How I Taught My Brother To Cook

Improvisational Tuscan-Provençal-Catalan Cookery (and other good stuff to eat)

Trader Joe's Blows and North American Extra Sharp Cheddar is The Way To Go

I don't like Trader Joe's. (at least in my neck of the woods). The only thing I ever buy there is cheese. First of all, to me, everything else is just goofy crap geared for death warmed over quasi-health freaks and morons who think it is a trendy place to be seen. Secondly, they are just to damn happy, especially at check out and with those freakin' Hawaiian style shirts. "Hi, how are you today. Did you find everything you were looking for? Did you see our carob coated dehydrated carrot slices...they are yummy!" No actually, I did not find everything I was looking for. I did not see any elbow macaroni. I did, however, find whole wheat and cranberry penne which I guess to them is a great substitute.

 

They do stock something that is very good and something I am very picky about: extra sharp North American white cheddar cheese. They carry a Canadian extra sharp that actually meets my expectations but since it does, I suspect it will soon be replaced on their shelves by a mild and soft French something. I like a few different cheeses from around the world but I definitely am not keen on French cheese. If I was on death row and could only have one type of cheese, it would be extra sharp cheddar. The US and Canada make this kind, but only in a few select areas and by those with the knowledge to do it right. Forget all the French cheeses that taste and smell like dead feet. Johnny, you can have them. My next favorite cheese is Grana Padano from northern Italy. Yes, I like it better than Reggiano. That in itself, is politically and socially treason since Reggiano has pummeled everyone here and yon that it is the best. It is very good, yes, but not as good as Padano. Not as sharp and, to me, sharpness is the name of the game. Oh, Trader Joe's has reggiano but not Grana Padano. Very few have even heard of it even though it has been araound as long as Reggiano.

 

Anyway, Trader Joe, you blow but I will still grit my teeth and go in to get the Canadian Extra Sharp Cheddar and once that goes, so will I.

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Comment by John Barrows on February 27, 2011 at 2:24pm
Good, cheap, fresh California olive oil. Nuts and raisins. Meat broths. Crackers. And fresh free-range New Zealand lamb. That's what TJ's is all abut for me. And yes, the Canadian cheddar is pretty good. But don't go there thinking you're in a traditional super-market. It's about good quality for some specific products at very good prices. So, I agree with Patrick - once you can't find the specific things at TJ's that you go there for, there's no reason to keep going. I tend to waste some gasoline shopping for some specific things that the various markets around me offer. So, I make my rounds, and each place I go satisfies a specific food need.
Comment by Patrick on March 1, 2011 at 3:32am
Johnny and I have had this discussion before. He has been to the local one here and admits it is pretty lame compared to one in his location. I have to add that the one here has the worst produce department I have ever seen. Not only in quantity but in quality. The store fits quite well in around here, however, as we have a lot of retailers with nothing to offer unless you can't survive without nail salons, clothes boutiques, hair salons, jewelry stores, 5 banks and 3 pharmacies all within less than a mile of each other.
Comment by Debbie on March 25, 2011 at 2:40pm
The world needs more Trader Joe's!!!  I like them. Of course you won't find everything you are looking for that you would find in the traditional super markets; however, you find some really good items at great prices. Their nuts are a great value......A bag of walnuts at Trader Joe's is at least $2.00 cheaper than the super market, same for almonds, cashews, spices, etc. Their eggs are about $1.00 cheaper a dozen.  They are a fine store to buy basic staples at. Be careful, if you lose Trader Joe's you will have to search the four corners of the earth for your sharp cheese.
Comment by victoria marie eastus on May 2, 2011 at 6:10am
I admit, I love Trader's but it is nothing like the one I was used to in California.  They carry some amazing wines out there.  I did however, love your blog.

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