Admittedly, Costco is not a name you'd expect to hear much on a foodie blog. But Chris Yeh reminds us that our friendly neighborhood warehouse-palooza can be an economical place to buy basic foods and ingredients, which you can always take home and transform into something memorable (or just eat directly!):
There are many reasons to love Costco, but the main reason I love it is for the food. Costco does a great job of making great food available. Often, there are gourmet items that you'd never be able to get in a typical supermarket, available at half the cost they'd be at even Trader Joe's, let alone Draegers or a specialty market.
One of my favorites right now are Costco's cheeses. Two great varieties that can liven up any occasion (and are great for any time snacks) are the Spanish Manchego ($7.99/pound) and the Pecorino Romano ($3.99/pound). Both are firm, strongly flavored cheeses where a little goes a long way. I especially enjoy eating them with some of Costco's colossal garlic-stuffed green olives as a simple sort of antipasti.
And given their price and flavor intensity, they're practically cheaper than supermarket cheddar!
To Chris' point, on a recent Costco run, I found flats of good quality strawberries and blackberries for a small fraction of the price at our local grocery store; I don't remember the specific prices, but remember thinking that the flat costed about the same as a small box or two at the grocery (but had 2-3x the volume). As for all the processed foods and the Costco snack bar: just say no! In terms of prepared foods, I will say that the baked goods made on premises are not bad for the money. Costco makes a pretty mean fruit pie. A surprising foodie find on my most recent trip to Costco was Dragonfly Cakes petit fours -- exquisite cakes almost too lovely to eat unless you're a glutton like me, in which case you snap a quick photo before downing the whole box. The Sweet Life waxes poetic about these addictive treats. Not sure whether every Costco location stocks these little gems from Sausalito-based Dragonfly Cakes, but I found them at the Rengstorff location (across from In-N-Out) in Mountain View. They were back in a corner at the far end of the low, open-top refrigerated cases that store cheese and smoked salmon.
Update: Polly Liu over at e-commerce wedding/party favor site Beau-coup sent me a note:
I noticed that you blogged about Dragonfly Cakes! We're a big fan of Brooks, the owner, and their little cakes are really to die for.
Shameless plug for my good friend Polly: Beau-coup offers the cakes for many occasions, such as festive holiday petit fours, monogrammed petit fours (a wedding favor option exclusive to Beau-coup) and precious dainty baby petit fours which make great baby shower favors.