Culture vulture

Photo By Andre Welling

Why I love Trader Joe’s
That’s right friends and neighbors, Culture Vulture thinks Trader Joe’s is the bee’s knees. Maybe it’s the imported cheese selection. Or the Two-Buck Chuck. Or the almonds, raw or roasted and salted. Or those giant bars of dark chocolate with almonds. Or the goat milk yogurt. Or the 100-percent juices, canned fish, great mayonnaise, hemp cereal, frozen white roughy, good corn chips or even the peanut butter and jelly selection. The lovely I. Daphne St. Brie and self both like to cook, and TJ’s has a lot of good ingredients.

Plus, I thought one of the funniest news items of the year was a story about the prestigious International Eastern Wine Competition that wound up with a bottle of TJ’s $2 Charles Shaw Shiraz winning a double gold medal after a blind tasting, something that only 53 out of the 2,300 entries achieved. Way to stick a needle in the balloon of oenophile pretentiousness, Chuck.

By the time you read this, Culture Vulture will have been to Chico’s own newly opened branch of TJ’s at least once, and if you stop by Culture Vulture World Headquarters anytime between now and New Year’s, I’m sure that at least some ingredient in some treat you’ll be offered will have sat on a shelf at Trader Joe’s at some point in its pathway to your palate.

My only regret is that I no longer have a secondary rationalization for driving down to Sacramento to cruise thrift stores and used record shops. But that’s OK, Melody Records is a great place and the Salvie out on East Avenue employs a woman with a laugh that could become legendary. Why waste gas going elsewhere?

Why I love S&S Produce even more
This store embodies everything good about locally-owned grocery stores. The people running S&S have been observing and catering to the needs and desires of Chico shoppers for decades. The produce is gorgeous, delicious and beautifully displayed. The beer selection is varied and well-chosen. The wine rack is stocked with local products, organic varieties and all sorts of interesting labels, both domestic and imported (good job, Matt). The savory snack selection and candy rack are second to none.

And don’t even get me started on the excellence of the adjoining Butcher Shop. I will on occasion, in an act of culinary desperation, buy a piece of meat from a chain store, and it’s always edible, but when I want something excellent, I head for the Butcher Shop, as do the chefs of Fifth Street Steakhouse, JP’s and any other local dining establishment that insists on the utmost in quality. A filet mignon from the Butcher Shop, seasoned with just some sea salt, organic garlic and freshly ground pepper then cooked over a bed of genuine mesquite charcoal is enough, in my book, to justify, or at least make pleasantly bearable, the existence of a world in which conscious entities devour the flesh of their fellow beings.

And until I can sit down for a face-to-face debate with Yahweh on the ethics of creating a world in which involuntary death is the norm, that will remain true.