Published: A Costco Survival Guide (aka the “Meet Your Manhattan Costco” Post)

A Costco Survival Guide” was published in the The New York Press, a local alt weekly. The article offers a strategy for shopping at the warehouse giant, even if you live in a small New York City apartment. Here, some outtakes from my scouting trip to the new Upper East Side warehouse.

From the opening paragraph: “…on the other hand, where else can you get wild king crab legs for $10.99 per pound?”


My favorite store-bought hummus is made by Sabra, and I have no doubt that I could easily plow through the 32 oz. tubs that sell for $5.98. Even more though, I fell hard and fast for these single-serving versions. I’m something of a market/product aficionado and I’ve never seen Sabra hummus in this packaging in any market in New York City previously:

Here, the Hellmann’s mayo from the article:

“That’s embarrassing. Who eats that much mayonnaise?” asks a shopper, gesturing toward the giant, 128-oz. tub of Hellmann’s Best ($9.99). He grabs the pack of three squeezable, 22-oz. bottles ($8.99) and walks off.

Uh, that’s the point.We don’t eat that much mayo; so don’t get hung up on the bulk stuff. The three-pack is for regular shoppers and the tub is for the guy that’ll be making giant batches of tuna salad at the bodega.

Premium products at prices so cheap it shouldn’t be legal:

Oh Costco. If only you weren’t tucked so far off the beaten path on E. 116th Street! I’ll see you again someday, I’m sure …

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Editor’s Note: Hey There, BLD Project (aka the “Sunset Over My Year” Post … Which has Nothing to do with Moon Over my Hammy)

Hey There, BLD Project. I’ve missed you. I’m ready to get back to it.

So … the days of fresh fruit platters and free mini candy bars piled high in the sky (no joke, I remember such a thing) are long, long gone.

On domestic flights, even the free meal in first class is more novelty than quality these days. But, hell, it was New Year’s Eve. The sun setting over the decade — there’s no way I wasn’t going to live it up.

(It should be noted I do have a small affinity for United Airlines’ snack box program. I’ve been entirely on board since they started charging $5 for the things like, several years ago.)

I splurged and ordered the “Luxe” ($7) and a small French-produced sparkling wine ($8):

A little Rondele spreadable cheese, olives from the Spain, sesame breadsticks from Italy, squeezable hummus from … (Portland, Oregon?), a big chocolate-covered pretzel, and, and…

Really, with this sunset, what did it matter where or when I landed. I was already on board.

Editor’s Note: Thoughts on Labor on Labor Day Weekend (aka the “Serious Sausage Feast at Water Taxi Beach” Post)

Labor Day Weekend brings the conclusion of my grand experiment, I Heart August Month. Which means it’s time again to address that question: Where do I go from here?

photo-2For now, I am going to strive for a happy blogging medium of about 10x a week, which will consist of daily posts, plus the introduction of a few roving features:

— A weekly $7 (and under) lunch column
— outer borough excursions
— in the kitchen experiments
— and more

The continuing evolution of the BLD Project has been on my mind quite a bit lately in that “processing in the background” mode, but serious food trumps all, like this stunning sausage specimen I stumbled upon at the new Water Taxi Beach on Governor’s Island.

photo-3photo-1

This grilled kielbasa from Polish foods purveyor Jubilat Provisions in Brooklyn (it’s called the “Wiejska” on the menu) is ridiculously good, and ridiculously cheap ($5). A crisp, snappy casing and smokey grill char only further complement what is a superior pork product, to begin with.

photo-5photo-4 …just imagine how ecstatic I was to discover that Water Taxi Beach takes their condiment bar as seriously as their sausage. There were all the usual suspects, plus: spicy renditions of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise; onion, relish, sauerkraut; potato chip crumbles; a pineapple chipotle salsa and a spicy tomatillo salsa; Sirracha; whole pickle spears.

photoFeet in the sand, beer in hand, views of the city, A+ kielbasa, all for $11?

I did not see this one coming. At best, I’d figured the food would be somewhere above stadium concessions, which means as good or better quality and definitely less of a rip-off. Instead, the Wiejska kielbasa is haunting me, taunting me, from afar.

… all the more reason to get back to Governor’s Island one more time before it closes for the season (end of October).

Editor’s Note: Bringing BLD Project on Board (aka, the “Welcome to I Heart August Month” Post)

An excerpt from an e-mail, titled “I Heart August Month: Kicks Off Tonight!”, sent August 3:

I love August. Probably my favorite month of the year, which also happens to be my birthday, and Burning Man (usually)! So this year I’ve decided that I want to celebrate all month long: celebrate summer, celebrate the heat and sun (bring it!), celebrate the glorious long days and warm nights, celebrate with food, friends, festivities, free culture (while it lasts) …

I’m kicking things off tonight with a new super blonde ‘do! Come check it out and toast to August with margs and appetizers at Tortilla Flats on the Westside — think, pinata fringe hanging from the ceilings, Bingo, velvet Elvis paintings, …

23586204Being the recently-blonded author of said e-mail, I can assure you that I Heart August Month indeed kicked off with an ole!, and has continued in full effect.

But you wouldn’t know that by the neglected state of this blog project, which I also adore. I just haven’t had the discipline, the heart, to write 17 posts x week — it’s not the good meals but the mediocre, shitty, in-between ones that I’m getting hung up on. Which means I never get to some of the good ones, and then other shit ones happen, and before you know it, I’ve built my own proverbial dam. (Damn!)

It took me a while, but I finally figured out what to do:

I am going to align the BLD Project with I Heart August Month. It is so ridiculous that I ever thought they could be separate.

21819507I am going to experiment with the format of the BLD Project. For the duration of I Heart August Month (which ends Labor Day weekend), I am temporarily giving up on the 17 posts x week requirement and instead focusing on my favorite things: travels, eating discoveries, food I adore, food-and-drink-related hijinks, maybe even a little (relevant) shopping or product-related discussion — which I always envisioned would be a part of the content, but I haven’t so far been able to get to it as I’ve been buried in the grind.

In essence, I’m bringing BLD Project on board. If this is my personal marathon, then this is the part where I break off from the designated route and check out some scenic stuff. By no means is it done.

Welcome to I Heart August Month.

Editor’s Note: Don’t Hate Me Because I’ve Gone Blonde (aka the “Excuses, Excuses, Excuses” Post)

I’m not sure how often you check in with the BLD Project.

But for better or worse, this blog is my lifeline to the ideas, the experiences, the motivations, the people, that drive my thoughts about food on a daily basis (whether or not I write about it).

Food for survival, food for satisfaction, food for pleasure, food for ribbons (the winning of awards and kudos kind): We’re all eating, all the time. I’m just supposed to be writing about it. Which brings me to the topic at  hand: My errant ways.

Last week was a lost week, for many reasons. I am going to rest the blame on the serious amount of chemicals that went into my head to return to blonde — let’s call it dinner, Monday night.

The recipe was something close to:

photo90 sheets of foil (aprox.)
(1 1/2) containers of
BW 2, 10 oz.
1 bottle Clairol pure white,
etc.

To that fine concoction, mix in a couple of pitchers of margaritas at Tortilla Flats, my own neurosis and BINGO. (Literally, Tortilla Flats hosts a lively Bingo scene on Monday nights.)

All joking aside, for many reasons, collectively the week was a wash. So I’m going to pick up with Thursday afternoon, when I’m on my way to the airport for “BLD Minnesota Edition,” and we’ll just call the rest … roots.

Editor’s Note, aka the “What a Week!” Post

What a week! In hindsight, I should have realized this week’s great potentials, all of which were realized, and which caused the BLD project’s 3x daily endeavor to be put on hold, only temporarily:

Über freelancing/article productivity. Between Monday and Thursday (short work week due to Fourth of July federal holiday), I visited five food establishments as “official” article research (I put the quotes around “official” because generally I consider all my wandering and eating to be research); listened to several hours of previously-recorded interviews (and transcribed quotes); conducted two new interviews; wrote three articles (600 – 1,200 word count); and had this Market Research column on sorbet published in amNY. On average, I was writing/typing 2,000-2,500 words a day.

photo(5)Über cause for celebration. I’m not sure how often it happens that the culmination of NYC’s Gay Pride Week, which is the parade on Sunday, falls within a week of the Fourth of July, which might be my favorite national holiday, but this year it did, which means this city absolutely errupted with passion, pride and energy twice within a week’s span. Plus, out-of-town visitors.

Über-ly gorgeous early summer weather. Have I mentioned that I absolutely love the summer season? Other than being caught in a 10-minute downpour that gave entirely new meaning to the weather advisory of “rain may be heavy at times,” this week has been absolutely gorgeous. High temps low 80s, relatively low humidity, evening temps dropping into the 60s, which is warm enough to not need any kind of jacket/sweater/shrug, but still comfortable for sleeping — that is, when I got around to it.

So now, I’m going to see if I can post seven posts, each representing the highlight of the day, and get this next week started fresh. As they say, let’s keep on treking …