If you were hoping to find my usual review post today, I apologize but I wasn’t able to do it this week. I had to take my laptop in to get something fixed, and even though they promised it would be back by Thursday, it wasn’t. While that might not have kept me from doing my post normally, I had actually not been so prepared and forgot to get my photos off of my laptop before I took it in. So, you’ll just have to wait another week for my latest batch of fresh reviews.
Instead of a new batch of reviews, I am re-posting some of my reviews from products that I love from Costco but haven’t posted about recently. I could probably have a huge post like this but I’m going to try to keep myself in check and not make this too long. All of these products are items that I pretty much always have in my house (except for the chocolates) and several of them are things that I would only buy at Costco. Since I’m cheating and just re-posting things this week, I’ve at least given you twice the reviews to read. And who knows, you might have missed these the first time around!
Garofalo Signature Spaghetti – We are big pasta eaters in our house. We always have spaghetti on hand, as well as the shaped pasta like penne or gemelli. Our favorite, is garlic buttered spaghetti. It’s easy to make but really has so much delicious flavor. Of course, anyone you’re talking to the next day might not appreciate it quite as much. There are so many ways you can prepare pasta and it really is our easy weekday dinner. You can pretty much saute up most vegetables or meats and have a great pasta dish in no time at all. They’ve been stocking the Garofalo signature line of pastas at Costco (UK and US) for a while now, and we’ve always been big fans. Garofalo has been producing pastas for more than 200 years, so they’ve got it down at this point. Here’s a little information from the Garofalo website about their pasta: ”Semolina wheat used to create Garofalo Signature pastas must meet the highest standards for protein content and color quality to guarantee a product with superior aesthetic and flavor that will perform consistently whether prepared by a professional or home chef. Garofalo performs over 25 quality checks on each of its Signature cuts and runs all standard industry controls twice to ensure unmatched quality for its Signature line of pastas.” And that explains why every time I get it, it turns out beautifully. The one tip I would give, no matter what type of pasta you’re making or what brand you’re using: don’t rinse your pasta! If you rinse your pasta after cooking it, you’re going to get rid of all the starches that will help the sauce or oil or butter (or whatever) to cling to the pasta. And you don’t want that. 8, 500 g packages for £4.99 (US: $7.79). Item #: 0069981. [originally posted: August 14, 2010]
Fattorie Garofalo Bufala Mozzarella – I’ve posted this before, like more than a year ago. But this mozzarella is really so good that it needs a mention again, for all of those people that are new to my blog. This is definitely more pricey than the other mozzarella I purchased previously that was made with pasteurized milk, but this is the real-deal mozzarella cheese made with buffalo milk and imported from Italy floating in whey. While the other stuff is good and definitely a nice mozzarella, this stuff is melt-in-your-mouth good. It is soft and creamy with a delicate taste and just a hint of salt (but in a good way…not too salty). This is the perfect choice if you are going to be serving the mozzarella fresh on a cracker or bruschetta, or in a tomato and basil salad. The other mozzarella is more firm so it would be better in a dish where it would be cooked or melted, like on a pizza or a piece of toasted bread. The good news is that this scrumptious cheese is now more than $2.00 cheaper than it was a year ago. 4 – 5 oz balls for $11.99. [originally posted: June 20, 2009]
Costco 16″ Take and Bake Pizza – I’ve always liked the Costco pizza, even before they made it ‘artisan’. But, I must admit, it’s even better now. My one complaint used to be that it was way too large at 18″ in diameter. It was hard to fit in our oven at home and the pieces were so big they were hard to handle when you were trying to eat. But now, they’ve scaled it back a little to 16″ in diameter, which is perfect. It’s still a good sized pizza and you definitely don’t feel like you are being cheated for the $9.99 cost. What other changes did they make? Well, the crust is a little thicker (which means it isn’t as prone to burning) which makes it just a tiny bit less crunchy, but in a good way. They refer to this as their ‘artisan-style’ crust. To me it comes across as more of a hand-tossed crust now, which I prefer. The other change is a new Margherita style pizza is now available in all Costco locations. For those of you not in the pizza-know, this means that it comes with the classic toppings of fresh tomato slices, whole basil leaves, and generous slices of fresh mozzarella, and provolone cheese, in addition to a pesto-pizza sauce mixture. The other topping choice that is available at all Costco stores is the Meat Lovers. This pizza comes with pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage and crumbled meatballs, along with mozzarella and provolone cheese. Over the last couple of weekends (during the playoffs), my husband and I tried both of these pizzas. They’re both really excellent, and I’ll reiterate, for the price of $9.99, they can’t be beat. My favorite though, is the Margherita pizza. There’s just something about the bubbly fresh mozzarella and the fresh basil that can’t be beat. You can find the pizzas in the Deli section of the warehouse. And again, they’re only $9.99. Really, it’s a no-brainer. [originally posted: January 31, 2008]
Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil – The Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Costco is certainly just as good as anything you’re going to find at your local grocery store and most likely it’s way better. Costco has strict standards on the acidity level allowed for their olive oil to be termed ‘extra virgin’. And on top of the fact that it’s better, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper! Dave and I have no trouble using the 2 liter container in a reasonable amount of time because we use it almost every night when we cook. We use it on our asparagus when we are roasting it on the grill or in the oven; to sauté any number of vegetables; a little to toss our pasta with so it doesn’t stick together; to make risotto or couscous; and on fish or other meats when we’re cooking them. I’m a big fan of olive oil and when you can get such a good quality, for such a reasonable price, there’s no reason not to use it all the time. It’s got such a great flavor that it even works well with a little bit of fresh ground salt and pepper to dip bread. For more information on Costco’s Kirkland Signature Olive Oils, check out this article in the Costco Connection. 2 liters for $12.99. [originally posted: May 30, 2008]
Kirkland Signature Belgian Chocolates – I am actually kind of surprised that I haven’t written about these before, but somehow I have missed them in the last three years. The KS chocolates are so delicious and they have a nice variety in the box, as well. They make a really nice gift this time of year because most everyone loves chocolate. Not to mention, they come gift wrapped already, so that is one less step that you have to do yourself. The first time I had them I was impressed with the quality of the chocolate because it is very creamy and has a really lovely flavor; just like more expensive European chocolate. In each one pound package you get a mix of dark, milk, and white chocolate, though probably tends more toward dark chocolate. I’m not usually a dark chocolate person, but even I had to admit that their dark chocolate was excellent (not bitter and dry like cheaper chocolates). Most of the chocolates are filled with different creamy centers: ganache with a hint of champagne, hazelnut praline, caramel with orange and Grand Marnier, ganache with a hint of lemon. There is also a selection of chocolate squares that represent chocolate from different regions of the world with cocoa contents of 32%, 52% and 72% to give you a range from milk chocolate to really quite dark chocolate. And the ‘signature piece’ is the Brussels Bouchee, which is a dark chocolate filled with a double center of dark chocolate ganache and extra dark chocolate butter ganache. So, yeah, not for the diet conscious, for sure. Thankfully the boxes are just one pound! 1 pound for $11.99. Item #: 33750. [originally posted: November 28, 2010]
Men’s Dress Shirts – Dave can always use more dress shirts, I guess. Or at least that is the theory we work on. So, Dave was happy to see some nice dress shirts that were not just light blue, white, or cream. One of the shirts is a Kirkland Signature brand, and has blue, white, and pink stripes. Previously, we’ve only seen the solid colored Kirkland Signature shirts, so it was nice to see them changing things up a bit. The KS shirts are so nicely made and the fabric feels soft and wonderful. Plus, it is no-iron, which is a bonus really. The other shirt has purple stripes and is made by Calvin Klein. It’s also really nice but doesn’t quite have all of the same details as the KS shirts. One of the best features of the KS shirts, at least to me, is that they sew the placket (that’s the area around the buttons and button holes) so that they maintain a nice flat appearance. Unfortunately, the Calvin Klein shirt doesn’t have that feature. But both of the shirts are really nice and add a little something different than the standard colors to Dave’s wardrobe. $16.99 per shirt; (UK: £11.31). KS Item #: 365676; CK Item #: 192672. [originally posted: July 3, 2010]
Adidas Deflect II Women’s Athletic Shoes – If you read my blog regularly, you probably caught my post about a month ago when I bought the new EA Sports Active for my Wii. It’s a really hard workout with quite a bit of running. After doing all the running in my bare feet on my carpet, I realized that I needed a pair of indoor exercise shoes. So, Costco totally had me covered with a pair of inexpensive shoes that still offer me support and a decent sole. This is one of the things I appreciate about Costco, there are just certain items that they will always have in stock, and sneakers are one of those things. I’ve never been looking for a pair and they haven’t had something. Now, granted, when I’m looking it’s for something to either just wear in general or for some kind of basic athletic pursuit like walking. And I’m old enough to not really care what brand or even what color they are; I’m not choosy. But really, where can you get a decently made, name-brand athletic shoe for just over $30? I currently have another pair that I bought a while back that I actually run in and they are quite acceptable. Would I go out running a marathon in them, no, but for the bit of running that I do, they are perfectly fine. Plus, because of the low price, I can actually replace them every 6 months or so and not be so bitter about it. $31.99. Item #: 388978. [originally posted: June 27, 2009]
Space Bag Storage Pack in Color – For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Space Bags (though I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials) concept, it’s basically a big plastic bag with a vacuum cleaner port so that you can put things in the bag and then suck out all of the excess air to squish down the items into this little flat pack. This is a great idea if you’re needing to pack away a bunch of clothing or linens for a few months but you don’t want them to take up a huge amount of space. You can even put pillows and big comforters in these bags. Then, when you unpack, the stuff will be fresh and clean, plus it just kind of pops up to it’s normal size. We’ve used the manual, roll-up kind for years when we travel because you can really get your clothes into a much smaller suitcase or backpack. However, we’re needing to pack some stuff away in storage now, so I thought this looked like the perfect solution. The pack at Costco contains 12 bags in all: 6 large which hold up to 10 sweaters each, and 6 extra large which hold up to 1 queen sized bedding set and two pillows each. And they come in three different colors so that you can color code your items too. But the real benefit is that we’ll be able to pack up the bedding and things, plus some clothing for more compact and cleaner storage. They really seem amazing the first couple of times that you use them because you just can’t believe how much you can compact your clothing or bedding or towels or whatever. And you know, it’s winter now and you probably have your heavy coats out but when spring comes around and you want to get them out of the closet and taking up less space, you should really consider these bags. They can take your bulkiest, puffiest coat and smush it down to this thin little size that you can slip under your bed or stack in a closet, and then next year when the cold weather comes back, you just open it up and your coat is good to go. The only thing that would make this pack better would be if they included some of the travel Space Bags too, or Costco could sell those separately. 12 Space Bags for $23.99. Item #: 310353. [originally posted: January 2, 2010]
Ultra-Soft Microfiber Auto Cloths – We’ve seen these before but never picked up a pack of them. But this week we were doing a couple of projects that we thought they might prove useful for, none of which was actually washing the car though. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly soft these are! But the most important thing is that they are streak free, scratch free, and lint free. I anticipate them being great for cleaning my cook top in the kitchen, various mirrors around the house, as well as windows and floors. And I’ll bet they’ll be nice for dusting too. Not to mention, we could save on our paper towel usage with these little towels. They work really well too. I used them for cleaning our newly installed ceramic tile floor after we were done grouting and they did an outstanding job. The floor is all shiny and looks great and I didn’t need to use a fancy cleaner, just a little bit of water. And by a little bit of water, I really mean barely getting the towel even damp and it cleaned the whole floor brilliantly. In the pack at Costco you get 36 of these towels that are 16″x16″ and can be washed and re-used for a long time. I have to mention the funny instruction that the manufacturer put on the packaging: ‘do not iron.’ Is there really some danger that people would want to iron their cleaning cloths?? Hilarious! 36, 16″x16″ towels for $16.49. [originally posted: January 18, 2009]
Pacific Coast Down Pillows, Queen Size – After buying the down pillows here and having to take them back because of the wet feather smell, we were trying to figure out where to buy some new pillows. I’ve been buying pillows at Costco for so long now, that anyplace else seems outrageously high to me. So, we decided to get some while we were in the US and just bring them back in our luggage. Plus, there was a coupon in the most recent coupon book, which made it even better. I just love the Pacific Coast down pillows. We already had some that we keep on our guest room bed, and everyone that comes to visit loves them too. They are fluffy and soft and plushy. They have a few nice features that make them an outstanding pillow, aside from the wonderful 550 fill power down. Each pillow has a zip off 330 thread count cover, which is great because it keeps the pillows cleaner and you don’t have to worry about feathers and stuff flying around the room. They also have an allergy free warranty because they have taken the care to remove allergens, dust, and dirt (though if you’re allergic to goose down, obviously this is still going to be a problem for you). The pillows are also fully machine washable and I know I’ve done it several times to the pillows that I already have and this keeps them fluffy and fresh. And perhaps the best part is that they have a 30-night comfort guarantee because they are that sure that you will find their pillows to be more comfortable than whatever your current pillows are, or you can return them for a refund. So, now we have nice new fluffy, non-smelly, pillows on our bed. If you’re curious, we brought a SpaceSaver bag with us, and that enabled us to smoosh them down to around an inch in height so they didn’t even take up much space in our luggage. 2 queen/standard pillows for $29.99 ($39.99 – $10.00 coupon). Item #: 665146. [originally posted: November 27, 2010]