It is full on Fall here now and I’m quite certain that any day now I’m going to have to turn on the heat. I’m a fan of Fall generally, but I just feel like I missed part of the Summer because it doesn’t seem like it was here long enough this year. Our Costco is already well on with the Christmas shopping and decorating now too. We went at the beginning of October and it was all awash in everything you could need to make your house and yard look appropriately Christmas-y. I guess it is always good to plan ahead.
Kirkland Signature Beef Stew – It’s beginning to be that time of year when you start wanting hearty, warming meals and the Kirkland Signature Beef Stew is perfect for that. It wasn’t quite as meaty as stew that I make at home, but then, I don’t have dumplings on the top of mine. The only criticism I have of the stew was that it was a bit light on the meat. However, the taste was really good and it was so filling that I guess I probably didn’t need any more meat. It’s not that it is super chintzy, just that I think they could have a bit more beef in the beef stew. The ingredients list says it is 35% beef chuck steak, so it’s a goodly amount. The actual liquidy part of the stew had a really nice taste with that perfect mix of sweet tomato and savoury spices that all good stew should strive to achieve. I am pretty much always too lazy when making stew to whip up dumplings to go with, but it was a nice touch and definitely made the stew very filling. The dumplings had a good texture on the top and somehow managed to not just turn to mushy yuck where they were buried in the liquidness of the stew while cooking. This is a great mid-week meal because there is not much you need to do aside from some type of vegetable pairing. But for the stew, you just have to take the lid off of the tray that it comes in, nestle the dumplings down into the stew a bit more, cover it with foil, and cook for about 40 minutes. So, you can’t really get much less preparation-free than that. We had it on one of the recent cold and rainy evenings and it was delicious and really hit the spot. It’s as good as the Costco cottage pie for Fall and Winter dinner, I’d say. I always like trying the new pre-prepared foods from Costco because far too often my RA can get the better of me and by the end of the day I’m beat and just want dinner to magically happen without much involvement from me. So, for me, these types of things from Costco are perfect. If you have a decent sized freezer, this beef stew, like so many of the pre-prepared foods at Costco, can be waiting in your freezer for those times when you just don’t have the time/energy/inclination to make dinner. It would be great if they would package these as a meal deal with a main dish, like this stew, with some type of vegetable item, as well, for the ultimate quick and easy dinner solution. £7.99. Item #: 0086007.
Roberto & Giuseppe’s Pastinos Pasta Gourmet Snacks – You know, sometimes you see something that you’ve absolutely no idea about, so you feel compelled to try it. I have never heard of pasta snacks, so I was intrigued. I like pasta and I like snacks, so it seemed a good match. I mean the name is made up of the Italian words for pasta and snack (that’s spuntinos for those of us that don’t speak Italian): Pastinos. I should probably explain a bit about what a pasta snack even means though, I think. These are made from actual pasta (dough, I believe because they are not like a piece of pasta) that they fry somehow (I’m guessing here because they don’t really explain how they are made) to make little tubes like rigatoni. The texture is very crisp and light, which I really like. They are very different to potato or corn based chips/crisps and certainly make for a nice change. The three pack at Costco contains three of their four flavours: Sicilian Lemon and Cracked Black Pepper, Arrabbiata – Chilli and Tomato, as well as Tomato and Sweet Basil. The other flavour they offer is Chianti and Olive, but unfortunately, that isn’t available at Costco (or at least I didn’t see it in the three packs). The Sicilian Lemon was the best flavour to me. It was light and had a good lemony flavour without it being too tart, and then the black pepper just gives it that little bit of zing for a perfect combination of flavours. The Arrabbiata is not bad, though not as good as the lemon. It has a nice chilli kick but only after you eat a few of them because the chilli potency has to build up a bit. I think that’s maybe a good thing because you don’t necessarily want to set your mouth on fire just to have a little snack. My least favourite of the flavour is the Tomato and Basil, but it is very, very reminiscent of tomato sauce that you would serve over pasta. Not my favourite flavour for this snack though. It is pretty impressive though how it tastes just like pasta sauce. They claim they have less salt and fat than the average potato crisp, which is always a good thing. Plus, they do not use MSG, artificial flavourings or colours, and no hydrogenated fats. You can actually pronounce all of the ingredients even. Their nutritional values are based on 30 gram serving, which is verging on quite a lot of this very light weight but surprisingly filling snack. Each serving has less than 142 calories (varies between 131 – 142 depending on flavour), 0.6 gram of salt, and 4.2 – 6.0 grams of fat; the Sicilian Lemon is the fatty one there. So it isn’t guilt free by any means, but is a better alternative than other crisps/chips. If they would have just a two pack of the Sicilian Lemon flavour, I would definitely buy them, but I’m not sure about the three pack, unless Dave decides he really likes the Tomato and Basil flavour. The only other supermarkets that seem to stock these are Waitrose and Ocado, where a single 150 gram bag is £2.19, so this three pack would be £6.57, making the price at Costco quite a deal at just £3.99 or £1.33 per 150 gram bag. 3, 150 gram bags for £3.99. Item #: 0170946.
Forest Feast Koh Samui Thai Spice Street Food Mix – I’ve always enjoyed my previous experiences with products from Forest Feast, like their dried mango. However, this is not one of their best products. The street food is a mix of almonds, cashews, pineapple and coconut. The almonds are covered with a honey and red pepper mix and the cashews are covered in a Thai spice mix of things like chilli, cumin, ginger, cardamon, cayenne and black pepper, while the pineapple and coconut are just left au natural. It sounds like a good mix of flavours and textures, but something not quite right has happened instead. The cashews are gummy and soft instead of the delicious nut that we all know and love. And the almonds are well on their way to a similar state. The best part of the mix is the unadulterated pineapple and coconut, which are really good. I’ve had other nut and fruit mixtures where the nuts are able to keep their crunch, or just have a slightly softer texture, but this was beyond that. It’s unfortunate too because I thought the taste was good, though I’m on the fence about it really being all that Thai-like, but the texture of the nuts really lets it down. I had thought at first that I was just being overly hard on it, but Dave tried it and had an even more negative reaction than I did. I generally like snack mixes like this because it gives me a little something to have mid-afternoon when I’m feeling a bit munchy, but this just wasn’t as pleasing as I would have liked. They had another version of the Street Food there, with Indian inspired spices, I think. I’m now wondering if that would have been a better choice. I might try the other version of this, but I won’t be buying the Thai mix again. 500 grams for £4.99 +VAT. Item #: 0190656.
Sierra Nevada Beer Fall Pack -[This review comes from Rick Vanover, who usually writes for IT topics and shops at warehouses in the United States.] A couple of weeks ago, the Sierra Nevada beer fall pack arrived in my warehouses. The fall pack is offered at $26.99 in my markets and has 24, 12 ounce bottles of a good offering of beers going into football season and the fall. The four types in this case are: Sierra Nevada’s (regular) Pale Ale, Flipside Red IPA, Vienna-style Lager, and Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale. I love these types of collections when it comes to beer as it is usually hard to find some of these other beers in regular stores. You may remember in my list of 10 things I WISH Coscto sold, a better beer selection is one of them. This beer pack does a good show for the fall season. I know what I’m getting when it comes to the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but the Vienna-style Lager and Flipside Red IPA were very much of interest to me. I’ve tried both of them and so far, so good! I’ve rated them well on Untappd (the Facebook of beer) and given that these are not the most common, I’m glad I got to try them from Costco. The Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale I’ve not gotten to yet, I need it to be a bit colder for a brown ale for my tastes. Costco has other beer seasonal packs as well (spring, summer, fall, winter) in the warehouses in the United States. I’ve seen other seasonal collection cases come and go, with Samuel Adams being the most consistent. 24, 12 ounce bottles for $26.99.