Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Trader Joe’s – Sriracha English Cheddar – Food Review

09/06/2017

Trader Joe's, Sriracha English Cheddar, review, price, calories, nutritionSeptember 6, 2017
Looking for love in all the wrong places.  Yep, just like the song says, that’s what I was doing.  But wait, no, no, no,  not that kind of love.  And, . . . not that kind of love either.  I was looking for the love of a sharp cheddar.  Don’t anyone urban dictionary that.  And if you do, don’t tell me what it means.  Please don’t.

This cheese is a mixture of English aged cheddar and sriracha sauce.  And that aging of at least 8 months, according to the label, is one of the factors that helps produce sharpness in a cheddar.  But the sriracha is the thing that puts this over the top.  Here the addition of sriracha is more than a marketing gimmick.  The sriracha is actually noticeable and good.  Mixing in the sriracha sauce gives the cheese a looser, more crumbly, texture.  There’s a nice contrast between the noticeable, but still not extreme, hotness of the sriracha and the smooth creamy feel of the cheese as it warms in the mouth.  As those two factors meld together, the sriracha starts to take over producing a sharp finish as it all exits the mouth and starts down the throat. It’s a different kind of sharpness than a 100% cheddar.  Still, it’s a nice flavor and experience.

This is the third or fourth cheddar mixture I’ve tried at Trader Joe’s.  All of them, including this one, have been winners.

Price $8.99 per pound     Calories 100 per ounce

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Trader Joe’s – Incanto – Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano – 2012 – DOCG – Wine Review

09/06/2017

trader joe, wine, vino nobile di montepulciano, docg, italy, sangiovese, review, price, 2012, incantoSeptember 6, 2017
The last time I reviewed this wine was 2011.  The wine hasn’t changed much since then, including the price!  The 2012 vintage is still a very nice wine as was the 2007 vintage back then.

The mild tannins on the roof of mouth and back of throat are still speaking after all these years giving the wine a mild earthy feel in the mouth.  As it was before, the wine is smooth but still with a slight edge to the taste.  There’s just a hint of grape if caught at the right temperature.  In my opinion, still no forest floor taste as one reviewer noted of the 2007 vintage. For most of us, that’s a good thing.  And sticking with my original comment, this is probably a better food wine than a sipper.  However when sipped among a group, it’s likely to lead to some interesting conversations.

 Although the primary grape in this is Sangiovese, the taste is bolder than a typical Tuscan Sangiovese.  It’s not as bold as a Cabernet Sauvignon, but still up there one notch on the scale. And this is likely more enjoyable than a Cabernet Sauvignon in the same price range. The bottle states 13.5% alcohol.  Incanto may want to recheck their instruments.  This wine has a substantially greater kick to it than most wines labeled 13.5%.  Price $10.99

ALDI – Specially Selected – Almond Biscotti – Food Review

08/28/2017

aldi, almond biscotti, food, review, price, calories, nutritionaldi, almond biscotti, food, review, price, calories, nutritionAugust 28, 2017

The package says, “with just a hint of anise”, but for me that was the whole story.  This is more like anise toast than almond biscotti.  For anise toast, it was fairly good.  There was a nice and proportionally strong anise flavor to the biscotti.  The biscotti were firm, but still a little soft and not very crumbly.  There were small pieces of nuts occasionally sprinkled throughout the biscotti.  The package says almond and walnuts.  But there was very little almond flavor to match the package label.  So maybe the wrong biscotti got in the wrong box, or something like that?

Calories  90 per biscotti    Price $2.89 per package of 8

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ALDI customer contact URL – https://www.aldi.us/en/contact-us/

ALDI – Journey To India – Chicken Tikka Masala- Food Review

08/28/2017

aldi, chicken tikka masala, food, review, price, calories, nutritionaldi, chicken tikka masala, food, review, price, calories, nutritionAugust 28, 2017

With a fair amount of heat, but missing most of the different flavors of Indian cuisine, this is just an “okay” chicken tikka masala.

The heat in this product starts out mild and builds up to a medium-hot heat on the back of the tongue.  While the heat level is good for people liking heat, many of the traditional flavors of Indian food are missing.  The sauce has a medium tomato flavor with plenty of small pieces of tomato.  Along with the tomato are ample amounts of tender chicken pieces.

The rice is the biggest disappointment.  The rice cooked up rubbery, maybe indicating some over cooking after 6 minutes in the microwave.  However after 6 minutes the sauce and chicken were merely very warm.  While the rice is labeled basmati, the flavor was different, but not better, than the basmati I’m used to.  There was a very mild heat to the rice.

There are better frozen chicken tikka masala products out there.  If you’re in a pinch, or don’t have access to other sources, this will do – but not more.

Calories  370 per container    Price $2.99 per carton

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ALDI customer contact URL – https://www.aldi.us/en/contact-us/

Casone Toscana IGT – 2010 – Wine Review – Trader Joe’s

08/11/2017

trader joe, casone, toscana, 2010, review, wine, price, IGTAugust 11, 2017
I was especially excited to see this on the TJ selves. It’s a 2010 IGT wine from Tuscany.  It’s not normal to see a 7-year-old wine at TJ, especially at this price.  Just the added storage costs alone is reason to charge more for a wine that’s been around an extra few years.

While the Italian wine classification is not supposed to be a reflection of the quality of the wines, in my experience the better the classification, the better the wine. The IGT classification is a lower classification, more specifically one that is usually broader in scope as to the grapes and methods used to produce the wine.

Now in my limited and personal experience with Tuscan wines, the IGT wines are edgier and less refined than the higher classified (more restrictive) DOC and DOCG wines.  I’m sure there are some exceptions to that experience.  And those exceptions likely command a higher price than the wines I usually review.

My question in picking up this wine is, how does aging affect an IGT red wine?  In theory a red wine improves with age up until a point where too much age negatively affects the wine. Most of us personally know how that too much age thing works with people.  The rest of us will find out.

While I didn’t review this particular wine back when it was 2 or 3 years old, compared to similar IGT wines from the era that I have tried, this is a big step up.  This wine has smoothed over the IGT rough edges leaving a very nice, really smooth, mellow, nothing bad, or even close to bad, fine Tuscan red wine. And an absolute bargain. I hope there’s still some left on the shelf.  Price:  $10.99

Trapped – Series 1 – 2015 – TV Series Review

08/11/2017

review, Trapped, tv series, murder, crime, police. Iceland

August 11, 2017

A torso stabbed 7 times, a ferry from Denmark and a fierce blizzard arrive at the same time in a small Icelandic harbor village.  The story that unfolds over 10 episodes is mesmerizing.  If you’ve never binge watched a series, this could be your first.  Oh, and if you’re ever stuck at home by bad weather feeling sorry for yourself, take a look at the weather in this village.

This is a story and substories that slowly unfold in front of us, all nicely tied together at the very end.  Along the way are unanswered questions and clues, but never enough to predict how everything will end.  All the action takes place in an unlikely sleepy fishing village where everyone knows everyone, but hidden secrets lurk beneath the surface.  Some of the secrets are personal, but some are larger crimes such as fraud, human trafficking and murder.

Left to untangle this tightly wound web is an unlikely 3 person police force led by a police chief from the big city.  That in itself is one of the substories. How does a big city detective end up in a small village?  Isolated from outside police help by the blizzard, these 3 people learn to overcome their weaknesses and human frailties to solve the current puzzles as well as another puzzle from 7 years earlier.

Speaking of human frailties, there’s enough of these to go around in this small village.  Most of them are the result of broken relationships and unlikely people sleeping with each other for unlikely reasons, even in somewhat unlikely ways.  All of these treated with the utmost discretion (considering) with only fleeting and mild nudity.

If you liked the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy (Millennium series), this is of similar style.  I don’t know what it is about Norsemen and Norsewomen, but they seem to know how to tell a good story and program computers (no computer programming in this story).  Maybe it’s the long winters?

The entire Trapped Series 1 is now showing free for Amazon Prime members.  Individual episodes are also currently running on the cable channel Viceland (check your local schedules).  The series runs with English subtitles in the US.

Trader Joe’s – Asparagus Risotto – Food Review

08/11/2017

trader joes, asparagus risotto, italy, frozen entree, review, price, calories, nutritionAugust 11, 2017

On first opening the package you’ll notice two strange things, broken up sheets of frozen sauce and plain white rice.  More about these later.

When prepared according to the package directions, this risotto obtains a nice light yellow/green color from the  creamy sauce. The sauce has a wonderful flavor and texture. The rice has a nice bite to it.  It’s not overcooked.  A fair amount of thin green asparagus is distributed throughout in the form of inch long pieces.  These pieces also lend a touch of green asparagus flavor to the sauce.

Obviously this was not prepared in the traditional manner. The rice is parcooked separately from the other ingredients. The sauce also appears to have been cooked separately, flash frozen in thin sheets and then broken up in pieces. The asparagus also is likely cooked or partially cooked separately. All three components, we could guess, are then combined in a frozen state in the bag and shipped off.

trader joes, asparagus risotto, italy, frozen entree, review, price, calories, nutritionThe package will make enough for two (maybe three) portions as a side dish.  In this case, I ate the whole package as a main dish, thoroughly enjoying it all.

There may not be an army of nonnas standing over stoves, constantly stirring in broth to Arborio rice until the moment of perfection, making risotto in the traditional way. However what comes out of this package is almost as good. And by definition, it can never be as good as Nonna’s. Know what I mean?

Price $2.99

Calories  160 per serving (3 servings per package)

Trader Joe’s – Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina – Food Review

08/06/2017

trader joe, review, calories, nutrition, price, gnocchi alla sorrentinaAug 6, 2017
This is pretty good stuff, but you might not think so as it cooks.

Straight from the freezer this is a mixture of the frozen gnocchi (small flour dumplings) and frozen flying-saucer-shaped chunks of sauce. Heating in the microwave is a two stage process. After heating for 4 minutes, the mixture needs a good stir.  At this point you’ll wonder, what have I done wrong, as the sauce and gnocchi appear very watery. After stirring, put it back in the microwave for another 3 minutes and the magic happens.  The second heating totally changes the appearance, by thickening up everything into a coherent whole.  Pan heating instructions are also provided.

Throughout the cooking process the gnocchi retain their consistency.  After heating they have a nice chewy texture in the mouth.  The sauce thickens nicely thanks to the cheese in the sauce (that’s the magic).  This allows the sauce to coat and cling to the gnocchi.  The combination of the complex, but not over the top, sauce and chewy gnocchi works extremely well.  A sprinkle of parmesan is always useful, but really not needed.

trader joe, review, calories, nutrition, price, gnocchi alla sorrentinaFor us, the package yielded two modest servings working out to around 300 calories each.  The package claims three servings.  Even though our portions were only 300 calories, the gnocchi were very filling – and tasty.

Price $2.99     Calories  200 per serving (3 servings per carton)

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Trader Joe’s – Chicken & Vegetable Wonton Soup – Food Review

08/06/2017

trader joe, wonton soup, price, calories, nutrition, review, chicken, vegetableAug 6, 2017

With cold, or at least cool, weather just around the corner, soup is in season.  This is a surprisingly good soup for those kinds of days, or really any kind of day.

The broth for this soup is very nice. There’s a slight sweetness to the broth, but also a bit of rebellion from green onions. As you work your way to the bottom of the bowl, where the white and black pepper settle out, the broth becomes more adventuresome. The broth has a medium consistency.

The wontons (dumplings) in the soup contain a chicken-based filling. While not as flavorful as the broth, the wonton filling is still good with noticeable vegetables interspersed throughout.  If you can manage to cut a wonton in half, letting some broth seep in, the filling is even better. The package contains a caution to, cook thoroughly. If I had to guess, the soup is not precooked. It took the full five minutes in the microwave to reach the required 165 degrees.

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Trader Joe’s – Extra Sharp Canadian Cheddar Cheese – Food Review

07/26/2017

Red Angus Heifer, wikimedia commons, Black Angus GirlJuly 26, 2017
Trade wars be damned, this is some really good cheese.  So before the great northern wall is built, get some of this.  If not, you’ll be making trips up to the wall under cover of darkness to catch packages of cheese wrapped in duct tape being thrown over.  Or Monty Python might be channeled catapulting whole cows north to south, the cheese curdling and aging in flight.  Don’t worry Canada, the cows will be quickly deported!  Street graffiti artists, please hold your enthusiasm.

Wisconsin cheeseheads stand on guard (oops!).  There’s some real competition coming south.  Have the secret cheese recipes been hacked?  Stop any bulls going north.  That lovely smiling red-headed heifer waving her tail over the border is a trap.  Keep the DNA in the USA!

And how is the cheese itself?  It’s perhaps the best pure cheddar in the TJ refrigerator case. It has a great taste and mouthfeel.  It’s sharp, but not pointy.  It’s just on the verge of being crumbly.  A few Gouda-like cheese crystals are spread throughout.  Or maybe that was one of my fillings starting to break up?  According to the label it’s aged two years.  That two-year aging accounts for all the good stuff in the cheese.  It’s also how often my dentist keeps refilling that tooth.  Hmmm?

Trader Joe's, Canadian Extra Sharp Cheddar, review, price, calories, nutritionCalories 120 per ounce, price $8.99 per pound

Heifer photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, here.  Author: Black Angus Girl


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