October 27, 2007

Joe the Dealer

Hello. My name is Oakley. I am a Trader Joe's products addict.

Sure, compared to many others, I am a TJ newbie. The first time I was at the store, it was the one on La Brea and 3rd in Los Angeles many, MANY years ago. The place was a few blocks from my apartment, but being a grocery run, I brought my car. A weekend at La Brea TJ with a car? That was a HUGE mistake. I couldn't find a place to park, left alone spending a good 5-10 minutes getting out of that crowded lot. I ended up driving home that afternoon and heel-toed over the next day.

At the time, the only things I've made other than the Moon Bars (butterscotch + chocolate chips + marshmallow sugar overdose cookie bars) came out of boxes. But I was just learning to cook outside those boxes. Someone told me about Trader Joe's so I was going there to learn.

TJ scared the hell out of me the first time out. I was first overwhelmed with the amount of shoppers and how crowded the place was! That got me flustered and once I started browsing the shelves, I got even more flustered. All of these products I didn't know. What the heck is up with the blue cheese stuffed olives? What the hell kind of vegetables are arugula? Frozen Thai entree? A whole shelf full of olive oil and why the hell do you need so many?

Oh. My. God. What. The. Flying. Duckies. Is. Going. On.!?!?!??!?!

I left the store with a couple of the frozen Thai entrees. That was it. And I didn't even like them. (I still don't, just for the records. Nothing's like the real thing.)

But many years after, once I started to cook and learn more about food, TJ has slowly become my favorite place. All of these foods at these fabulous prices! I mean, look at that reasonably priced wedge of Parm-Reg! A salt-free pork tenderloin to make Pete's Pork Slug! Wine and beer galore! Proscuitto and pancetta a plenty! And arugula--now that I know what it is...and tha Brandon actually asks for them in his turkey sandwiches--I can get them everyday instead of having to try the Vons/Ralphs "do they stock them or don't they" roulette! Even Brandon has a few favorites at the place.

What more can a developing foodie want from a store!

So here is a list of what we are addicted to at Trader Joe's.

1. Peanut Butter Granola Bars. Brandon wouldn't eat anything else once we have discovered these. Even I like them and I'm not particularly fond of peanut butter...unless its covered in chocolate.

2. Greek-style Yogurt. I already mentioned this one.

3. Matcha Green Tea European-style Yogurt. I bought all three flavors on a whim one day to try them out. I could get used to the chocolate and the tartness of yogurt, but I had to toss the whole mocha one at first bite. That didn't go well. The green tea though reminds me of the tart green tea frozen yogurt I'm addicted to. Very tasty indeed!

4. Blueberry Oatmeal. Their oatmeal is so good, I threw away the whole box of Quakers fruity ones. The blueberries are bigger. And the whole thing wasn't overly sweet. I also tried the cranberries one. Not my favorite, but once again, the bigger/more fruit is a big winner.

5. 100-calorie Pack Cheese Crackers. They totally have crack in the bag. LOL. I could definitely eat more of them, but usually the one bag has enough cheese/salt to satisfy the craving. It was hard to not reach for another bag when you're super hungry, but on regular circumstances, one bag usually did the job.

6. Chateau Mayne Guyon 2003 Premieres Cotes de Blayne. $6.99 at TJ's for a bottle of Bordeaux. And a testament to how unrefined my taste buds are for wine. I. Love. This. Bordeaux! But then again, this is the one and only Bordeaux I have ever had. I read many reviews from connoisseurs of the internet on how sucky this wine is...and I started to feel stupid. I mean, it's like me, a Guinness lover, trash talking Coors Light drinkers for their taste in beer. What can I say! I like what I like despite how expensive/cheap it is.

7. Dark Chocolate Truffle bar. Maybe the reason why I fell in love with #6. These two go so well together! I tried a bite of this after dinner with a glass of BV Coastal Estates Cab and that didn't go so well. Heh.

8. California Nicoise Salad. If you like capers, this salad is for you! Shopping hungry on the way home from work one night, I browsed through the salad section and picked up this one. Tuna, eggs, green beans, super duper sweet and flavorful teardrop tomatoes and greens with loads of capers instead of olives. The tangy dressing meshed well with the capers, making everything all tangy and delicious.

I bought a box of the Everything Crackers the other day but have yet to open the box. Who knows, that may be another crave-able item I have to add to the list!

Now you, readers, share your TJ's addiction!

1 comment:

BrenJ said...

Addictive is the right word...and so is cheap! I avoid the regular grocery stores like the plague now. The only things the big guys are good for are crab on sale and Jon's favorite cheesy rice. Bad I know, and I could make it myself, but he likes the box. Sigh. TJ's is less expensive for most stuff, and Target fills in the rest. (Mine happen to be right next door to each other.) I still get my fresh meat at Plowboys...