Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Trader Joe's Vanilla Paste

I have been on the look out for vanilla paste for a while. Off and on I have seen Nielsen-Massey vanilla paste selling for about $12 and thought I could probably track it down if I really needed it for a particular recipe but the price held me back from buying it just to experiment with. Both vanilla beans and vanilla are expensive so maybe $12 isn't too outlandish, but it still, $12 for 4oz sounded like a lot.

Today I was at Trader Joe's (the one in Towson for you locals) following a couple of hot tips regarding a couple other wishlist items: green tea powder and golden kiwi (no luck for either) and came across a jar of vanilla paste the same size (4 oz) as the Nielsen-Massey jar I had seen (and was tempted to buy) at Williams Sonoma just about 15 minutes before but for only $4.99. The bottle was a little beat up looking but it seemed like good enough of a deal and since I rarely go to Trader Joe's (and know items mysteriously become unavailable from the store at times) I picked it up.

Side note: I know some people are seriously into Trader Joe's (wasn't there a riot when it opened in NYC?) but I am always underwhelmed. I find the shrink wrapped vegetables perplexing and often they are out of whatever I am looking for. Since I can't really do all of my shopping there, and I can't count on them to have exactly what I am looking for, even if they have had it before, I pretty much stay away. Maybe if I was really into frozen or prepacked foods I'd like them more, I don't know, those sections seem pretty popular but don't really interest me.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I happened to be in Trader Joe's today and found vanilla paste. I brought it home and opened it up is not what I expected. Why did I think that vanilla paste was going to be paste-like? I pictured something sort of like library paste but vanilla flavored and with vanilla beans throughout. It's not like that at all. It is a thin syrup with vanilla beans floating in it. It is pretty vanilla smelling (and tasting, I may or may not have eaten a teaspoon of it straight from the jar) but not what I was expecting. Do I get my foodie credentials yanked if I admit I don't like Trader Joe's and didn't know what vanilla paste actually was in the same post? Do I even have foodie credentials? I digress. I googled it and apparently it is supposed to be syrupy so it isn't some old separated leftovers or a fluke. I also saw a couple of mentions online about how the Trader Joe's vanilla paste might just be the Nielsen-Massey repackaged (like a lot of Trader Joe's products are) under the Trader Joe's name because it is so similar in taste and texture. If that is true, I might have gotten a great deal. Now I just have to figure out what to make with it.