Category Archives: Grocery Outlet

Here you will find reviews of the products I’ve been able to find at our local Grocery Outlet in San Leandro. It’s very close to my house and I go quite a bit. I love how affordable the prices are (though beware, not everything is a bargain), and how I can come across new products of all kinds.

Three Sausages: Gilbert’s, Open Nature & Aidell’s

I’ve been kind of lazy about making dinner lately, and what is easier and tastier than grilling some hot dogs or sausages?  Grocery Outlet, meanwhile, has had an explosion of sausage choices this week so we were able to try a few new ones.

open-nature-sausage-pork-171009The winner of this batch was Open Nature Smoked Uncured Sausages. This is actually the Safeway brand of sausages.  These are 100% pork sausages. They are pretty big, with four sausages in the 12 oz package, and very tasty.  That’s probably because they are full of fat, 23 grams for one of these vs. 15 grams for one of the Gilbert sausages below (which are 1/2 oz smaller).  Still, if you’re going for flavor, you can’t go wrong with these sausages.  Mike rated them an 8.5.

gilbertsGilbert’s Craft Sausages is a very new company (started in 2010) offering “gourmet” uncured beef sausages.  I got the beef & cheddar and we thought it was pretty good.  Mike would rate it a 6.5.  Camila, my 9 yo, liked it – and she can be picky.  It had a nice flavor, not very overwhelming, and was pretty juicy.  I think I might enjoy it more without the cheddar.

One convenient thing about Gilbert’s sausages is that they are individually wrapped.  The bad thing is that they don’t have the type/expiration date printed on the plastic, so I still have to keep the carton in the fridge to remember what they are.  A 10 oz package of 4 sausages was, I think, $3 at Grocery Outlet.

aidellsFinally, one of my kids like chicken sausages and we often buy the Aidells kind.  There were none at Grocery Outlet, buy they had Awesome Apple uncured chicken hot dogs.  The 10 oz package has 5.  Both kids really liked them and they seem marginally healthier, with 7 grams of fat each.  But one kid had to eat two to get full, and the other 3 .  Of course, the kids gave them a “10”.  My oldest says she prefers these to the sausages as they are thinner and easier to eat, plus they look smaller.  Less messy too.

One good thing about these chicken apple hot dogs is that they don’t have pork casings.  Aidells chicken sausages don’t either, but other manufacturers do.  If you are specifically avoiding eating pork products (as my daughter is), this matters.

Hormel Natural Choice Apple Gouda Chicken Sausages – Review

AppleGoudaChickenSausage-largeI got these at Grocery Outlet yesterday.  They were only 50-cents, or so, as today was the expiration day.  I was going to use them in quesadillas, but we ended up eating them whole.

All in all, they were good, but so sweet that none of us wanted to have a second sausage (and at 3 oz, they aren’t that big).  My youngest particularly enjoyed how juicy it was.  The cheese, indeed, seems to be there more to provide juiciness than flavor.

They are actually made from “natural” ingredients: chicken, Gouda cheese, dried apples, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, paprika and spices.  They are in pork casings.

I don’t know that I’d buy again, unless they were on sale at 50-cents.

Rougette Grill Meister Grilling Cheese – Product Review

GRILLMEISTER-PACKAGE I found this packaged cheese at Grocery Outlet yesterday, and I went back today to pick up four more packages. My haste was due to the fact that at 50-cents a package (regular retails is $5!), they will disappear soon, plus they expired on Dec. 16th – two days ago.  I don’t know for how much longer it’ll stay good, but surely a few more days.

This soft cheese is made in Germany, and is specifically made to be heated before serving.  It doesn’t have a crust, per se, though the outer layer becomes harder, while protecting a semi-melted middle.  It’s very good.  While officially a camembert, it reminded me more of a brie, though it’s milder and less bitter than most of those. It had a slightly nutty flavor, which I liked.

It was also very easy to prepare. You can either put it on the grill or on a lightly oiled pan on the stove. Cook for six minutes, flipping from time to time.  That’s it.  The 3.2 oz portion is definitely dainty, and I wouldn’t buy it at its regular $25-lb price, but for $5-lb, it’s well worth it, even if I have to hurry and eat it all this week 🙂

Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet

CB_bloodorg_lgI have a pretty nasty cold, so I only want to eat things which are smooth going down my throat and so flavorful that I can taste them despite my stuffed nose.  Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet fit the bill perfectly.

Of course, I can’t tell you how someone that has their 5 senses would experience it, but to me it was delicious.  The sorbet had a strong orange flavor, with some welcome bitter undertones.  It was very creamy and smooth.

They have these at Grocery Outlet here in San Leandro for $2 now, and I think I’ll stock up.

Soul Indian Wraps – Review

soul_butter_chkn_3dIf you’re tired of having the same old frozen burrito for lunch, Soul’s Indian wraps provide a reasonable alternative.  They have four flavors, butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, chicken tikka masala and vegetable curry.  I’ve tasted the three chicken ones, and I can’t say I could really distinguish their flavor. They all tasted like mildly spicy generic chicken curries, acceptable but not exciting. Of the four choices, the tikka masala has slightly less calories/fat (370 c/11 g. fat) than the others, so that may be your best choice.  The vegetable curry, which I haven’t tried, has the greatest fat content.

The wraps were about $1.50 at Grocery Outlet and they cook in the microwave in about 3 minutes (you have to turn it half way).

Not really ice cream reviews: Gelateria Italiana vs. Tempt

First of all, let me start by saying that I feel like a complete jerk for blogging about ice cream after reading this article about the torturous conditions in which California inmates find themselves, and hearing from a friend of mine who is a prison lawyer, that water was being rationed in California women’s prisons during the heat wave we had last week.

Be that as it may, not blogging about ice cream won’t change any of that, so here it goes.  These are two new, for me, brands of ice-cream-like products that I found at Grocery Outlet, here in San Leandro.

Gelateria Italiana

I tried both their Hazelnut & Chocolate and Pistachio flavors.  The Hazelnut & chocolate one was divine.  It tasted exactly like you would expect it to taste, but it was lighter that your regular gelato.  The Pistachio was pretty good as well, but less exciting because, after all, pistachio ice cream gets boring after a whole.

The ice cream comes all the way from Italy and I would fully recommend it but for its ingredients.  The first two ingredients are what you’d expect: milk and sugar (I guess no cream in gelato), but we then encounter “glucose syrup” – which is basically like corn syrup, but not necessarily from corn – and then “refined vegetable oil”.  Say what?  What is oil doing in my ice cream? I’ve made ice cream many times and gelato a few, but never, never have I heard of using oil.  I might have thought the oil was for cooking the hazelnuts, but it comes before “roasted hazelnut paste” as an ingredient, which means there is more of it than hazelnuts.

The gelato came in a 30 oz tub (so not quite a quart) and cost about $3 at GO.

temptTempt

What tempted me to try Tempt Coffee Biscotti “frozen dessert” ($2 for a pint at GO) was that it’s main ingredient: hemp milk.  Sure, I knew there would be nothing “naughty” in the ice cream, but I like the idea of supporting the hemp industry.  Alas, the “ice cream” was very disappointing.  The texture is nice enough, quite creamy, but the ice cream’s flavor is very mild and somewhat off putting.  According to my daughter, the after taste is better than the taste, however.  Tempt could probably improve this flavor, at least, by using more coffee so the coffee flavor is stronger, but they should also forgo the soggy, flavorless, gluten-free biscotti.

Tempt uses mostly organic ingredients, chief among them rice, but it also includes oil in its formula.  In all, it’s probably not a terrible choice for vegans, but others will probably want to avoid it.

 

Three Twins Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Review – Yummm!

3twinsChocolatePeanutButterI found this gem of an ice cream at our local San Leandro Grocery Outlet for $2.  It was the first time I came across a three twins product, but I’m one of those people who absolutely loves peanut butter and chocolate (as I write this, I’m plotting to make my husband go and get me the ingredients for a peanut butter shake), so I had to try it.  I’m glad I did.

Unlike most ice creams of this type, this wasn’t chocolate ice cream with swirls of peanut butter or vice versa. Instead both the peanut butter and the cocoa powder are mixed together into a combined flavor.  I think I still prefer the traditional type, but this is quite good too, albeit more peanut butter would be better.  Then again, nothing stops you from adding your own.

My oldest daughter pronounced it the “best ice cream ever”, and while my youngest wasn’t as enthusiastic, this is a girl with a limited like for sweets.

Three Twins seems to be this century’s answer to Ben & Jerry’s.  The company is based in the North Bay and makes organic ice cream from locally sourced milk and cream.  They have four stores and they seem to mostly sell through Whole Foods (which would explain why I never heard of them).  In addition to regular flavors, they have some interesting sounding ones such as cardamon, lemon cookie and sea salted caramel.  They sell ice cream through their website for $10 a pint, so the $2 Grocery Outlet price is particularly tempting.

Earl Grey for Cheap: Dilmah & Taja Tea

There are many things I love about having Grocery Outlet so near my house, and one of them is their ever changing brands of tea.  I used to pretty much only buy Twinnings tea (waiting for it to go on sale, as it’s usually $4 for 20 bags), but so many of the teas I’ve found at Grocery Outlet are comparable in flavor, that I am no longer tied to that venerable branch.

I’m usually a black-tea girl, but I do make an exception for Earl Grey, a black tea flavored with bergamot orange oil.  I’ve recently had those produced by Taja Tea and Dilmah, and they were both excellent.

Taja Tea specializes on “saffron” teas and offers five flavors.  The Earl Grey is made with black tea from Argentina, and artificial bergamot flavors (I checked).  Still, it is delicious.  Other Taja Tea flavors also get good reviews, and I may try the red rubio and the assam if I catch them at GO.

Dilmah is a Sri Lanka based, family company, established soon after Sri Lanka gained its independence.  They specialize on Ceylonese tea, as you’d expect, and their Earl Grey is very satisfying.  It’s not as flavorful as Taja’s, but it has nothing to envy Twinnings.  It uses Ceylon black tea and artificial bergamot flavoring.

They are both cheaper than Twinnings as well. I’ll check the actual prices next time I go to GO, but they’re about $1.50 to $2 per box of 20.

 

Starbucks Via: So 20th century!

I will admit it.  I’m an instant coffee drinker.  I know I’m not the only one in America, but I’m one of the few who will admit to it.  I drink instant coffee because it’s easy to make, but also because I like my coffee fairly mild.  I do have a strong preference for Taster’s Choice and Nescafé – so I do have some standards of sorts, but clearly they are not very high.

I first heard of Starbucks VIA last May when I won a raffle for a Starbucks gift card and the card came with a 3 individual samples of French Roast instant coffee.  I tried them and they were great.  The coffee has a rich flavor, stronger and more developed than any instant coffee I drink, but without the bitterness of the real thing.  As far as instant coffees go, it’s by far my favorite.

But… it’s expensive.  Ridiculously expensive, about 83-cents per cup, though if you buy it bulk you can get it down to 60-cents a cup.   A cup of Taster’s Choice costs less than 10-cents by comparison.  So needless to say, I haven’t been buying it.

Soon after I received my sample pack, I saw VIA at Safeway, and not too long after that, at Grocery Outlet.  But even at Grocery Outlet it was too expensive, though I don’t remember exactly what the price was.  Today I noticed that the 3-cup packages are down to 99-cents (though they expired in June).  33-cents a cup is not too bad, so I bought a few packages to have it as the occasional treat.  Lately, I’m drinking tea anyway.

The biggest problem with VIA, besides the price, is all the needless packaging.  I guess they need it to make you think you are getting more from your money than you really are.  It’s unlikely that anyone seeing a $40 7-oz jar of VIA placed next to a $10 jar of Taster Choice would reach towards the former.  But all of this means a lot of wasted materials which come at a significant environmental cost.

I’m sure that Starbucks did a lot of market research before introducing this product, but I just don’t see who it would appeal to.

Raymundo’s Caramel Flan – Product Review

I got this at Grocery Outlet last week.  The 21 oz package was on sale for about $2, I think.  Its first ingredients were milk and sugar so I thought it was worth trying.  It wasn’t bad but I wouldn’t but it again.

I found the flan both a bit insipid and too smooth for my taste.  I prefer flans that are a bit rougher, with air bubbles throughout.  I assume this is because this flan is made with whole eggs, but I imagine the fillers don’t help either.