It has been great weather here this week and that has totally made me want to play hooky and not be a responsible blogger. But I have struggled through, I’ve even managed to be healthy and workout this week, despite the desire to just go lounge in the sun in Regent’s Park or Kew Gardens. And of course, the World Cup started this Thursday, so we had to take some time to watch the games. It’s been a great summery week. If you are in the US or UK don’t forget that the new coupon books started this week.
Tratedal Sierro de Monesterio Jamón Ibérico Bellota Cortado a Mano – All of that is a fancy Spanish way of saying, acorn fed Iberico ham from the Monesterio region of Spain that is hand cut. They forget to say that it is delicious too. And also that it is ages for 36 months. The acorns that the pigs eat is what gives the ham its delicious and coveted taste. There are three classifications for this ham, based on the amount of acorns that make up the pig’s diet: Ibérico de bellota is the top grade and made from free-range pigs that roam oak forests eating only acorns. Because of the pig’s diet of acorns, much of the jamón’s fat is oleic acid; which is a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. This isn’t quite as good as the exceptional Iberico ham that we have when we go to our favourite Spanish place here in London (Iberica in Marylebone), but it is the best quality that we have ever been able to purchase in a store. The slices are thin and delicate but have so much lovely porky flavour. The taste is great and the texture is truly melt in your mouth. We always let this type of ham come to room temperature before serving it because that really allows the texture and flavour to be at its best, much like with cheese. We enjoyed this for a picnic on a beautiful sunny day here in London along with some crusty bread, cheese, olive and blackberries. It made for an excellent picnic. The package seems quite small since it is just 80 grams and it is quite slim, however, there are a number of pieces in it. This is a good amount for tapas or picnicing for two, I think you’d be skimping if you had more than two people trying to eat it. Although, if you had a wide selection of tapas, maybe you could just about get by with it. However, this is so yummy everyone really is going to want to have a few pieces of it, or more than a few pieces. I think it is cute how they have on the package that you must consume it within seven days once you have opened it. I can’t imagine this hanging around in our fridge for one day, let alone seven of them. Certainly this little package isn’t quite as impressive or as exquisite as pieces sliced from a whole ham or leg, but they are quite good for something you will find in a grocery store. The price is definitely more than some other jamon Ibérico products you might see in the grocery store, but those aren’t really the same quality. When I compared this to the Waitrose Jamón Ibérico Bellota that I can buy at Ocado, the price at Costco is much better. At Ocado they want £7.99 for an even smaller 65 gram package, so you’re paying £1.30 more but getting 15 grams less. And I’ve not had that version, but I doubt it is as good. I’m not saying it isn’t on the pricey side, but it is quite good and probably something that we will pick up occasionally but not on every visit to Costco. I’m still hoping that by opening a Costco in Spain they are able to bring some more of the delicious Spanish food items to the rest of their Costco locations around the globe. 80 grams for £6.69 (US: $11.35). Item #: 0164854.
Peacock Thai Jasmine Rice – We eat a fair amount of rice, pretty much always Thai jasmine rice. We love to make Thai food and usually once a week we will make some type of Thai-based stir fry dish. Our favourite is spicy chicken stir fry, which is a lot of super spicy, hot bird’s eye or Thai chilies. It is one of the staples of our week night menus; in fact, we had it just last night. Yum! Aside from Asian grocery stores, you’re just not going to find a big bag of rice. And if you eat very much rice, you’re not going to want pay regular grocery store prices for their little bags of rice. Not to mention, you’d end up buying rice all the time. I did just discover that you can also buy rice through Amazon, but at their prices you’d have to be nuts to do it. They want just over double the price you’ll pay at Costco for this exact bag of rice. So, we always buy our rice at Costco and then we dump it into our automated rice keeper (with little buttons where you can decide on 1, 2, or 3 servings of rice and it automatically dispenses it). Granted, the bags at Costco are big, there’s no doubt about it. At 10 kilograms or right around 25 pounds, that is definitely a hefty amount of rice to eat. However, if you eat it often or have a good, air tight place to store it, then you’ll definitely find it a better deal at Costco. Here in the UK I’d have to pay between £1.50 – £5.00 for a single kilogram of Thai jasmine rice, depending on where I buy it and what brand I choose. So, for the 10 kilograms that I buy at Costco that would mean paying between £15.00 – £50.00 at the local supermarkets. Yikes! That is a huge difference when compared to the £9.49 or £0.95 per kilogram, that I paid at Costco. If you can find a place selling the 10 kilogram bags, like an Asian grocery, the price is pretty much always over £10.00 and sometimes as much as £15.00. Costco seems to consistently sell the Peacock brand of the jasmine rice which we really like. It has a great scent and tastes wonderful. And unlike some different brands we have tried, there’s never been anything non-rice in our bags. 10 kilograms for £9.49 (US: $16.10). Item #: 0089435.
Wolf Thuringian Rostbratwurst -This is my favourite member of the bratwurst family. They are quite hard to find in the US or UK though. This isn’t like the typical bratwurst that you see so often, like the Johnsonville brats for instance that our Austin Costco stocked. In fact, these are a very unique sausage even in Germany and have PGI status under EU law. They come from the German state of Thuringia, in the central part of the country and bordered by the Hartz mountains and the Thuringian Forest. And these people are serious about their wurst, they’ve even got a whole museum dedicated to the Thuringian sausages, the Deutsche Bratwurstmuseum. So, what sets this apart from the rest of the bratwurst around Germany? It’s all about the spices, apparently. Thuringian sausages are distinguished from the dozens of types of German wursts by the distinctive spices, as well as their low fat content. They have a fat content of just 25% as compared to up to 60% in other German sausages. Only finely minced pork, beef, or sometimes veal, is used to make the sausages. As far as the spice go, in addition to salt and pepper, caraway, marjoram, and garlic are used to spice the sausages; this can vary according to traditional recipes or regional tastes though. These ingredients are blended together and filled into a natural casing of pig or sheep intestine. However, at least 51% of the ingredients must come from the state of Thuringia because of the PGI status. I think the reason I like them so much is the texture and the taste because it really isn’t like every other sausage. The Wolf brats are made with pork and a mix of caraway, mustard and celery. They have a very smooth texture that is like a meat puree and they are also (as you can tell from the picture) quite light in colour, neither characteristic is like any other type of sausage really. But they really cook up beautifully! The natural casings brown to a picture perfect crisp on a grill, under the broiler, or just roasting in the oven. While I like these served up like a hot dog on a bun, these great sausages are the ideal centrepiece for a German meal with the brats, sauerkraut, and potato salad (of the German type of course). And in true Thuringian fashion, I like them served with a nice spicy mustard. They are always awesome! We’ve been to Germany several times for Christmas and always try to find the people selling the real Thuringian brats at the Christmas markets, though a nice Krakauer doesn’t make me sad either. 1 kilogram/10 sausages for £4.79 (US: $8.12). Item #: 0070998.
Kirkland Signature Women’s Active Yoga Tank – I’ve written about the KS Yoga Tanks before but now they have an updated version at our Costco UK location that I like even better, I think. The newest version has stripes and a slightly different cut with a more relaxed fit and a bit of ruching detail in the front and the back. The tank is really nice with a more relaxed fit than the previous versions but still with enough stretch to make them comfortable for your workout, whether it be yoga, jogging, walking, or strength training. The thing I think I like best though is that the tank is really long and comes to a point low on my hips. The extra length means that it won’t pull up and expose your back or belly, no matter how much you’re jumping around or stretching. The tank is made from a moisture wicking fabric to keep you dry during your workout. The fabric weight is one of the big differences from the first version of the KS yoga tanks. Like the second incarnation of the yoga tanks, which they still sell, the fabric is much lighter, which means it isn’t anywhere near as hot and doesn’t seem to hold as much moisture. I’ve washed this a couple of times, along with the my other yoga tanks from Costco, and found that even though they are both fairly light weight, the striped version of the tanks does dry faster. I love that there’s also no big scratchy tag but that info is printed on the shirt by the neck and then there is a little tag on the side that talks about all of the fabric and washing stuff. The seams, which are very flat, really do a good job of not rubbing against your skin when you’re doing something really active like jogging. I find the tank super comfortable during my workouts. My complaint with the other version is that the racer back is very deep and unfortunately doesn’t cover my racer back bra’s straps, however, this one has a slightly different/wider back so that it does cover my bra straps. That may or may not bother you and your bra might be narrow enough in the back to be covered by the tank. I will point out that these have a relaxed fit and a different shape than the previous ones, which might not work for everyone. I’m pretty busty and tall so these are great for me, but if you are really petite you might find they aren’t quite the right fit for you. But at least you know that you can try them out and take them back to Costco if you don’t like them. They seem to have pretty much the same selection of colours as the previous version but the colours are striped now. They have black, green, pink, blue, and orange. They also have coordinating workout capris, of course. I like this latest version of the tank since it is even more comfortable than the other version and plan on buying a few more. Also, I noticed that in the US you can get these on Costco.com (that’s where I got my picture from actually) and they are $9.99. Sadly, they do not have them online at Costco.co.uk or Costco.ca. £6.99 (US: $11.86). Item #: 0788863.