Trader Joe’s SQUIGGLY NOODLES


Here’s a NEW Trader Joe’s item: “Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles with Soy and Sesame Sauce”. This package of dried wheat noodles plus sauce looked promising. For one thing its a “Product of Taiwan”. First time, I made them the way they suggest on the package. Here’s the instructions: “Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add noodles. Cook 4 minutes. Drain and add sauce packet”. This alone will not make a very tasty dish though. You should also add other things (protein and veggies) to make this into something tasty. Unfortunately we were disappointed with the noodles themselves. My wife’s comment was the noodles themselves just weren’t that good quality and tasted like a cheap noodle. Strike one. I did however give them a second chance. However this time I decided I would stir fry them. I cooked them 4 minutes, drained them, added a little oil so they wouldnt stick together. I tossed them in a wok with oil, ginger, garlic, sliced veggies and an egg, and stir fried them for a minute or two. They still weren’t great but we both thought they came out way better stir fried. So this is what I would recommend you do with these noodles. The sauce packet was made to be diluted so add a only half if you are using it and and taste as you go. The sauce isn’t good and frankly rather than using the (fake tasting) “Soy and Sesame” sauce packet I would suggest using some real soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, and maybe a little oyster sauce and chopped garlic of course, instead of using their crappy sauce pack. BTW the label lists Sodium in this at 40%, which is of course almost half of your daily recommended amount right there with one portion. Some packaged Asian foods have a fair amount of sodium, so you do check labels. All the sodium is in the sauce of course. $4.99 for 4 noodle packs. Basically I will give this a MEH. Fix it up and it can almost be good. Chopped scallions are a must.

Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Syrup Vinaigrette (Fall Item)


FALL SEASONAL ITEM

This was a “Meh” for me. Just wasn’t too crazy for this vinaigrette which was one of those “sounded better than it tasted” items for me. Two tasters in our house didn’t go for this dressing and didn’t like it. I found the maple taste off putting and didn’t work at all. As opposed to honey which I like in a salad dressing. Frankly I can easily make a very good Vinaigrette myself in about 3 minutes using with oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard (optional, crushed garlic). Put these in a glass jar and shake shake shake. Frankly we prefer my Homemade Vinaigrette way over any dressing I can buy generally. However what I do think is worth buying at Trader Joe’s is their Asian Sesame Dressing which is excellent. TOASTED SESAME SALAD DRESSING. We just love that one so much. That is worth the same price as this one, $3.49. This one for us at least was a miss and a “meh”.

This was a “Meh” for me. Just wasn’t too crazy for this vinaigrette which was one of those “sounded better than it tasted” items for me. Two tasters in our house didn’t go for this dressing and didn’t like it. I found the maple taste off putting and didn’t work at all. As opposed to honey which I like in a salad dressing. Frankly I can easily make a very good Vinaigrette myself in about 3 minutes using with oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard (optional, crushed garlic). Put these in a glass jar and shake shake shake. Frankly we prefer my Homemade Vinaigrette way over any dressing I can buy generally. However what I do think is worth buying at Trader Joe’s is their Asian Sesame Dressing which is excellent. TOASTED SESAME SALAD DRESSING. We just love that one so much. That is worth the same price as this one, $3.49. This one for us at least was a miss and a “meh”. I won’t buy this again.

EASY BASIC VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

Trader Joe’s PUMPKIN SPICE HUMMUS (Fall Item)


This is not really a review, because I never tried this. Personally I would never, ever buy something named “Pumpkin Spice Hummus” as I consider even the name a crime against nature. In Arabic the word “hummus” means “chick peas”. Hummus has garlic, lemon and tahini – and yes spices (like Salt, Pepper, Cumin or Allepo Pepper) Certainly not Chocolate and not these “flavors of pumpkin and warm Fall spices, vanilla and a touch of maple syrup“. If you want pumpkin pie filling, buy that. Don’t dishonor “Hummus” by making it into pumpkin pie filling with some chickpeas thrown in. So I can’t believe they make and sell this stuff, while at the same time deciding to pull many great Trader Joe’s products (too many to list) which are discontinued to make room for new products – like the Pumpkin Spice Hummus.

There. Having ranted enough about this and getting it off my chest, guess what? I saw the case today in TJ’s where this is sold and ….It was all sold out! It’s popular. People do dig this stuff – and I am clearly in the minority as a “hummus purist”. Give me the Roasted Garlic Hummus anyday; that’s the humus I will stick with.

Why Americans Go Crazy For Pumpkin Flavored Stuff is an interesting and fun read!

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/11/19/165508669/why-americans-go-crazy-for-pumpkin-and-pumpkin-flavored-stuff

RANT

Re: Trader Joe’s and Discontinued Items, this is a must read/listen


I came across these two links here recently and want to share them for the insight into Trader Joe’s and discontinued products. Now to we consumers, it may be “my favorite item” at Trader Joe’s. But to Trader Joe’s “its just business”. You may think of Trader Joe’s as a supermarket but it is not a “supermarket”. Think of them as a specialty food vendor. Compared to a regular supermarket, which may stock 40,000 items, an average Trader Joe’s store only stocks 4,000 items. So limited shelf space. If a item doesn’t sell enough Units, to the decision makers at Trader Joe’s, that is a found to be a “slow sales item”. These items will likely be discontinued and be replaced with some other product. We, the consumer have little or nothing to do with it, other than the sales numbers. Read the transcript below of the INSIDE TRADER JOE’S podcast to get insight into how they decide these things.

Its not happy news for us consumers. Unfortunate that’s the way it is. Pretty much “don’t take it personal, it’s just business”. This is why even when I love an item, I know in the back of my mind “don’t fall in love”… because it may dissapear one day. Or if I really like it, I may buy a few of them if they can last….

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-discontinued-groceries-podcast-23444348

This is particularly disheartening!

What can you do if your favorite TJ’s item is discontinued? Honestly, there’s not much you can do to bring your favorite groceries back once they’re gone. However, if you want to talk about it, there’s the Trader Joe’s Discontinued 🙁 Facebook group (and yes, the sad face is part of the group’s name).”

TRADER JOE’S PODCAST

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/podcast


Inside Trader Joe’s Podcast Transcript — ICYMI: Discontinued Products

Tara: Hey, Matt, what happened to the Peach Salsa?
Matt: In case you missed it, Trader Joe’s Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa, it was discontinued.
Tara: Yeah, I noticed cuz it’s my favorite salsa of all time and now I can’t buy it.
This is a good topic for another I-C-Y-M-I Edition of Inside Trader Joe’s.
Matt: I-C-Y-M-I, in case you missed it.
Tara: These mini-episodes give us an opportunity to address some of the questions our crew members hear from customers most often.
Matt: And keep asking. The crew loves to answer questions.
Matt: Thinking about getting rid of products, discontinuing products. More often than not, it’s not an indictment of the product itself.
Tara: What gives?
Matt: Well, you know, oftentimes we’ll use a phrase and we probably overly rely on it, slow sales. What does that really mean? What it means is that there weren’t enough customers interested in buying the Peach Salsa to have it continue to make sense. Because if you don’t have high volume or growing volume, the costs of producing and handling a slow selling product are such that it doesn’t make business sense for us. And if you think about how small our stores are, and on a relative basis, they’re smaller than most grocery stores. And how few products we have? On a comparative basis, we have a lot fewer products than other grocery stores. We just physically don’t have room to carry things that aren’t popular, as disappointing as that is to hear and experience.
Tara: So there’s another piece of this, Matt, that I think is kind of important. And it’s what we don’t do to put products on our shelves.
Matt: How so?
Tara: So a lot of retailers work with the companies that make their products, the Consumer Packaged Goods Companies, to put products on shelves using something called
slotting fees. So the Consumer Packaged Goods, the CPG Companies pay the retailer, the
grocery store for shelf space. So even if a product doesn’t sell very well, and even if you see
it in the store and it’s covered with dust, it’s not going anywhere until the Consumer
Packaged Goods Company decides it doesn’t make sense to produce that product anymore.
Matt: Ah, now I get it. It’s the classical play of making money anywhere other than
with a customer buying something at the cash register.
Tara: Right. And at Trader Joe’s, the only way we make money is when the customer buys something at the cash register. So apparently I didn’t buy enough Peach Salsa. But that means that that product hasn’t earned its place on our shelves. We’re not getting paid by the producer of that product to keep it on the shelves. And our business model says let’s develop something new that might sell better and make more customers happy.
Matt: And that approach can feel and sound so cold-hearted, and yet it’s important that we maintain our objectivity about what really is or isn’t working, what really isn’t selling because ultimately customers do let us know if they like something or not.
Tara: Yeah, and I’ll be honest, when I went to buy it that one day a few weeks ago, I was just so sad standing there in front of the salsa selection in the store. And then I thought, okay, I’ll try something new. The great thing about discontinued products is it almost always
means there’s something new coming soon. You can always find new things on our
shelves. A lot of our stores have like a new product section where they’ll highlight a whole
bunch of things that have recently shown up in the stores. It’s kind of fun to try something
new.
Matt: So I see why I, and maybe this is the missing salsa edition, but if you’re
looking for the Double Roasted Salsa, which was one of my favorites, which was sadly
discontinued, you might consider trying the Guajillo Salsa, which I find to be a nice albeit
slightly spicier replacement.
Tara: And I also have taken to the Pineapple Salsa to replace the Peach Salsa if
I’m in the mood for something that has a little sweetness to it. So, there are options. We,
you know, we don’t have every product in the world, but we do have some good options.
Matt: We work hard, the product development team, the tasting panel group, they
work on things by tasting them. They think these things make sense. They think that they’re
delicious. They think they’re worth customers’ time and attention. And if that doesn’t pan
out in that way, well, we’ve gotta move on. Of course, there can be reasons other than slow
sales. Um, if there are quality issues or that we determined that the value that we once had
is no longer as strong. If we are facing different competitive pressures on a given product.
And yet, overwhelmingly, the reason for things to be discontinued at Trader Joe’s is a lack of
interest, slow sales.
Tara: Yeah.
Tara: I’m Tara Miller.
Matt: And I’m Matt Sloan.
Tara: In case you missed it. That’s why your favorite product might have been discontinued it. Thanks for listening.

NYC TRADER JOE’S WINE SHOP ON 14th St. SUDDENLY CLOSED, PERMANENTLY!


If you are a fan of one of the best wine shop’s New York City had (Trader Joe’s on East 14th Street) you will be very shocked and saddened by this news. The wine shop is HISTORY.

https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/new-york-citys-only-trader-joes-wine-store-has-closed-081122

Trader Joe’s sole New York WINE STORE, next to a regular Trader Joe’s on 14th Street near 3rd Avenue. This was my favorite wine shop in NYC. Great curated selections, great prices. Nice knowledgeable staff. They say they are looking for a “better location”? (I hope the next location might be the Upper West Side) There is very old New York “blue law” that states a company like Trader Joe’s can only have ONE store in the state. So this was the only TJ’s Wine Store in the whole state of New York.

Why so suddenly?

Reddit thread said it was issues with NYU who owns the building it’s in which is a dorm and having liquor so close by. One reader said they heard it closed because the workers were talking of unionizing.

https://p2a.co/PN3k0Fq

This is a petition by workers from the store who state the reason for the sudden closure as “union busting”.

MORE NEWS ON THIS, VIA LINKS HERE:

Trader Joe’s VEGETABLE MASALA BURGERS


MEH

I’m not vegetarian. Still I like to try vegetarian options and see if they are any good. I love (repeat, love!) Indian food. This looked a bit appealing to me, the picture intrigued me and it says “with Authentic Indian Spices”. After all “Masala” means mixed spices. Tasting it, all I could think of “spices? what spices?”. To me, they’re almost non-existent. So short review is this is OK. It’s also not terribly exciting either and Indian food generally is. This could be served to an Indian baby. Most any authentic Indian dish is exploding with spices used very freely. Masala Dosa for example is basically mashed potato but has a ton of spices which make it delicious. This “masala burger” is primarily potatoes, so its kind of basically a mashed potato burger. It has pieces of vegetables in it, such as red pepper and corn. The concept is not bad – it’s just the lack of spices which defeats the purpose of calling it “masala” (mixed spices). The burger is OK, just lacking an authentic Indian spice profile which might make it tasty. If you put this on a bun as is it will basically be a potato sandwich.

These need something added to it. Sriracha. Peri-peri sauce. Zhough. Bomba. Magnifisauce. Some actual Indian Masala Spices if you have them. At least put some garlic powder on these if you make them and add some Hatch chile flakes. The only thing that perked this up a little bit was putting a little TJ’s TAMARIND SAUCE on, which is basically a tamarind chutney sauce. My wife told me “one was enough” and she usually scarfs down my cooking, so that was not a good review. If you’re vegetarian it might be worth checking out as an option as long as you fix it up. 4 burgers are $2.99. I won’t buy this again, however vegetarians might like this if they do something to it.

Trader Joe’s PEANUT & CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT


“CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT: The crispy part of the kit includes a package of tiny fried rice “CRISPY NOODLES”. The problem? After you put on dressing? These become “Not Crispy” Noodle bits.

Pros: The Asian style Peanut Dressing they give you is tasty. It’s a bit similar to TJ’s Organic Sesame Dressing (so you could make something like this yourself using that dressing)

Cons: Cabbage as the first ingredient in the salad. I thought it was cut way too big so the salad is a bit tough and too chewy. The softer Romaine lettuce, not cabbage, should have been the first ingredient IMO, plus this cabbage should be sliced thinner. However the main problem with this whole idea for a “Crispy Noodle salad kit” is obvious. The moment you mix in those “crispy noodles” (which are tiny, see pic) with the dressing and mix it all in, the “crispy noodles” become not crispy, of course. Maybe if they used some larger kind of crispy noodles, maybe like the kind you get in a Chinese restaurant? For me, these little fried rice noodles are a Fail. We both though this salad just wasn’t good. I won’t buy it again. Its goes for $3.99. You want crispy? What might work is add some lightly crushed PLANTAIN CHIPS to this. Or croutons.

CedarLane “Authentic Mexican Style” PULLED PORK TAMALES


“Cedarlane Authentic Mexican Style Pulled Pork Tamales”

I was in the mood for tamales, and I saw these at Trader Joe’s (Refrigerated). These tamales are sold under their own brand (CedarLane) quoting the package “Authentic, Mexican Style Pulled Pork Tamales.” Authentic? Mexican? No way; that’s really stretching it for truth in advertising. My bar for “authentic Mexican” is high, and these don’t cut it. In NYC we have a decently large Mexican population. Not as large as California of course but we NY’ers are lucky in that we can get good (authentic) Mexican food. have eaten homemade tamales made by women selling them out of a cooler, and most were all terrific. I’ve also gotten tamales from street trucks, ditto. Not to mention in Mexico. So I know a good tamale when I see it and these Cedarlane tamales are not those. These are Blancos factory versions of tamales and get a “Meh”! Edible maybe but nothing to write about. I found them barely seasoned, though they list three kinds of chiles I couldn’t really taste them. These are dumbed down tamales. The filling inside here is a mush of meat and sauce, no chunks of pulled pork as I was expecting. The masa layer is a bit too thin for my tastes. Tamales are all about the corn and the Masa layer as much as the filling. Finally of course these CederLane tamales are made with canola oil – not lard which is “authentic”. OK I know the word lard doesn’t sound appetizing to you but lard is authentic Mexican and it makes for good masa. So while we didn’t hate these, and we ate them and kind of enjoyed them with adding some good salsa, we just didnt find them at all authentic Mexican. So I might not buy these again. I may search out other Trader Joe’s frozen tamales I’ve seen there and check if those are any better.

These are $6.99 (1.75 per tamale)

Send Trader Joe’s A Message: Discontinued Items – What can you do to TAKE ACTION?


https://www.traderjoes.com/home/contact-us/product-feedback

Upset about a discontinued product? Why don’t you let Trader Joe’s know how you feel? I found the area on the TRADER JOES website that seems to let one do that (see link) Give them your feedback and who knows? Just maybe if enough people complain about something. Would they reconsider about a discontinued item IF they see there is enough potential demand? Now of course I have no idea if these will have any affect. Maybe it’s a waste of time. Still I wonder if there’s some number which might get someone at Corporate’s attention….. If they see 25 message probably nothing, but if they saw hundreds and hundred of complaints I wonder ….?

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/contact-us/product-feedback

Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX”


Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX” with dried tomatoes, onion and garlic

There was actually a little controversy across the internet when this product first came out, as some viewed this as a bit of cultural appropriation on Trader Joe’s part. What is JOLLOF RICE ? It’s a very famous African dish eaten widely across parts of West Africa, especially Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and The Gambia. Even in Africa the dish has a little controversy. Whose version is the best? Is it Nigerian or Ghanaian – or Senegalese where it has a different name (Tchebu Jen) ? The dish is considered the national dish of Senegal where it’s Thieboudienne or Tchebu D’jen. (The word “Jollof” is an English variation of the word “Wolof” which means both a language and a people/tribe)

In my lifetime, I’ve eaten many many plates of authentic Senegalese Tchebu D’jen in many African restaurants back in the day when there were a dozen African restaurants on 116th Street in Harlem when the street used to be known as Petit Dakar . I love this dish and variations of it. Taste a real version of this dish if you ever have the chance. An authentic “JOLLOF RICE” (aka Party Rice, aka Tchebu Djen) from Nigeria, Ghana, or Senegal is an amazing dish. It’s complicated to make with a number of ingredients, another reason that Trader Joe’s coming out with this “instant” version caused a wee bit of controversy on the internet. The mix was developed by a Nigerian family here I believe.

Here’s my take. Out of the package, this is a far, far cry from an authentic African Joloff Rice. I fixed it up when I made it. It has some potential if you fix it up to make something better, not close to what your Nigerian granny would make but something semi-OK and better than just making this package as is.

Here’s my suggestions on how to fix this up: In a large pot, put a tablespoon olive oil and butter (you probably don’t have Palm Oil which is best) Stir in a huge tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds and add a chopped up tomato, 1/2 a chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic minced. Cook 2 minutes, then add your cooking liquid (water, but chicken or veggie broth would be better). 3 cups as the package says is a lot. I reduced to about 2 3/4 cups as the veggies have water. Add a few carrots and a 1/4 cabbage. Boil for 5 minutes. THEN add the package of this “JOLOFF RICE” mix. Add some Smoked Paprika and as much as you like of some spicy mix of PERI-PERI, BOMBA, or ZHOUG . Once it boils lower to a simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let it sit 5 minutes covered to absorb all liquids. When you are ready, serve rice with vegetables on the side/top, and serve some of those spicy sauces on the side for people to adjust to their tastes.

Tchebu Jen is made with smoky dried stockfish in the broth and served with fresh fish. I ate it with some fish on top (smoked sardines and salmon) Other ideas are serving this with grilled chicken or maybe grilled SHAWARMA chicken.

TJ’s SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE mix is $2.69 for an 8 oz package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/spicy-jollof-seasoned-rice-mix-070883

“Originating in West Africa as far back as the 14th century, Jollof rice is more than just an esteemed and storied dish, it’s a cultural force of its own. It’s served as the inspiration for countless recipes across the African diaspora, including jambalaya and gumbo. It’s even sparked a friendly (if not, at times, heated) rivalry between a handful of nations regarding who makes the best version. If you’ve ever had the chance to try it, you know exactly why it’s remained such a vital part of African cuisine for over 700 years.”

Previous Older Entries