Joining the Trader Joe's mecca


This past Saturday, Steph from KitchenKM organized a little adult road trip south to Sarasota to shop in the newly open Trader Joe’s.

For the record – I’m giving the evil eye to the team at TJ that choose Sarasota over Tampa location (I will get over it, eventually, but now I’m a sour puss).

If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you already know what the fuss is all about.  If you don’t, and you think people are just making a big deal out of a grocery store.

Pfffff… you bet we are.

The beauty about Trader Joe’s is that they carry products (80% of the stock is their brand) that have little to no preservatives and use quality and often organic ingredients.  To get that kind of quality food, you usually have to go to a Whole Foods or equivalent and pay double.  In some cases (most all) TJ’s will likely beat out all grocery stores in price, as well.  This privately held company has a brilliant business model – so brilliant in fact sales were roughly $8 billion – the same size as Whole Foods’!  Guess, being smaller and smarter paid offs – this company has no debt and funds all growth from its own coffers.

Pretty notable feast if you ask me, specially in today’s economy.

Anyone I have ever known who lived near one wouldn’t shop anywhere else. I understand the skepticism, but you will be sorry if you don’t try them out!

I was expose to my first Trader Joe’s when I visited Atlanta for the Food Blogger Conference a couple of years ago.  There was one within walking distance of the hotel were we stayed and having read about them from fellow bloggers I was intrigue, so when I passed them by on the road I made a point of stopping and checking them out.

I fell in love.

See, Trader Joe’s is a treasure hunt for their customers.  Their unique products selections are sourced from some of the most unfamiliar lands in the world – making every shopper in their store feel like you are buying in a high-end farmers market around the world. The store is like the mecca for food aficionados – that is why TJ’s stores has such a huge following. 

So this past Saturday, armed with coolers and giddy with excitement we took the 1 hour drive down south to stock up.  I had a list (of course!) and I was determined, my visit to Trader Joe’s in the past have been during quick trips, which meant that I could only buy what I could fit in my suitcase and could not spoil so this time I was going to go all out.

And all out I did.  The store was crowded and parking was a nightmare. Even thought my friend Steph found a space right away!  But, regardless, people were friendly and not in your face.  There were plenty of times where I needed help and there was always a TJ’s employee willing to do so. Even standing in the check out line was not an issue, for the most part it was running smooth and fast – and they know how to pack those groceries bags – my olive oil bottles and my wine got home intact!

Ohh so pretty and green!

Tom is going to be all over this!Very polite and very orderly!

My favorite aisle

Bet you that you can find Steph in this picture!

So far we have eaten and/or tasted and have triple high five the following:

Shrimp Corn Dogs – I can hear you sneering from over here and you may be saying – it’s on a stick, we will eat it.  But, this stuff, there are no good words to describe it except to say – you better get your bootie down there and stock up – they are so good, Tom and I played rock, paper, scissor FOUR times in order to win the last stick of shrimp goodness. Don’t believe me? Take a look … beautifull and BAKED! not FRIED! score!

Speculoos Cookie Butter – It’s butter, combined with crushed biscuits – Do I need to seriously write more about this?  I don’t think so.

Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce – You know all those post about sea salt caramel and how to make it – well let me save you the burns, and the troubles, because this 10 oz jar will give you all that without having to slave over any stove to get the BEST results.  I have so many plans for this little gem; I seriously don’t know where to start.

Journey to the Center of the Cookie – Oh we journeyed and we soaked in their warm, gooey, choco-swamped goodness.  I’m still kicking myself for getting only one package of these things – when there should be 10 in my freezer right now.

From our Four-legged members woff, woff at the Trader Joe’s Dog Treats – peanut butter flavor.  They begged for more and keep looking at the box hoping that it would fall from the countertop.

And since we are talking about peanut butter … their Peanut butter filled pretzels are hit with the humans around these parts.

Cheddar and Gruyère cheese – the beauty of 2 in 1! Oh yes, a cheese that has the combo that I normally make when I grilled a cheese sandwich around here – ohhh so good!

What I have not tasted but plan to soon:  Roasted Gorgozola Baked Crip crackers, Creamed honey, Bubbly Pink Moscato Wine, Everthing bagle chips and their baby Swiss cheese.

After all that shopping we played tourist and headed to St. Armands Circle to have lunch and toast our bounty with some hard earned Sangria. 

A perfect end to a perfect day.

Plus how can I not love a store that carries a product that is so close to my heart?