Sunday, July 31, 2011
I asked Elizabeth to take a bite and tell me what she thought. These are her words:
"It was good. I don't really like chipotle peppers though - at least not as much as you do. But overall I thought it was a pretty good burrito. It was small but what can you expect for 59 cents? And you know, I think I'm starting to like the Angels much more than the Yankees."
Okay, I made up the last sentence.
Posted by JustinM at 9:34 PM
Friday, July 29, 2011
My post last month on a bunch of different Trader Joe's items has turned out to be one of the most popular posts I have ever written. Several people have mentioned, either in comments or emails, that I should do them more frequently - one person wrote that I should even do a weekly post on TJ's items. I don't know if I eat enough new items in a week to make that work. But I will see what I can do. Here are some other products that are either new, I haven't written about before, or wrote about a long time ago.
You might not think it would be possible for frozen garlic bread to be great. That's because it's not. But Trader Joe's is not bad. It's not quite as good as the Fresh & Easy garlic bread I used to eat all the time (before they decided to eschew it in favor of "cheesy" garlic bread that isn't as good) but for something that you store in the freezer, I was impressed with the quality. It took fifteen minutes in the oven and came out hot and smelling fragrant. (In retrospect I should have used the broiler for the last two minutes, though. Next time.)
ORGANIC WOODFIRED SICILIAN STYLE PIZZA
The roasted red peppers are wonderful, but there just isn't enough cheese. (I learned long ago that a sprinkling of fresh cheese on a frozen pizza goes a long way towards improving the taste, but I did not add any here.) Of course, it's still quite good, thanks in no small part to the included packet of organic olive oil with red pepper flakes, which adds a fantastic spicy kick to the pie.
This isn't my favorite TJ's pizza, but I like it and eat it at least a couple of times per year.
When I saw a breakfast scramble of eggs, potatoes and onions, I decided to give it a try. I like all those things. It cooked in the microwave (not my favorite way of cooking anything, but according to the packaging that was the recommended method) in under two minutes.
It was more on the bland side than I was expecting - the only noticeable taste came from the onions. Everything cooked properly, which I was not expecting, but it was just lacking flavor. So I added a few shakes of pepper sauce. It helped, but overall I wasn't a big fan. The package contained 380 calories, not a lot, but too many for something whose only real upside is its convenience. I might as well drink a couple of Guinness for breakfast. (Or make my usual egg whites with roasted peppers, which I guess might be slightly healthier.)
VIDALIA ONION RINGS
In 20 minutes in the oven - ten on each side - they come out crispy, tasting as good as any baked onion rings I have ever had. (I considered frying them, but I ate them as part of a dinner I made the other night and I was cooking things on the grill, in a pan and in the wok; I was too busy to fry something.) These lose their crispiness as soon as they cool slightly, so you want to eat them quickly.
I will absolutely be buying these again soon, perhaps even making them the centerpiece of a meal.
BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA
Like the Sicilian pizza, this one takes less than ten minutes in the oven. I added some chopped fresh cilantro to it as well, a nice touch. If you have a barbecue sauce that you like in your fridge, perhaps a drizzle of that over the top would help. (I did not have any and was too lazy to make one.) This is not as good as my favorite pizzas from TJ's - the Margherita and the Parlanno - but it is still very tasty.
VEGETABLE BIRD'S NESTS
There have been many, many Asian appetizers from Trader Joe's that I have loved over the years, but these are probably my favorite. For three bucks you get eight discs of tempura-battered carrot, onion and kale. You can cook them in the oven but I always pan fry them quickly for that extra crunch.
Two packets of a soy dipping sauce are included. Normally I loathe the versions of soy sauce that accompany snacks like this, but I actually love this tangy, ponzu-like sauce. I have cooked these vegetable bird's nests as appetizers for at least a dozen friends and every single person has enjoyed them and asked where I found them. One friend even asked if I got them at a local Japanese market in San Gabriel. Nope, in the freezer at Trader Joe's.
GARLIC POTATOES WITH PARMESAN SAUCE
This happened again with these garlic potatoes with Parmesan sauce. I was excited to try them, but something about the bag seemed wrong to me. I couldn't quite describe it, but it just seemed kind of tacky. When I unwrapped the package to cook them, it became more clear: I had assumed that the "Parmesan sauce" was going to be a separate packet of sauce that needed to be added to the potatoes. It turns out that the potatoes are simply covered in a slimy film. Apparently this is the "sauce."
I cooked them in the wok for a few minutes. The potatoes themselves were actually better than I expected, but the cheese flavor was disappointing. Overall the dish was lacking. I will try these again however, and add some additional Parmesan and perhaps fresh parsley.
I actually have a couple more new TJ's products in the fridge that I never got around to eating this week. So perhaps I will cook them this weekend and do another Trader Joe's post next week after all. Have a good weekend.
Posted by JustinM at 12:12 PM
Thursday, July 28, 2011
"There's tons of them," he said, before searching through his phone for a place that I had not been. Finally he just decided to call his parents and ask their advice. It turned out they wanted to come with us, as did his sister, Jenny.
"Sweet," Zach said, "now we can try more dishes."
We swung by his parents' house to meet up with his family and we all headed down Atlantic Blvd to Monterey Park. We circled through the parking lot, as large as a football field, and parked in a corner.
It was busy inside but not overwhelmingly so. A band was playing; apparently they set up every Wednesday. We took our seats.
"Dude," Zach said, "you're the only white person in here."
I've never liked oranges but I was slightly impressed as Zach demonstrated the technique his Chinese grandmother taught him for eating them, leaving almost nothing on the rind.
It was a very fun meal at NBC Seafood. I left as full as I have been in months, if not years. I would be interested in returning some day for dim sum.
Posted by JustinM at 11:03 AM