Tuesday, September 26, 2006

California Eatin': Trader Joes

A recent trip to Southern California served to remind me that while corporations are working to homogenize this country, regional differences still abound. I used to live in Northern California, now I'm living in Colorado, and I know what I'm missing.

One of the big things I'm missing is Trader Joes.

If you haven't heard of Trader Joes, go visit their website. I'll wait.

Ok, got it? It's a reasonably priced mecca for foodies. Like Whore Foods (Whole Foods, which is now ubiquitous, and known as "the whore" among those I chat with about it for obvious reasons), they have interesting foods; unlike them, you don't have to bankrupt yourself to shop there.

Since I was flying, and only had half an empty suitcase to fill, not to mention the 50 lb weight limit imposed by the airlines, I had to pick and choose what I could bring back. This was difficult - I wanted to try their "pretzel bread" rolls, but was seduced by the idea of porcini ciabatta. (And it was good.) Too much glass was right out - weight and breakability reasons - so the pomegranate vinegar and the bottle of Thai Yellow Curry sauce had to stay. Already had a bottle of their Roasted Garlic Salsa at home.

But I found things like shelf stable Thai marinated tuna steaks - instant dinner. Two different kinds of Sumatran coffees. Tea. 73% cocoa solids chocolate. Stuff easily schlepped in a suitcase. I don't know if it's all good yet, but it's cheap enough that it was worth trying.

I simply didn't have enough meals available out there to get one of their fresh prepackaged Chinese Chicken Salads. They were one of my standard lunches when I lived out there - tasty dressing, snow peas and all. I also spent some time whimpering over their wine selection - at least 3 or 4 bottles I'd've bought in an instant if I was driving instead of flying. Next time I do the road trip out there I'm bringing back an assorted case of wine.


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