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Jun 5, 2013 01:07 PM

Trader Joe's Cheese dept - affordable, approachable

With so many cheese loving CH's chanting TJ's, TJ's, TJ's I stopped by this afternoon after spending a glorious morning in a NJ strawberry field picking away at full and heavy strawberry plants for all sorts of delicious uses. 7 lbs later it dawned on me during the drive back to my place, I pass TJ's. Cheese and farm fresh strawberries just sounded too good not to detour. Picked up some whipping cream too and I think Belgium styled waffles might round out dinner tonight.

I nabbed: Honey Goat Gouda Cheese, Le Delice de Bourgogne,
Coulommiers Brie, Double Creme Brie-France, Goat Milk Brie
and one I'd not seen before at TJ's, an 8 oz. Slicing Brie in a square block. Roughly $25.00 for everything.

Time to call the gang over for a light dinner!

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  1. Sounds like a great combo. If you haven't had Le Delice, you're in for a treat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve Green

      Thanks Steve, I learned recently how delicious it is. We talked about it here a bit:

      Maybe I should hide it....wasn't that the jumping off spot of another thread?! ...

      Worth noting there was a considerable price diff at TJ's this time. Not a sale, just lower per #.

    2. This is funny--I went strawberry picking (7.5 lbs here) and to TJs as well today. I haven't gone strawberry picking in decades!

      No cheese today, but I do like the cheese case. A nice variety and good prices--certainly aids in the discovery of cheeses, as long as they aren't too unusual (I.e. Small farmstead cheeses). I'm partial to their Greek feta in brine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nofunlatte

        How about that! Nice to have a comrade in chowish ways!
        I've had the Greek feta in brine too, it's tasty.

      2. Over the weekend we dug into the Coulommiers Brie. While not horrible by any means, the texture you come to expect of Brie was there-neat little package to slice and enjoy-there was no flavor or pronounced flavor of its own.

        So, while I was expecting this:

        I actually thought this has to be the single most bland Brie I have ever tried. And folks who considered themselves Brie haters, seemed to like it.

        Go figure...I polished off the Le Delice de Bourgogne..

        20 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          I need to try the new TJ's in Sarasota. The 2 other stores I know there for nice cheese are wickedly expensive. I'm leery, though, of what I call supermarket brie - tasteless.

          1. re: Veggo

            In NJ there are two TJ's within a comfortable commute of my door. I have only bought cheese at one of them. Out of the six cheeses I bought recently (listed above) only the Coulommiers Brie has been unexpectedly bland. I don't honesty know if I should chalk this up to buying Brie cheese at TJ's or this particular style of Brie.

            Not all of the cheese I buy at an established Cheese Cave (& sometimes for considerably more $) has been outstanding either.

            So, for me this question of quality (still) remains on foodstuffs like cheese.

            1. re: HillJ

              At the good cheese caves, I have never bought a cheese over $30/ lb without sampling it first, so never a rude surprise at those price points.

              1. re: Veggo

                Sorry to confuse you. I was referring to when I've tasted it/sampled first and didn't care for the cheese. So, no I've had experiences where I didn't buy at a cheese cave, direct from a cheese producer, while in France, all over NYC and cheese loving states in the US too. But, I certainly noted their prices per lb in the process.

                As a customer, my general point, is that I have experienced and bought cheese under diff scenarios over the course of at least 35 cheese loving years and quality/price/expectation run the gamut. I think I need to try a cheese hiatus.

                1. re: HillJ

                  One big difference in shopping a new to me cheese from a store like TJ's without tasting it first occurs because the small piece/less painful price commitment makes it so easy to afford taking a chance.

                  The folks running the cheese dept at TJ's have never turned me down when asking for a wrapped piece to be opened in order to taste it.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    Excellent. More reason for me to try the TJ's. If you bought 6 cheeses for $25 they had to be smallish. I tend to go big or go home.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I've never thought to ask them. I shall. But, like you, I think small is the way to go. I'd rather have several different ones that we eat over a short period of time. But we're modest in our cheese eating. We'll cut a really small portion (think an inch square and a half inch thick), rewrap the big piece and put it back in the fridge. That way we don't just keep eating and eating. And thanks to CH I was reminded that an appetizer is to whet not kill the appetite. Now there are the special occasions when the whole meal is a big platter of all sorts of meats, cheeses, olives, etc. But that's once every couple of months or more.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        ..occasions when the whole meal is a big platter of all sorts of meats, cheeses, olives, etc.
                        we love eating this way!

                        1. re: HillJ

                          We also. We put a big platter on the coffee table or out on the deck. Sparkling wine, good crackers. It feels special, doesn't it?

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Yes, special and I adore eating small bites of various foods together.

                            This morning it was a bit of brie, farm picked berries, honeycomb, half a toasted bialy and a soft boiled egg. Iced java.

                          2. re: HillJ

                            Oh, yeah. On Friday a friend was going to drop something by after work, and I invited her in for "wine and cheese." I'd been cheese shopping a couple of days earlier and I put out four cheeses and threw in some olives and sliced a perfectly ripe sharlyn melon. Put everything on a platter and voila! Nice casual light meal for a (rare in the Bay Area) warm summer evening.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              And it feels so special. Maybe cause it's a more slowed down, lighter, European way. I don't know or care why but it's lovely :)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I know why I enjoy this way of eating. Because I don't need to enjoy large portions to enjoy what I'm eating. I like to walk away feeling light but happy.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Plus one :) Little bits of a number of different things. Bob and I have been dining out like this for years. Last night b'day dinner was three apps and a dessert with two spoons. Last year we were in Barcelona and had tapas at least once a day.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Hill and I do the same thing. c o, we're lucky to both have food partners. So many couples have commented to us that they must have their own plate because they eat differently. We just smile.

                                    When we're out at a restaurant with our kids it's one dessert plate and six spoons...but we each get our own drink.

                                    And, tapas was invented for people like us don't you think?!!
                                    I'll be in Barcelona in August, some inspiration:

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Search for me on CH Barcelona.

                                      We even share breakfast when we go out.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Oh cool, I def. look that info up.

                        2. re: HillJ

                          I never thought about it, but now that you mention it, that fits with their general sampling policy.

                2. re: HillJ

                  I thought the coulommiers had potential but it seemed underripe. I wrapped up the rest-- hopefully it will improve with age.

                  1. re: ohmyyum

                    My guests ate it as is, ohmy..but they weren't brie fans.

                3. I found the goat brie pretty bland. Love the double cream Dutch gouda, and the Canadian brie (don't remember the name now). The fresh bufflo mozza is out of this world good.

                  The herbed goat log is pretty good, too.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: linguafood

                    Thanks for the info lingua. We're still making our way thru this recent purchase.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Double cream Dutch gouda????? That sounds incredible.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        It's almost too rich for a gouda. It's cheddary. Tasty tho.

                        1. re: linguafood

                          Certainly not words that I would have hung together. But something different. Hopefully our TJs carries it. Thanks.

                    2. HillJ, I believe we've discussed halloumi before. TJs now carries one that is very affordably priced. I have yet to try it, but it got a yay on the June thread!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ohmyyum

                        Is that one of those "fryable" cheeses?

                        1. re: ohmyyum

                          Yes, we did. I haven't purchased halloumi at TJ's and didn't see any when I was there last but thanks for mentioning it.