I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day. Dave and I enjoyed a nice dinner and a spectacular fireworks display here in Sydney. Remarkably, this is the third fireworks display that we have seen here in Sydney in the month that we have been here. That’s a lot of fireworks! And this Sunday night, there will be another fireworks display for more Lunar New Years festivities. The ones this Sunday are the big finale to a Lunar New Year’s twilight parade that I can’t wait to see and I’m really hoping that it won’t be called off because of the storms and rain that are forecast for Sunday.
Arnott’s Original Tim Tam Biscuits – I’m pretty sure that the Tim Tam is the national biscuit of Australia. They are everywhere and come in a million varieties (maybe a slight exaggeration). My sister even wants me to send her some because she’s seen them talking about them in a worshipful tone on Australian tv shows. So, naturally we had to get some of these. They really are quite good and probably do deserve a lot of the fanfare. It’s not just some run of the mill chocolate biscuit though. It’s got three different types of chocolate for you to love: chocolate biscuit base, chocolate cream, and then chocolate coating. Yeah, it’s super chocolaty. The chocolate biscuits that are not too hard, just nicely crunchy sandwich a layer of very soft and luscious chocolate cream and then the whole thing is enrobed in a milk chocolate coating. Yum! Since it is all a nice creamy milk chocolate, it doesn’t seem as overpowering as it could with all of that chocolate. But I can still only eat a couple at a time before I feel chocolate overload; Dave feels differently and can enjoy several more of them. I can’t imagine why they don’t have these in the US. They really should share this little nugget of Australian wonderfulness with the rest of the world. We bought them first from our neighborhood Woolworth’s and so we knew that the price at Costco was beyond fair and actually quite excellent. Locally, it is hard to find anything but the 200 gram packs but at Costco you get the 365 gram value pack which has 20 biscuits as opposed to 12 biscuits in the regular pack (I think). And you get three at one time at Costco because you don’t want to run out of Tim Tams in between Costco visits. In any case, I checked prices at both Woolworth’s and Coles and found that they were both right at A$1.61 per 100 grams versus the much smaller price of A$1.08 per 100 grams at Costco. The Costco price is also better than the price of A$1.30 per 100 grams for the 330 gram value pack that they have on the Woolworth’s online shopping site; I’ve not seen these actually in the store though. In any case, they are still considerably cheaper at Costco, you’re either saving A$0.53 or A$0.22 per pack, depending on what size you can get in your supermarket; meaning that I saved between A$0.66 and A$1.59 by buying my three packs at Costco . And yes, I know that the regular supermarkets have sales but at Costco you can get it for this price all the time, with no fuss and no special rush to buy, it’s just always this great price. Here’s an interesting little fact from the Arnott’s website: 1 in every 2 households contains a packet of Tim Tams and around 35 million packs are sold each year – that’s nearly 400 million biscuits! Just think of all the money that could have been saved if those were all bought at Costco! 3, 20 biscuit packs (365 grams each) for A$11.79; each 20 biscuit 365 gram value pack for A$3.93 (UK: £7.88; US: $12.21). Item #: 10170.
Movie Ticket Vouchers – Granted, it has been a long time since I’ve gone to a movie theatre to watch a movie since we have our own projector normally. However, it wasn’t feasible to bring the projector and stuff with us to Sydney for a few months, so we thought we’d go to a movie. However, we decided that rolling the dice on a movie for almost A$20.00 per person, not including snacks or anything, was not that attractive a thought. And that’s just for a standard ticket to a standard movie, not a 3D one. I’m sure I am hopelessly out of touch with prices, but I think that’s just too much. They have something here called Gold Class that is even more and can be up to A$39.50 per ticket. And you’ll pay at least A$21.50 for a 3D movie. So we were thrilled when we saw the movie voucher deal at Costco. In the little flat package at Costco, you get two adult movie vouchers for A$25.00 for use at Village Cinemas, Greater Union, Birch Carroll & Coyle, as well Event Cinemas. Event Cinemas is our closest theatre, just about a 5 minute walk away. So this is perfect for us. And you don’t have to rush to the cinema because the vouchers are good for several months, nine months actually; ours expire on 31 October 2013, plenty of time to catch a flick. There are some restrictions, which is kind of annoying but understandable. The biggest one is that you can’t use them for tickets for a showing after 5 pm on Saturdays. You also cannot use the vouchers for Gold Class, group bookings, movie marathons, special events, or in conjunction with any other offers. And there will be a surcharge for 3D, VMAX, or Read D films. So basically, you can use these for a plain old movie on a non-Saturday night. But you are saving A$12.00 for two tickets. That savings is enough to get a soda or something to enhance your movie experience even. For us, the restrictions aren’t that big a deal and as long as you are fully aware of them before you buy the vouchers, you should be pretty pleased. We haven’t used our vouchers yet, but I am glad that Costco has made it more reasonably priced. I still have to say that I am not sure most movies we’ve seen in the last few years are worth even the A$12.50 per person, but it’s certainly better than A$18.50! 2 adult tickets for A$25.o0 (UK: £16.71; US: $25.90). Item #: 10051.
Kitchen Aid Ceramic Knife Set – As I think I mentioned last week, our serviced apartment here in Sydney is rather spartan and some of the utensils are just lacking or not something I am going to use. For instance, the knife set looks like someone used it to chop down trees and then voted to let it sit out in the rain instead of giving it a proper cleaning. So, yeah, we decided buying some knives was essential for us since we wanted to cook instead of just eat out for three months. Luckily, we were able to find this great Kitchen Aid set at Costco. Dave and I have both been curious about the ceramic knives since friends of ours in Austin got some and raved about them. I had never seen this set in the UK or the US (though it has been a while since I’ve been shopping in the US), but I hope it is available everywhere else too. This is a great knife set because they are all very usable, no rarely used knives in the bunch. The set has three knives – a 6″ chef knife, a 5″ santoku, and a 3″ paring knife – and the fourth piece is a peeler. The peeler is really nice with a ceramic cutting surface and a big chunky handle so that it doesn’t slip out of your hands when they are wet and peeling things like carrots or potatoes. The peeler also comes with a protective cover for the blades to protect them and your hands while it is stored. But of course, the knives are the real attraction here. Each of the knives has a ceramic blade that is incredibly sharp and will keep its edge longer than a traditional steel knife. Plus, there’s no problem putting them in the dishwasher, which is probably a good idea since they are so so super sharp. The knives all have very nice, ergonomically shaped handles that will keep your hand in place, even when wet, and keep your hand comfortable even if you’re cutting for a while. The part that I really like is that each knife comes with its own little plastic sheath to fully protect the blades when stored. The blade covers also mean that you won’t have to worry about slicing your fingers on them accidentally when you have them in a drawer. The other benefit to the covers is that it makes it much easier to take a knife with you if you are going to someone else’s house or on a picnic or camping. We take a paring knife with us when we go camping, so having a nice cover is a big benefit to us. But really, it is better protection for the blade and your fingers. The most important thing to remember about the ceramic blades is that they are susceptible to nicks if you use them on a really hard surface or to cut something that is very hard like really frozen meats, bones, or really hard cheese. And of course, you should never use them to pry or twist, but that is just a good idea no matter what kind of quality knives you have – steel or ceramic. They glide through vegetables and meats of all kinds with so little effort though, it makes cutting and chopping for your evening meal really easy. And when we get ready to leave Australia, these will be so much easier to pack and take home with us since they have the covers. If it had a bread knife this would be the perfect set. 4 piece set for A$36.99 (UK: £24.72; US: $38.32). Item #: 664640.
Cadbury Creme Eggs – Hasn’t everyone had a Cadbury Creme Egg? They’ve been around for years and years and are my favourite Easter-time candy item. You can keep your hollow, horrible chocolate bunnies, I just want some Creme Eggs. I truly feel amongst my people in the UK because they have tons of commercials on for them and announce Creme Egg season like the huge event that it is. We had them in the US too, just without the fanfare. But here in Australia, they are precious like gold and cost almost as much. If you haven’t had one (what are you waiting for?!?), they are a milk chocolate egg shell filled with gooey, sweet, creamy candy egg centers, complete with a little yellow yolk. They are in no way healthy for you and will certainly lead to a sugar rush. But nothing says Eastertime like a Cadbury Creme Egg, to me. In any case, on our first trip to Coles (before our trip to Costco) we saw a little pack of 6 Creme Eggs for an outrageous amount of money and were thinking we would be having an egg free Easter as a result. But alas, Costco was there to save the day again. At Coles, the 6 pack of Creme Eggs is A$7.50 or A$1.25 per egg. And at Woolworth’s, they are even more, at A$8.06 for the 6 pack or A$1.34 per egg. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe those prices, isn’t it? Luckily for us, Costco has them much cheaper at A$14.99 for 16 eggs or A$0.94 per egg. So, with Costco’s prices their six pack of Creme Eggs would be just A$5.64; A$1.86 to A$2.42 cheaper than the supermarkets. It’s still quite high in comparison to the US or UK probably, but at least it is cheaper than at the other stores here in Sydney. Just for a little fun check, I looked up the Cadbury Creme Eggs on Ocado (my UK grocer of choice) and they have a 12 pack of eggs for £4.90 which would be £0.41 per egg, with the exchange rate that is A$0.61 per egg; yeah, A$0.33 less per egg than even Costco here. Just for fun I also looked them up on my blog, the last time I wrote about them was in February 2011, at that time you could buy a 12 pack of Creme Eggs at Costco UK for £2.45 which would be £0.20 per egg, with the exchange rate that is just the wee small price of A$0.30 per egg. So, needless to say, we are carefully savouring our Creme Eggs like the precious little candy jewels that they are and definitely won’t be taking them for granted this Creme Egg season. 2, 8 egg packs for A$14.99 (UK: £10.02; US: $15.53). Item #: 25356.