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Fat Guy

An interesting dried-pasta tasting

35 posts in this topic

For all we know at this point, TJ's pasta could be some highfalutin Italian brand that eGulleters have paid through the nose for...

I think that's right. The trouble is that next month it could be from some completely different maker.

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One major reason that Trader Joe's has leverage with suppliers is their policy to pay cash, not buy on account. Money talks... :wink:

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Look what I got yesterday in the suburbs:

gallery_1_295_24580.jpg

I made the spaghetti tonight for dinner and felt it was utterly unremarkable. Upon opening it, I saw right away that it was smooth-surfaced, and as you might expect from hearing that it was a poor holder of sauce. I tried some plain, some with butter and Parmesan, and some with tomato sauce. The sauce problem was only evident with the tomato sauce, which just didn't adhere well to the surface.

I guess my impressions aren't as reliable as a comparative tasting -- a blind one no less -- but this just didn't seem like particularly good pasta. I'm certainly not about to make it my house brand.

(P.S. In case it's not clear from my signature, I teach at the International Culinary Center, which is where this tasting was conducted. But I had nothing to do with it.)


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steve, I see you bought at least three different types of the TJ's pasta. Would you say that your impressions only reflect the "spaghetti" type, or do you foresee the remaining pastas tasting/performing the same?

Honestly, I thought their penne was solid, but that's the only type I've tried so far...


So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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I imagine the linguine will perform the same as the spaghetti. The farfalle looks smooth through the bag but I'll have to open it up to be sure. Maybe later this week.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Did you buy any of the organic pasta? I bought- but have not yet cooked- both the regular ($.99/lb) and organic ($1.19/lb) on Thursday. The regular pasta is indeed smooth as can be, but eyeballing the organic spaghetti, I can see that it has some texture.

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I think you'd first have to have some general understanding of the different pastas and what they're going for.  For example, I've mentioned before that the Latini family believes in cooking the pasta extremely al dente.  Other pastas -- De Cecco, for example -- might be considered more "general purpose" pastas.  To whatever extent possible, you'd try to cook the various pastas in ways that display their qualities to good effect, with the understanding that this won't be the same way for each brand.

Doesn't this unblind the sophisticated taster? If you were on the panel and you tasted an "extremely al dente" pasta, knowing what you know about Latini and that the pasta was supposed to be cooked to the manufacturer's preference, doesn't this start bias you?

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The dried-pasta tastings I've read about in the past, such as the ones performed by Cook's Illustrated, have never struck me as particularly credible. But New York Magazine recently put together a tasting at the International Culinary Center that seems, on the face of it, to be the best of its kind done to date. The tasters were Marco Canora of Insieme, Hearth, and Terroir; Mark Ladner of Del Posto; and Cesare Casella of Salumeria Rosi; and they tasted the pasta both plain and dressed. When I heard about this tasting, I thought for sure, finally, this would prove the superiority of imported artisanal dried pasta.

Trader Joe's won.

FatGuy?

Trader Joes and Aldi are owned by the same people and they sell identical products in some categories. I recently bought Aldis bronze cut Fusilli for a recipe and it was excellent...I wonder if its from the same pasta company that manufactures for both Aldi and TJs...


Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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