Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

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Carrefour – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

December 4, 2007

Let’s start off with the ugly because I’d rather end this post on a positive note rather than a negative one.

The Ugly: I like their chicken salad sandwich in a baguette. It’s great for when you’re low on time for lunch. We sat down for lunch, I took a bite of the sandwich and felt something hard. I spit it out and found a very sharp, pointed piece of plastic, about an inch long. It looked like it was from part of the packaging. I checked the packaging and it was in tact. Thank God I chew my food really well before swallowing. Anyway, I contacted customer service, they gave me the manager’s cell phone and I suggested he have all the other sandwiches checked, etc. and he was very kind about it. But still, it’s kind of scary.

The Bad, Part 1: A few months ago I bought donuts from the bakery, the round ones, no holes. My son likes them (and so do I) because they remind us of the “graffe” we ate in Napoli. We bought the plain ones and brought them home, I rolled them in a little vanilla sugar to make them taste even more like a graffa. I ripped one apart and it was raw in the middle. I opened up another, and the same thing. They were all raw in the middle. They got tossed. (I also informed the manager of this problem.)

The Bad, Part 2: I’ve been going there for over a month looking for the Carrefour brand flour. It’s amazing. It’s like pastry flour, and reminds me of Italian 00 type flour. It’s awesome for cakes, cookies and mixing it with other flour to make pizza dough. They’ve been out of it for a while now and the only other flour they offer is Homepride Self-Rising flour and flour to make chapatis or something. I asked and one person told me that no, they weren’t going to sell it anymore, that it was only there for the opening. I asked the manager (he must hate me by now) and he called back saying that they’re awaiting a shipment from France which should be arriving in 2-3 weeks. Now, this is a major chain. How can you be out of something like flour?! Also missing for a while now is the Carrefour brand of peeled whole tomatoes. They’re not that great, too much sauce but high in flavor and low on acid and that tin taste you get from canned tomatoes. I can’t imagine walking into a Carrefour in any other country and finding that they’re out of an item for over a month. Bad, bad, bad.

The Good: It’s so much cheaper than other supermarkets. I walked out with a ton of stuff the other day and it only took KD30 out of my wallet. I like that. I’m also obsessed with some of their products, mostly the Carrefour brand.

  • As mentioned above, Carrefour Flour is great. It’s pastry flour and you can use it recipes for cakes, cookies, bread (I would mix it in with all-purpose flour). It’s very fine and soft.
  • No. 1 canned peeled whole tomatoes. Now, you have to check each tomato because I have found quite a few with some skin still on, and hard tops but the effort it worth the taste. This is the best available in Kuwait, followed by Carrefour brand (but very saucy). The two worst: Del Monte and Jolly Green Giant.
  • Carrefour Madeleines Longues. Dunk these babies in some tea with milk and you’ll never have anything else for breakfast again.
  • Carrefour Kids’ fromage fois. Great taste, great texture and comes in two sizes. My son prefers the smaller ones.
  • Carrefour mozzarella balls. In the dairy/cheese section. Made in Italy, they’re fresh-tasting and oh so good. You’ll only have to spend about 700fils for one.
  • Carrefour organic frozen vegetables. Awesome. You can cook them in a little olive oil, add a little water, cover with foil until tender or they can be cooked until crisp-tender. The only let down was the creamed spinach.
  • Carrefour Riz au Lait. Rice Pudding. Yum.
  • Carrefour Plaisir Fruite. Applesauce, but comes in a variety of mixes, such as Pomme Fraise (Apples and Strawberries), Pomme Poire (Apples and Pears), etc.
  • Baguettes from the bakery. I like the “traditional” or “country” style of baguette – the ones that are wider than the usual baguette.

Products I’ve found at Carrefour and nowhere else include: tomato paste in a tube and anchovy paste in a tube.

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KD28.100

May 26, 2007

That’s how much I spent at Carrefour on the first day of its opening. I got a total of 46 items. I kept the receipt and so this is a list of things I bought. (CRF = Carrefour brand, N1 = No. One brand)

CRF Powdered laundry detergent – the biggest box available
CRF Dishwashing liquid – 1 liter
N1 Fabric Softener – biggest jug available
N1 Liquid laundry detergent
Soft Scrub Gel with bleach
2 Small boxes of N1 powdered detergent
2 Toys for my parrots
2 CRF Kids shower gel
N1 Shower gel
CRF Shampoo
Large box of parrot food with dried fruits
CRF Spray deodorant
CRF Instant coffee
CRF Mixed fruit juice
¼ kilo Salami
Areen Orange Juice
Baguette (short and fat one, great with pasta)
Bag of mini rolls
Hardcover cookbook
4 CRF grocery sacks
Bag of baguette rolls
Pita bread
Sandwich bread
Pandesal x5
2 Croissants
Danao Actimel – 4
2 cans of crushed tomatoes
2 LatBri fresh mozzarella
Iceberg lettuce
Puck shredded mozzarella
Fermipan yeast – 3 x 11 gram packets
Gloria Vanderbilt capri pants
Capri-length sweatpants

Since I usually have to hand over KD20 for a pair of pants and the pants I bought yesterday at Carrefour are actually better in quality compared to the pricier pants in my closet, I’d say for that fact alone: Carrefour rocks.

[Edited to say that if you’re looking for American products, you’ll probably be disappointed. Most of their products are European and local. For me, it’s perfect but for other Americans, it was sort of a disappointment in that area. Everyone I talked to was in awe of the produce department though. For American and British products – Sultan Center and Lulu are the places to go.]

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TSC vs. Lulu vs. Carrefour

May 22, 2007

The Sultan Center: We drop anywhere from KD50-100 there a week and when we get home and put our grocery bags on the kitchen counter, we say, “What the hell did we buy for KD70?!”

Lulu Hypermarket: We spend there, on average, KD30/week and we come home thinking, “Wow, we got a lot of stuff for KD28.”

Carrefour
: I just spent KD28.100 there on its grand opening and I was AMAZED at how much stuff I got. Not just food, but a ton of cleaning products, toiletries for the whole family, two pairs of pants and a cookbook (hardcover).

So, goodbye TSC and Lulu. I’ll still be seeing you occasionally, TSC. I depend on you for my Gold Medal Unbleached Better For Bread Machine flour. It’s the best flour for making dough for pizza and bread. I’ll also be seeing you for DelMonte skinned plum tomatoes. They’re not great, but certainly better than Jolly Green Giant. And Lulu, I’m sorry but our love affair is over. It was brief but I thoroughly enjoyed you while it lasted. (Minus the high concentration of body odor in one place.)

More on Carrefour: It’s MASSIVE. Impressive. I never thought I’d see a place like Carrefour in Kuwait when I came here nearly ten years ago. They have everything. The prices on their brand named products are incredibly cheap. I did a load of laundry a few minutes ago, using REAL detergent and fabric softener, not the crappy Tide or Ariel made in Saudi Arabia with no apparent quality control.

I bought four Carrefour grocery bags (200fils each) to cut down on the plastic bags, something I suggested Sultan Center do. If they were smart, they could offer the same type of durable reusable  grocery bags, and use the revenues to pay for covered parking.

When I was done shopping, I went to my car which was parked in the underground parking lot and my car was actually pleasant, not scorching hot like it usually gets sitting under the blazing sun.

Some bad marks about Carrefour: The bakery is tiny! I thought it would be much bigger than it is. The cakes didn’t look that impressive. (Their baguettes are awesome though.) The deli wasn’t that great because it didn’t have a large quantity of imported cold cuts and not the usual olive varieties and feta selections. I don’t eat meat that much but it looked like they had fresh, good quality meat. For some reason they had those skinned lambs hanging upside down behind the glass near the meat section which totally grosses me and my kids out. It’s just nasty, with the blood dripping on the floor. They don’t have a great variety of flour or canned tomatoes.

Carrefour is located in The Avenues Mall in Shuwaikh, off of 5th Ring Road. See it to believe it.

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For the Love of a Hypermarket

May 1, 2007

When it comes to French hypermarkets, I would rather have seen Auchan come to Kuwait, but I’m not going to complain about Carrefour opening up instead of Auchan but what I will complain about is that it’s taking forever to open. I heard that it was supposed to open today, so I ran up to Shuwaikh and when it didn’t look ready, I asked one of the many security guards in the underground parking area about Carrefour and he told me that it will open NEXT MONTH. Next month?! Whatever.

Since I was already in Shuwaikh, I decided to give Lulu Hypermarket another shot. We went there a while back and had to leave immediately due to the overwhelming stench of body odor, or kheyas as my husband calls it. Never go there on the weekend.

Lulu is huge. It has a lot of products you find in Sultan Center but they seem to be cheaper. They have a lot of products I haven’t seen in Kuwait before: Cif (instead of Jif), original European detergents (not made in Saudi Arabia) and generic European cleaning products. They had fresh mozzarella from Italy which I bought (natch) and will check tonight for freshness. There’s a huge bakery. I saw Breyers ice cream, American frozen products (waffles, chicken, etc.) and American cold cuts.

I wish I could give a better description but I only had a short amount of time to breeze through it and I spent most of my time in the cleaning products aisle. All in all, it was a pleasant shopping experience. Now all I hope for is a hypermarket in my area. (A co-op, paved streets, parks, and street lights would be nice too.)

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Pet Food Recall

March 21, 2007

This is important if you have pets. Around 90 brands of cat and dog food are being recalled because something in them is causing renal failure and death in cats and dogs. I’m glad I caught Good Morning America on MBC4 this morning because otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about the problem. Hopefully co-ops and The Sultan Center will pull these items off of their shelves. Wishful thinking?

Starting point: 

Menu Foods Income Fund

Or jump to:

List of recalled cat food brands

List of recalled dog food brands

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Pet Food Recall

March 21, 2007

This is important if you have pets. Around 90 brands of cat and dog food are being recalled because something in them is causing renal failure and death in cats and dogs. I’m glad I caught Good Morning America on MBC4 this morning because otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about the problem. Hopefully co-ops and The Sultan Center will pull these items off of their shelves. Wishful thinking?

Starting point: 

Menu Foods Income Fund

Or jump to:

List of recalled cat food brands

List of recalled dog food brands

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And the winner is…

December 3, 2006

…Sultan Center in Fahaheel. I’ll break it down for you.

Ace – Had the worst trees, I thought. None of them did anything for me.

True Value – Had a few nice ones. They have a few fiber optic trees but they weren’t my style. The fiber optic branches were white/clear and I thought it made the tree look a little tacky. They also have a few trees that have branches that sweep down, very cool and natural looking and I almost picked the taller of the two.

A to Z – Aweful selection.

Sultan Center’s choices were so-so but I liked this particular tree which is as high as our living room ceiling. It was only KD29 (KD25 at the one in Al Kout and KD49 at the one in Mangaf. I don’t get it.) and really easy to put together compared to the old one.

Now it’s time to decorate. I wonder if it will look like the one we had last year. It had a massive concentration of ornaments towards the bottom of the tree because I let my son have total creative control.

Do you have a tree? Is it up yet?