Friday, April 17, 2009

Introductions: Trader Amy

Hi! I'm Amy and I have been a Trader Joe's fan for as long as I can remember. I shamelessly make leisurely trips to the Union Square location during my lunch break and I always leave with 1-2 bags of awesome (as well as a bangin' crush on whichever hispteresque/20something/toocoolforschool employee helped me that day). I frequently force my co-workers to try various TJ items that are either a.) on sale or b.) in pretty packages and both categories have definitely lead me to a few winners. Some of my favorites include their Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies, Ginger Senbei Snacks, and limited Christmas-edition Gingerbread Coffee.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review #7: Low-Fat Chicken Lo Mein

Trader Joe's - or should I say, paternalistically and a bit uncomfortably, Trader Ming's - "low fat" chicken lo mein tastes pretty awesome. It's not quite as good texturally as a fine Chinese bistro or when you get it from one of those hole-in-the-wall Chinese places where you order by pointing at glow-up pictures, but it's close, doesn't taste low-fat at all, and is in the upper tier of Trader Ming's products I've tried for sure. By which I mean, the chicken tastes normal. Cooking it takes a couple of steps, so it's something best to prepare before you go to work. My only real qualm: a paltry serving. Split in half, the bag is really not enough for two lunches: best to supplement with some mixed greens and/or a couple of Trader Joe's veggie dumplings (very highly recommended, although my coworkers asked "what smells like onion bagels").

Monday, April 13, 2009

Review #6: Dark Chocolate Covered Joe Joe's And An Intro

It's no secret that I like the sweets. I mean, I even sound chubby on the radio. And while we're briefly on the subject of an introduction of sorts, I'm not going to bore you all with a "Trader Jason" introduction. I like food, I spend way too much money on it. I have battled this side of me from time to time but at a certain point you just have to embrace it. For those of you who maybe have some self respect for their digestive systems, things like TJ's dark chocolate covered Joe Joe's might be a nice random treat. But for a man who said goodbye to self respect a while ago and dove headfirst into the doughy abyss that is one's inner fat man, these cookies spell disaster.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a pan. In fact, these cookies are TOO good. The other night after buying my first box, I took 2 out and sat down to watch a special about how kick ass Teddy Roosevelt was on the History Channel. Cut to the first commercial break and I'm in a sugar glazed stupor and the box is emptied.

If you've never taken the time to truly explore TJ's "Fuck Diabetics" section, Joe Joe's are their version of Oreos. The cookies by themselves are fine. Nothing to write home about, maybe a couple of notches above Hydrox on the sandwich cookie path to perfection that is an Oreo. But they are transformed into little pillows of heaven when covered in deep dark chocolate. The chocolate coating adds a perfect texture and a little snap to every bite. The taste itself can best be described as "holy fucking shit". Some might say they are too sweet but I don't want to fraternize with those people. I mean, how can something be too sweet? In the words of Jeannie Darcy, "don't even get me started". You know what I will get started on? Another box of these goddamn cookies because they are delicious. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get ready for "How to Write An Awesome Segue" class at the Learning Annex.

the legend of charles shaw.

This is way outtdated, but seriously their explanation for $2-3 buck chuck is an overabundance of grapes?

I was wondering what your guys take on the myth was. I had always heard the vineyard owner went through a bitter divorce with no prenup, and wanted to make the venture break even so his money grubbing wife couldn't have any.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Review #5: Fast and Furious

A quick list of recently tried Trader Joe's products and my verdicts:

1. Trader Joe's Fish Sticks (in the teal box, lightly breaded)
Wow. I was skeptical about these but once I baked them up and paired them with Trader Joe's a little too sweet (yet still tasty) tartar sauce, I was in love. The fish in these tastes pretty normal, which was shocking. The breading is very subtle, it joins with the normal tasting fish to form an iconoclastic food product. It feels so...whimsical to eat a fish stick at the age of 21 but these are like little nuggets of my precious fish and chips from when I lived in England. Delectable!

2. Trader Joe's Edamame
Wow-wee-whoa-whoa. I think the whole world can agree that this is probably the most beloved Trader Joe's product. I'll tell the world about the love that I found (for this product).

3. Salmon stuffed with cream cheese and shrimp
This is not an official Trader Joe's product but I purchased it there nevertheless. The stuffing is a bit flavorless but the quality of the fish was good. The price is the best part about this: REAL fish for $2.99! If you added some better seasoning than what I had my disposal and perhaps a snazzy side, this could make for a reasonably thrilling meal.

Review #4: In Defense of Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken

Molly doesn't like this, but I am a recent and fervent convert. I study Chinese history at school and let's just say this now: this meal is NOT authentic in any way, shape, or form, but it is delicious. I cooked mine with some of that PERFECT Trader Joe's Edamame (OMG - I die!) and brown rice. My only major qualm with this scrumptious treat is the "Trader Ming's" label....really now? I thought Trader Joe's was a place of acceptance and love, not a place of racial stereotypes and prejudices. I shudder to think what TJ's calls their Caribbean influenced foods. "Welcome to the Islands, Mon"? But in the words of Sienna Miller as Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl: I CAN'T HATE 'EM!!!!

The chicken was pretty smooth and it wasn't stringy at all. Although it takes a (comparatively) long time to cook, the chicken came out perfect and tasty. Granted, it has been a very long time since I have had "real" food that I made myself, so perhaps I am just easily impressed. I was also impressed with the sheer amount of chicken pieces I was given for what I paid. I cooked the whole meal but saved some for leftovers. Verdict: still pretty tasty the next day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review #3: Frozen Chicken (in its many forms)

Like getting close to a live chicken, Trader Joe's frozen chicken products should be approached with caution. The Asian stir-fry chicken meals - the kind that come in the large foil bags and are often of the Orange or Teriyaki variety - are consistantly bad. While the sauce is "accurate-tasting," no matter how long you cook it for, the texture is strange, and it's stringy at all the worst times. I usually end up throwing out half the cooked pieces. The bags usually just run under five dollars; I feel like it's worth it to go to your local Panda Express or what have you and get the real thing. However, their frozen chicken breasts are utilitarian and fine; easy to defrost or microwave, and able to cook into whatever you want. And, as a component of other frozen dishes (chicken tamales, for example, or chicken dumplings), TJ's has yet to mess up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Introductions: Trader Carrie

I live in Los Angeles, which is maybe the Trader Joe's capital of America. I most often go to the one in Culver City I guess, though I also go to one on La Brea and one in Studio City. My favorite TJ's product is the pre-cut mango. Though it's not exactly a Trader Joe's product, I am extremely grateful that they have made it possible for me to gracefully eat a mango in public. I also like the no-pudge brownies and the snap pea crisps.

Review #2: Trader Joe’s Chimichurri Rice

I bought this on a whim a few weeks ago, reasoning my life needed more adventure and spice. Trader Joe’s Chimichurri Rice sang to me from the freezer. Muy Caliente! However, this shit is seriously hot. I give it a 5 out of 10, the taste was good when I could taste, but its sinus-clearing hot.

Introductions: Trader Zan

Hi Guyz. I'm Trader Zan. I work at a teen fashion magazine that pays me peanuts (I can only assume to keep my body teen-like and slim). When not snacking on apples, ice water, or oxygen, I buy my groceries at TJ's. My faves are Omega Trek Mix, Whole Wheat Pasta, Honeywheat Pretzel Sticks, and the Veggie Burritos. I've been a fan since my mom brought home a bag of Peanutbutter filled pretzels sometime in the early 00s'. Sometimes I am a Traitor Zan because I like Tribe hummus which TJ's does not carry so I buy elsewhere. I have a blog called that is more design related than food related, so I relish this opportunity. But I do not relish relish. The end.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Introductions: Trader Jamie

In the vein of Molly and Emma, and the countless others who will contribute to this labor of love, I am going to introduce myself. I was first introduced to TJ's when I lived in Northern Virginia in 9th Grade. The place, much like life, was a mystery...but a glorious one. Now, the locations I most frequent are the Union Square and the mysterious future location at 77th and Amsterdam. I love: $2.99 Charles Shaw Shiraz and the Gueyere, Ham, and Carmelized Onion pizza. When I am not dreaming of Trader Joe's, I am a history major at an Ivy League university.

Introductions: Trader Molly

To follow suit with Emma, I'll introduce myself. I'm Molly. The locations I most often frequent are Union Square (shorter trip, longer walk from subway with heavy bags) and Brooklyn (longer trip, less crowded, shorter walk from subway with heavy bags). My favorite Trader Joe's products are: frozen tamales, fine Charles Shaw vintages, and cherry tomatoes. When I'm not sacrificing variety for quality and price at Trader Joe's, I work in the literary department of a maniacal agency.

Introductions: Trader Emma

What a thrill it is to be part of such a ground-breaking gastronomical blog!  My name is Emma and I, like MJR, aspire to be a shrewd Trader Joe's consumer. The locations I frequent most are the Joe's in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and sometimes the ones in Newton and Brookline, Massachusetts.  Favorite Joe's products include: chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels and also the boxed Indian foods (Jaipur vegetables and the red curry chickpea varieties only).  When I'm not sacrificing variety for quality and price at Trader Joe's, I study English at a second-rate liberal arts school.

Adding insult to injury

Experience Review: They screwed up and deprived us of one of our precious bags of groceries and forced you [Molly] to shlepp all the way back to get it.

Review #1: Lemon Dill Sauce

It is with heavy heart that I pan (kitchen pun not intended) Trader Joe's Lemon Dill Sauce. Added to their lemon-y pasta (also not recommended), it's thick and vomitous. As a salad dressing it's overwhelming and excessive, and as a marinade, it's insubstantial yet troubling. Best left alone.
Nobody's perfect. Trader Joe's is close. The goal of this blog is to review and rate both the flawless and deeply flawed cuisine you purchase and sample at Trader Joe's locations throughout North America. Since this is a work in progress we're open to any contributors or ideas for the blog format. Just like how Trader Joe's Union Square is open, until ten o clock.