Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dining Out at Costco

Wow, what a lunch. Started with a handful of almond mix, then went straight for the chili, followed by a Chinese-style salad. Then moved across the aisle to the pasta samples, then on to Aisle 3 for the Rocky Range chicken sausages and meatballs.

Sausage in one hand, meatball in the other, I was hotfooting it to the buffalo wings when I got a Blackberry poke from Diane.

"Incredible," she messaged. "These people really want you to eat." She was at a sushi booth which I hadn't found yet.

They really know how to feed you at Costco in the United States. I'm used to to the Canadian Costco stores where a few unsmiling ladies dish out microscopic food samples like crackers, trail mix and apple juice. You'll get your hand slapped if you come back for seconds, so sometimes when I'm really hungry I have to bring a stick-on mustache and a wig.

Here in California they encourage you to have seconds.

On our visit to Costco at Concord, just east of San Francisco, I hear the guy giving out pita bread pieces with Middle East spreads holler: "More ready here. C'mon and get it."

Food Sample Folks at Concord, CA Costco
There probably are two dozen food sample setups in this store, which appears to be the same size as the Barrie, ON store that I patronize. I wonder how anyone has time to shop. They are too busy eating.

"Here try to the meatballs too," says the guy at Rocky the Range chicken. He appears to be working alone, but most tables have three, or four or more workers preparing and setting out samples. There are few lineups for the best stuff because there is plenty of it being set out as fast as it is grabbed off the tables.

By the time I've hit the corn dogs, sushi, pretzel crackers and decadent dark chocolate with walnuts, I'm looking for the free Rolaids. There aren't any, so I wander into the back corner of the building where they aren't giving out any samples. This is where they have the liquor and wine.

There are rows of it stacked head high. Did you know that Costco has its own brand liquor and wine? I pick up a bottle of Kirkland Small Batch Kentucky bourbon. There's also Kirkland vodka and on and on. And I thought they just made their own batteries.

While browsing I bump into Russell, the wine products adviser who patrols the aisles chatting to folks, answering their questions and giving them tips on the wines. He is so tall that I get a stiff neck from talking up to him. It's worth it. He tells me that Costco is the world's largest seller of wine. Period. And, it is not all plonk like the Two Buck Chuck we used to buy at Trader Joe's. Some bottles are $20.

Russell has been really nice and I hate to leave without something. So I grab two bottles of Tractor Shed Red. It's a California wine made not too far from Concord. I figure it will be nice to have a glass or two when I pull my tractor from its shed for its spring oil change. Good way to celebrate spring.

Am-ur-ica. I love it!

Rocky Range sausages and meatballs


  1. Boy you really hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the parsimonious people who work at Costco in Canada! One woman, I swear, is a sadist who does everything in s-l-lo-w-w motion as if every morsel is from her private pantry. I call them the Costco Nazis - "No samples for you!"

    Keep up the good work, Jim. It's a nice distraction from all the Japan and Libya stuff the media have been cramming down our throats!


  2. Your right they sure know how to do it in the land of the Stars and Bars. Gordon Food services USA puts on quite the little spread also. So happy to share their product and have a chat . In Canadian stores I feel like an imposition. God Bless the USA.

  3. I can visualize the scene perfectly. Your words paint an amazingly clear picture. The food looks great. I can see the sushi in my minds eye and can't wait to get man hands on a few pieces. Wouldn't you know it, I am blocked by an enormously obese bottom and an overflowing shopping cart. I give up and head for the wine area!

    I love the stories, keep 'em coming.