There is a place some of you may know it “Trader Joe’s” It is a food lovers dream and also their frustration. There are not nearly enough of these amazing little stores.
It all started in the 1950’s at a place called the Pronto Market. In 1967 it became Trader Joe’s. Not the exact same store we know now, the trade mark Hawaiian shirts did not come along until 1969 and the private labeling of products started sometime in 1972. It was 5 years later in 1977 that the first organic product showed up on the shelf and it was apple juice. They did not open a store outside of Southern California until 1988 and that was just North of LA. They waited until 1993 to open outside of California and it was not until 1997 they moved east and when they did it was all the way to Brookline Massachusetts.
I have been very lucky they came to Chicagoland in the year 2000 when I still lived there opening 2 stores on the same day and when I moved to Ohio they built one very close to where I lived and worked. You are probably wondering why the love for Trader Joe’s as I sit here writing and chewing on caramels. Well why not the love??
I went shopping there today and I love this store. Not because it is a conventional grocery store because it is not. Yes they have a few soaps, body lotions and such but you probably do not want to buy the recycled toilet paper there. It harkens back to the awfully thin and incredibly rough sandpaper we had in the grade school bathrooms of my youth.
What you do want to buy there is almost anything else. the cheeses are fantastic and not just in flavors and styles but also in price. They say on their website they control pricing by buying directly from suppliers, removing poorly selling items from shelf rotation. They volume buy and they stock the shelves themselves instead of paying suppliers to do so like the majority of grocery store chains.
Back to the cheese you can find grass-fed if you are paleo, goats milk if you can’t have cow, sheep if you can’t have goat and cow. Creamy cheeses Brie and St.Andre, sharp think cheddar, crazy think Stilton with mango and ginger or pesto gouda. It is a great place for cheese is it the most extensive not my any stretch go the means but the selection is nice and the price is right!
They have Creme Fraiche in the dairy section and it is cheap and very good! It makes Blintz with caviar and creme fraiche easier to accomplish. Alas I was let down in that they did not carry any caviar as I was craving some pillows of delight. There are several places to order or get caviar try these from Amazon [amazon_link asins=’B000HDJZEM,B0001990A6,B01NCRMX2H,B002FWA4Y8′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’trippingvittl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’525df7b6-ea28-42d5-886e-ef0d2769859b’]
My most favorite thing in the frozen food section is the Haricot Vert or what are commonly known as string beans. They are flash frozen Green Beans thin and delicious. They are so easy to prepare and my favorite way is very simple.
I have to talk about my absolute favorite item at Trader Joe’s it is the Plantain chips. Plantains are a the less sweet version of the banana. They are wonderful when cooked or mashed but the Chips at Trader Joe’s are crispy after being roasted with sunflower oil and a light coating of salt.
I can eat these straight from the bag and be perfectly happy but I love them as a replacement for tortilla chips in my version of Chilaquiles Verde. You can make Chilaquiles as easy or difficult as you want. I usually make them on Sunday Mornings with what I have in the house.
Tripping Vittles Says Thank You. This blog is a dream I have had for many years, maybe for almost my entire life. I am sure my passion for food and drink started before I was born. This was the invite to my baby shower drinks and fun were on the menu.
Baby Shower Invite
Developing a Palette
I know my palette was developed as a small baby my mother made homemade baby food. My first Thank You goes to MOM!! I was blessed to have someone so talented with food be my mother from what I am told I enjoyed it immensely.
As a Kid I did not always appreciate My mothers amazing ability to cook when for goodness sake she cooked stuff from a garden and not a box. I remember being so jealous as a kid of the neighbors who got Kraft Mac and Cheese. We poor children had to settle for the real thing cooked with cheese and cream and macaroni from a green box not a blue one. Now as an adult I see how lucky I was and I am grateful for all the things I thought were awful at the time because they shaped how I look at and appreciate food now! A baked potato with a few chives from the garden elevates said potato to another level. I had no concept of that as a child. I was just bummed out when I was handed the scissors and told to go cut chives.
Lunch Lady Lou
To Lou the lunch lady at Hazelwood Elementary School she is the first person that introduced me to a real kitchen. There were big ovens and Bain Marie’s for soup and the sound of stainless steel pans and an industrial dishwasher. I could have spent my entire childhood in that kitchen. I would have worked there had they allowed 3rd graders to serve food and clean dishes.
Mom & Dad
To my Dad and Mom you were the most amazing parents you took us all over as kids and we always ate at amazing restaurants. I remember one on the side of a mountain somewhere out west that had a salad bar in mine cars. You always let us order what we wanted and always encouraged us to try new things. Artichoke as a 11 or 12-year-old dipped in mayo and butter was divine.
In addition to dining out when we went camping or skiing you made it special. Escargot with garlic butter and french bread on a mountain top looking at the Grand Tetons. Paté and Cheese on the side of a ski slope. Mom passed on recipes from her mother and Dad taught me how important ice is to a fine cocktail. Thankful Grateful and Blessed do not even begin to express how I feel about all you have given me.
Older Cousins are Special
To My cousin Karen who is older by a few years, she went to Vocational School and became a cook she would wear her whites and I remember being so jealous she was old enough to have job and an education in food. I wanted that I did not know how or what I wanted but I knew I wanted to do something with food. She made it seem real and that was so important for me.
The More Jobs the Better in this Business
To all the places I have worked over the years way too many to name but each and every one of those places gave me something towards today and all of them have fed my passion to learn and experience more about food, drink and travel.
Love for New Orleans
To the city of New Orleans you sucked me in shortly after I found out my dad was dying of cancer. You fed and nourished my soul with food, drink and music when some weeks were too dark to face you were my escape. I feel I knew you from another time and place but at this time you were light and life from the musty smell of your streets to the sweet salty taste of your oysters. The pounding beat of your music forced the blood to run thru my veins and later after the dark past as time marched on you educated me about the delights of southern and creole and Cajun foods. I learned about second lines and what a great horn section can give music. I experienced and saw a culture I knew nothing about and saw how food can unite instead of divide.
Boston a Different Kind of Love
To the city of Boston another town that has a whole food culture all their own.The place where a nation was born a town that is so so Strong that after tragedy Boston Strong became part of our national lexicon. My experiences in Boston changed me dramatically and the fact it was a tragedy and people died made it very hard to come to terms that it was one of the better things to ever happen to me for it made me face my mortality and what happiness means. I asked myself questions that led me to where I am today. Writing my first post in my life long adventure of food ,drinks , music and adventure. Doing what I love with purpose and passion, without Boston I would have never taken the steps to get here today!!
To all I Love
To my family and friends you have seen the best and worst of me. You have invited me to dine at your tables and drink your drinks. You have followed all my whims and fantasies, Those I love have tasted my food and drinks even the bad ones!! Lovingly You have let me cry on your shoulder and you have danced with me in celebration. You have listened to my silly dreams and fantasies. Your ability to prop me up when I have failed has not gone unnoticed. You have been on this Journey with me and for that I am so Thankful. I am Grateful that you continue to support me and I am Blessed to have each and every one of you in my life. I love you all from the bottom of my heart.
A note to the reader: Any time you see a link to Amazon know I get paid when you buy one of my suggestions. I will not suggest just anything it is usually stuff I use or have used and it has to do with the post.