Friday, March 27, 2020

Trader Joe's Tarte D' Alsace

Okay, here's the deal: I've only gone to two stores in the last three weeks: Trader Joe's, and a small local market. I have not visited any of the places where I usually buy the frozen pizzas about which I write - Kroger, Walmart, Albertsons - recently and I'm not entirely sure when I'll go back.

So I haven't had the largest selection of pizzas from which to choose. I considered stopping this blog for a while... but really, who cares? It's a silly little blog about frozen pizza. Let's just see what I can come up with between those two stores, okay?

Trader Joe's offers a selection of "tartes," and they are as thin as any frozen pizza you will ever eat. I mean that quite literally. I have been eating them for more than a decade and on more than one occasion I have tried to cook them directly on a rack in the oven, only to find that the toppings melt through the "crust" into a smoldering pool on the bottom of the oven.

It's a bitch for my maid to clean up - er, I mean for me to clean up - and, more importantly, it means I don't get to eat the pizza.

I have tried cooking them on a baking sheet, but then it takes more than 30 minutes for the crust to get as crispy as I like. That's not ideal, either.

And then I found this:

I'll be honest: I have no idea what this is supposed to be used for, but it is perfect for cooking one of these pizzas. 

The pizza is crispy and salty in the best possible way, the ham and gruyere reminding you of a decadent grilled sandwich, or perhaps fondue.

(I often like to drizzle it with a little balsamic glaze for an extra, indulgent tang.)

The only complaint I might issue is that eating one of these never fills me up. But the whole thing is 560 calories and 28 grams of fat, which is basically health food when it comes to pizza (some of the pizzas I have featured here are literally quadruple those numbers) so that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Trader Joe's makes three or four flavors of their tarte, but this one is by far my favorite.

THE RATING: 🍕🍕🍕🍕

Friday, March 20, 2020

Great Value Beer Cheese Sauce & Sausage Pizza

Beer cheese and sausage is a wonderful winter meal - though I must confess I do not eat them nearly as much as I did in my youth - but what really grabbed my attention was the promised "pretzel crust." I do not believe I have ever eaten one of those before.

It looks somewhat bland and monotone, though there was much more sausage - of two different shapes - than I ever expected.

This is one of those things were the idea is much better than the execution. There are two main problems:

First, while the cheese does indeed taste like beer cheese - rich and thick - it becomes overwhelming with each bite. When you dip a piece of sausage, or perhaps vegetable or pretzel, into beer cheese, you can let the excess cheese drip off. When it's piled on top of a slice of pizza, there is nothing you can do but eat it.

The cheese on this pizza is all you can taste. It even overpowers the flavor of the sausage.

The second problem is the crust. It tastes nothing of pretzel. When I realized I could not eat even half of this pizza, I broke off several pieces of crust and ate them alone, to see if separating them from the cheese sauce would isolate the pretzel flavor. Nope.

If you were to split this amongst several people, where everyone eats only once slice, I suppose it would be enjoyable. If you are drunk and want to eat the greasiest, most alcohol-absorbing pizza you can imagine, this is a good go-to.

But I seriously doubt I will be getting one ever again.

THE RATING: 🍕🍕

Friday, March 13, 2020

Tombstone Pizza (Pepperoni)

The first time I heard of Tombstone pizza was - like, I suspect, most people who were kids in the early 90s - from the silly Television commercials. ("What do you want on your Tombstone?")

The grocery store at which my parents shopped in their hometown was a typical small neighborhood market. In other words: friendly, but overpriced with a small selection of products. They did not carry any pizzas other than the Stouffer's french bread variety.

But one day, on a shopping excursion with my grandmother at the much larger Pavilions by her house, I encountered Tombstone. She bought me one and I cooked it shortly thereafter.

I loved it. I mean, I freaking loved it.

Now, keep in mind, I was only about 12, maybe 13 years old. My beloved Chicago Bros. deep dish pizza had been gone for years and all I would eat in those days were Mama Celeste frozen pizzas. Tombstone was a whole new world.

These days, I get a nostalgic craving for one every couple of years. Inevitably I am disappointed; I remember how much I liked them almost 30 years ago and I keep forgetting that I don't love them as much now.

It looks pretty standard. Maybe a few more pepperoni than you usually find.

As a result, it's also greasier than you usually find.


And, for some reason, one or two sides of the pizza always curl up.

I like the sauce just as much as I liked it back in the day. But I really dislike the crust now: it's dense, flavorless, and interferes with the taste of everything else. The pepperoni are fine - salty and flavorful - but too thin to be considered "good."

With a slightly better crust, I would still love this pizza. But my tastes have changed too much.

THE RATING: 🍕🍕🍕

Friday, March 6, 2020

Urban Pie Pizza Co. BBQ Recipe Chicken Sausage

"FROZEN PIZZA... ALL GROWN UP"

That's what the website of Urban Pie Pizza Co proclaims, and, as a grown-ass man who blogs about frozen pizza, I can certainly appreciate that.

Do not eat the pizza while it's frozen. Got that?

It looks pretty good while still frozen... or, at least as good as any pizza can look under such circumstances. What really stood out were the red onions. They looked like freshly-chopped red onion, not the tiny, white dices of red onion that one usually finds on a frozen pizza.

I liked the crust. I had never before heard of a crust made with sweet potato, and it tasted more like bread than most frozen pizzas crusts. There was indeed an inherent sweetness to this crust (though by no means could I taste sweet potato).

I'm not saying anything controversial when I state that most frozen pizzas utilize a flavorless crust, and it was a nice surprise to find that this crust actually tasted good.

And the sauce was a pleasant - if muted - barbecue sauce.

The problem was one that often occurs with frozen pizzas that utilize toppings more exotic than generic pepperoni: none of them stand out. The frozen-and-reheated toppings tasted like a mush of vaguely familiar flavors. The red onion sort of tasted like onion... but also like a carrot. The sausage offered texture but little in the way of flavor.

It's almost as if this would have been better with no toppings, just the crust and sauce. That's not something you want in a $9 frozen pizza.

I am not opposed to trying another pizza from Urban Pie, but I'm not in any hurry.

THE RATING: 🍕🍕🍕