Thursday, March 23, 2006

Stealth Shopping

Trader Joe's. Big news these days, especially since a branch just opened in Manhattan.
My take on Trader Joe's is: Nice, but big whoop.
Because I can get all the fresh produce I want almost anywhere around here (I live in California; it's not a hangin' crime). Because organic and healthy are bylaws at so many of the places where I already shop for food (I live in California; it's not a hangin' crime). Because, frankly, a lot of the produce sold at Trader Joe's is imported from south of the Equator, and I'd rather eat local food — and I can. (I live in California; it's not a hangin' crime).
But I do like Trader Joe's. A branch just opened in the town of Novato, in Marin County — and Novatoans are very happy about it. I drove by it yesterday, and the parking lot is not as zooed out as the lot in the strip mall of the TJ closer to my house. I might pay a visit.
I like the olive oils at TJ's. I haven't bought the pre-made pizza dough, but I hear it's a good deal (about a dollar, right?). Of course, there's Two-buck Chuck, the cheap rather-palatable wine. Occasional bargains on butter, soy milk, cheese.
So I'm in there once in a while.
Like today. I needed a bottle of white wine to make a risotto from thawed chicken. It's all part of the Clean Out the Freezer project (which all of a sudden, is going better than I expected, but more about that tomorrow — and thanks to Cranky).
There I am in Trader Joe's, and I'm not allowed to buy anything (except the wine). Because I have a moratorium on buying food, until the fridge and freezer are at least manageably trimmed down.
Wow. Bummer.
Hard to describe my feelings about not being "allowed" to buy food.
Suddenly, I spot a pyramid of matzo boxes. Matzo made in Israel! Under the supervision of the chief rabbinate of Jerusalem! For $1.69! ("Name" brand matzos are about $4 in the chain supermarkets.)
Holy non-levity!
Well. It's not exactly breaking one of my rules, if the matzos are going to help me clean out the fridge and freezer, is it? I gotta use up those eggs... And I'm really good at making matzo brei, although in my goyish way, I prefer it un-sweet (no jelly or cinnamon; I prefer salt).
Happiness happened.
Brought to you by your Ice Harvest correspondent, Amana Freezerburn.


Dagny said...

I agree. Buying dry goods does not break the rules. My big weakness at TJ is the guacamole because it is made from 5 avocados and only costs $2.99. My mother, who lives in Mexico most of the year, thinks it is outrageous what they charge for avocados in California, especially since they are local produce.

cookiecrumb said...

Dagny: I might have to agree with your mom. My parents used to live on a previous avocado orchard. The avos, as long as they were viable (eventually the trees gave out) were insanely good. And free.
Your mother lives in Mexico? I'm so jealous.

Catherine said...

TJ Wine: Try the contadina pinot grigio for $3 or the Honey Moon for $5 (both whites). That two buck chuck left us feeling ...a little off...

The pizza dough is very good - and for $1 it's worth a shot. I'm not really into the herb one, but I really like the plain and cornmeal.

thanks for the matzi brei tip - I never heard of that. I'll definitely have to hit TJs for the matzo. We always do matzo lazagna (in our goyish way!).

Jack said...

"There I am in Trader Joe's, and I'm not allowed to buy anything (except the wine)."

Er, I wouldn't do that. Mostly Industrial wines.

Rose said...

I decided it was best to avoid going to the new TJ's until the storm had subsided. Several NYC area food bloggers have been there and mentioned that besides the horribly long lines, there's NO FOOD LEFT ON THE SHELVES!!!!

You'd think with all that hype (mind you, I fully played along in that hype) in the last few months, you'd think they'd be smart enough to keep the shipments up for the first few weeks (or at least divert it from the suburban stores).

Plus, I had a lot of fun cooking and serving my food last week during break to not fret over going to TJ's.

Now, of course, I'm backlogged with work and would love to take a break--but those lines and lack of products hold me back.

Passionate Eater said...

You are adorable Cookiecrumb! I love the way that you presented the box of matzo crackers with that beautiful colored cloth in the background. Your picture literally transports me to the Middle East!

Keep hope alive Cookie, you'll use all the freezer goods!

shuna fish lydon said...

don't forget the Irish butter and dried mango cvered in chili powder.

also they have their own brand of Greek yogurt in containers that ARE recyclable. (And a leetle secret: their frozen cookie do is made by Maury Rubin of City Bakery in NYC!!)

johng said...

I have two small pizza experts at who say that TJ's pizza dough is better than the dough I make from scratch.

mrs d said...

I'm still mad at Trader Joe's for discontinuing Wasabi Cashews.

(And if they still carry them in CA, I'm really gonna be mad! It's bad enough that up here we have to call it Three-buck Chuck!)

cookiecrumb said...

Catherine: We have to whisper about TJ wine when Jack's around!
Thanks for the tip about matzo lasagna; I'd never heard of that.
Jack: You know what? I'm just about finished with TJ wine. Honestly. :)
Rose: We want a report when you do get there. Very funny anecdote.
PE: [blush]
Shuna: Mm -- chili mango!
Johng: Well, then I'll give it a try. Thanks.

cookiecrumb said...

Mrs. D., if they still carry wasabi cashews, I'll send you a sack. I just realized there are very few aisles I actually prowl at TJ.
Thank goodness the heap o' matzos was right in front.

mrs d said...

Oooh, speaking of sending, I have something for you. We were out at the store, but now we're stocked so I bought one. (Yes, I'm being deliberately vague.) (Yes, I'm also lazy and will not be sending it till probably next week.) (No, it's not perishable. Until opened, that is. You'll have to eat it in April anyway, as it's only local to me. :-))

kudzu said...

Maybe those TJ cashews are like the glorious "blistered peanuts" from Virginia that appear from time to time, but not all the time (alas). I adore them.

I think Joe also has good snacks for kids, with fewer damaging ingredients. Since I have a passel of children/teens who come around my house and inhale that sort of thing I appreciate the yummy rice crackers and various chips from TJ.

I am thoroughly intrigued with Mrs. D's last comment -- mainly because she says you have to eat it in April. How odd.

michelle said...

Yeah, I can't go into TJs without leaving with something I most certainly did not intend on buying (especially because I often have a moratorium on buying more food - which I hate, is just so unbelievably hard, and LB doesn't understand at all how we can still need food when our fridge is full of 'stuff' - "but it's NOT food!") Matzo brei sounds really good. I thought for sure the Bay Area too, but it got the veto beyond my control :(

Greg said...

No way can I go into TJ's without spending $100. No restraint I guess.

cookiecrumb said...

Mrs. D.: I am so *vaguely* excited! Can't wait.
Kudzu: I have no idea either. I'll let you know. :)
Michelle: So, we'll come see you in Honolulu! Heh.
Greg: That's more my problem at Costco; less so at TJ.

cookiecrumb said...

Hey. Wait!

mrs d said...

Hahahahah. Um, nope. I don't have access to the upper reaches of Canada at the moment.

Really, the April thing isn't at all intriguing. You could wait till June. Or pretend you're from the San Juans.

cookiecrumb said...

Okay. Totally stumperino.

Jamie said...

Weirdly, I just bought a box of matzos as well. I was also thinking of making matzo brei with them.

Great minds, etc.

cookiecrumb said...

Jamie: Either great minds, or we're victims of seasonal religion-related food marketing.

Anonymous said...

Wasabi Cashews no more at TJ's?? Are you serious? I can't live. Is this ALL stores or just some regions? If so, I will have cases shipped. They are the biggest hit at all my events, I send so many people to TJ's for just those. How can we mass protest?! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

cookiecrumb said...

Anonymous, I want you and Mrs. D. to know I looked for them in Northern Californis: None. There were wasabi peas and other spicy flavors of cashews, but... :(