The Costco Report
Friday, October 29th, 2010
The Costco Report: Episodic observations on where to port safely, and what to avoid like a pestilence, when navigating the oceans of consumer non-durables down in The Belly of The Beast… (with a pissing-down-rain, Halloween-Friday hat-tip to Glenn Danzig…)
I sometimes (often, in fact) feel the need to justify shopping at Costco. I’m not sure why, exactly, but one could speculate: Controversial labor practices, the impact of category killers on local businesses and, like any sane Northern Californian, an ingrained fear of the tyrannical politically correct; the inherent tension between shopping at mega-marts and writing a local-food blog; a misplaced snobbishness and the “I’m not the sort of person that…” complex. Ultimately, I suspect, it’s the sheer aesthetic offense of the experience itself that gives me pause, but the good news/bad news, being an economist rather than a therapist, is that I get to worry more about whether the practice makes sense, and less about how it makes me feel. As I assiduously pontificate in my “Defense of Costco” post, sailing forth unto the treacherous waters of the Big C can still make economic sense, for some things, some of the time, even for the proximal cook – buying local wines and cheeses, for example – and so I decided to write an occasional column devoted to ferreting out the more promising offerings, as well as to warding off the worst of the hazards.
To wit, this week’s Costco Report, for 10/28/10:
- The Good. My best and most unexpected find was Organic Blue Agave nectar, 100% pure, two 23.5-oz bottles at $7-something for the pair. I’m not really up on the dietary implications of a low glycemic index , but I gather that Agave is a really good alternatvei to more common sugar-, corn- and honey-based derivatives, if low-glycemic-index is your thing. What I do know, and which I put to good use within minutes of unpacking said nectar, is that nothing makes a better Margarita.
- The Bad. The entire “artisan cheese” section had been dismantled and the vast majority of their best cheeses was out of stock. Normally, I think the cheese case is one of the better arguments for suffering Costco, partly because of very good prices on high-quality versions of Parmigiano Reggiano (which was in stock) and Comte, but mainly because of the stuff from producers like Point Reyes (creamy bleu), Fiscalini (aged cheddar and smoked mozzarella), and Redwood Hill (goat cheddar) – not one of which was in stock. I was so bummed out about the lack of cheese that I spoke to customer service and, to be fair, they were knowledgeable and quick to reply, and assured me that “we wouldn’t stop carrying good cheeses in wine country”. We’ll see, and I’ll report back next time.
- The Ugly. Three words: Flauta, Chimichanga, Taquito. Deep-fried, frozen, and amassed in the sort of sacks that would make Jack’s giant proud, re-heated to a thoroughly disgusting, barely-thawed-in-the-middle, and encased in a cool, greasy sheen – free to sample, as many as you dare. Three more words: Just Say No. Seriously. In a moment of slack judgment and hunger-inspired weakness, I tried one – I have no idea which, and I’m certain it doesn’t matter – and literally spat it at the nearby trash can. I like junk food, but take my word for it, you don’t want to eat these, much less feed them to your children.