The first priority at Costco is usually stocking up on your basic groceries: a 10 pound bag of organic sugar, that fantastic two liter bottle of first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, and all the other high quality, low cost pantry staples that will last you for weeks, if not months. But once you’ve taken care of the essentials, it’s time to consider purchases that veer from your normal shopping routine.
Whether it’s cheese, meat, seafood, or booze, Costco’s shelves and coolers are brimming with fancy pants eats and drinks at prices well below its competitors. If you have a special occasion on the horizon or are simply in the mood to treat yourself, consider these offerings which we deem the most worthy splurges at the beloved big-box retailer.
If you want to take your pizza or caprese salad to the next level, using bufala mozzarella is the way to go. Yes, the bufala indicates that the cheese is made with buffalo milk which yields a creamier, more luscious product than standard fresh mozzarella. You’ll have to pay extra for this premium product (it’s nearly twice as much as its cow milk alternative) but it’s definitely worth the cost of admission. No surprise, you won’t find it much cheaper than at Costco which offers a pound-plus package from Italy’s Fattorie Garofalo. It’s comprised of four individually-wrapped 4.4 ounce balls of cheesy goodness that are soaked in brine to ensure a shelf life of two to three weeks. With summer tomato season in full swing, now’s the perfect time to take the plunge.
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As far as supermarket steaks go, Costco’s are among the best in terms of quality and value. The refrigerator case is stocked with several different cuts—everything from tri-tip to ribeye—but if you really want to bring the wow factor at your next big food gathering, particularly during the holidays, you can’t go wrong with a whole tenderloin. Weighing around five to six pounds each, this buttery slab of beef is where you’ll find the coveted filet mignon. While it’s often worth upgrading to a Prime graded steak for extra marbling, in the case of tenderloin which is preferred because it is a relatively lean cut, sticking with Choice is just fine. You can also save money by bypassing the pricier “peeled” tenderloin which doesn’t require any additional trimming—removing the fat and silverskin from the standard whole tenderloin is a relatively simple task.
One of the rare Costco butcher items that doesn’t come in a giant, gluttonous package, the Kirkland lamb rack is perfectly portioned for a date night. We’re talking 100 percent premium Australian here, so you know you’ll be getting the good stuff. The rack has already been frenched so no additional trimming will be required. Just add an herb rub, toss it in the oven, let that bottle of cabernet you’ve been saving for a special occasion breathe, and enjoy a perfect (stress-free) romantic evening.
It’s no secret Costco loves to go big and their lobster tails are no exception. These cold-water behemoths are well over a pound each and pack enough meat to fill at least a couple of lobster rolls. While multi-packs are usually available, if you have just the appetite for a single serving, time your visit during a Seafood Roadshow for the opportunity to purchase individual tails.
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When it comes to cured pork products jamón Ibérico is second to none. The prized ham offers an unparalleled blend of smoky, nutty, porcine heaven. That’s because it’s derived from rare black Iberian pigs which feast on a steady diet of acorns. A whole leg of this delicacy from Spanish manufacturer Noel will set you back $550 at Costco…and that’s a steal considering it commonly fetches over $100 a pound. There are some caveats: You’ll have to slice it yourself so make sure to do your homework before carving. It’s also currently not available but keep an eye out for its return in the coming months.
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This is another elusive find that’s an absolute must-buy for fans of brown Kentucky-based spirits. Billed as “the original single barrel bourbon,” Blanton’s has been a long time favorite among connoisseurs but recently casual drinkers have joined the faithful. The increased attention means it’s difficult to find on shelves anywhere and Costco, which stocks it periodically, is no exception. The difference is that most liquor stores will offer it for well above retail, while Costco won’t tack on the upcharge, though they will limit purchases to one per person. If you spot the signature barrel-shaped bottle topped with a horse and jockey figure, grab it immediately.
Costco happens to be the top wine distributor in the United States and there are plenty of bargains to be had among their selection. When it comes to Champagne, you’ll find discounted bottles of familiar standbys like Veuve Clicquot and Piper-Heidsieck along with special occasion heavy-hitters including Dom Perignon and Cristal. But the best bang for the buck might just be Kirkland Champagne Brut, a steal for a mere $20 a bottle. This is the real deal stuff—it would be illegal to put Champagne on the label if it wasn’t—and many wine gurus claim that it rivals similar bottles of bubbly that are twice the price. I know, splurge may be a little generous here but relative to other Kirkland-brand wines it’s kind of pricey.
Related Video: How to Open a Champagne Bottle—the Right Way
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