If you’re one of the bajillions of Costco fans out there, then you know there’s a lot going on behind those sliding glass doors. Yes, nice savings because you’re buying in bulk. Yes, some excellent Kirkland house-brand offerings. Yes, the ability to buy new eyeglasses, a bed for your dog, enough Advil to last you a lifetime of headaches, a four-pound assortment of Halloween candy, and a flat of fresh peaches all in one fell swoop.
But on my most recent spin around a couple of Costcos in my area, I was on a particular mission: to discover what kinds of specialty items and swanky, niche surprises might be tucked away in those aisles and cooler cases, particularly ones you might not expect to find at a price club. Turns out, there’s a lot of gold in them there hills.
Quite a number of their very high-end ($$$) products are only available online, or in select Costco stores, or offered only at certain times of the year. So you’ll have to do a little digging yourself if any of these items below pique your interest. And know that if you plan a visit during the holiday season, for instance, there will be more luxury items to choose from.
Even if you’re not one to spend on specialty items like Wagyu beef and a $5,000 grill (!), it’s fun to window-shop isn’t it?
Starting in the stores themselves, here’s what I found:
Rib chops are the most expensive cut from a lamb, beloved for being utterly delicious and tender. Roasting them in a rack and then slicing them to serve results in a very elegant presentation, especially if the chops are Frenched, meaning that the excess meat and fat are trimmed from the bone. A rack is $13.99 per pound at Costco, whereas in other markets the same cut can range between $20 and $40 per pound.
Recipe: Orange-Thyme Rack of Lamb
A coveted elixir in the food world, bone broth at Costco sells for $15.99 (that’s six 32-ounce boxes of low-sodium stock made with free-range chicken). On Amazon that very same six-pack was $42 the last I checked. Silly, huh? Is it as good as the broth at the fancy bone broth joints around town? Maybe not, but for bone broth on a budget, this is a pretty great buy.
Made by Kirkland, Costco’s house brand, $9.49 will get you a 20.7-ounce jar of these prized nuts. Grown in Spain and perfect for snacking or adding to a cheese platter, this buttery variety of almonds is sweeter, softer, and creamier than your garden-variety nuts.
The rise of the macaron (a meringue-based cookie made with ground almonds) in this country has been impressive. In bigger cities you can find whole stores devoted to these precious little cookies—and they can run you a pretty penny (more than $3 per cookie in some cases). The Tipiak collection of macarons at Costco contains 36 light little treats, in flavors like pistachio, dark chocolate, cherry, and more. And guess what? $14.79 is what, i.e. 41 cents per macaron.
Good butter is one of the most affordable luxuries on the planet, thinks me. I cook with plenty of the everyday stuff, but when I am looking to impress, or to just really enjoy the taste of butter on a baguette, spending the extra buck or so is a splurge I can justify eight ways till Sunday. A 2-pound package of Kerrygold Butter (salted or unsalted) is just $11.49. In the immortal words of Tom and Donna on Parks and Recreation, “Treat yo’self.”
And then online, whew, there is a lot of fancy stuff to buy! If you’re in the market for an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven, for instance, you can order one for $3,499.99, and an Urban Islands Deluxe grill can be yours for $4,999.99. You do have to be a member to order. And in many cases shipping/delivery is included (when you see how extravagant some of these items are, you’ll see why they don’t want to charge you for shipping).
Let’s start with the slightly dazzling array of Japanese Wagyu beef. Some of it may be at your local Costco, but there is a serious selection on their website. And most of it is A5, the highest grade of one of the most prized meats in the world.
Japanese Wagyu filet mignon steaks are $629.99 for eight 6-ounce portions. The A5 boneless ribeye roast is $1,279.99 for a huge 12-pounder. The genuine Kobe beef sirloin roast tops the price charts at $1,999.99 for an 8-pound piece of meat. The tenderloin roast feels like a steal in comparison at $999.99 for 6 pounds. (I love how all of the prices end in $.99 so you feel like you’re “bargain shopping” for these pricy cuts.)
There are crab legs for sale in the store ($23.99 per pound), but online you can find Northwest Wild Red Colossal King Crab Legs (4-7 count), 10 pounds for $349.99. Throw a crab party and invite over people you really love—and people who really love crab.
Precious little fish eggs abound on the Costco site, and there are several different levels of indulgence. If you’re feeling like the economic bubble may be about to burst (but are still a caviar fan), then you may want to stick with the Farmed White Sturgeon Plaza Royale Caviar Gift Set at $99.99 for 2 ounces. Feeling a bit more luxe? Go for the Royal Plaza Farmed White Sturgeon Caviar for $359.99 per 8.8-ounce jar. There’s also the Plaza Osetra Golden Farmed Sturgeon Caviar, $559.99 for 8.8 ounces.
Balsamic lovers know that there is balsamic and there is balsamic and there is balsamic. In other words, at the lowest level, there’s vinegar that is pretending to be balsamic, syrupy and sweet, but that isn’t from Modena, Italy or produced in the authentic way (which is what makes balsamic balsamic). So then there are mid-level balsamics, and then there are the Really Good Balsamic Vinegars, the ones that are meant for drizzling and finishing dishes, trickling over fresh berries or ricotta, or even sipping. And Costco has some!
Fork over $99.99 for a bottle of 25-year-aged Mazzetti Organic Traditional Vinegar of Modena, but know that you are saving up to 50 percent in terms of how much this or a comparable bottle would cost elsewhere. Or rein it in a bit and get the 12-year version for $54.99, or for $34.99 you can still procure a bottle of Fini Limited Edition Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI.
Morels with their earthy and buttery and haunting umami flavor are only available fresh for a short season each year, but dried are the next best thing. The flavor intensifies with drying, and when you reconstitute them they are perfect in any recipe that calls for mushrooms, wild mushrooms in particular. They also happen to be one of the priciest mushrooms. A 1.8-ounce jar on Amazon sells for $29.99—but 4 ounces (packed in 1-ounce pouches) on Costco’s website? $41.99.