We're the first to admit that Trader Joe's shoppers can be a cultish bunch: just ask anyone who frequents the house-brand-heavy supermarket chain about their favorite TJ products, and watch the enthusiasm fly. In our household, we drank the Kool Aid, so to speak, within a few days of Trader Joe's opening its first (and only) Manhattan store on 14th Street--less than a mile away from Waterside Plaza!--and still, four years later, not a week goes by without a visit to pick up a few of our now-necessary, TJ's-only staples, snacks, treats, and unbelievable bargains. True, it is supplemental grocery shopping... but how much better is daily life when you have things that you love in the kitchen? So much better.
Anyway, in honor of the Union Square Trader Joe's four-year anniversary this month, here's a look at ten reasons why we're grateful they came to town in the first place.
Hands down our favorite pre-packaged bread in town. Excellent for sandwiches, heavenly when lightly toasted and topped with eggs on the weekend, the Tuscan Pane is chewy, slightly sourdough-y, and only $2.29 for a big loaf.
Just a handful of these creamy, crunchy beauties make for a totally satisfying afternoon snack; enjoy with a sliced-up apple or with ice cream (!) as an extra bonus treat. We always go with the salted, at $2.99 a bag, but they are available without salt, if for some reason you're a lunatic.
The cookie aisle at Trader Joe's is jam-packed with winners, but if forced to choose one, we'll go with their Caramel Cashew every time, both for their chewy/crunchy texture and honestly-come-by caramel/nutty flavor. $3.99 gets you a big tub. Honorable mention: the all-butter Shortbread Cookies with chocolate.
No question, the best packaged bacon on the market comes from Niman Ranch--thickly cut, with bite, and excellent sweet/smoky/porky flavor--and Traders Joe's is the only place in the city that we've ever seen it for less than $5.00... at least a dollar cheaper than anywhere else.
The candy aisle is another dream-come-true section of the store (we bring our own to the movies--just a few pieces in a small zip-loc is usually plenty--and we go to the movies a LOT), but if we had to choose one, it'd be these crunchy-candy-sprinkled bites of rich cocoa-y goodness. $4.49 gets us about a month's worth. Close second: the Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds.
Nothing special-sounding--it's just dried pasta, filled with parmesan--but TJ's Mini Raviolis plump up well when boiled, retain their bite, and deliver a nice hit of salty cheesiness. And with its extended shelf-life, we keep a bag or two on hand for an "emergency" dinner or side, topped with butter and black pepper. A $2.99 bag easily feeds four.
There are tons of low-priced bags simple nuts here, but when we want to get a little fancy we go straight for these roasted Marconas, rich and oily and salty and rosemary-y and perfect. A bit of an indulgence maybe, at $4.49 for a small bag, but whsat can we do, we're addicted.
Exactly the same as every other unbleached brand we've ever seen, but at only $1.69 for a box of 100, it's a good two bucks cheaper than anywhere else.
It's a tough call on which Trader Joe's "Trek Mix" is our favorite--the Nuts About Raspberries and Chocolate is pretty solidly brilliant--but TJ's PB&A might win out for its sheer creativity: peanuts and almonds coated in sweet vanilla, strawberry and raspberry stickiness, it's like getting a bagful (for $4.69) of deconstructed sandwiches, but better.
Thick cut and made from fresh unpeeled potatoes, these crunchy, salty, perfectly vinegared chips are a prine guilty pleasure in our home. There are plenty of other vinegar chips out there, obviously, but Trader Joe's just does it better... and at $1.99 a bag, much cheaper, too!
Trader Joe's is located on 14th Street, just east of Third Avenue, and is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. There will definitely be line when you go, because there always is, but it moves quickly.
Posted at 01:24PM Mar 10, 2010 by Scott in 10010 |