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Costco Food Finds - 3rd Quarter 2014

That's just one of many clone attempts floating around home cook blogs. We're hoping LuckyCharm will post the ACTUAL recipe from the cookbook! :D

(photo attached of what the real dish looks like)

1 day ago
NuMystic in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

Thanks for the link Joseph. Looks like a great company but none of their grinders is anything at all like the one we're discussing unfortunately.

http://shop.nomu.co.za/grinders

1 day ago
NuMystic in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - August 2014 [OLD]

Meanwhile I've got half a tub in my fridge right now that I bought last night. After posting that comment I thought I'd give it one last try. No sizable bits in this batch but still incredibly grainy when compared to any other cooked commercial, home made, or restaurant pudding I've ever had.

Seems we've just got different standards of what we consider "smooth" in a pudding. I'm clearly in the minority but I'm far from the only one. Even in the SeriousEats pudding taste testing some others reported the same experience even though it didn't keep it from being their top rated pudding overall:

"A vocal minority strongly disliked this pudding for its texture, thinking it grainy, pasty, and too thick—closer to frosting than pudding."

It's a shame (for me) too because when it comes to flavor it's my favorite overall as well.

Sep 17, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

~ YAY - Sauerkraut With Picked Persian Cucumbers ~

Quite like it but people should know what they're in for if they don't have any prior experience with raw unpasteurized fermented krauts. This is VERY cultured with a strong flavor and lots of fizz. Nice to have at least one live cultured kraut available again since they discontinued their live Kimchi that was seasoned with mushroom powder. You'll find it in the same refrigerated case as the fresh salsa and hummus.

~ YAY - Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning ~

Let's get your most important question out of the way first. It's unfortunately not going to work as a good substitute if you stuff these in your now empty South African Smoke Seasoning Grinder that you've been hanging on to out of sheer grief and remorse.

That said these were a pleasant surprise. I realized after my first bite that without consciously thinking about it I was expecting a BBQ flavored chip with perhaps a bit more smoke. If you've eaten your share of BBQ chips the first thing you'll note is the lack of sweet and sour usually found there. Instead what you get is pure salt, smoke, garlic, and a touch of heat. Takes a few mouthfuls before you stop expecting the sweet tang of the classic BBQ but think I'll actually buy these more often thanks to them being purely savory. Jury is out on whether I'm still missing the tart though, but that's an easy enough fix with some dehydrated lime or lemon if need be. Lays style thin cut chips but free of all the excess grease.

YAY ~ Yellow Tomatoes on the Vine ~

Almost missed these as they were on a shelf below all the other tomatoes. Nothing remarkable but nice flavor, texture, a bit sweeter and less acidic than their usual on the vine reds. Campari sized and a nice color alternative to mix things up for only a bit more cost. ($2.49 for 10 oz = $3.99 a lb.)

Sep 17, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

Yep, I'm familiar with them both alkapal, and while I enjoyed them a bit more than you did, I didn't think they were worth a repurchase either.

Was suggesting the Swiss 72% as an alternative since I found it to be far superior chocolate and it has that nice gloss you were missing.

It's the best nothing added dark chocolate bar I've found yet TJ's or otherwise.

Also beats out the 72% belgian pound plus bars which is saying something being that those are repackaged Callebaut. Love those for cooking and making my own sweets but for straight eating I'll take the TJ's 72% Swiss over the equivalent % Chocolove, Godiva, Green & Black, Ghiradelli, and Scharffen Berger any day.

Sep 16, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

Some new, and some new-to-us:

YAY!!!! - Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah
Tastes like Dubliner with a subtle but unmistakable note of red wine in every bite. Our new favorite TJ's cheese. Affordable enough to be a household staple and sure to be an absolute hit when entertaining.

MEH - Fig & Olive Crisps
Absolutely adore the flavor combination but unlike the much loved Rosemary Raisin crisps these are not nearly as crisp despite their name. The extra moisture left in the chewy fig chunks make the cracker a bit tough rather than light and crisp even before opening. Just a moment in the toaster oven brought them back to life but having to do that is enough to keep this from being a repurchase.

MEH - Mini Pie Medley
Quite nice but insane calorie bombs for their size. Three (one of each flavor) wouldn't even be close to half a slice of normal pie in volume but clocks in at 440 calories! Nice enough flavor if a tiny bit too sweet for my taste and the wife proclaimed them "too buttery". Would enjoy one if offered but won't be repurchasing.

YAY! - Organic Stone Ground Blue COrn Tortilla Chips with Sprouted Amaranth, Quinoa, & Chia Seeds
Our new go-to TJ's corn chip. Super light, flaky and crisp texture for a tortilla chip and a nice whole grain tasting finish.

YAY - Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
VERY sweet. Think subtly spiced praline pepitas. Wish they had a bit of savory/salty to go with the sweet as that would have made them an even better salad topper which is what I had them in mind for. They'll still get used for that, but these are sweet enough that they'd be even more at home as a cupcake/dessert garnish.

Sep 16, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Trader Joe's "pumpkinundation" 2014

The pumpkin flavored pepitas are *very* sweet. Think subtly spiced praline pumpkin seeds.

Sep 16, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

The 72% Swiss is superb and well deserving of all the accolades it's racked up in high profile taste tests.

Sep 16, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Why Does Ketchup on a Hot Dog Piss People Off?

The sugar argument falls apart when two of the bog standard "acceptable" dog toppings, onions and relish, are very often served in cloying varieties even sweeter than ketchup. That the underlying ingredient isn't sweet doesn't matter either when it's drowned in sugar. Cooked tomatoes are acidic on their own to begin with too for that matter.

Mustard and kraut are my favored toppings but when 1 in 4 Americans polled state a preference for ketchup, absolutist declarations of this being heretical are clearly nothing more than the most obnoxious brand of food snobbery.

Ketchup is the number 2 most favored topping for a hot dog in America with only mustard having more fans.

No one over 18 should use ketchup on a hot dog?

How about no one over 18 should be throwing tantrums and passing judgements on those who have a different preference about what they like. Such snobbery is especially entertaining when we're talking about straight up junk food to begin with. Grow up people.

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

Adherence to new grading standards which are dropping the Grade B designation altogether:

http://vtdigger.org/2013/12/10/new-ma...

http://www.thekitchn.com/no-more-grad...

Grade B labeling is being phased out completely over the next couple of years and those who want the same syrup will need to buy "Grade A Dark/Robust"

Sep 15, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

All may not be lost with regards to the South African Smoke Seasoning after all. Just got off the phone with a local TJ's and when they looked it up in the computer it said that IT'S SCHEDULED TO RETURN IN MAY! :)

I don't want to get excited until this is corroborated, and May is a looooong ways off yet, but it's something to hope for at least!

Sep 15, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

TJ's Olive Oil

The California Estate is superb and I've pimped it here on Chowhound for years but it's been recently unseated as my go-to TJ's EVOO after sampling the 100% Greek Kalamata.

The Kalamata has a slightly more forward olive flavor and still has the same characteristic peppery cough inducing quality as the Estate signaling it's fresh and still contains plenty of unoxidized phenols.

Cheaper by the ounce than the Estate as well.

Was the top TJ's pick from Tom over at TruthInOliveOil.com:
http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/2013/0...

Also really looking forward to trying the Spanish (NOT the organic one mentioned in the article above) which has gotten rave reviews and the new Tunisian EVOO they just brought in.

Sep 14, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

NAY - Oatmeal Trail Mix Cookies

Having had positive experiences with the majority of their clear plastic bucket cookies I was excited to try these but they were an absolute fail in the texture department. Too chewy for crisp cookies and too tough for chewy ones. Basically what you get when you leave crisp cookies unsealed for about a week. Guh. Marginally improved to a MEH by popping them in the toaster oven until golden brown.

Sep 14, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - August 2014 [OLD]

I have a love/hate relationship with their pudding with the latter finally winning out so that it's been more than year since I've bought it.

LOVE that it's a dark chocolate pudding. Flavor is just perfect.

HATE that half the time it's not 100% smooth and has little bits throughout texturally which completely spoils the enjoyment of it for me. After a few dozen purchases I got tired of rolling the dice and gave up on this. :(

Sep 14, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

Best value extra sharp cheddar we've found is the Black Wrapped Cabot 3-Year sold at Costco, but settle for the TJ's Wisconsin Extra Sharp in a pinch.

The Unexpected Cheddar is a very nice cheese but we like the 3-Year Cabot even more and it's a fraction of the price at Costco.

Sep 14, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014

It's going to be nearly impossible to truly replicate the character of this blend due to two factors:

- Finding huge flakes of paprika like this one had.

- Their paprika was smoked over a South African hardwood called Acacia Saligna which is not used in any other commercially available paprika or smoked seasoning I know of.

Used to live in Joburg myself and my wife was born and raised in Cape Town and them discontinuing this blend was devastating for her as we've not found anything else that comes close to reproducing the characteristic Braai flavor she so misses. (you can buy braai wood smoking blends that are a mix of redwood and acacia salinga)

I'm a huge fan of smoke imparting seasonings, regularly using smoked paprika, smoked sea salts, liquid smoke but none share the same unique scent and flavor that this blend offered. :(

Sep 14, 2014
NuMystic in Chains
1

Extra virgin olive oil

Speaking of Home Goods are there any particular bottles you've spotted there recently which are exceptionally good deals to keep an eye out for?

I see tons of "gourmet" olive oils there (and at other discounters like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc) but without a means of sampling and not being familiar with most of them in advance I've never taken a chance on any.

Sep 04, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

Extra virgin olive oil

Definitely not a good idea to keep olive oil in a clear bottle any place that gets direct sunlight. Even if it's only for a short while, that adds up day after day.

http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oi...

If there's nowhere else to stash it, perhaps consider transferring to an opaque cruet or bottle?

As for tasting at TJ's, if nothing else you could get a spoon from the sample counter and try the new bottle while there so if it's just not to your liking you can return it on the spot.

Sep 04, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

What to Buy at Costco?

And Kirkland Tequila is also not Patron!

Kirkland Tequila is produced by Fabrica de Tequilas Finos, S.A. De C.V. which is absolutely not Patron who has their own distillery. (which does produce a few other tequilas but not Kirkland)

http://www.tequila.net/tequila-review...

Sep 04, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Costco Food Finds - 3rd Quarter 2014

Are they restaurant size or the more typical small size for frozen grocery brands? Total cost per bag and how many does it contain?

We've gotten spoiled by an Indian cafe we found with GREAT samosas for only $1 each so we often buy 20 at a time and just freeze them.

Unfortunately they're not that close so a Costco alternative for when we've run out would be great.

Sep 03, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Costco Food Finds - 3rd Quarter 2014

What brand of Kombucha is it? Live culture or pasteurized?

Sep 03, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Costco Food Finds - 3rd Quarter 2014

Because the Cinnamon and Powdered Sugar are the best ones they make, or because you are just personally fond of those two varieties no matter where you're getting a donut?

Sep 03, 2014
NuMystic in Chains

Extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil is definitely light sensitive which is why many brands use the dark tinted bottles. That said, if it's an oil I know isn't going to hang around for months and I'm certain is coming from a fresh source I've never found clear bottles to be a problem.

Just checked my own half full bottle of Kalamata that I opened 3 weeks ago and has been out on my kitchen counter since.

Still had the slight characteristic back of the throat burn that signals freshness since the phenol content hasn't all been oxidized. Grassy with a hint of bitter and nothing unpleasant or out of place.

Can't offer any ideas about what caused yours to go off unless your counter actually gets sun? If you do give the same oil another shot, perhaps try keeping it in a cabinet and see if it holds up better?

Sep 03, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

Extra virgin olive oil

Sorry Jim, it was by sampling and since they were so much more expensive without a notable enough upgrade for the additional price, I left empty handed and didn't take notes.

I can say that I went with a list of all the ones most highly recommended here so I definitely gave all those a shot.

Sep 01, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

Extra virgin olive oil

Bob, have you tried the "premium" Kirkland Toscano EVOO in the smaller slimmer 1 liter bottle? Most people (including Tom over at TruthInOliveOil) suggest it's superior to the 2 Liter.

That said I'm encouraged to hear such a positive review of an oil that only runs only $6.50 a liter! That's a super buy indeed. I'll definitely keep it in mind if I ever need a whole lot for a special occasion.

I never buy anything larger than 1 Liter as that lasts me a good amount of time and I see no point in hunting down a good quality oil if it's just going to sit after being opened in my pantry for months oxidizing.

So it would take finding a superior oil to the TJ's Kalamata for under $10 per liter and sold in bottles no larger than 1L to replace it as my staple of choice.

Aug 10, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

Extra virgin olive oil

Jim I shop at both stores regularly so I've tasted a whole lot of Fairway's and not one of them can compete with the very best at TJ's without an accordingly higher price tag.

Yes, Fairway has some superb oils but the only ones I found that bested the California Estate were almost twice the price at $19.99 a liter.

If someone can point me to a Fairway offering at $12 a liter that is comparable without having to purchase 2+ liters at a time I'm all ears. (no point in seeking out quality fresh oil if it's going to oxidize for months after opening in my pantry)

Also if you've only bought the California Estate at TJ's you're missing out on an even better value for another exceptional oil. Their 100% Greek Kalamata is shockingly good for the price and replaced the California Estate as my budget EVOO.

I was turned on to it by this article at TruthInOliveOil.com and feel the praise they gave it is well founded:
http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/2013/0...

Mind you, it is a bit less complex than the California Estate but it has a more distinctly forward olive flavor and despite it's ridiculously low price of $8.99 a liter it still has the familiar peppery cough inducing phenolic content you generally only find in more expensive oils.

I've also heard excellent things about the TJ's Spanish EVOO (non-organic) but haven't tried it yet. (NOT to be confused with their organic Spanish which was thrashed in Tom's review above)

Aug 10, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

Extra virgin olive oil

I can personally attest to how great the TJ's California Estate is. Always fresh, distinctive peppery finish, and an excellent value for such a drizzle/dipping worthy olive oil.

Jul 07, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan

Marcona Almonds - Inedible?

Well I know there are quite a few flavorings that are quite different than the taste of the whole food, what I'm fascinated/befuddled by is that the flavoring DOES taste similar to these rare bitter almonds… but without the intense bitterness.

Apr 21, 2014
NuMystic in General Topics

Marcona Almonds - Inedible?

What I found fascinating when I hit my first horribly bitter almond decades ago was that it was also the very first time I'd ever tasted in a natural almond something akin to the almond *flavored* things like Almond Croissants and Amaretto.

While these are of course more pleasant than hitting a bitter almond I still don't find that such things flavored with almond extract taste or smell anything like regular natural almonds do.

Apr 21, 2014
NuMystic in General Topics

SOS Chefs - Recommendations? Favorites? Must Try Items?

Thanks Ttrockwood, will definitely ask about the Truffle Salt when I visit. This is exactly the kind of tip I was hoping to hear about.

In particular I'm excited to hear about anything distinctive they offer which isn't easily available elsewhere for less.

Apr 20, 2014
NuMystic in Manhattan