8-3-05 [food]"Coastal" Cabernet at Trader Joe's is $3.99 and quite good. It's actually Castoro Cellars wine, which is a local Central Coast winery that TJ is selling on it's own label; Castoro bottles go for about $10, so you get a nice discount. It's not orgasmic, but a good balanced drinking wine, not box wine in disguise.
"Northwest" beers at TJ's are actually made by "Hale's Ales" in Seattle, a very good brewery. The Amber is lovely. Our local brewery SLO Brew also makes something for TJ on another label, but I haven't found it yet. SLO Brew recently sold out to some corporate brewery that's going to take the brewing operation national (don't get excited, it's nothing special).
Perugina dark chocolate with almonds has the perfect proportion of chocolate and nuts. Many brands have better chocolate, and Villar's (for example) has better chocolate & nuts, but the ratio is crucial. In the Perugina, the chocolate is the star, and the nuts are a nice highlight to keep you from getting bored.
St. Peter's beers are fantastic, rich, smooth, balanced. They are, however, too expensive, much of which I blame on the bottles, which while being very attractive and pleasantly heavy, are an awful waste of money.