Well, I’m sure that it will rain this weekend because we are planning to go to the Taste of Sydney to try out some cool Aussie food. Where’s all the sunshine, Australia? I honestly thought it was going to be more like the weather in Tucson here, though not as hot. It’s great when it is sunny, but far too much of the time it is rainy. And naturally it is always accompanied by rain’s evil friend, humidity. If you’re in the UK, this is the last weekend for current coupon book. And I’m sure no one will forget that it is St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday. Have fun celebrating that!
McCormick Black Pepper Grinder and Kirkland Signature Pink Salt Grinder – One of the less than great parts of moving to another country and being without most of the things you own, is that all of your spice collection just isn’t there to rely on anymore. So, we’ve had to pick up a few items at Costco to fill in our spice rack. Naturally, the first, and most basic, thing to get was salt and pepper. I love the salt and pepper at Costco because they both come in the bottles with the grinder on the top. That built in grinder is so convenient and really makes sure that you get the most out of your salt and pepper since they are always freshly ground; pepper in particular. The freshly ground thing is really important for the pepper because this means that you don’t lose the flavour at all. When you freshly grind the pepper you release all of the lovely oils kept tucked away in the peppercorns and that’s a big part of what gives pepper its flavour. However, if you use pre-ground pepper all of those oils will have evaporated and the taste isn’t as powerful. So, you really do need to grind it to get the best flavour. I also like the Pink Himalayan Salt that is in the KS grinder. Unlike pepper, it doesn’t seem as necessary to have freshly ground salt because there’s no volatile oils in the salt crystals. However, when you grind it, it has a finer consistency than regular table salt and that helps it dissolve faster and more evenly when cooking with it. I’ve read that the Himalayan salt is better for you and has a wider range of minerals in it but since I left my chemistry set at home, I can’t figure out if that is true or just hype. I do think that the Himalayan salt has a less harsh taste than regular table salt, it is still salty but in a nicer way. To me it doesn’t necessarily have that much of a different taste than sea salt. As a result of the nice salty taste, this is great on salads or fresh vegetables. Black Pepper: 180 grams for A$5.49 (UK: £3.78; US: $5.70). Item #: 18176. Salt: 368.5 grams for A$4.89 (UK: £3.36; US: $5.07). Item #: 656537.
Beef Tenderloin Fillet – We like a good steak and we definitely had a bit of a lull when we were moving. So, we picked these great looking fillets up at Costco. Even though we’re not well versed in the beef grades and types here, a tenderloin is a pretty standard cut and they looked really nice in the package. We had hoped that they would live up to our expectations set by previous Costco beef purchases. And they totally did because they were absolutely delicious. The meat was very tender and had an incredibly rich flavor. The steaks had a good amount of marbling too; not too fatty though, just the way a tenderloin should be really. My mouth is watering just recalling how delicious these were. I think Dave could have devoured his and mine and still been in the mood for more. We cooked them simply and they really didn’t need much embellishment aside from a little salt and pepper to enhance the flavor. I think it was the tenderness that really impressed me though. In our little serviced flat here, we definitely don’t have steak knives, so we had to cut them with butter knives. Yeah, not my ideal situation for sure. However, they were tender enough that this was actually possible without feeling like we were just going to need to pick up the steaks and bite into them like a sandwich. They were definitely like a ‘prime’ cut from the US in terms of quality and certainly in the same ballpark as far as price goes too. However, I am willing to pay to buy a really nice steak because it is still a better price than if we went to dinner at a steak place, and probably just as good in quality and preparation (for the average steak place, but not for someplace like Morton’s obviously). If you consider that we got four tenderloin fillets for this price, that makes them so much cheaper than going out to a real steak restaurant where you’d pay this price for just a single steak that may or may not be of a decent quality. Luckily, Costco can keep us stocked in steaks because the two places we have gone for steaks in Sydney had big huge prices and some of the worst steaks I’ve ever had the displeasure of eating. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other cuts that they have available to see if they are as wonderful as these tenderloin fillets. 0.816 kilograms of fillets for A$31.00; A$37.99/kilogram (UK: £21.32; US: $32.17). Item #: 13190.
Green Giant Fresh Asparagus – We love love love asparagus! It is by far our favourite vegetable and I think we’d both be happy to have some with every meal. Well, maybe not breakfast but all of the other meals. I’ve always found Costco to have some of the best asparagus on offer, with a good quality of freshness and terrific prices as well. Our favorite way to prepare it is baking it in the oven because it is so quick, easy and requires little preparation. All we do is mix some spices and oil with the asparagus to coat it and then put it on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 – 12 minutes at 350 F/200 C and it comes out perfect every time. If the asparagus is that really big stuff you need to keep it in there a little longer, obviously. I think this works much better than boiling it and leaves the asparagus with a great flavour and a nice texture too. If you’re making something else in the oven you can usually throw them in together and have like a one pot meal. And if the something else is cooking at a higher temperature, it doesn’t really matter you might have to just take the asparagus out a bit earlier. Of course, if we had a grill I would throw it on the grill and let it get that nice flavour from that. Yum! It is just absolutely delicious. I don’t recall ever seeing the Green Giant brand in the US or the UK, but the quality of it was quite good. Though, I would encourage them to follow the practice of some other packagers of asparagus and make sure that there are some air holes in the bags, otherwise the fresh asparagus seems to steam and get really gross and nasty in the sealed up plastic bags. And no one wants that kind of asparagus. When it all spoils as a result of poor packaging that is just such a lot of waste. Now, I’m sure that you’ll all be shocked by the price (at least those living outside of Australia). However, I will point out that Costco is still by far the best deal around. When I go to the Coles website it says that you can get a bunch (about 6 spears) for A$2.98. And at the Woolworth’s closest to us it is A$4.50 for the same sized bunch. I wish they would put a size on this because I know at Woolworth’s the asparagus was pathetic – small, floppy, and barely edible looking. In any case, at Costco you get a whole kilogram and in our bunch that was about 42 spears (7 times as much as from Coles or Woolworth’s). So, when you compare it that way the same 6 spears from Costco amounts to a price of $1.43. And at least in comparison to the quality at Woolworth’s, Costco is so far superior it is almost like it is a different vegetable entirely. 1.02 kilograms for A$9.99 (UK: £6.87; US: $10.37). Item #: 19141.
Kirkland Signature Men’s Dress Shirts – I know, I know, I write about these quite often but they’re just that good. I want to make sure that everyone knows how great these shirts are, and we really do buy them this often because Dave can always use more dress shirts, I guess. Or at least that is the theory we work on. This is especially true since we only brought a small selection of shirts when we came to Sydney. Since we are having trouble finding a decent and reliable dry cleaner, his shirt supply is a little on the small side. So, we were happy to see some nice dress shirts that were not just light blue, white, or cream. I mean, sure they are really just variations on that theme, but at least they have a bit of style with stripes instead of just being a solid. The KS shirts are so nicely made and the fabric feels so soft and wonderful. Plus, it is no-iron, which is really a big bonus. I’m big on sending his shirts to the dry cleaner, but this is a great feature because it seems to keep them from wrinkling really quite a lot when wearing them. 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. Both of the shirts are really nice and add a little something different than the standard colors to Dave’s wardrobe. Costco prides itself on making a very good dress shirt for men, one that is comparable to more expensive shirts. These aren’t quite up to the exceptionally high quality standards of something like a Thomas Pink shirt. However, they are comparable in quality, if not better, than any shirt from a department store, I think. But of course they are a fraction of the price, so that makes them even better, right? They have quality features that help the shirts look really nice on, as well as wear quite well. A$19.99 (UK: £13.75; US: $20.74). Item #: 365676.