Eating At Joe’s – Best of 2013

Hi, folks. Hiya.

We’ll we did it – we managed to crawl, skip, flounce, trudge and otherwise make our way through to the end of one more year. Congrats, man! Let me be the first to give you a firm handshake and a hearty slap on the back.

I, like you, experienced many new and wondrous things in 2013 – many of which came from the well-stocked larder of our good friend Trader Joe. 96 new and wondrous things, to be exact. I hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as I enjoyed eating them, which would mean, I suppose, that usually you thought they were really good, but sometimes they were just weird, and occasionally there were a couple stinkers.

In any case, the end of the year is a time for retrospection and in that spirit I’ve assembled my Best of 2013 list. These are not, necessarily, items that were new to Trader Joe’s in 2013, just items that were new to me. It was hard reducing this list to a mere 10 items, and many worthy items were left off simply for the sake of space. Nevertheless, I’d recommend any of these items to you with minimal to no reservations. If your New Year’s resolution is to splurge more on food, consider yourself set.

Please, go forth, eat and prosper in the new year!


Trader Joe’s Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter

It’s Cookie Butter, what more can I say. Hopefully they’ll come out with an even newer type of cookie butter in 2014 so I can put it on the list again. Well, a new type other than Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter and Cocoa Swirl which, while tasty, couldn’t fill regular ‘ol Cookie Butter’s shoes.

Trader Jose’s (Joe’s) Pizza Al Pollo Asado

One of the most genuine surprises of the year. I have low expectations in general for frozen supermarket pizza, let alone pizza that stunt casts it’s crust for a corn mash. This quasi-pizza was a delightful taste sensation from the word go.

Trader Joe’s Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa and Wheat Berry Salad

I’m a lover of salads, so Trader Joe’s is something of a Mecca for me. Out of all the delicious salads to choose from, however, I found myself returning to this one again and again. The bold, contrasting flavors and textures made this the salad to pick up when I was tired of “normal” salads. Plus the nutritional profile is nothing to sneeze at.

Trader Joe’s Hake en Papillote

Not just an education in a unique way to cook fish, but a delicious and satisfying entree to boot. More than just a tasty dish, Hake en Papillote was one of those rare meals that somehow transcends from frozen dinner to classy.

Trader Joe’s Grilled Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary Chicken

My personal most-bought dish of 2013. Nothing fancy, just a workman like dinner for a tired man, but one that left never failed to make me sit up and pay attention to the bright, savory flavors packed in that unassuming plastic tray. A life saver on more than one occasion.

Trader Joe’s Vegetable and Grain Country Salad

I’m still not sure if this is really a salad, but if s0 it was the tastiest salad I ate all year from Trader Joe’s – and that includes the Spinach and Bacon Salad! There’s a sort of countryside simplicity to this salad that absolutely belies the rich flavors and satisfying heartiness you get from it. Another frequent purchase of mine.

Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

The first and only time I’ve had to go back and add an update to a post. I started off cold toward this cold brew concentrate, but a couple weeks of drinking it and I was hooked for good. All the wonderful flavor and caffeine of a bold coffee with none of the acidity. You won’t get it until you try it. Simply smooth.

Trader Joe’s Balela / Trader Joe’s Dukkah

Even I’m surprised by balela’s inclusion on this list. A sort of Mediterranean-ish dip/salad made with whole chickpeas, the mellow tang of this dish has lingered on my tongue for months since I bought it. It’s a little expensive for few ounces you get, but it’s worth it.

Dukkah is the other  Mediterranean-ish dip I tried this year that never really left my mind. Where balela is probably good just for a single meal, the hearty nut and spices mix of Dukkah is perfect for any party or big dinner where olive oil and bread are present. Turns pre-appetizer bread into a whole new thing.

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

Like the cold brew coffee, this tea snuck up on me. I may be a little flip about the packaging in my review, but the spicy sweetness of this herbal tea has kept me coming back for more. My little stockpile of tea bags is running low already, and it is with fear in my heart that I await the seasonal disappearance of this wonderful, winter tea.

Trader Ming’s (Trader Joe’s) Kung Pao Chicken

I never knew that Kung Pao Chicken had such an interesting history until I started looking into it for this post. Just as interesting, the way Trader Joe’s managed to make such a refined tasting dish so easy to cook. Like the Hake in Papillote above, this entree may come frozen in a bag, but once you take your first bite you’ll feel like a world class chef.

That’s it folks for me folks, and that’s it for the year. I’ll see you in 2014 – until then, be bold, be adventurous, and try some new things!

2 Comments on “Eating At Joe’s – Best of 2013”

  1. Michael Kemper says:

    You evidently hadn’t eaten Trader Joe’s Cioppino or it would have been on the list too.

  2. Kim P says:

    My husband’s addicted to the Kung Pao chicken, and i’d say it does make him feel like a chef 🙂 I just like that he cooks it!

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