Tacodeli now selling its famous Doña sauce at Whole Foods

Your hot sauce dreams have come true, Tacodeli fans. The popular Austin-based taqueria, which first opened in 1999 and now has locations in Houston and Dallas, is selling three kinds of its salsas, including its famed Salsa Doña, at Whole Foods Market.

As of last week, you can now buy the verde, roja and their (now trademarked) Doña, the creamy green sauce that has built up a cult following over the years, at Whole Foods Markets in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

From a news release: “Salsa Verde is a blend of tomatillos, garlic, cilantro and serranos; mild by nature, Salsa Verde bursts with flavor. Salsa Roja has medium heat, with a charred flavor from the roasted-in-house tomatoes, serranos, garlic and onion. The Salsa Doña, Tacodeli’s signature salsa, features a unique jalapeno and garlic blend.”

“We’re really passionate about this project and super excited to bring our salsas to our customers’ tables,” founder Roberto Espinosa said in the news release. “We’re thrilled that our loyal patrons will now be able to enjoy Tacodeli’s vibrant flavors all day long, beyond the taco, to accompany their own family recipes.”

All the salsas are gluten-free. They cost $6.99 each for a 12 oz. container, and you’ll find them in the refrigerated section.

Picnik butter coffee now for sale online and at new 365 by Whole Foods in Cedar Park

Butter coffee has been a cult favorite for a few years now, especially in the Paleo crowd. The first time I had it was at Picnik’s South Lamar trailer, which was one of the first places in Austin where you could find this drink made with grass-fed butter, 100 percent coconut MCT oil and grass-fed whey protein that is supposed to lead to “elevated energy, curbed appetite, increased productivity and enhanced cognitive function.”

I can attest to at least the curbed appetite and increased productivity, but I also just really liked the taste. After all, butter is just cream in another physical state, and the added protein was definitely satiating. (At the farmers market a few weekends ago, I had my first cup of butter tea, one of the original warm butter drinks, and it gave me a similar happy belly feeling.)

Plenty of cafes sell butter coffee these days, but you now can buy a ready-to-drink bottled version of Picnik’s butter coffee online and at its South Lamar trailer and Burnet Road restaurant. Picnik is selling the coffee in three flavors: cappuccino, mocha latte and dirty chai. The cappuccino has zero added sugar, and the mocha latte and chai flavors are sweetened with maple syrup.

“We wanted to make a product that could be taken on the road, that doesn’t require refrigeration, and that everyone can have access to and enjoy, even outside of Austin,” owner Naomi Seifter said in a news release. “Butter coffee is very satisfying because of its higher fat content, so we find it to be a perfect morning beverage. This drink keeps your body sated so that you can work for longer periods of time without being interrupted by hunger or cravings.”

You can buy the shelf-stable, 10-ounce bottles online at picnikaustin.com, in the two Picnik locations or at the new 365 by Whole Foods Market in Cedar Park. Seifter says that these are the first shelf-stable, ready-to-drink butter coffees on the market and that they should be available for purchase in more retail outlets later this year.


With no signs of a local avocado shortage, let’s compare prices and taste test guacamole

As you probably saw all over the news last week, there have been reports of an avocado shortage this year, thanks to it being an off year for the crops in Mexico and California.

Avocados are “alternate-bearing crops, with large harvests one year and smaller ones the next,” Bloomberg reported a few days ago, and this is the year when the crop is smaller. Americans are eating more than 7 pounds of avocados a year, up from only a pound in 1989, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Seven pounds of avocados is a lot, especially considering that includes people who don’t eat avocados at all or who live in parts of the country where they aren’t as readily available.

In Texas, that number has to be higher, thanks to the prevalence of guacamole and, yes, avocado toast. On Cinco de Mayo, lots of Texans were scooping out that bright green avocado flesh. It’s the second-highest avocado consumption day, right behind the Super Bowl.

Although we very well could be seeing an avocado shortage in other parts of the country, it’s hard to find signs of it in Austin. I visited half a dozen grocery stores last week, and all of them had lots of avocados at reasonable prices. Despite a comment from a store representative from H-E-B who said their avocado costs were running higher because of “growing conditions and weather events” (note: That’s not the “alternate-bearing” year reason given in the initial stories), they didn’t seem to be passing the cost along to consumers when I did some research last week.

Both Central Market and H-E-B had plenty of cases of avocados at regular prices: 68 cents for the smaller avocados and $1.78 for the larger. (That’s the typical price, unless they are on sale for 50 cents/$1.50.)

Shortage averted, I decided to answer a question I’ve always had: How many small avocados are in a big one? As in, is there a cost savings if I buy two or three small ones instead of a big one, or vice versa? I got out my kitchen scale to find out.

It turns out that the seeds of both my samples weighed the same amount: 31 grams. The smaller one, minus the seed and skin, was just over 100 grams, exactly half of the amount of bright green creamy flesh contained in the bigger one. The takeaway: At 68 cents, you can buy two avocados for $1.36 and save yourself 40 cents for the same amount of avocado.

There’s one caveat, however: Frequent avocado buyers know that that quality of the smaller avocados is less assured. Even though both are usually Hass avocados, the larger ones tend to be higher in quality. When you’re making guacamole, quality matters, but because the dish is all smashed together, it’s easier to hide imperfections — so for my money, you can go with the small avocados and save a bit.

Since I was working with avocados, I decided to do a side-by-side taste comparison of the H-E-B prepared guacamole and Good Foods’ sealed tableside chunky guacamole.

They were the same cost for the same amount and a nearly exact same ingredient deck. However, when we pulled out our chips, it became clear that the H-E-B guacamole had significantly more lime juice. Too much for our liking, especially when eaten right after the more balanced Good Foods guacamole.

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