Trader Joe’s and Uwajimaya

Uwajimaya Village in Seattle's International D...

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Every morning I awake, and as most Seattleites, I partake in my morning cup, OK let’s be honest it’s more like half a pot, of coffee.  I have a particular mug, made in Germany, that is blue and white with little Holstein cows on it.  I purchased the mug at Sur La Table near Pike’s Place Market.  This is my favorite mug – the default one I reach for every morning.

I’ve realized my blog’s writings are an extension of who I am.  It’s basically the inner workings of my brain on paper.  Sometimes I have light bulb moments, which I excitedly document through one of my many organizational madness methods – my iTouch, MacBook, or the small notepad tucked away in my purse.  There’s something about carrying around a notepad and pen and being able to write your thoughts on paper.  Who knew such an old-fashioned concept would be so inspiring in the technology driven 21st century.

I am avoiding the smartphone age.  Yes, I know I have to be the only person within a vicinity of 50 miles that refuses to partake in the smartphone phenomenon; however, there’s something so peaceful about going grocery shopping with my organized Grocery App list on my iTouch and having that be my time.  I always go grocery shopping early in the morning.  Produce is freshest and being in a small town I’m able to avoid an entourage of people I personally know.  I miss that dearly about Seattle – shopping in complete anonymity.

I love my monthly trips to Trader Joe’s in Bellingham (the best Trader Joe’s for miles around).  I think it is far superior to the Trader Joe’s in Everett, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, or Issaquah.  As you can tell, I may be a traveling Trader Joe’s junkie.

I relish stocking up at Uwajimaya, the Seattle International District Asian grocery store.  I love perusing their aisles, especially the authentic Asian sections where I have to really analyze and use my deductive reasoning skills to ascertain what a particular ingredient may be.  There’s something so exotically adventurous about a store exploiting the unfamiliar to an American audience.

Like a child in a candy store, I hypnotically hover over the vegetable section in Uwajimaya.  I always make a dash for the Japanese mushrooms.  The small bunashimeji (beech) and enoki mushrooms immediately make my taste buds spring into action, as though a military procession has started and I’m focused, ready to salute.  I always want to touch, feel the texture, and smell the intoxicating aromas of the produce.  Sometimes I refrain because it is poor manners, but other times I can’t resist.  I always make my way towards the beautiful, deep purple assortment of fresh eggplants.  Which one is speaking to me, inspiring me if you will, to motivate me along my food journey?  Then I notice the tell-tale woody, yet root like exterior of the nearby lotus root.  Suddenly my overactive imagination transports me back to Japan, allowing me to once again taste this unique root, with its delicate lacy texture, yet sweet crunchiness.   I love visiting places that awaken my senses and inspire me to pursue my passion.

I suppose you could consider this my blogging endorsement for Trader Joe’s and Uwajimaya.  Being true to nature, it wouldn’t technically be an endorsement if I didn’t list a sumptuous product from each store.

Both stores have so many wonderful, delectable items I barely know where to begin.  So I shall list a product from each store that suits my current culinary desires for this overcast Northwest day.

Trader Joe’sPanda Black Licorice, a Finnish product, made with natural ingredients like old-fashioned molasses (my southern grandma and mom would be ever so proud of me in keeping true to my roots).  The ingredients are so simple and natural – molasses, wheat flour, licorice extract, and natural flavor (aniseed oil).  Of course, if you’re opposed to black licorice, don’t worry.  They have a delicious, natural red licorice without any red food dye.  Instead they prefer to use molasses, wheat flour, cherry puree, citric acid, natural flavor, black carrot juice concentrate, and licorice extract.  (As a perk, they have one of the cutest, most entertaining websites too!)

The licorice itself is juicy but not overly sweet.  It has a pleasant, chewy texture and an abundance of natural flavor.  The true flavor of this licorice is not masked by sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but the Finnish have somehow managed to allow the essence of the licorice extract and natural ingredients to come together and meld perfectly into a sweet treat favored by adults and children alike.

Uwajimaya – Yuzu  Kirin Chu-hi, the flavor that brings me back to Japan (in an alcoholic beverage sort of way).  Yuzu’s flavor is a cross between a grapefruit and an orange.  I don’t recall seeing any fresh yuzus yet in the US; however, when I was in Japan they were abundant and I grew to love this unique citrus fruit.  Chu-hi’s are an alcoholic beverage in Japan that are similar to an American wine cooler.  Yes, I do love wine (especially a good cabernet sauvignon), but who doesn’t want to partake in a fun drink once in a while?  The yuzu Chu-hi has a distinctively unique carbonated citrus flavor.  For those of you that are under 21 years of age or adults that abstain from alcohol, I recommend trying something yuzu flavored once in your life.

Ume Kirin Chu-Hi (Picture Taken While in Japan)


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