Saturday, 21 November 2009

Trader Joe's cheddar cheeses

Besides junk food, the other thing I looked for at Trader Joe's was cheddar cheese. In most of the standard supermarkets, like Target or Walmart, decent cheddar cheese was either expensive or not sold (respectively). Target actually sold Irish products, whether butter or cheddar cheese, but it was as I said expensive.

I don't remember what any of these were like. I think one stood out as having a mature cheddar flavour, and the rest were lacklustre.

Black Diamond vintage reserve cheddar cheese

2009-05-14 - Cheese - Black Diamond

Seaside rugged mature English Cheddar

2009-05-17 - Cheese - Seaside rugged mature english cheddar

Carr Valley Wildflower Cheddar Cheese

2009-05-18 - Cheese - Carr Valley Wildflower Cheddar

Trader Joe's English Coastal Cheddar Cheese

2009-05-21 - Cheese - Trader Joe's English Coastal Cheddar

Asian supermarket groceries

One of the things about shopping in New Zealand, is that a lot of things seem to be cheaper at the asian supermarkets. The one I go to, is a nice walk down the road and round the corner.

A good thing about shopping at an asian supermarket is that they do not have the standard New Zealand junk food sitting about, that I can weaken enough to buy. However, they do have a bizarre range of asian junk food, whether from Thailand, Korea, Japan, China or wherever.

My personal rule is to avoid buying anything chinese because of all the news I have read about pollution and low manufacturing standards in China.

The lot

This only came to $14.20NZD ($10.27USD). Most of that price is the luxury items, which were the Pepero, pickled chilli and the anchovy snacks. I haven't been to the gym since I left the United States, so it is just as well those potatoes promise to give me big muscles.

2009-11-21 - Groceries - 01 - All

Pepero Almond and Chocolate

I was browsing the japanese aisle and as I like chocolate, I had to stop and consider the Pocky on the shelf. Fortunately, Pocky is too expensive for the likes of me, so I bought its cheaper cousin Pepero. Pepero was $1.68NZ, where Pocky was over twice the price.

2009-11-21 - Groceries - 02 - Pepero Almond and Chocolate

The sticks more resemble a small frozen chocolate ice cream, than a chocolate biscuit snack. They were okay, but nothing special.

2009-11-21 - Groceries - 04 - Pepero Almond and Chocolate Sticks

Seasoned Anchovy with Sesame Seed

I mainly picked this up because I recall someone on a cooking show I watched, whether Rick Stein or Anthony Bordain, remarked how some asian culture ate these as a snack. Most of the other snacks, and there are shelves and shelves of them at the asian supermarket, are too alien for me or from China. Because of the cooking show recommendation, I threw these in the basket.

2009-11-21 - Groceries - 03 - Seasoned Anchovy with Sesame Seed

My current plan is to corner a european flatmate and to convince them to act as my taster. When I have junk food open, I tend to eat the lot in sitting. If these are as strong and salty as I expect, they might be self-limiting in how quickly I consume them, which would be a good thing. But until I find reason to open them, I won't know.

Trader Joe's fancy junk food

Trader Joe's has a lot of interesting food, but not a lot that is particularly special. Whenever I had the chance to shop there, I tended to stick to the cheeses and the fancy junk food. This is a haul which I picked up in the company of Liza.

One of the things I miss about the United States is the variety of goods that come with being such a large country. As strange as it sounds I did most of my organic shopping at Walmart. New Zealand junk food has its bright spots, but for the most part it is a pretty lacklustre.

In any case, Trader Joe's was my go to place for interesting junk food that didn't contain crap like high fructose corn syrup.

Trader Joe's Almond Clusters

2009-03-23 - Trader Joe's Almond Clusters - 01 - The box

As a snack, these were okay but nothing special. Just a almondy tasting nut with a chocolatey coating. I can't say that either aspect stood out and I wouldn't recommend them unless you want a generic chocolate nut that doesn't taste cheap.

A closer look:

2009-03-23 - Trader Joe's Almond Clusters - 02 - Contents

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Chile Spiced Dried Mango

2009-03-23 - Trader Joe's Chile Spiced Dried Mango - 01 - The box

The mango was more there for texture than flavour, the key thing that stood out was the tang of the chile and the bitterness of the dark chocolate. Definitely worth trying.

A closer look:

2009-03-23 - Trader Joe's Chile Spiced Dried Mango - 02 - Contents

Trader Joe's Thai Lime and Chili Cashews

2009-03-23 - Trader Joe's Thai Lime and Chile Cashews - 01 - The bag

The idea of these is something that could possibly be extremely nice. But in practice they are just okay. I'd recommend them over other generic flavoured nuts and would have picked them up again if I wanted something spicy and tangy.

A closer look:

2009-03-23 - Trader Joe's Thai Lime and Chile Cashews - 02 - Some

Kleinur, the Icelandic donut

One of the many foods I miss from Iceland, are kleinur. Kleinur have the taste and texture of stale donut. The only detriment they have, is that margarine is listed amongst the ingredients.

There's a list of ingredients I avoid, simply because they either taste inferior or the word on them is not good. Among these are high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate and margarine. I used to go to Walmart grocery shopping and by not buying anything with high fructose corn syrup in, it left me with only dozens of items on the shelf that I could buy. Strangely, these tended to be the ones with short lists of commonsense ingredients, as compared to long lists that were chemical and additive related.

In any case, until I realised that kleinur were made from margarine, I used to consider them to be one of the better junk foods I have come across. These were smuggled into the United States, to Stone Mountain and me, from Iceland by a friend. This was done several times by different people, so I do not recall who exactly brought these to me.

The bag:

2009-02-19 - Kleinur - 01 - The bag

Some kleinur separated from the herd:

2009-02-19 - Kleinur - 02 - One


2009-02-19 - Kleinur - 03 - Innards

As much as I like kleinur, the margarine is a killer. I should probably look into making my own donuts, let them get stale and see how they compare :-)

Why would anyone buy Krispy Kreme donuts?

Why would anyone buy Krispy Kreme donuts, especially when you have Dunkin Donuts?

We have Dunkin Donuts here in New Zealand, but it doesn't have the same variety of interesting flavours and the donuts are about four times the price. In Stone Mountain, fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, Dunkin Donuts were just down the road and around the corner from me. So, every other Sunday morning, I'd wander down get a cheap coffee and a box of donuts.

However, some day before I got into this habit, Baddi and I were out and about wasting a day and made the decision to pull into Krispy Kreme. He bought a box of glazed donuts and I bought a box of unglazed ones.

Now, an unglazed donut should still have the texture and flavour of a donut. But it turns out an unglazed Krispy Kreme donut has the texture of air and the flavour of nothing, a supreme accomplishment of the american industrial process. A real unglazed donut should taste something like the Icelandic kleinur.

Here's the box of leftovers:

2009-01-26 - Krispy Kreme - 01 - The box

And here's the sole surviving unglazed donut:

2009-01-26 - Krispy Kreme - 02 - One donut left

Where the other unglazed donuts went, I do not know. Neither of us wanted them, it would probably be more nutritious to eat plastic.

Saying goodbye to my fridge in Stone Mountain

I have been meaning to keep track of all the junk food that I have eaten, as part of a plan to keep an eye on my diet. While taking some pictures of New Zealand junk food, I found some old pictures of junk food I had at some stage in the United States.

In this case, it appears I took pictures of my fridge. Before blogging about them, I took a quick look to see what exactly was in them, and I am surprised to see that the least healthy thing present is the magical American milk which is on par with Twinkies for strangely long expiry dates.

Organic vegetables, organic yogurt, imported cheddar cheeses, organic eggs, organic wheatgerm, organic tomato sauce, pepsi max and more. The largesse that comes from having a well-paying job. What was I thinking there, coke zero tastes better than pepsi max..

The main bit:

2009-04-26 - Fridge - 01 - The main bit

And the door:

2009-04-26 - Fridge - 02 - The door

I bought several bottles of the sriracha sauce to take back to New Zealand, but unfortunately weight constraints meant that I could not take them with me and gave them away. Fortunately, the nearest asian supermarket here sells several different varieties which all seem to taste pretty good.

Sims bakery: Tea buns

For a long time, the best bakery in Ashburton was Sims bakery over the bridge in Tinwald. They had a wide variety of appealing food, including cheese steps (white thickly sliced loaves with a tasty melted cheese topping), cheese buns (serving-sized buns also coated with tasty melted cheese) and tea buns which I am showing here. Unfortunately, very few of their remaining products stand out as anything special anymore.

Like chelsea buns, tea buns are a glazed bun with icing on top. They don't particularly taste of anything, but as a diabetic after dinner treat with some extra fattening butter spread within them, they still do the trick.

The remains of a packet of tea buns:

2009-07-31 - Sims bakery - 05 - Tea buns

One of the buns isolated from the herd:

2009-07-31 - Sims bakery - 06 - Tea bun

I can't say I would go out of my way to get to Sims for my junk food anymore, although I would still head there for bakery-style loaves of bread.