We finally made a trip to Costco this weekend. I could tell it had been far too long because the bill was huge and it was a lot of stuff to haul up to our flat, including a big 10 kilogram bag of rice. I always feel like I can skip a workout on the days that we go to Costco now because we don’t have a lift up to our flat and have a lot of stairs to go up. Phew! I’m tired just remembering it.
Dave and I are actually in Helsinki this weekend, enjoying some soggy relaxation time; sadly the forecast was gorgeous there last weekend and rainy this weekend. So, I didn’t quite have time to do a regular review post but thought I would re-post reviews of some of my favourite products that I buy quite often at Costco, including some of the ones that I just bought this weekend. I’ve posted 12 reviews but definitely could have gone on and on and on.
Wild Planet Tuna – This is some of the best tuna I’ve had in a long time or maybe ever. It is nice big hunks of albacore tuna, just the good stuff with nothing bad hiding in the bottom of the can even. I bought some of this recently at our Costco here in the UK and we have been really impressed with the quality. It makes delicious tuna salad, but is also excellent naked right on a salad. Dave even likes to eat it just right out of the can with a little black pepper. I imagine it would be great mixed with pasta too when paired with some capers and black olives maybe. The Wild Planet tuna is all hand cut and packed in a micro-cannery process. And the tuna is in steaks, unlike a lot of canned tuna. This is what makes it have a very firm texture that is completely different from the usually sort of shredded look of canned tuna. Also, they do not add any liquid at all so they retain all of the good oils found in fish. They even warn you not to drain the tuna when taking it from the can so you can reap the full benefit of all the good oils. All that they have in the can is albacore tuna and sea salt. I’ve noticed that when making tuna salad that I need just a little bit of mayo now, probably 1/3 of what I would use on other canned tuna, because of the oil, which I great since mayo isn’t very healthy. Also, they only use pole and troll caught fish. You can see the quality of the fish as soon as you open the can, you can also smell a difference because it doesn’t have that rather potent scent that most canned fish does. It still smells like tuna but is really nowhere near as “fragrant”. The other thing I like is that they have a pull tab to remove the lid, which means that it’s just that much easier to open it. We really liked it and will certainly be buying more it on our next shopping trip to Costco. 6, 5 ounce cans for £8.99 (US: $14.80; this is NOT a price check from Costco in the US, simply a conversion of what I paid here in the UK). Item #: 0154365.
Garofalo Pasta Variety Pack – 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 or some other pasta shape of choice. It’s easy to make but really has so much delicious flavour, if you like garlic. 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 sauté 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 for a while now, and we’ve always been big fans, because it is such a good quality pasta. We’ve had this in our pantry in the US, UK, and Australia, thanks to Costco. While there’s always the spaghetti to get, they also have two different shaped pasta varieties. In these varieties you get two packages each of three different shapes. This time we chose the package with fusilli, farfalle, and radiatori. All of these shapes are great for sauces because the sauce can settle in all of the little nooks and crannies and you get a lot of flavour with each bite of pasta. And of course, this also means they are perfect for my super lazy garlic buttered pasta too. They’re also perfect for anything with a cheese sauce because there’s plenty of surface area for it to cling to which makes it very yummy. 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 colour quality to guarantee a product with superior aesthetic and flavour 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. 6, 500 gram bags for £4.89 (US: $8.05). Item #: 0654002.
Beef Tenderloin Fillet (Australia) – 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.
Port Salut Sliced Cheese – This is a really lovely cheese. Not just the particular package at Costco, but just in general. Port Salut is a mild tasting, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese with a distinctive orange edge. While I enjoy the mild flavour that goes well with just about everything I pair it with, I think it is the texture that really makes this cheese stand out for me. It has such a soft, creamy texture it seems to just melt in your mouth. Obviously, I’m a fan. It makes outstanding grilled cheese sandwiches because of the creaminess and the mild flavour. It’s also great with crackers too. When you let it stand and fully come to room temperature, as you should with cheese, the texture is at its creamiest and the flavour becomes a little more pronounced than if you just grab a piece for a quick bite right from the fridge. Perhaps my favorite way to have this cheese is on a fresh piece of crusty French bread that has been grilled/broiled just long enough for the cheese to get all melty. Delicious! Aside from this being a yummy cheese, it is also conveniently packaged at Costco in two separately sealed containers so that you can have one open while the other one is staying freshly sealed up. Also, the slices are not too wide so they are a good size for most sandwich breads. 560 grams, 28 slices for £4.49. Item #: 0049350.
Costco Bakery Cupcakes – I’m really happy to see than Costco hasn’t pulled anymore cupcake shenanigans and tried to get rid of these again. The current version comes just six to a pack, which is much more manageable than 12 or 9. The cupcakes are now more reasonably sized than the bigger package that they used to have as well, they are now smaller in diameter and height. You no longer feel like you are eating a small cake, but just a nice sized cupcake The taste and texture are still superb though with that delicious light flavour and moistness that we all depend on from cakes coming out of the Costco Bakery. Normally, they have ones that are made from white cake and chocolate cake frosted with white or chocolate frosting; at least that has been the most recent lineup. But right now they have the most adorable seasonal design for winter! The cake decorators clearly got all creative and whipped up these cute special cupcakes with a snowman with a blue scarf on them. How cute are these? If you’re having a holiday party, these would be a great item to pick up. Plus, they’re also really tasty, so it’s a win all around really. The Costco cupcakes are so so delicious and totally outstrip anything I’d pick up at a regular grocery store and even some (if not most) of the upscale cupcake bakeries. The other thing I like about the cupcakes now is that they come in a nice plastic clamshell type package with a little cubby for each individual cupcake so the frosting doesn’t get mangled on the trip home. With the cute snowmen I was really worried that their little “carrot” noses would still bump into the plastic lid. Luckily though, they all arrived home fully intact. 6 cupcakes for £3.99 (US: $6.50). Item #: 0004728.
Langers Mango Nectar – I noticed just recently that they are now selling Langers Vegetable Juice at our Costco UK store, so now I really am wondering why they don’t have the mango nectar. Instead of the good Langers Mango Nectar they have all of these inferior watered down mango juice drinks.
When I first said I was moving to Sydney, someone from Langers sent me an email and let me know that I would be happy to find out that Langers Mango Nectar would be available at Costco here. They were so right! I forgot how much I love this mango nectar. All other mango juice or nectars pales in comparison. The Langers has a thick texture and a deep golden orange color that looks just like the fruit. It doesn’t look watered down and pale like other products that try to pass themselves off as nectar but are clearly just juice, watery bad juice at that for the most part. The taste is really delicious too because it is very mango-y flavoured with that sweetness and just a hint of something like cinnamon almost in the background. Honestly, I’m a mango fanatic and for the three years that we have been in the UK, where they do not sell Langers at Costco, I have been trying to find a reasonable substitute, but without any luck. A lot of the mango juices try to sneak in other juices like apple or orange or white grape, which is just cheating to me. Plus, that totally distorts the flavour and reduces the mango yumminess that you are looking for anyway. I think the difference comes from the fact that 20% of the ingredients are mango puree, and yes there is water and sugar in there too but that’s a lot of pureed fruit as well and that makes it taste like the fruit. That puree is also what gives it the nice thick consistency that truly sets it apart from other mango juice/nectar. Also, if you are like me and can’t drink orange juice or eat oranges, and therefore have a hard time finding something that you like as a way to get your daily Vitamin C needs met, one 8 ounce glass of this per day meets 100% of that requirement and is a reasonable (for juice) 140 calories. Truly, if you like mango fruit or the flavour, you will love this mango nectar. 1 gallon for A$8.79 (US: $9.03; UK: £5.75). Item #: 135344.
Kidde Fire Extinguisher – I’m always going on about getting smoke detectors and fire extinguishers when there is a coupon, so I am happy to say that I took my own advice and bought this for our new flat. In our previous flat there was a giant fire extinguisher right outside our door that was maintained and checked regularly by the building. But that was a building with 20-something flats and a property management firm that was really on top of safety issues. Our new flat, is just one of two, so there’s no fire extinguisher in the building at all as far as we can see. Which I think is totally dangerous and should not be allowed, but what do I know. In any case, because we’re all about safety first, we decided to protect ourselves and bought this nice little multi-purpose fire extinguisher as a flat warming gift to ourselves. This fire extinguisher is A-B-C rated which means that it can be used on anything in your house or vehicle, from paper to petrol. The only thing they say not to use it on is a fat or oil fire in a pan because the powder extinguisher can actually cause the hot oil or fat to spread and no one wants that. Naturally, they suggest you use a Kidde Fire Blanket in these situations, but a metal pan lid or baking sheet will suffocate the flames too, as will baking powder or salt if the fire isn’t a raging inferno. A fire extinguisher can be a bit tricky to operate, at least in some cases, but this one is quite easy since all you have to do is pull the pin aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and squeeze the trigger while sweeping the extinguisher across the base of the fire. What could be easier than that? Since this extinguisher cannot be refilled there is no maintenance and it should be good for at least six years. The pressure indicator on the top will let you know if you need to replace your extinguisher. And if it loses pressure in six years or less it will be replaced under the Kidde warranty. Of course, this means that you need to check the pressure on a regular basis to make sure that it is prepared for use. We have ours sitting on the floor in a corner, however, if we wanted we could hang it on the wall with the handy bracket/holder that is attached to the extinguisher. Everyone should have a fire extinguisher, just in case something unfortunate should happen. My cousin had a fire a few years ago and lost everything and was devastated, so I would rather be overly prepared for sure. Currently, we have just a single fire extinguisher but I plan on getting a second one for the second floor of our flat too. Hopefully, we will never need to use it and it will lose pressure just sitting there in the corner quietly, but that is so much better than needing one and not having it to hand. 1 kg extinguisher for £10.99. Item #: 0084914.
Kirkland Signature Yoga Jacket – I’ve got the whole set of Kirkland Signature workout wear for women now. I like the tank tops and the capri pants quite a bit, but I don’t really care for the workout pants. However, I really like the jacket the best. They have a lot of thoughtful details that they have designed into the jacket to make it highly usable and comfortable. It is very form fitting, so if that isn’t the type of jacket you are looking for you should at least get a size bigger. After I tried it on in the store, I decided to get an X-Large so that it wouldn’t be so tight across the chest if I wanted to wear something heavier than a thin t-shirt under it. The nice thing though is that it is longer in length than any of my other workout jackets, coming well below my hips. The fabric is a mixture of nylon and elastane, and seems sort of heavy, but is really breathable and is quite comfortable to wear even when you’re jogging and working up a sweat. Of course, the hidden venting on the back definitely helps with keeping you cool as well. I also like the big, chunky zipper that goes down the front and is also on the pockets. It’s very easy to grab a hold of when you are exercising to either zip up or down, depending on how warm you are at the moment. Plus, it doesn’t seem like the kind that will bind up easily, which happens to me far too often on some of my other workout jackets. One of the pockets comes with a little button-hole so that you can have your iPod or music player of your choice in your pocket and have the headphone cord go up through your jacket so that it isn’t flopping around getting caught on your arm as you move. Also, at the neck there is a little loop where you can put the headphone cord through that as well to keep the cord in place even if you pull your headphones out of your ears. And you’ll feel okay about having your phone or whatnot in your pockets because the outside pocket has a zipper so nothing will fall out as you move around. Plus, the inside has two pockets where you can keep things pretty secure too, even though they don’t zip or snap, since the only opening is at the top and they are quite deep, you’re unlikely to have stuff fall out of there. The one thing that I have been demanding of all of my workout jackets for years, is the thumbhole and this jacket has that too. The thumbhole is a simple little idea that more jackets and sweatshirts should have. It keeps your sleeves in place and not riding up or pulling if you are doing something like jogging or playing some outdoor sport. But Costco takes it one step further by having the sleeves be nicely long and then at the end they have this ingenious cuff thing that you can pull over your hand to keep it warm too. It’s like a little instant mitten type thing. Very smart! All in all, this is a great jacket. It is comfortable to wear and has so many great features, it is hard to believe you can get it for this price. You’d pay twice this price (at least) for something similar from Nike or Adidas, I think. Now, if they would only make a really lightweight version for summer. £16.99 (US: $27.59). Item #: 0114494.
L’Oreal Elnett Strong 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 than a bird’s nest. 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 that stiff hair look and feel, 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 seriously just sort of sits on your hair, but 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 £5.99 per can. 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. 2, 400 ml cans for £8.89 (US: $14.16). Item #: 0125987.
Kirkland Signature Men’s Authentic Jeans Wear Black Jeans – Dave doesn’t get to wear a lot of casual clothes like jeans anymore, which is why we are always buying dress shirts at Costco. But on the weekends he likes to wear comfy jeans for running errands or whatever casual activities we have planned. Unfortunately, we’ve had a bit of a hard time finding him jeans since we’ve been here in London, we usually wait until we’re in the US or I have ordered him a pair or two from Lands’ End because they have various lengths and styles. The big problem is the length, since he’s fairly tall he needs at least a 34″ or 36″ inseam depending on the style and generosity (apparently not all measurements are from the same spot or something) of cut; usually we have to get a 36″ inseam. It’s really interesting that sometimes he can get a 34″ inseam and that fits and other times he looks like he’s waiting for a flood – as in serious high waters or to be polite, showing a bit too much ankle. Also, he always seems to have trouble finding that length when we are shopping at Costco here in the UK. I don’t know if they sell out of those lengths right away or if his inseam in combo with his waist size is the problem; though they pretty much never have 36″ inseam trousers of any type so we have to gamble on the 34″ inseam and hope they fit. In any case, he always feels quite lucky when he can find a pair that are the right size. If you’re a man and you like jeans, you should probably give the Kirkland Signature jeans a try. They are made of a nice heavy denim with sturdy seams and zippers, just like real jeans. They truly don’t have that bargain brand jeans look or feel. The pair that Dave got this week was black but they also have regular blue jeans too, which Dave also has at least one pair of in his closet. As I recall, they have two different colours of blue, one dark and one more that is faded a bit for that already broken in look. The cut of the jeans isn’t trendy and they don’t have any kind of weird pockets or anything, they are just what I would call traditional or standard jeans, which is nice if you want just a pair of jeans and not a fashion statement. And of course, they have a just jeans price too, which is great now that jeans can be shockingly pricey at times. They look nice on and are comfortable, so really, what more can you ask for from a pair of jeans? The only question I have is why don’t they make Kirkland Signature jeans for ladies? £9.99 (US: $15.91). Item #: 0562428.
Kirkland Signature Crew Neck Men’s T-Shirts – Dave wears dress shirts to work everyday, so he likes to wear a cotton shirt like this under them. He believes that the shirts seem a little more comfortable with the undershirt. Plus, this time of year when it is colder out, it is far warmer to have something on underneath the shirts. These are really nice t-shirts. They are a nice weight, thick enough that you could wear them as just a plain white t-shirt if that is your thing. But they’re not so thick that they feel bulky under your clothing either. As you would expect with this kind of t-shirt, they are 100% combed cotton, which means that they have a nice smooth, soft texture which feels good against your skin. The seams are all reinforced so that you don’t have to worry about durability of the seams in the slightest. And the one thing that seems a must now for all t-shirts, at least in my opinion, is that it is tagless. I’m so glad someone finally realized the need to stop putting tags in t-shirts. All of the same information is still there, it’s just not a tag. I’ve washed these a few times now and have to say that they look just as good after washing as they did when we bought them. There was no shrinking or anything like that. Of course, since they are 100% cotton you do have to make sure you don’t let them lay around in the dryer for too long after they’re finished or else they will get fairly wrinkled. If you’re looking for nice, quality white t-shirts, the Kirkland Signature ones are great and hard to beat. 6 pack for £14.99 (£2.50 per shirt). Item #: 0749226.
Kirkland Signature Men’s Dress Shirts – I just realized as I was finding a review for these shirts, that we like them so much, we have bought them in four countries now: US, UK, Australia, and Korea. Because you really can never have too many great 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.