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Trader Joe's Yea/Nay thread - 3rd quarter 2010

I've got nothin', but since it's too hot to physically clean my house, I'm doing some virtual "housekeeping" on this thread.

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  1. The milk chocolate butter biscuits are really good - highly recommend them. I regularly pick up a box in addition to the Seasoned Rack of Lamb that is fully cooked.

    1. I'm kind of liking the freeze-dried strawberries, though the bananas I could take or leave.

      The mushroom tortelloni with spinach and asparagus, the pre-made refrigerated meal that you pop in the microwave, with its white wine sauce, is my recent addiction. The texture of the pasta is a little thick and a smidge on the dry side, but still pretty good.

      The Itsy Bitsy Whole Grain Chocolate Chip cookies are YUM!! I'm sick, and that's what I've been craving and eating way too many of.

      They have a frozen side dish that's new--country potatoes with green beans and mushrooms, and parsley. Toss in a skillet, heat through, and serve. I'd put them on par with the Alexia frozen side dishes that I've been hoarding.

      Picked up a couple other things last night to try, will report back on them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LuckyCharm

        That all sounds good. Has anyone seen freeze-dried pineapple lately?

      2. I just opened a bag of their Red, White & Blue Corn Tortilla chips - VERY good! Not overly salty, good thickness and crispness. I've only eaten them plain, but they seem sturdy enough for salsa or guac.

        They use white and blue ground corn for two of the colors and add beet powder to the white chips for the red.

        P.S. The bag is at home, but IIRC, it says there's a "hint of lime". Yeah, well I'm going to need a few more hints to be able to discern any lime in these things. :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: LindaWhit

          I haven't tried those chips, but the odds are that what the ingredients included was "trace of lime," referring to the chemical compound lime, not the fruit. I always look for that on tortilla chip bags as it is the key to the proper flavor for me, meaning that it was made with real tortilla masa, not just some old corn flour. And most don't have it, so I will look for those chips next time. I usually just get plain old blue ones.
          See this info about masa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa

        2. I just tried the low salt butternut squash soup and dumped it down the drain. Tasted like perfume.

          1. I just tried the yaki onigiri ("baked rice snack" in the frozen food section). I just had a great one of these at a Japanese izakaya recently, so these are pretty lame compared with that. But one very weird thing was that there was no filling of any kind. These are all rice. The outer layer of rice is quite chewy, which is good. I added extra soy sauce. I can't say these are awful - I wouldn't actively discourage someone interested in them from trying them, but I doubt I'll buy them again.

            I also just tried the unsweetened apple sauce. It's healthy and it's good - especially with my own spices added.

            1. Yea to TJ's olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, tuna fish, mango ginger chutney.

              11 Replies
              1. re: mcel215

                Ditto to the EVOO, balsamic, and tuna. We buy the albacore in olive oil. Gotta try that chutney.

                1. re: Gio

                  Gio, I use the chutney in place of Major Grey's when cooking. It's sweet, but has quite a kick to it! And it's a lot less $$$.

                  1. re: mcel215

                    Thanks mcel...! I love Major Grey's. My mother used to buy it and that's what I'm used to. The mango-ginger is already on this week's TJ list.

                    1. re: Gio

                      Follow-up to TJ's mango-ginger chutney quest. Went to the Saugus store yesterday and they no longer carry that chutney. DH now has orders to stop into any TJs he finds himself near as he travels around the greater Boston area.

                      1. re: Gio

                        i bought some yesterday at the la canada store. now will go get the rest, as i really like that ginger flavor, and i'm a self-professed hoarder when it comes to tj's!

                        1. re: Gio

                          I will keep my eyes open for it at the Shrewsbury store and keep you posted.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Sorry this is so late, but they have tons of jars at the Burlington store. I was just there last night.

                            1. re: mcel215

                              Eureka! Happy to announce that we are now in possession of the Ginger-Mango chutney and Will sample it tonight! The Saugus store has it...

                              1. re: Gio

                                I seem to remember something on the label indicating that it contained an extract from grasshoppers or insects of some kind? Is that still the case? I remember looking at it last year, debating whether this bothered me or not, and then putting it back on the shelf.

                                1. re: LaPomme

                                  tj mango chutney ingredients:
                                  mangoes,sugar, red wine vinegar (contains naturally occurring sulfites), water, salt, raisins, bell pepper, ginger, modified food starch, xanthan gum, red pepper.

                                2. re: Gio

                                  I am very happy for you Gio. I do love that Saugus store the most!
                                  Hope you like it. :)

                    2. These may be old, but I love:

                      Sea salt brownies. Little fudgy brownie bites with a sprinkle of sea salt on top--the perfect combo of sweet and salty.

                      Chicken gyoza. Surprisingly tasty and low in calories, and even good when microwaved.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: janbrady

                        LOVE the onigiri, it's great it you want some rice to accompany a small meal of veg but don't want to make rice in the cooker... or if you're in a hurry. The Mango Sticky Rice is FTW, could be a dollar cheaper IMO. Someone should tell TJ's corporate overlords that people still buy MILK CHOCOLATE coated foods, as in the past year it seems like there's a preponderance of the dark choc. Which I won't eat for free. Freeze dried strawberries are great in yogurt, I get them every time I shop.

                        1. re: isfahani

                          I didn't care for the mango sticky rice--very little coconut flavor and rice was gummy. IMHO
                          TJ's california olive oil is the bomb--has a banana taste. Mixed with balsamic for dipping or salad dressing--I could drink it. I use their other evoo for cooking.

                          1. re: sparkareno

                            so funny! i also love the tj california olive oil. but i HATE bananas, and don't detect the slightest hint of banana flavor in it. (not calling you out on your tastebuds at all, sparkareno--just commenting on how taste perceptions differ!)

                          2. re: isfahani

                            Glad someone else is with me on the annoyance with the lack of milk chocolate covered stuff.
                            Petite Cocoa Batons - addictive little suckers...even if the name is misleading..they are more like chocolate filled pillows
                            Yogurt covered star cookies...tasty, and I was surprise that each color have a slight different taste..I thought it was just for show

                            1. re: gnomatic

                              I liked the star cookies as well.... a nice play on my all time favorite cookie, the Circus Animals from Mothers. :)

                              1. re: gnomatic

                                Those Batons are evil. It takes severe restraint on my part not to eat that whole box in one sitting.

                          3. Love the canned smoked herring.

                            Wish they carried sesame tahini. Been requesting for years.

                            1. I tried the Green Curry with Shrimp rice bowl (frozen) for lunch today. Not bad at all, I'd get it again.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: artemis

                                Glad to hear this one gets a thumbs up. I picked it up on my last TJ's trip and have yet to try it. I remember glancing at the product in the freezer aisle, passing it over, and watching the guy behind me scoop up 4 of the green curry w/ shrimp rice bowls (leaving only 1 behind). I decided the stuff must be somewhat good, so I picked up the last one. Looking forward to it now. :)

                              2. my husband really likes the stuffed poblano pepper and the tamales. i like the crispy cod

                                1. I've recently tried and liked the Reduced-Guilt Pizza Primavera. Perhaps more flat bread than pizza, but bakes up pretty crisp in a few minutes, with a thin coating of tomato sauce, a lot of chunky eggplant and zucchini topping, and just a sprinkling of mozzarella. Low in fat, and a good deal at $1.99 and 250 calories for the whole thing.

                                  I'm also a fan of the multigrain English muffins. High in fiber and protein, they have a hearty whole-grain flavor. You can taste the rye faintly, which is...different, for an English muffin, but it's not a dominant flavor. Not as many crags ("nooks and crannies" in Thomas' parlance) as I might prefer, but at least they're not sliced cleanly, which I hate.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    I like those English muffins too Caitlin.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      the reduced guilt pizza and the reduced guilt couscous dishs are both quite good, better than the first trio of reduced guilt items.

                                      I love the frozen mango halves, an utter bargain, and so delicious.

                                      The mango sticky rice, on the other hand, was quite disappointing.

                                      I found the onigiri to be pretty good, but it's white rice so I don't buy them very often, and I live closer to a mitsuwa than a tjs, so I can always satisfy an onigiri craving with much better than frozen.

                                      they also have a new "Tarte" pizza along the line of the magnificent Tarte D'Alsace (which for my money is one of the best things TJs sells, flavor perfection). This one doesn't live up to that standard, but is still quite good.

                                      I really miss the buffalo burgers with cheese and onions that were in the frozen section and the similar frozen pesto turkey burgers.

                                      I also miss the First Lady Reserve Olive Oil. I've been hooked on that olive oil for a long time (when they sold it with the wacky rubber stopper) and was disappointed to see it leave the shelves again, it is definitely the best olive oil they sell, all the rest are just average, though the california isn't a smidge better than the other options.

                                      1. re: jadekarrde

                                        I ALWAYS have a Tarte D'Alsace in my freezer!

                                    2. i too shop here in combo with local produce stores/farmers' markets, with forays into Safeway/Albertson's when I have to get something i can't find elsewhere. But i love TJs.

                                      seasonal unsweetened Mint Tea, in the refrigerated section
                                      Bulgogee (and i have a good selection of Korean BBQ places at my disposal - these are great in a pinch)
                                      Carnitas (ditto, taquerias)
                                      Milton's Gourmet Hamburger buns - i'm addicted, toast em up with butter for bfasts. yum.
                                      steamed lentils
                                      wild arugula
                                      bananas for 19 CENTS EACH
                                      BF used to like those cocoa dusted truffles, haven't had them in awhile....
                                      i don't even like sweets, but i LOVED the inside-out carrot cake cookies - yes they are deadly sweet, and just ONE is about your recommended daily caloric intake, but they were DELISH. only bought them once, never again. they're that good. (i haven't tried baking the ones recommended here on CH, because i don't bake.)
                                      TJ dijon
                                      always cheaper prices on pine nuts and hearts of palm than anywhere else
                                      many more things that escape me now...

                                      Reduced-Guilt fish-thing, frozen - after one bite i threw it out. soggy, tasteless, like nothing i'd ever had from TJs.
                                      Olive Oil prepackaged popcorn - someone else said it, they tasted stale.

                                      I've never had a problem with their meat going bad too soon, although sometimes with the arugula. and of course all their bread unless you stick it in the fridge, which i don't like to do.

                                      1. i don't know why my post appears twice in the same reply box..... tried to edit something and it repeated my whole post....

                                        1. The new soft snickerdoodles are PHENOMENAL.

                                          Hands down they're the best cookies I've ever had from TJs. I cannot believe they don't have any wheat in them, so soft and moist! I failed, and ate half the box on my way home from the store. :(

                                          1. Forgot to mention the frozen chocolate croissants. Amazing.

                                            1. I like the latte and cream ice cream bars. Small and very refreshing this time of year.

                                              1. Smoked Shredded cheese. combo of Mozz, Gouda, cheddar, and Provolone. 50-50 as to whether or not it makes it into the oven.

                                                1. I cannot resist the Greek-style apricot mango yogurt. Unlike Chobani, which I love, this TJ yogurt is not fat-free. In fact, it packs a whopping 300 calories, of which 150 are from fat! So it's not an everyday thing for me, but damn is it good.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. After reading it on one of these threads, I decided to try their Tradional Marinara Sauce in a jar - delicious!! Full of flavor and tastes like it is homemade marinara.

                                                    1. Roasted seaweed snack packs...addicting and oh so healthy. Almost tastes like chips to me, seriously, test it out and you'll know what I mean.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: spinachandchocolate

                                                        I've read about these before, but have never been able to find them. In what section of the store are they located? Are they with the nuts/dried fruits or with the snack items (pretzels, chips, nachos, etc.)?

                                                        1. re: surfacenoise

                                                          In South San Francisco, they were being promoted -- on round tables just before ck out lanes. Just ask managers at your favorite store. (I did not buy, did not think I'd like them.)

                                                          1. re: surfacenoise

                                                            Check with your TJ's manager. It depends on your store.

                                                            If you have any Asian grocery stores around, you can find similar variations.

                                                            1. re: surfacenoise

                                                              They are in the snack item section.

                                                            2. Has anyone had the egg white salad? I like the taste a lot but think it's one of the biggest TJ rip offs--$2.99 for 6 measly ounces--and a third of it isn't celery. Thoughts?

                                                              1. I recently tried their canned tuna for the first time, I think solid white, and I was really happy with it. I stopped buying tuna well over a year ago b/c all of the mass market brands seemed more like cat food (open the can to find a huge slushy mess of shredded tuna bits - even the solid white types). The TJs brand actually looked and tasted like the canned tuna that I remembered from my childhood. Will definitely buy it again!

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Cachetes

                                                                  Which tuna. specifically? They once had one, a TJ brand, that had a teal-blue label with a yellow fish or fishtail on it. It was oil-packed, if memory serves, and definitely delicious but is long-since discontinued.

                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                    I only bought one tin, and didn't save it. I doubt it's the best tuna around, but definitely better than the bits. Next time I go, I'll pick up a tin and let you know.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                      Trader Joe's does have a brand of oil-packed solid white albacore tuna, it's 1.99 a can. It's right next to the one I buy on the sheld, which is the white albacore tuna packed in water for 1.49 a can. I can't recall if the can is teal or green though. And I'm in Boston. I hope it helps.

                                                                  2. Major YAY for Tuna in Red or Green Curry Sauce.

                                                                    IT'S BACK!! I'm sure my enthusiasm seems silly, but I loved these packets of tuna goodness. It's yellowfin tuna in a nice curry sauce, all in a foil packet. Boil the foil packet, or empty it and microwave it's contents.

                                                                    That was my lunch at work for a good long while. Quick, tasty, healthy, and filling. Just mix with pasta or serve over rice. And then one day, it disappeared from the TJ's shelves. There were various explanations from the people I asked at TJs.

                                                                    Some said it was due to lack of demand, which I felt was impossible, given the enthusiasm I had found for the product online. Some other people mentioned a problem with the supplier, which seems more likely.

                                                                    In any case, I bought a dozen packets. The person checking me out said I was the sixth person that day to buy a large quantity. I might stock up again soon. Who knows if they'll disappear again for several years.

                                                                    I didn't see the Tuna in Yellow Curry, which was also around 2006-2007 before disappearing.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: missinglink

                                                                      Thanks! I'm glad to hear it's back too!

                                                                      1. re: missinglink

                                                                        I loved those packets also. The tuna with green curry sauce is most awesome. I thought I'd never taste them again. I'm going there tomorrow and buy up at least a dozen.

                                                                        1. re: missinglink

                                                                          Those Tuna is what got me hooked on TJ...just went to my local TJ and picked up a few packs. Thanks for the heads up!

                                                                          1. re: missinglink

                                                                            That's fantastic news! I love those for a quick, relatively healthy lunch, especially the green sauce one.

                                                                            1. re: missinglink

                                                                              I'm excited about trying this product! Hmmm, maybe I should have picked up more than one.

                                                                            2. New to me: frozen yellow bag of quinoa and zucchini and other stuff. I ate about half the bag for lunch, heated up with some extra frozen organic peas thrown in for good measure. It has a light spicing (vaguely indian-type curry), and was very pleasant. Be sure to seal tightly before microwaving so it doesn't dry out. It's almost certainly vegetarian, probably vegan. I'll be picking up another bag of this next trip. I think it would lend very well to eat with a handful of leftover dinner protein (chicken, pork, tofu, whatever).

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: artemis

                                                                                Love this as well... although the stock is spotty!! I have to load up everytime I see it! The way I keep things from drying out in the microwave is to put a wet paper towel over it.

                                                                                I eat it for lunch and put a few of their jarred giant white beans on top. SUPER yummy, protein packed lunch!


                                                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                                                  Great tip on the beans! Thanks!

                                                                              2. Just tried the oat and honey granola bars...similar to Nature Valley, but I found Trader Joe's version tastier.

                                                                                Has anyone tried the sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage? The label was on display in the "new items" section, but my store seemed to be out of the product. Not sure if it's frozen or in the refrigerated case.

                                                                                1. We tried the hollandaise from the refrigerated section last night: big YAY. Needs a bit more lemon, but otherwise a lovely sauce. The rest is going to become eggs Benedict this weekend, I think!

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                    I just saw that yesterday and wondered if it was any good.. Will have to pick some up next time!

                                                                                    1. re: tolsonhouse4

                                                                                      DH did make Eggs Benedict yesterday with the leftover sauce...fabulous!

                                                                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                        Awesome! I never can order Eggs Benedict in restaurants since I am gluten free, but would love an easy way to make it at home with my own bread.


                                                                                  2. Some good recs for me to try here. I will second a few things:
                                                                                    Chicken gyoza
                                                                                    Smoked cheese (throwing some on some chilaquiles as we speak!)

                                                                                    What I will now try after reading up here:
                                                                                    Choc croissant (been avoiding them - scared they are too good)
                                                                                    New Snickerdoodles

                                                                                    A big, big, big nay that we just tried -
                                                                                    Trader Joes Frozen Blueberry Waffles. We got them for Jr. No artificial flavors, ingredients, sweetened with pure cane juice. HORRIBLE. This will be my first ever return. They have that perfumey blueberry taste - like blueberry essence. They have a floral, soapy taste. I can't even describe how bad.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                      I'll second that. I couldn't believe how bad these were either.

                                                                                    2. Major nay on tomato and basil hummus. Not something I'd have bought myself (not a big fan of flavored hummus, other than TJ's eggplant hummus, which is basically a hummus/baba ganouj hybrid), but dipped a carrot stick into the tub a friend bought. Runny texture, and tasted like lots of raw tomato paste mixed with hummus (tomatoes are the first ingredient, plus tomato paste is further down the list). Really bad. Friend later pitched the essentially full container.

                                                                                      1. My Yay's - (New to me.. may have been around forever)
                                                                                        Delice de Bourgogne Cheese - it is heaven on a cheese platter. My fave way to serve is with a drizzle of honey and roasted almonds, with crackers or bread to spread. YUM!
                                                                                        Smoked Gouda sliced cheese - makes the best quesadillas (on brown rice tortillas for this gf girl)
                                                                                        Trader's Nacho Cheese Tortilla chips - Tastes a lot like Doritos, but without the msg and other preservatives.
                                                                                        Boxed Peaches - I have never tasted a peach so good. They are still carrying some in my store.
                                                                                        Tangy Spicy Almonds - so good, and so addicting.
                                                                                        Aioli Garlic Mustard - I'm sure this has been discussed since it isn't a new product, but I just discovered it and it goes on everything!

                                                                                        Nay's -
                                                                                        Jasmine Rice Green Curry - not sure of the exact name, but it was gross. It had little weird berries in it that just made the entire dish taste off.

                                                                                        That's all for now, I think. :)

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: tolsonhouse4

                                                                                          Those little berries are Thai pea eggplant and traditional in Thai curry, along with the small green round eggplant, which is sliced in wedges. The first time I had curry in Thailand, I was confused by the not-limes, and not-peas, but I like them in my curry now.

                                                                                          1. re: artemis

                                                                                            Oh.. well.. they were strange! :) Maybe I will give it a go, now that I know what they are.

                                                                                          2. thought I'd already responded to this, maybe another one about TJ.
                                                                                            it's only ok. years ago, the bom, yep, now, not so much.
                                                                                            loved it before and was always a treat making my way to one.
                                                                                            born and raised in/around/outside LA, they were all over.
                                                                                            now, they're a little small and a lot over rated

                                                                                            1. Got an e-mail this morning that announced Puff Pastry and Pie Crusts. Has anyone tried these?
                                                                                              Thought I'd try them this week-end.


                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                The puff pastry is really good. I was told last year that the puff pastry is a seasonal item for the last quarter of the year. So stock up.

                                                                                              2. the new chicken salads in the refridgerated section, I tried the one with fruit in it. PHENOMENAL. I devoured it in two days on sandwiches. and I don't think I've ever liked chicken salad before, except at Bite. Gotta try the other one, a wine chicken salad, soon.

                                                                                                1. New product. Coffee cake mix. I bake all the time and this is as good as homemade. I added chopped pecans to the struesel. Brought it to a work mtg and it was gone in 5 minutes!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                  1. YAYS -
                                                                                                    1) TJ's Parmesan, Garlic, & Herb Pita Chips - delicious and the ingredients read exactly the same as Stacey's (all natural) brand Pita Chips, but TJ's pita chips only cost $1.99 vs. the same bag of Stacey's priced at $3.99 when not on sale. Delicious esp. paired with Sabra roasted pine nut hummus!
                                                                                                    2) Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - O...M...G...like the other reviewers on this board, this one is a catch 22 because they are oh-so-delicious but it is hard to stop eating them once you open up the package!!
                                                                                                    3) Organic Peanut Butter - very creamy which is how I like it and I love eating it straight from the jar with a spoon.
                                                                                                    4) Mandarin Orange Chicken (frozen)....complete YUM. The chicken tastes fresh to me - not frozen and the sauce is perfect. Forget P.F. Cha-Ching Changs overpriced Orange Chicken when I can make this for less than half the price.

                                                                                                    Also bought the new coffee cake mix - I grabbed the last box in stock yesterday so obviously this one is going to be flying off the shelves....can't wait to try it based on the other reviewer's raves about it!

                                                                                                    1. Has anyone seen the pumpkin bread yet this year? My TJs has pumpkin waffle/pancake mix, but no pumpkin bread mix...

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: ThymeTruffle

                                                                                                        Saw it last week at a Trader Joe's in Oakland, CA. Hopefully it'll be at your store soon!

                                                                                                        1. re: betterbeheaven

                                                                                                          Oh boy oh boy :) Happy to hear it's on its way!

                                                                                                        2. re: ThymeTruffle

                                                                                                          my store in so CA has it and also gingerbread mix. yay! now, if it wasn't 115 degrees out, i'd be tempted.

                                                                                                          1. re: ThymeTruffle

                                                                                                            I thought the pumpkin spice cake (a small bundt in a plastic shell) was seasonal but they still had it in May, so apparently not. The only spice listed is cinnamon. If I recall correctly it is not as spiced as the mix, but I use it, along with Hood's Pumpkin Eggnog (seasonal from Nov-Jan) and 2 eggs to make a stupid-easy, impressive bread pudding.

                                                                                                          2. Just tried the Trader Joe's Ridged Potato Chips w Salt & Pepper. Tasty!

                                                                                                              1. frozen beef taquitos - yum! lightly fry them for about 15 minutes, served with a guac/limey sauce. really good, nice and cruncy, good tortilla and beef flavors.

                                                                                                                1. YAY: The Wedge Salad... serious, TOO GOOD!! It took the #1 spot of favorite TJ salad from the Crab Louie salad (which I still love!)

                                                                                                                  Meh: Frozen Tom Yum Soup... the taste wasn't bad... even the frozen 'spices' worked. but the texture was too thin and the Spinach wontons were no sub for some chicken or shrimp.

                                                                                                                  Nay: The frozen Turkey Meat Sauce. I am always looking for a sauce to eat with my veggies and thought this might work. But it had a weird gamey taste... too salty and not a bit of complexity... Bleh...


                                                                                                                  1. Greygarious, can you please start a TJ's Yea/Nay thread for the 4th Quarter 2010 seeing that it is October? Thanks in advance! Great threads to have to share our TJ's favorites.