4th Quarter 2015 - Pumpkinvasion to New Year's

YEA - Five-Cheese Greek Phyllo Pie, from the freezer aisle. After baking, I let it sit a while, then rewarmed a slice in the turned-off oven, to have with chili. It was crisp but the cheese was not drippy.

Not necessarily new but my favorite Yays:

Chicken tender dog treats. My little girl’s favorite thing in the whole world. I sometimes pop in JUST for these!
Romaine Lettuce Hearts, (3 for $1.99)
Blistered peanuts, chili lime cashews and roasted sunflower seeds
Feta and other Cheese
Sambal Matah Indonesian “Salsa”. (I use it as a marinade for wings and stir fries)
Tubes of Tomato Paste
Decaf Coffee
Olives, (Picholine, Lucques)

I really don’t buy any of the frozen prepared foods or other produce, meats or dairy there.

NAY- Arancini bites. The rice part had a weird texture. Not like rice or risotto but watery and grainy, kind of like lumpy grits. On top of that it had zero flavor. The cheese tasted like cheese, but the rice, nothing. I’m thinking they must have changed suppliers, because I found a couple of reviews from a few years ago that were enthusiastically positive. That, or just the YMMV thing.

I found the Chicken Balti pies very disappointing also. Like most of TJ’s dishes from spicy cuisines, very bland to my taste. There was too much very heavy crust vs. filling. One of the 2 pies in my sample had a couple of good chunks of chicken but the other just had chicken debris. Very disappointing.

Has anyone tried the tomato tiropita pie from the freezer section? Or the shrimp toast?

Picked up the Greek cheese spiral today but haven’t tried it yet. Probably Saturday for our poker game.

Single origin chocolate recommendation from Souperman from an SF thread, and its a great bargain.

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Meh on the Hatch Valley salsa. I had high expectations with the Hatch Valley label.

Moderate YEA for the new frozen Rustic Apple Tarte. I bought it with reservations, since I almost always find commercial apple desserts too heavy on the cinnamon, which this was, though not overwhelmingly so. What clinched the sale for me is that it is made with Northern Spy apples, which are praised by many bakers as the perfect pie apple. $4.99, comes already-baked. It’s a mere 7" across. You could perhaps get 6 modest servings but 4-5 is more like it. The pleated crust is rather thick, the almond-topped apple layer thin.

It’s pretty disheartening how little activity this thread has in comparison to what the analogous CH thread got, but HSE.

The Burlington, MA, store still has pumpkin shelves on the rear wall, but much of the seasonal holiday stuff is in. Frozen puff pastry, the Advent calendars and other holiday candy and baked goods, including the almond kringles. The canisters of fried onions arrived a couple of weeks back. Amongst the new items is “Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips”, which get a YAY-. There’s no meat (that would be too odd), just the typical Thanksgiving savory seasonings: onion, celery, parsley, sage, thyme. They could almost have been called Simon a9d Garfunkettle Chips. The flavor is nice, and they’d be a good accompaniment to the post-feast turkey sandwiches. They are very crisp, but nothing memorable.

MEH to Chamay Aged Trappist, the cheese of the month. Bland and on the rubbery side.

YAY for the dried Holiday Mafaldine as a conversation piece. They are close to 2-ft long, which will cause a lot of laughter when your unsuspecting guests attempt to eat it. Years ago they had spaghetti that long. 3 strands twisted into a large forkful. Not realizing it wasn’t regular spaghetti, friends thinking it was ordinary pasta found themselves with fist-sized balls of spaghetti on their forks.

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YEA for the Belgian Flaked Truffles, which I think are new for this holiday season.
8 dark and 8 milk chocolate pieces in the 6oz box, for $2.99. May contain traces of almond, hazelnut. Box is 5x10", brown, cream, and pale sage label.

YAH. the square container of dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Not too sweet like Reese’s. We like them too much; haven’t bought any in a few months.

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I think they increased the price of that Dark Chocolate Lover’s bar. It used to be an even better deal.

Agreed, say no to Chile/Peru avocadoes.

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My experience is a definite NAY to avos from Chile & Peru…

MEH - the dark chocolate truffle bar. Too sweet for my taste.
MEH - the shrimp toast. Just didn’t have enough shrimp flavor for me.
YAY - the organic basil has been pretty amazing, and almost as intensely flavored as Thai basil.
YAY - pastrami-style lox. Not a seasonal item, but delish.
YAY - the pumpkin bar baking mix. I’m not a fan of pumpkin, but my man is. He picked it up by mistake, thinking it was the pumpkin muffin mix, but ended up liking it. Not too sugar, and he adds toasted walnuts to the thing and has it with his afternoon coffee.

YAY: Vicolo’s 8" pizza crusts (at Masonic in SF). My sweetheart makes a fabulous pizza crust, but these are great for weekday nights when you want something fast. Made a couple of great pizzas with TJ’s Grecian-Style Eggplant, garlic, tomato paste, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and tvarog.

At checkout today I saw a collection of single-origin chocolate bars packaged in a box. Didn’t pick it up, but was very intrigued.

They have those single origins every year. I think it’s called “Passport” or something like that. Those are exceptional, and given the cost, an absolute steal in my book.

This year, TJ’s also has a Valrhona Advent Calendar. I must confess I don’t know what an Advent Calendar is, but we’re huge Valrhona fans so we picked it up. Did they have this prior years, too?

Yes, Passport something-or-other. Good to know, I’ll get it next time I’m there.

As the child of two ministers, I feel qualified to explain Advent Calendars. Advent is a whole sort of Countdown to Christmas type deal. In church, the four weeks before Christmas, they would light first one then two then three then four candles in a wreath, with IIRC a fifth candle lit Christmas Eve. Advent Calendars have little windows with treats for each of the 28 or so days leading up to Christmas, and each day you open the window for that day and get the treat. In this case it’s chocolate; there is also a single-malt whisky Advent Calendar, which is understandably more pricey. I know they’ve had Advent Calendars in previous years, but not sure if they had the Valrhona one.

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I’m not a child of ministers (far from it), but we also celebrated Advent in our household by lighting a candle on the advent wreath - sometimes homemade & decorated - each Sunday in the four weeks before xmas. Actually, the 4th candle is lit xmas eve.

The Advent calendars are either with just pics (lame) or chocolate behind their 24 doors, with the last door being opened on xmas eve.

That single malt calendar sounds awesome. Where does one get it?

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

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Market stall in Lima
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