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Trader Joe's Yea/Nay thread - 1st quarter 2011 [old]

Here's a reboot for the new year. New, or new to me, is the caramelized nut trio, with almonds, cashews, and walnuts, in a rectangular clear plastic container. Won't buy them again - they are too hard to stop eating!

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  1. Nays recently:

    Roast Beet Salad - It looked really good in the carton, and my partner loves roast beets, so I got it for her to take to work for lunch. There were small containers within with the beets, dressing and some mandarin orange slices. By the time you took those out, there was pretty much NO actual salad left, maybe four bites, along with a lone slice of chicken. And despite being several days before the "use by" date, the greens were inedible - slimy, is what she said. It all got tossed and she had McD's instead.

    Organic Beef Roast - I've had these before and they were quite tasty, and good to have on hand for a quick meal when you've forgotten to take something out of the freezer. But this last one we had was so fatty and sinewy and just plain tough that it was inedible. If I'd saved the receipt, I would have taken it back for a refund, it was that bad.

    Yea:

    Middle Eastern Feast - this was something I found in the prepackaged salads area, and consisted of generous portions of tabouleh and hummus, 3 ping pong ball sized falafels with dipping sauce, and pita wedges. This too was for my partner for lunch, and she said the tabouleh especially was amazing, the best she's had, even at restaurants. I had sent a small grilled chicken breast left over from the previous night's dinner, but she said ultimately, the feast itself was more than enough, with the falafels being heartier than one would expect.

    11 Replies
    1. re: DarkRose

      They'll take it back even if you've misplaced the receipt.

      1. re: DarkRose

        They might still give you a refund even without the receipt DarkRose. Other hounds have posted that you only have to tell them that you didn't like the item at some TJ's. Thanks for the reboot greygarious. I have been on a baked brie kick ever since I scored some brie en brioche at Costco. I tried the TJ's brie in pastry that comes frozen. I baked it up and found it very enjoyable. My friend liked it too but wished I had remembered to buy some apples or something to go with it. We gobbled it up!

        1. re: givemecarbs

          They used to have a small frozen round of brie wrapped in phyllo that I loved.

          1. re: greygarious

            That sounds amazing greygarious! I used the puff pastry from TJ's to wrap some brie from Costco with some leftover cranberry walnut compote from Thanksgiving that I made and also added some TJ's caramel sauce. Yum yum!

            1. re: greygarious

              They still have it at the TJ's in my neighborhood. (Brookline, MA)

              A big yea: Marinated Lamb Tips, and Cabernet marinated pot roast. Also, the Indian Fare Punjab Eggplant.

              1. re: CookieLee

                CookieLee - how do you prepare the marinated lamb tips? I love Trader Joes seasoned rack of lamb but have yet to try the marinated lamb tips. Any information that you can provide on how they taste/preparation would be very much appreciated!!

                1. re: littleflower

                  I grill them on a super hot grill pan. The key is not to let them dry out of over cook as they can get tough. Then I serve them with the Frozen Naan and Mediterranean Humus.

                  1. re: Dommy

                    Dommy - sounds great, thanks for the tips on the lamb tips!! They will go great with Trader Joe's frozen naan - yum!!! I do not eat beef (from cows) but do eat chicken, pork, fish, turkey, and especially love lamb. Lamb is the closest that I can get to beef in taste, and got hooked on to TJ's b/c of their great selection of lamb.

                2. re: CookieLee

                  Are you sure? I know they have a refrigerated dough wrapped brie but I am talking about frozen, wrapped in phyllo, and was told years ago that it had been discontinued.

              2. re: givemecarbs

                Thanks for the heads up, Walker and Carbs. I'll keep that in mind for next time! I would have thought a receipt was necessary to show WHEN an item was purchased (so they know you haven't had something in the freezer for a year or you didn't just hold on to something past its expiration date or some such. I've had several disappointments lately, I'm kind of bummed about them at the moment.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  TJ's has a pretty ironclad no hassle return policy. You definitely do not need a receipt. Just bring back the packaging, and any remains (if reasonable...say for snack items, cheese, etc), and they'll give you your money back or something else if you prefer. That's one of TJ's selling points in trying to get you to try new things. Have never had them give me any problem with a return!

              3. Yay - their par-baked Ficelle loaves (2 for $1.49!). I'm hooked on these. Not sure I'll ever buy another kind of baguette from anywhere else again!

                Nay - their cha siu bao. Flavorless. The price is right, and I love the size. The outside bread also isn't horrible, but the filling...ugh.

                Yay - pomegranate soda. Delicious, but calorific and sugary. A nice treat every once in a while for this non-regular-soda-drinker.

                Yay - puffed pastry, of course. The price is right and the size is great. Love that you don't have to unfold it like the other brands I've encountered elsewhere,because it ALWAYS breaks along the folds no matter what! This will be my go-tp frozen puff pastry from now on.

                4 Replies
                1. re: yfunk3

                  yfunk3, a word to the wise---clear out the freezer and HOARD that puff pastry. it's now stocked seasonally, and will disappear after the holidays. (to me, puff pastry season is all year, so i have about a dozen boxes stashed!)

                  1. re: chez cherie

                    Wow, the puff pastry was a nay for me. I baked some up last night to do a caramel apple tart as the finale to an amazing dinner, and it did not puff up at all. Having no other options, I went ahead and used it, and though the flavor was good, it was so hard/tough that I couldn't easily cut it, had to pick it up and eat it like pizza, which was messy, given the melty caramel I'd spread over it. Not sure what went wrong here.

                    1. re: DarkRose

                      I've had trouble with their puff pastry puffing too, possibly due to storage issues with it (at their end, not mine).

                  2. re: yfunk3

                    We found the Bao passable... but perfer the ones you get at Chinese markets...

                    --Dommy!

                  3. Good stuff:
                    rosemary raisin crips for $3.99 These are similar to the raincoast crisps at whole foods that are $6.99. TJ's version is a smaller crisp, not as uniform in shape, and a little more peppery

                    the multigrain bite size crackers have a good strong flavor. a little salty but still addicting

                    the bite size round crackers that look like ritz

                    frozen mango puree. its 16 oz for about $1.69. It's very sweet and I use it in baby food recipes.

                    Nay:
                    the TJ brand beer - I forgot which one I bought but it had a very strong lingering bitter aftertaste

                    roasted tomato chipotle salsa. its very sweet and has a taste of canned tomato

                    wine crackers - these are little hard round balls that basically just taste like flavorless dough

                    peppermint marshmallows - the outside chocolate is too hard and thick compared to the soft center. the texture is just not right. the marshmallow inside is overly gummy

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: chops888

                      I agree re. the chipotle salsa. I liked the smokiness of it, but it wasn't quite right.

                      I also recently had their fresh salsa for the second time. The first time I bought it, maybe four months ago, my husband and I agreed that it was great. This past time, it was really blah - no flavor at all. It might have been that the tomatoes are out of season.

                      1. re: Cachetes

                        Same exact experience here. I also chalked it up to bum tomatoes.

                        1. re: Cachetes

                          I agree. Took one taste of the Chipotle salsa and tossed it. Horrible taste -- acrid almost.

                        2. re: chops888

                          I agree completely in regards to the marshmallows. The inside is too wet and sticky-not a good texture. Now the peppermint marshmallows they had a few years ago around the holiday were great! They didn't a have a chocolate coating, but they were nicely flavored and soft and pillowy.

                          1. re: chops888

                            We also really liked the Rosemary Raisin Crisps... excellent with stinky cheeses...

                            --Dommy

                            1. re: Dommy

                              The rosemary rasin crips are amazing, especially with the gruyere cheddar cheese blend and a dab of fig jam.

                              1. re: clearskies0810

                                damn you guys for putting the rosemary raisin crisps on my radar :)

                                I think they're awesome, but $4 for a box of crackers...

                                So good with goat cheese and fig preserves!

                                1. re: coney with everything

                                  But as the OP mentioned, they are still MUCH cheaper than the crackers they emulate and I am unfortunately addicted to as well...

                                  http://www.amazon.com/Lesley-Stowes-R...

                                  So now, I convert the savings into REALLY good cheese... :D

                                  --Dommy!

                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                    Last year, Chowhound maplesugar posted a link to a copycat recipe for the rosemary raisin crisps that she likes, in case you really want to be frugal.

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/728884

                                    1. re: coney with everything

                                      Agreed! I never knew these existed until I read about them on this board! Now I'm addicted as well. Ate the entire box in one night.

                                2. re: chops888

                                  Loved the rosemary raisin crisps at first bite. We did not finish the box and next time out they were stale.... So I purchased another box and just opened them.... stale upon opening. I also purchased the new olive fig crisps. I am returning the rr and thinking @ returning the new o/figs also. Anyone else experience this? I am bummed. Good thing I have multiply crackers in the pantry and still had something else to serve with my cheese tray and cocktails.

                                3. The new "cream of portobello mushroom soup" in the shelf stable carton has a floury and artificial flavor. Too bad, though I have eternal hope for other future products.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: elise h

                                    Yeah, we were hopig for more flavor... it was kinda flat..

                                    --Dommy!

                                  2. you beat me to it! i came to the board to see if there was a new one yet - i was going to re-name it the "Yum/Yuck" thread because the yea/yeah/yay confusion drives me crazy ;)

                                    i keep forgetting to post a big yea for the Toasted Pine Nuts. i usually prefer to buy raw nuts, not toasted, but i finally caved and bought a bag a few weeks ago because i can't bring myself to pay the obscene prices for the Italian nuts and i refuse to buy the ones from China. according to the package the TJ's nuts are from either Korea or Russia, and best of all...they don't cause pine mouth!

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      "Don't yuck someone's yum" is a golden rule for foodies - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/mag... - which this judgmental thread tends to flout, so I vote for keeping the yea/nay title. ;-)

                                      I've bought the TJ's brand and never experienced pine mouth, but am not confident that it won't happen, since the Asian pine species are the ones with the potential for a problem. Fingers crossed!

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        oh i'm familiar with the rule/quote, actually that's what gave me the idea...i personally think that saying nay to someone's "yay!" is just about the same thing :)

                                        oh, and don't jinx us on the pine nuts!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Agree about the pine nuts! Well worth it to save me from over-toasting as I often do-

                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I experienced pine mouth syndrome for 9 very long days from a dish made with TJ's pine nuts. It's now made me very cautious.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I hadn't heard of "pine mouth syndrome" - I can't be the only one! Here's a link:

                                          http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2...

                                          I bought 2 bags of the dry roasted pine nuts from TJ's - hope I don't have a problem with them...

                                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                                            Roasting seems to help... most people report it when they have eaten them raw. Honestly though, I heard about Pine Mouth last year and haven't bought pine nuts since. I just don't want to take the risk until the figure out what it is...

                                            --Dommy!

                                            1. re: Dommy

                                              Thanks Dommy, hope that the dry roasting does help. I've never had a problem eating raw pine nuts.