Things we love at Trader Joe's

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Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carrie L. » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:36 pm

I think someone should start a thread of Trader Joe's items they really enjoy. I have a few I could add.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Jenise » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:40 pm

You just did. :)
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:27 pm

Their frozen wild caught large peeled pink shrimp from Argentina. Last night we made a modified version of Paula Wolfert's Gambas al Ajillo. We added zest from a lemon, and juice from it too. Just topped off the quarter cup of liquid with the Dry Vermouth. We serve it over rice with peas. It was one of the best meal of any sort we've had in a long time.

Happiness is having another bag in the freezer.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:44 pm

A small thing, but their frozen naan is good, and the garlic naan is awesome!
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Hoke » Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:43 pm

Hummus---bot the Mediterranean and the Spicy Red Pepper versions.

Plus, the Sauvignon Republic SB, down to the NZ versions. Damned good basic drinkable SB. If you don't have it in your stores, don't bitch about, because more for you would be less for me.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Jenise » Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:50 pm

Carl, I think they call those red shrimp, not pink, and I love them too. I also regularly buy:

Kumato tomatoes
canned tuna in olive oil
fresh Sicilian chicken sausages
microgreens (not available from anyone else in town)
pizza dough (for the freezer, always have a ball of it on hand for spur-of-the-moment pizzas)
fennel bulbs ($1.99 for two, where fennel runs about $4 a bulb here)
canned green olives
their house brand Triscuit-like crackers which are thinner and less salty than actual Triscuits

I can't think of anything else that's a recurring purchase but I usually find enough things I can't pass up to fill up two bags, so maybe I'm forgetting something.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:08 pm

Additionally we always get:

Free Range Extra Large eggs
Goat yogurt for Beverly
Goat Gouda for Beverly
At least a bottle or two of their inexpensive Italian wine
A bunch of flowers (especially this time of year)
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:11 pm

Jenise wrote:Kumato tomatoes
microgreens (not available from anyone else in town)
fennel bulbs


Carl wrote:Free Range Extra Large eggs
Goat yogurt for Beverly
Goat Gouda for Beverly


I think I'm beginning to see why Trader Joe's took an uncommonly long time getting to Louisville. I love the place, and go there often in spite of my preference for supporting locavore food shops. But in each and all of these cases, I can get all these things at local indie shops, with fewer "food miles" and competitive pricing.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Hoke » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:08 pm

Hey, Robin....question:

Is that small, local owned, surprisingly sophisticated (well, at the time it was for Looville) mainly produce-grocery store that was located right across from the big old cemetery over around---Idaknow, Bardstown Road or something like that---anyway, is it still there and operating?

When I lived in L'ville, used to go out of my way over there to pick up broccoli rabe (when the rest of the town said "What's that?". If not for the pasta place in St, Matthews, the fresh seafood/fish shop in the same area, and that produce store, Louisville back then was kinda desolate. This was, of course, before TJs, Meijers, etc., when the only fish was plank-hard frozen.

Louisville is a way different place now---in almost every way---but especially where foodstuffs comes in to play.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:52 pm

Israeli Feta in the bright yellow and green packaging
Kumato Tomatoes
trader joe's arrabiata sauce, which I can tweak up for many things.
Olive oil for sautéing
Seasoned Rack of Lamb for Gene and I for a quick meal
Hearts of Palm in a glass jar
Roasted red bell peppers in a jar, when I don't want to do it myself
Cheddar Cheese with Caramelized Onions
wine...NOT two buck chuck
more, I cannot think of right now
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Hoke » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:28 pm

We used to be big fans of their Curry Simmer Sauce...although not so much lately. Handy for a quick dish, with some sauteed chicken over jasmine rice.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:31 pm

Hoke wrote:Hey, Robin....question:

Is that small, local owned, surprisingly sophisticated (well, at the time it was for Looville) mainly produce-grocery store that was located right across from the big old cemetery over around---Idaknow, Bardstown Road or something like that---anyway, is it still there and operating?

When I lived in L'ville, used to go out of my way over there to pick up broccoli rabe (when the rest of the town said "What's that?". If not for the pasta place in St, Matthews, the fresh seafood/fish shop in the same area, and that produce store, Louisville back then was kinda desolate. This was, of course, before TJs, Meijers, etc., when the only fish was plank-hard frozen.

Louisville is a way different place now---in almost every way---but especially where foodstuffs comes in to play.

Hoke, Cave Hill Cemetery? I can't place where you might be thinking of, although both the Rainbow Blossom and Amazing Grace natural-foods stores were around town then, and Rainbow Blossom has evolved into a local chain. Ditto Paul's fruit markets, Valu Markets ... hmm. If I remember correctly that you were here in the '80s (or even late '70s?) I think your suburban domicile might have kept you from discovering a lot of the options that were around here then and still are. I'm particularly confused at your "plank-hard frozen" seafood mention since you also seemed to be aware of the St Matthews Seafood store, which was only one of many. Thanks to the L&N Railroad, Louisville enjoyed fresh oysters, seafood and fish rushed up from the Gulf in express trains of ice cars. Fresh produce is not new here, either ... Paul Thieneman's chain of fresh produce markets has been around for 50 years, I guess.

Anyway, bottom line, like much of the rest of the country (even NYC, where the Union Square Greenmarket was an arrival of the '90s, trailing Louisville's Bardstown Road Farmers Market by several years), sure, the past decade or two has seen a dramatic upswell in local, naturally produced, organic meats, poultry, eggs, fruit and veggies. That's new in Louisville, as is a dramatic improvement in authentic ethnic fare built on an exceptional interdenominational group of refugee programs here. But unless I'm mistaken and you actdually lived here in about the '50s, I think you just missed a lot by your choice of neighborhood.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Jay Mazzoni » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:00 am

Hoke wrote:Hey, Robin....question:

Is that small, local owned, surprisingly sophisticated (well, at the time it was for Looville) mainly produce-grocery store that was located right across from the big old cemetery over around---Idaknow, Bardstown Road or something like that---anyway, is it still there and operating?...


Maybe you're referring to Burger's Market, which was indeed across from the "big old" Cave Hill cemetary (Colonel Sanders of chicken fame is buried there). Burger's started in 1958 and closed just last year. The two brothers and sister who owned it were ready to retire, and the next generation wasn't interested in running it. The brothers delivered groceries on their bicycles to my grandparents in the 1960's. We miss Burger's.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:05 am

Jay Mazzoni wrote:We miss Burger's.

I bet you're right, Jay! I miss Burger's, and Doll's, too.
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Postby Hoke » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:06 am

Jay Mazzoni wrote:
Hoke wrote:Hey, Robin....question:

Is that small, local owned, surprisingly sophisticated (well, at the time it was for Looville) mainly produce-grocery store that was located right across from the big old cemetery over around---Idaknow, Bardstown Road or something like that---anyway, is it still there and operating?...


Maybe you're referring to Burger's Market, which was indeed across from the "big old" Cave Hill cemetary (Colonel Sanders of chicken fame is buried there). Burger's started in 1958 and closed just last year. The two brothers and sister who owned it were ready to retire, and the next generation wasn't interested in running it. The brothers delivered groceries on their bicycles to my grandparents in the 1960's. We miss Burger's.


You nailed it, Jay! Burger's is the one, across from the Cave Hill cemetery.

Robin: I'm not as old as you portray me to be. I was there back in 93--96. That's 1993--96, by the way, not 1893--96, in case you were wondering.

And my neighborhood did not distance me from Louisville proper, and I find it the faintest bit insulting that you would suggest that. First, Louisville was not (and still is not) all that big a city that it can't be discovered. For god sake I was only out just past Gucci Kroger and Ballard HS. While Louisville was a delightful place to live in many respects, I'm sorry to tell you that you have a somewhat rosier picture of how sophisticated and advanced it was in the food scene back then. As a local champion and supporter of all things hometown, you do a great job. But you have a somewhat overinflated idea of how Louisville might appear to an outsider at the same time.

There simply was not a preponderance of fresh fish and anywhere near the diversity of produce options that you suggest. One had to make planned journeys to certain individual places to get anything more than the basic foods. I recall what a huuuuuuuge moment it was when Meijers came to town. Yuh. Meijers.

Yes, there was...what was it, Lotsa Pasta? Which was, excuse me, a pearl in the middle of an awful of mediocrity of food. And yes there was St, Matthews Seafood nearby, which I frequented often, god bless 'em. A trip to the local grocery chains got me that plank-hard fozen fish that was the only thing available. I kid you not: Krogers was the big operation, and their entire fish section had nothing but frozen and thawed-from frozen available.

There was then a smattering of good restaurants. Not by any measure a profundity of them, however. A really good Indian place out in the burbs. Great barbecue, of course. Several good pizza parlors. Some Thai and Vietnamese, yes. But there weren't nearly as many truly outstanding restaurants in the 90s as there are today. (And honor given, dues paid, and truth told, I depended on your columns to find some of those fine places.)

I saw the changes occurring----much for the better---during my short but lovely stay of three years in L'ville. It kept getting better and better. And after I left, and came back for the obligatory bowing to the shrine of Holy Headquarters, even amazingly better still. L'ville turned from a dudgy quasi-southern/quasi-midwestern town to quite a foodie place. But that's not where it was when I first got there. And if you think it was---well, I'll bow to your superior knowledge of the town to a certain degree, but I still have to tell you those were some heavily, heavily tinted rose-colored hometown glasses you were wearing. If you believed L'ville was an epicenter, then you wanted to believe it. I suspect, and posit to you, that the truth of the matter might lie somehwere between your understandable hometown hucksterism and my slightly less engaged and invested remembrances.

Remember, I had come to Louisville from Seattle---and it was a rude awakening after several years in Seattle (and hell, even before that, in Dallas) to come down to what I saw as fairly lean pickings. Hey, when I had to hunt to find a place, ask around from a lot of people, just to find a bunch of frickin' broccoli rabe so I could make a nice rabe and chili pepper pasta---that is not indicative to me of a place brimming with the trendiest of fresh produce and and haute cuisine. Oh, and by the way: when I asked around, the locals didn't know broccoli rabe from lettuce. It took a transplanted New Yorker to tip me to that. Oh, yeah, the locals knew Burger's had a good produce section---but they seemed amazingly ignorant of broccoli rabe was, or how one used it; took an outsider to steer me right.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carrie L. » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:36 am

Thanks for letting me start the thread Jenise! :D It's funny, it took me awhile to warm up to TJs. My first few visits were prompted by a large denomination gift card Len and I won in a golf tournament, and I kind of wandered around saying, "This place is weird and obviously NOT for cooks." But I managed to find some things I really liked and they keep me coming back.
Here's what I can think of offhand...

Sicilian Olive oil, as mentioned in the olive oil thread.
Dark chocolate covered thin and crispy pretzels. (My vise...I buy about 8 bags at a time, and sadly they don't last long at all.)
Dark chocolate covered almonds (Len's vise, same comment as above.)
Maine clams (canned)
Fire roasted corn (frozen)
Fruit tarts from France (frozen) -- two varieties, raspberry and pear. Great to keep on hand as dessert in a pinch.
Mini Mushroom tart appetizers (frozen) -- someone brought these to our wine group and they were amazingly good.
Curried chicken salad (refrigerator case)
Fresh potted herbs
Fresh flowers

I'm sure I'll think of more....
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carrie L. » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:38 am

Jenise wrote:microgreens (not available from anyone else in town)
fennel bulbs ($1.99 for two, where fennel runs about $4 a bulb here)


Good to know!!!!!!
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carrie L. » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:40 am

Karen/NoCA wrote:Israeli Feta in the bright yellow and green packaging
Kumato Tomatoes


Good to know about the Israeli feta, Karen.
What are Kumato tomatoes?
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Carrie L. » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:43 am

Carl Eppig wrote:Their frozen wild caught large peeled pink shrimp from Argentina. Last night we made a modified version of Paula Wolfert's Gambas al Ajillo. We added zest from a lemon, and juice from it too. Just topped off the quarter cup of liquid with the Dry Vermouth. We serve it over rice with peas. It was one of the best meal of any sort we've had in a long time.

Happiness is having another bag in the freezer.


That sounds great! Reminds me of my favorite shrimp from my favorite Spanish restaurant that sadly no longer exists. Thanks for the reminder though, Carl. I'll make this soon!
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:18 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Jenise wrote:Kumato tomatoes
microgreens (not available from anyone else in town)
fennel bulbs


Carl wrote:Free Range Extra Large eggs
Goat yogurt for Beverly
Goat Gouda for Beverly


I think I'm beginning to see why Trader Joe's took an uncommonly long time getting to Louisville. I love the place, and go there often in spite of my preference for supporting locavore food shops. But in each and all of these cases, I can get all these things at local indie shops, with fewer "food miles" and competitive pricing.


You have local Kumatos? Didnt think there were any US licensees. And you have $1 fennel?

I don't actually usually buy any produce at TJs. I have been disappointed that the only couple of times I've been in last year they have been out of the one product that I make a trip there for- the incredibly priced tapers (a pack of 8 cost slightly more than 1 candle elsewhere). But I like the frozen tarte d'Alsace ( flammekuechle ), the chicken sausage someone mentioned, nuts. Orchids are well priced.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Rahsaan » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:57 am

I don't love anything about TJs. I only started shopping there when we moved to Chapel Hill because there are fewer options here than in my previous locations. Now I go there because their grapefruits can be better than other options this time of year, and the cheap olive oil is good for cooking. But I will think about some of the items mentioned here.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Jenise » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:45 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I don't actually usually buy any produce at TJs. I have been disappointed that the only couple of times I've been in last year they have been out of the one product that I make a trip there for- the incredibly priced tapers (a pack of 8 cost slightly more than 1 candle elsewhere). But I like the frozen tarte d'Alsace ( flammekuechle ), the chicken sausage someone mentioned, nuts. Orchids are well priced.


I too avoid most TJ's produce--it's gassed for shelf life and the second you get it home it molds/goes soft/whatever, and much of it has the taint of citric acid. I took too much back--now I just don't buy any but the items I mentioned.

But nuts--yes! And the most heavenly dried apricots. Ours only gets candles around Christmas time.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:07 pm

Carrie L. wrote:
Karen/NoCA wrote:Israeli Feta in the bright yellow and green packaging
Kumato Tomatoes


Good to know about the Israeli feta, Karen.
What are Kumato tomatoes?


Carrie, here is a Wiki link for your answer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumato

In the winter, when one cannot get summer tomatoes, these fit the bill and quite well. Another choice is Campari, a smaller tomato with a fairly good taste. When I can't find either, the sugar plum, a tiny oval tomato is OK for salads. I often roast these to intensify the flavor and use them for snacking. Trader Joe's has Kumato now and then as do local supermarkets. I look for them every time I go....all winter long. I love Trader Joe's potted herbs too. Last year I started a couple of plants from my own sweet basil and held them in my kitchen window all winter. Planted them back into my herb garden in the late spring and they grew so huge it was unreal. This year I forgot to get some starts from my basil before it froze. But I do have a pot of rosemary, thyme and marjoram at my kitchen window to snip from this winter. It is so handy to have a few herbs growing in the kitchen. My herb garden is on the back part of our property and sometimes I don't want to walk out there in the rain, or I just get lazy.
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Re: Things we love at Trader Joe's

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:50 pm

Dale Williams wrote:You have local Kumatos? Didnt think there were any US licensees. And you have $1 fennel?

Oops, sorry, Dale, I was being imprecise. I meant to say that we have a couple of local produce mini-chains whose shops feature locavore produce when available, and good quality produce year-round. Kumatos fall into the latter category. :) We do like them, though ... for salads, it's a viable alternative to going fresh-tomato-less from frost until the following July.

Pricing in general is competitive with TJs. I can't testify specifically to the dollar fennel bulb, though.
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