Sunday, June 3, 2012

ABSOLUTE WINNER: Maitre Pierre Tarte D'Alsace from Trader Joe's

Note:  It has been reported that the Sarasota, Florida Trader Joe's store will open September 7, 2012.  (How about adding a Tampa Bay store, Trader Joe's?)


Hello Lily on The Lam Readers -

I have a confession to make - I am fickle.  I am so fickle that you could call it "Fifty Shades of Hypocrisy" (minus the porn!)  In my "Friday Fifteen Series" (Week One, Week Two, Week Three), I reviewed "take to work" lunch ideas- both recipes to make at home and reviews of frozen entrees.  

My frozen entree reviews were based on frozen entrees I had eaten in the past or on ones that had numerous positive recommendations online.  The thought of eating a bunch of processed frozen entrees for a blog post made me nauseous.  But here's where the hypocrisy comes in - I did another road trip to Naples, Florida yesterday to restock up on items from Trader Joe's.  (Currently there is only one Trader Joe's in Florida - but the 2nd store in Sarasota, Florida is being projected to open 3rd quarter 2012).  I bought an amazing amount of frozen processed food.  Um, what happened to the "I'm trying to be healthy, I don't want to eat a lot of processed food!" line?  Huh, Lily?  Not practicing what you preach, Ms. Hypocrite?    

I guess I just think of Trader Joe's products as better quality food than a Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones Weight Watchers meal (which if you read my review of the sucky, sucky, sucky turkey meatloaf muffins you'll know some of Trader Joe's products are NOT better quality than your typical frozen entree!)  

However I did buy a couple of Trader Joe's "Reduced Guilt" lower calorie frozen entrees to try and will blog about them as I sample them in the future.  So readers, I acknowledge 100% that when it comes to processed food I am a snobby hypocrite.  I said I didn't want to eat a bunch of processed food to review on my blog and then I turn around and buy a bunch of Trader Joe's processed food and voila, I'm going to blog about it!  Just call me FICKLE!  

Most of what I say in this blog is "tongue and cheek" anyway - so don't take anything I write as gospel.  (This is not a sworn statement, deposition or interrogatory!)  A woman has the prerogative to change her mind!  (Cue Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" now!)


So with that disclaimer, let's talk about the Maitre Pierre Tarte D'Alsace from the freezer section of Trader Joe's.  The "Tarte D'Alsace" (Alsatian Tart) is labeled as "A French Style Flat Bread with Ham, Carmelized Onions & Gruyere Cheese."  In two shopping trips in 2 months to the Naples Trader Joe's, I can say that so far the "Tarte D'Alsace" is the best frozen food I have eaten from Trader Joe's.  

Simply put:  This flatbread rocks!  I need to get back down to the Naples Trader Joe's and stock up on these incredibly yummy flatbreads!  (And I'll have to con my neighbors to use their stand alone freezer because my freezer is already filled to the max from yesterday's trip to Trader Joe's!)  


This flatbread has a crust that tastes like a cross between puff pastry and a Neopolitan style crispy/cracker-ish pizza crust.  It is so delicious - thin, crispy and buttery.  It is topped with sweet caramelized onions, salty ham and a smooth Gruyere cheese.  The onions and cheese make for a silky mouthfeel.  It tastes like a thin, creamy, almost Alfredo-like sauce.  The saltiness of the ham cuts through the rich taste of the creamy sauce and buttery crust.  The ingredients compliment each other well.  This does NOT taste like something I grabbed from my freezer and baked in the oven.  It tastes like it came from a high-temperature restaurant-quality pizza oven - the crust is perfect.

The baking directions say to make sure you pre-heat your oven at 450 degrees for at least ten minutes before you put the frozen flatbread in the oven.  For best results, follow this instruction.  It will make the difference between an intense, buttery, crisp crust and a soggy one.  

If you paired the Tarte D'Alsace with a chilled white wine and an arugula salad with a Dijon vinaigrette, I'd swear the meal came from a little French sidewalk bistro.  This is a great summer dinner.

If you're not a flatbread with salad type of person, I would recommend a side dish that has some level of acidity in it to pair with the rich, buttery, creamy flatbread.  Maybe some steamed asparagus with lemon zest and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Or fresh sliced cucumbers marinated in an apple cider vinegar dressing.  (Check out this great pickled cucumber salad recipe from SkinnyChef.com.)

Usually I feel the need to add more toppings to frozen pizza - more cheese, vegetables, meat, spices, etc.  But the Tarte D'Alsace is perfect just the way it is.  Although some pre-cooked mushrooms would be a nice addition if you like mushroom pizzas.

Not only is this product great for a quick dinner.  It is great for last minute entertaining.  I would cut the flatbread into squares or thin wedges and serve it as a cocktail party appetizer.  It would be very nice for a wine tasting as well.  I could imagine the buttery, rich flatbread to pair well with many different wines.
      
The Tarte D'Alsace, frozen, straight from the box and out of the plastic
Bake for 8-10 minutes in a pre-heated 450 degree oven - golden, crunchy yumminess!
But what I really love about the Maitre Pierre Tarte D'Alsace is that not only is it incredibly delicious, bistro-quality food but calorically it is surprisingly sane.  1/4 of the large flatbread pizza is only 140 calories.  You could eat the entire pizza for 560 calories - by comparison, 2 slices of Domino's pepperoni pizza has 648 calories.  I found the Tarte D'Alsace much more satisfying than your typical delivery pepperoni pizza.  (And it was much cheaper too!)  

Tarte D'Alsace Nutritional Information

You could have 1/2 of this buttery, rich-tasting flatbread pizza for less calories than your typical Lean Cuisine entree and it tastes worlds better than any Lean Cuisine/Healthy Choice/Weight Watchers entrees I have ever tasted.

This is a very upscale looking and tasting product.  Plus if you cut this flatbread into twelve pieces for a party appetizer, your guests could have a buttery, rich tasting piece of flatbread for less than 50 calories a piece!  Rich tasting and lower calorie?  Now that is a definite win-win!  

Salty, sweet, creamy, crisp, crunchy and delicious ... the Tarte D'Alsace is by far my new favorite Trader Joe's product.  I highly, highly recommend it.  Check it out and let me know what you think about it in the comments section!

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