update: now with pictures!
When I lived in Rancho Penasquitos, I used to shop at Trader Joe’s all the time. It was so convenient and I could do all my grocery shopping in one trip – Trader Joe’s and Ralphs. It isn’t that much farther now, but it takes a little more planning to make a TJ run these days. So, trips have been whittled down to a TJ-specific list as other staples are picked up here and there at Henry’s or Vons. Thank goodness for the Fearless Flyer that comes in the mail! There are always items in there that tempt me enough to make a trip to Trader Joe’s. On our last shopping excursion, we came home with a few things that I really like.
Espresso filled chocolates – Kept above the frozen foods with the other chocolate goodies, this little box is filled with individually wrapped chocolate rectangles. Inside each rectangle is an espresso syrup (so if you just bite the chocolate in half, be careful that the syrup doesn’t dribble out and onto your clothes!) that is sweet enough to enjoy by itself, but also coffee-bitter enough to be tempered by the dark chocolate, should you choose to enjoy the candy as a whole. There’s an imported version of these called Pocket Coffee, which the TJ version imitates well with the exception of the sugary shell between the syrup and the chocolate. It did give me a little boost in the afternoon and, since I like coffee, it’s a candy treat I look forward to.
Lambrusco – This was something we had talked about weeks ago as a fun summer sparkling wine. So, when it showed up in the Fearless Flyer I took notice. In the store, I couldn’t figure out the difference between the two bottles on the shelf so I just grabbed one of each. It wasn’t until we got home that I realized how obviously different the two really are – one’s white and the other is a red! I was just in such a rush to finish our shopping and get back home that I didn’t read the words on the label. The red Lambrusco is $4.99 and the white is $3.99 – such a deal! The best part is, as a sparkling wine, it doesn’t have to be a great wine. It just has to be sparkly, sweet, and tasty, which this red one is! If you’re looking for a cheap drinking wine, this is a good one.
Chocolate-covered Altoids – Technically, this isn’t a Trader Joe’s find, since I’m sure you can find these all over the place. But, Trader Joe’s is where I got mine, so here is where I tell you about it. Have you tried these yet? If you like Junior Mints, I think you’ll like these. I don’t know if it’s the chocolate coating, but the mints seem less… obnoxious than the regular Altoids. But, where Junior Mints leave you with a cloyingly sweet taste at the back of your throat, these Altoids are just minty chocolate. They’re much better than I ever expected them to be, which only leaves me sad that I haven’t been enjoying them all this time.
Mimi Fruit Slices – You know those sugar-coated “fruit” jelly slices? The ones that always look so good and then you put one in your mouth and the overload of sugar in one bite makes you wish you had only eaten half of one piece? The ones that are supposed to taste like different fruits but really just taste like sugar? Well, now there are mini slices. As most things in mini form, these are too cute to pass up. Luckily, one piece is just enough sugar at one time. They still don’t taste like fruit, but they’re a good jelly treat, especially with the crunchy sugar.
Kitchen cloths – These are pretty cool… they’re kind of like the wonder-shammys that the vendors sell at the County Fair, except Trader Joe’s sells them in prettier colors, 2 to a pack. They’re a little smaller than a dish towel, but they sure do wipe down counters well! I now use the dish towels to dry my hands and theses kitchen towels to wipe down counters, spills, splatters on the stove… very cool.
I also like the Trader Joe’s 2% Greek-style yogurt. It’s like the Fage brand, but much cheaper. The fat-free creamer (regular, not vanilla) is pretty good, too. I trust Trader Joe’s for a lot of things, and most of the time whatever new product I try is worth getting again. Except for the vanilla Jo-Jos. Pretty to look at, but no substitute for Oreos. The seasonal Peppermint ones, though? Oh, man, those are worth stocking up on and eating all by yourself. Also, did you know the ladyfingers are seasonal? They are perfect for throwing together a quick tiramisu and you used to be able to buy the ladyfingers all the time, but someone decided to make them a seasonal item. The best part of it? No one in the store seems to know when “ladyfinger season” is, so I just keep an eye out whenever I’m there. My guess is they’ll come back around Thanksgiving. When they do, you better look out because I’m going to clean out the shelves!
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I must disagree with you on the Trader Joes vanilla Jo-Jo’s. I think they are wonderful! I’m not a chocoholic and don’t crave the “Oreo” part of a sandwich cookie. For me, the Jo-Jo is a really tasty, high-quality basic cookie that goes great with milk or coffee. And you can’t beat the price!
No disrespect to the vanilla Jo-Jo! It’s a really good cookie! It’s just not an Oreo-substitute. You know, like how no organic brand can ever really replace a Cheetos craving?