[This is a guest post from frequent commenter, Emily. She writes a blog, Bentobloggy, about making the most adorable bento boxes for her daughter’s lunch! Even if you don’t have kids (like me) you should check it out because they are so creative and fun. She also has posts on things like making pesto, drying mushrooms, or vegetarian lasagne, too. Emily’s been a Costco member for about 10 years and shops at the location in Kennesaw, Georgia.]
Emily’s Costco Finds
I actually got a chance to go shopping by myself today, sans 4 year old, and it was amazing. I went a little crazy filling my cart, as I tend to do when I’m uninterrupted. This can be good and bad. Bad because it falls to me to carry and unpack everything all by myself. Oh well, you know what they say about beggars….
So today we have some great new items. The first is Tanimura & Antle Artisan Lettuce. These lettuces are absolutely lush and gorgeous, in deep purples and bright greens. You get six small heads of this specialty lettuce, and you get a few different exotic-sounding varieties – Petite Gem, Petite Oak and Petite Tango. The first is a crinkly-type which comes in both purple and green, and then the more leafy lettuce which goes from green to deep purple at the ends. It’s really a show-stopper on the plate. They also taste great! They are a little spicy, like arugula, but not at all bitter (I’m not a huge fan of bitter greens, so, good for me.) I also really like buying it this way because they are very small heads of lettuce, so I use two at a time for a single large salad, and the rest stores really nicely. They have a longer fridge life than the Spring Mix lettuce that Costco also carries because it’s not pre-cut (my big peeve about that is that it practically comes home expiring, yuck! I don’t buy it anymore.) I also think it’s a good value at $3.49 for 6 heads (25 oz). Item # 16713.
Still in the produce section, we have a package of four lovely jumbo California artichokes from Ocean Mist Farms in a bag with a sturdy carrying handle. ‘Chokes are one of my favorite vegetables, but unfortunately are a mystery to many, so don’t let them intimidate you! Pick up some of these beauties, and enjoy with a nice compound butter. They really aren’t that hard to prepare, and the reward is so worth it. Artichokes are in season all year, but March through May are the most prolific months, so prices should be good right now. They last about a week in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped loosely around the stems. Priced at $5.99 for 4 huge artichokes, it’s a really good deal. Item # 14658.
Next, I passed a sample cart with Don Pablo coffee. I started drinking coffee only recently, so admittedly I’m no expert, but wow, I was amazed at this. I tried the medium-dark roast Signature Blend. I was hesitant to try it without my usual sweetener (xylitol), but was totally won over at the smooth, absolutely bitter-free taste, with just a splash of cream added. It almost didn’t need sweetening. They had both freshly ground and whole bean 2 lb bags for sale. When I got home I did some research on the company, and I came across this quote from the Don himself:
We roast to order for Costco, and it ships directly to their [distribution center] in one day, and they put it on the shelf that day or the day after at the latest. No third party distribution system and no large minimum orders. We only send them what they can sell in 2-3 weeks. This is part of our unique business model – small batch artisan roasting, 30 kilos at a time (we have multiple small batch roasters), roasted to order. Additionally we roast in traditional gas fired drum roasters, and our Roast Masters (myself included) have decades of combined experience. Additionally, we are growers, and only buy coffee from friends and family all over Latin America. We get the best beans. For $5.00 a pound, it is an exceptional value. Thanks to Costco.
Darron “Don Pablo” Burke
Just by taste alone, I’m impressed! One 2 lb bag (ground or whole) $9.99. Item # 175497.
As I rounded the coffee cart, I did a double take at the offering behind the next refrigerated glass case. It was Carando brand Italian sandwich kit with meats and cheese, enough to make eight sandwiches. It consists of Genoa salami, pepperoni (large rounds), honey ham and provolone cheese. They each come in their own resealable zip-top bags, and you could even reuse the larger plastic container, if you wanted. Now, here’s why I did a double-take. The price was just $2.97. Yes, that was right. I actually thought it was a mis-print. I snagged two and headed for checkout where the cashiers seemed surprised that there were any left (there were plenty when I looked in the case.) They did caution me that the expiration date was quite soon, and upon closer inspection found that it did indeed expire – in only two days. When I got home I decided to store them in the freezer, and they should be fine a little later. I’m not sure if the fire-sale price was because they expire imminently or if that is just the normal price, but I’d never seen them before at Costco, and I’m looking forward to trying it as soon as I finish the other deli meat I just bought. 28 oz, $2.97. Item # 483564.
Last, but not least, I want to review a Costco.com product. It’s the Motor Trend 150 Watt Power Inverter for vehicles. It converts DC power to household AC power. I was drawn to the shape and size, because they claim that it fits in most vehicle cup holders (unless you’ve met my BMW cup holders…nothing ever fits in mine.) I also loved that it had two types of outlets, one for a regular AC plug, and the other for USB charging. Since I have an iPhone that constantly needs charging, this was a great bonus, as well as the on/off switch and the built-in fan.
I received it a while back, but only just tried it for the first time during a 7 hour road trip my MIL and I took last weekend. In incredible form so typical to my life, I didn’t pack a single backup power source – I just brought my iPhone USB cable, putting my full faith (and risking 3 days of boring hotels with nothing to do) in this little device. Unfortunately, it failed spectacularly. Not only did the USB outlet not work at all, but the actual plug that goes into your lighter for power kept stubbornly and instantly popping out. We tried two different car outlets (and later two more in a different car) with the same disappointing result. My MIL was similarly out of luck trying to finish a paper she was writing on her laptop, because her laptop battery no longer holds any charge and must be actively plugged in to an AC power source. We had to resort to rigging the plug with surgical tape, and even then it wasn’t secure, due to the poorly-designed plug and a cord that is way too short to even attempt to fit into a cup holder (notice the stock product picture!) Now it’s covered in sticky adhesive residue with a non-working USB outlet and no way to actually GET your DC power converted. We ended up having to plug her laptop into the wall at the hotel, and then plugging my iPhone USB cable into the laptop. Fail. This one is going back to Costco. $29.99 each. Item # 466603.
In case anyone was wondering, the soda fountains and vending machines at our Atlanta-area Costco are still Coke.