Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Mexico Piñon Coffee

Price: $6.49 (16 Oz, Ground)
Features: Good coffee with a natural nutty flavor
Found in:
Tasted at demo booth (twice)

I've wondered about this New Mexico Piñon Coffee for a while. I had the chance to taste it at the demo booth a few weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn't sure if I liked it enough to buy a whole can. Then the next week they were brewing it at the demo stand again, and I decided to spring for it. Can't go too wrong with 1lb of coffee for $6.49, right?

I've run through most of the coffee now, and I have really been enjoying it. The roasted pine nuts ground in with the coffee make it taste like a rich hazelnut coffee, only without the chemical taste of artificial flavorings - which are enough to turn me away from most "flavored" coffees. I'm not going to use this coffee as a replacement for my everyday brew, but I do enjoy it, and will purchase another can so I can brew a pot of tasty piñon for a change of pace now and then.

The coffee is good quality, even if it is pre-ground. I suppose it would be hard to get the right ratio of beans and pine nuts into your own grinder every time to make the perfect cup! Speaking of New Mexico, when I was down in Albuquerque for a friend's wedding last October, we discovered that the Church Street Cafe has both very good coffee and food. So, if New Mexican Piñon Coffee from Trader Joe's is enough to make you want to visit the state, you will know where to get delicious huevos rancheros that come with hot sopaipillas! Yum.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hansen's Diet Ginger Ale

Price: $2.49 (6 x 12 Oz cans)
Features: Natural flavors with very specific origins: "African ginger, Mexican limes, Californian lemons, and Madagascan vanilla"
Found in: Beverages, where Reed's Extra Ginger Beer was not on the shelf :-(

Lurking in the background of my previous post is a can of Hansen's Diet Ginger Ale. I purchased this as a stand-in for Reeds Extra Ginger Beer since it was nowhere to be found. I knew this was not going to be the same as Reeds, which has "26 grams fresh ginger per bottle!" But, I wanted something fizzy and gingery, and expected this would have more of a ginger kick than Canada Dry (not that they sell that at TJ's).

It does have a stronger flavor profile, I tasted just as much Madagascan vanilla as African ginger. The Mexi-calian citrus was lost in the crowd, but I am sure I would miss it if it were not at the party. This diet soda is sweetened with Splenda, which means it is incredibly sweet. It is also highly carbonated with little tiny fizzy bubbles that caused me to sneeze three times while attempting to drink it. Overall, it did the job washing down the tamales for tonight, and I would consider this pretty good for a diet soda. But it's no Reeds, they better get that back in stock again!

It's that damn Hansel! He's so hot right now!" -Mugatu

Beef Tamales

Price: $2.29 for a package of 2
Features: Tasty corn dough filled with shredded beef - taco sauce not included
Found in:
Frozen section, where the Mexican stuff always seems to be off on its own

These are a pretty basic item, so there isn't much to say about them. They are not unhealthy for a frozen dinner item, and the are ready from frozen after 6 minutes in the microwave (just wrap in a wet paper towel). I like the dough on these, not too soggy, a little crispy in places, and the right proportion of dough to meat. The meat is good too, not that gross paste type of "shredded beef" that can come in other things, these have actual hunks of shredded beef, which is good for texture. Two make a filling dinner, I say go for it! There was a guy loading up on the green chile and cheese tamales when I was at the store. Maybe I will try those next...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Charles Shaw Downunder 2008 Chardonnay

Price: $2.99
Features: Tastes sweet and alcoholic. Other flavors undetectable.
Found in: The middle of the Charles Shaw wine display

I have been curious to try the new and exciting Charles Shaw from Downunder (there are some excellent wines from Australia ya' know). Well, I was not expecting excellence for three dollars, but I have found other CS wines to deliver unexpectedly decent taste at a low price (except the Syrah...ugh).

This one managed to disappoint in the taste department. It was super sweet on the first sip, then I began to notice more twinges of a dry alcoholic taste. I sniffed, I swirled, I tried again, but still the same result. Actually, I don't think I would be able to sniff out the difference between a glass of water with a few drops of vodka in it and a glass of this Chardonnay. Very much underwhelming. At least give me some citrus, or melon, or something to work with!

I'm not going to run into the store with the remaining half bottle and demand my $2.99 back, but I won't be buying it again.

While we are here it is worth mentioning another disappointing item I prepared for dinner tonight: TJ's "fresh from the sea" (previously frozen but sold thawed) wild salmon fillets. This fish was not very fresh (smelled quite fishy), nor was is the highest quality salmon (looked pretty beaten up actually). I drenched it in teriyaki sauce and cooked the heck out of it and it was edible, but not good. The fish didn't have as much natural fat and oil in it as salmon usually does, so it did not cook up soft and flaky. Maybe this will work for people buying seafood at TJ's in Kansas, but here in the Pacific Northwest you are going to have to do one heck of a lot better than that for $10.99 a pound. One serious 1-star fish experience.