We made our last trip to Costco in 2013 on Monday to pick up some things for New Year’s. It was weird going during the week; the first time we have done so since moving to the UK actually. But since it was holiday time, the roads were pretty deserted of cars, especially when we left our flat at 9.30 in the morning, and the Costco was pretty light on shoppers too. I was worried that it might be really busy because of New Year’s Eve being the next day, but it didn’t seem to have much of an affect. Though, we were there right after they opened, so perhaps later in the day it got busy.
Kirkland Signature Take and Bake Pepperoni Pizza – Oh how I have missed being able to pick up one of the nice Take and Bake pizzas from Costco. The pizzas at our UK Costco used to be rectangular and I figured we might have trouble fitting it in our little London oven. But really, I just hate rectangular pizza. You lose the ability to have a hand hold of dough, which annoys me, but the middle never seems to cook as well either and always seems soggy. So we just refrained from buying a pizza for the last few years. However, on one of our recent trips to Costco we noticed that the pizzas are now the normal, and correct, round shape. Plus, they now appear to be just like the Take and Bake pizzas in the US, which we both really loved. Not to mention, pizza here in London is not very good. We’ve ordered from several different places and it’s all got problems. We have yet to find a really good place and normally just go with Pizza Hut because it is the best option (sadly). So, needless to say, we were excited to see the good pizzas at our Costco and picked up a pepperoni pizza. I really wish that we had just gone for either the Margherita or the plain cheese version though. The crust and sauce were as delicious as they were in the US, and the amount of cheese was excellent too. However, the pepperoni wasn’t actually pepperoni but was some very, very oily salami of an unknown variety. It tasted not at all like pepperoni and was much more bland and like what in the US we would call summer sausage. I didn’t really notice until we were eating it though because I guess I just didn’t look at it too intently before then. But my first tip off came after we cooked it and I had to use about six large sheets of paper towels to mop up the oil slick that had formed on the top of the pizza. Yes, it was just as nasty as you are envisioning. So after degreasing, we both noticed the lack of pepperoni flavour and also how the pepperoni didn’t look like it normally does or how it should look even and didn’t taste too great either. I actually ended up picking it off and just eating it like a cheese pizza. So, as a result of this unfortunate little pizza moment, we haven’t been too excited about getting another pizza from Costco. Though, we will definitely try it again, but I will certainly be inspecting the pepperoni much better next time. Or, we will just get the cheese one and top it with pepperoni ourselves that we can also buy at Costco. £6.99 (US: $11.47). Item #: 0093150.
Bertolli Spread – I must admit that I like the taste of butter, real butter. However, we’re not getting any younger and our cholesterol levels would probably prefer we use a less tasty butter-like spread. So, I’ve tried a couple of different ones but I have found that we prefer the Bertolli spread. I think it might be that it has one of the nicer flavours because it is made with olive oil. The olive oil makes it a much healthier choice because it has 74% less saturated fat than butter and is high in monounsaturated fat. I must also admit that I like the convenience of having something spreadable, which is definitely not a property of butter unless you leave it sitting out at room temperature all the time. The Bertolli is great for toast and crumpets and things like that, as well as on vegetables like green beans. It pretty much can do all of the things that I would do with real butter for everyday stuff like that. However, I don’t think I would try to use it for baking because you just really need that extra fat from butter for things like cookies or other baked goods. Of course, I have heard other people say that they use it as a substitute for butter in everything and haven’t noticed a problem. So, I might have to try it out sometime. But definitely for all of your normal, everyday things it is a perfect substitute. While it doesn’t have the taste of butter, it does have more flavour than most of the fake butter spreads. The olive oil actually gives it a nice fresh taste that is really perfect for vegetables and potatoes, I think. At Costco they have the giant 1 kilogram tub, so it could take a while to get through depending on how you use it. The price is really quite good at Costco in comparison to other supermarkets where you will pay £3.70 for the same size container (about £0.40 more than at Costco). I was fortunate to get mine when there was a coupon so I got it for a super low price which was pretty much less than I would have paid for a 500 gram tub at any other supermarket. I like that kind of deal! 1 kg for £1.79 (£3,29 – £1.50 coupon) (US: $2.94). Item #: 0022690.
Marc Martin Men’s Strata Coat – Sometimes I am amazed at the perfect timing of Costco. It often seems that things show up there, just as I was looking for them. This time it was a nice winter coat for Dave. He has a top coat, but wanted something to wear for more casual times too that wasn’t so long and formal looking. It’s hard to find a nice casual coat in wool and cashmere that doesn’t cost a fortune or look sort of our of place with jeans. We had seen a nicely tailored coat at Jaeger over the weekend that Dave like but wasn’t over the moon about, but it also cost £300.00. So, we were very pleased to see the Marc Martin roadshow with coats, top coats, and suits. The coat that Dave chose is made from a wool and cashmere fabric and feels absolutely gorgeous. But in addition to that, it is really nicely made with some very considerate features. The thing that first attracted us was the feel of the fabric which was just as good as anything we had found on Regent’s Street, but you’d expect that from wool and cashmere. It has a bit of an understated elegant look that is quite nice, and certainly won’t be out of style anytime soon because it doesn’t have anything weird or trendy going on. There are buttons down the front that are covered when buttoned for a very clean look. There’s a storm collar and zippered inner panel as well. The storm collar is made of a heavy knitted fabric and stands up to keep your neck protected in nasty winter weather. Of course, if you don’t need or want that, then you can zip that portion of the coat out. How cool is that? In essence, you can have two coats in one thanks to that little bit of zipper action. The inside of the coat is fully lined with a quilted poly lining that runs the full length of the coat and extends to the arms, as well. In the inside you also have two inner pockets that have zippers across the top to keep things secure, but it also has a rather large patch pocket too. Plus, there are two side entry pockets on the outside of the coat which are quite roomy and perfect for gloves. Dave really liked the pockets because you can actually put your hands in them when you are walking around (because they are side entry instead of top entry like you find in most top coats). It is an excellent coat, especially for the more than reasonable price. I’m quite certain we would have spent at least £100.00 more to get something of similar quality on the high street. They also had a similar looking coat made of wool, no cashmere, that was less than £100.00 (I want to say around £65.00 but I’m not certain), that would be a nice alternative if you didn’t want to pay this much. £139.99 (US: $229.78). Item #: 0152980.
L’Oreal Elnett Extra Hold Hairspray – When we were in Austin, I pretty much never used hairspray. I didn’t need to as much because I always drove everywhere and my hair didn’t have to stand up to wind or anything drastic. Plus, I don’t really like that stiff Aquanet kind of feeling on my hair. However, since we’ve moved to London and I now walk pretty much everywhere, and it is oftentimes windy or rainy or both, I need a little help keeping my hair looking like something other the bus driver from South Park. So, I’ve tried a few different brands of hairspray to see which I can use that won’t make me feel like I’ve got a helmet of hair, but does still exhibit some control. I have tried some cheaper stuff which felt gross and I’ve tried some far more expensive stuff which felt wonderful and made my hair look really nice but still soft. However, the Elnett is a great middle of the road price but with the feeling and control that I got from the more expensive hairspray. It is really amazing that you can get such good hold now but still have your hair feel soft. Apparently, they achieve that through a “unique micro-diffuser” that “sprays ultra-fine”, which does actually seem to be true. The cheaper stuff comes out in bigger droplets and sometimes just sort of sits on your hair, which isn’t a look that anyone wants to cultivate. The Elnett is so fine that you can’t see it or feel it on your hair. Their big thing is that it “disappears at the stroke of a brush” and that is definitely true. If you put it on, even quite a lot for an evening out, and then come home and brush your hair it is immediately back to just being hair. I love that! I’ve also found that it seems to offer some level of protection against humidity, which as you can imagine, can be a bit of an issue here in London. My hair is naturally curly but I like to straighten it quite often, so it is nice to have a hairspray that will hold off the effects of humidity fairly well. It isn’t as good as staying inside but is probably the best result I’ve gotten from any hair product to keep my straightened hair from getting curly at the first sign of a bit of humidity. Sometimes you can get it at Boot’s or Tesco for about the same price as you’ll find it at Costco, however, more often I find that it is about £6.00 per can (for the large 400 ml size like you get at Costco). I normally get my groceries delivered from Ocado and the price there is a whopping £6.60 for a single can, so I avoid buying it there for sure. But at Costco, you get two 400 ml cans for just £8.89 or just £4.45 per can! That is a remarkably good deal and one that you can always count on since it is their everyday price. It’s like getting a half can of hairspray for free, pretty much. 2, 400 ml cans for £8.89 (US: $14.59). Item #: 0125987.