I popped into my local Trader Joe’s the same day I got the Fearless Flyer. Unfortunately, I was a little too quick, as my store wasn’t even stocked with half of the featured products. But after two more trips, I finally got most of the items I had wanted to try.

Variety Macarons

Over the summer, Trader Joe’s came out with a variety pack of macarons, with six different flavors and shell colors. Then they stopped selling it, which was really sad. They just came out with a new one in the last few months. It’s not the same flavors as the one from the summer but I do love that there is a variety of flavors. They look so much prettier than just having vanilla and chocolate or just pumpkin.

Premium Eggnog Ice Cream

I’ve always enjoyed Trader Joe’s premium seasonal ice creams. This was my first time trying the eggnog. I personally found the eggnog taste too strong. I’m not a big fan of eggnog itself; I usually just like desserts that are eggnog flavored. Since the eggnog flavor was so powerful, I didn’t really like this seasonal flavor, but if you really like eggnog, you might enjoy this.

Frozen Kouign Amann

I’ve discussed my discovery and love for Kouign Amann at length here and here. A lot of people still haven’t heard about it, but it’s definitely becoming more popular. It’s a Breton cake that is similar to a croissant except that the layers of dough have butter and sugar. It’s baked until the exterior is caramelized. The result —when done right— is an amazingly light pastry that is really really delicious. Cathy of mmm-yoso, provided me the tip that Trader Joe’s had a frozen version, so I quickly went out to get it.

What happens when you get together a group of 20 food enthusiasts, take them to a popular restaurant with a James-Beard award winning chef, and give them carte blanche to order whatever they want? They order almost the entire menu…twice.

A few weeks ago, Mr. K and I were in San Francisco to attend the North America Chowzter Awards, something I’ll discuss in greater detail in another post. Chowzter is a new company that specializes in recommending fast feasts for cities all over the world. The idea is, if you are visiting a certain city, you can look up their recommendations for a good burger, pizza, ribs, burritos, etc. They recruited food bloggers from various cities to make the recommendations and the weekend trip was a chance for us to meet the food blog writers representing cities in North America, celebrate great dishes, and meet the founders of the company. While we were there, the Chowzter group also took us to some of their favorite places in San Francisco.

None of the restaurants knew we were coming so this wasn’t a “media dinner” type of setting. We just popped in randomly and ordered to our hearts’ content.

I was excited Mission Chinese Food was one of the places they took us to because it’s definitely been on my to-do list. And instead of just ordering a few dishes, I got to sample almost everything.

Tiki Pork Belly (soy caramel, mandarin orange, pickled pineapple, shaved coconut, macadamia nuts)

The pork belly was soft and melty. It was a little too sweet of a rendition for my personal preference but it was enjoyable.

Fresh Squid Ink Noodles

This was one of my favorite dishes from our meal. The wide, flat noodles had a subtle salty and briny flavor and this dish really let the noodles be the star.

Chongqing Chicken Wings

This was one of the items I was most looking forward to and it definitely lived up to the hype. The wings were fried to the point where the fat had been rendered off, leaving behind crispy, thin skin. The wings are tossed in Szechuan peppercorns, which leave a tingling and slight burning sensation on your lips as you eat them. Scattered among the wings and red chili peppers are deep fried pieces of beef tripe. They were super crunchy, almost like eating Cheetos. I’ve never tasted tripe prepared this way and it was quite fun to eat.

These were some of the best wings we’ve tasted this year and this was our favorite dish from our meal here. I’m going to try to recreate the dish soon, since the recipe is shared online.

One more giveaway for the holidays! Today, December 20th, is National Sangria Day. To celebrate, Rubio’s is giving away $20 in gift cards to one lucky reader. All the information for the giveaway is in the PromoSimple box. Good luck!

And don’t forget to enter the Green Mountain Coffee K Cups Giveaway!