This week, I am entertaining relatives from the east coast.  We will serve the traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings.  That gives me the opportunity to show off not just the architecture and hospitality of our villages, but also the many independent food stores here in Oak Park and River Forest.

What’s on our menu?  We bought our farm-fresh turkey brined and ready to roast from Carnivore.  Erik also got us quality oysters for our appetizer.   My dad likes horseradish on his, but my husband prefers a vinegar-shallot mignonette.  No problem – Olive and Well has top quality champagne and red wine vinegars as well as oils.  My mom prefers lox to raw shellfish.  Onion Roll on North Avenue has been hand-cutting its cured salmon for years.  And Carnival Grocery has that old world European brown bread for toast points.

Our pumpkin soup is courtesy of Karl’s Craft Soups, which was a featured vendor at River Forest Kitchen last Saturday.  While there, I grabbed some cranberry preserves from Rare Bird Preserves.

Oak Park has so many convenient local places for great cheeses and organic vegetables now.  Pete’s Fresh Market, Sugar Beet Food Co-Op and Carnival Grocery together fixed me up with whatever I needed. I was tempted to grab some apples for a pie but no need now that Spilt Milk is open!    Fortunately, I was able to secure a pumpkin pie and an apple pie before pre-orders sold out.

I managed to hit the other bakeries in town as well.  Potato-rosemary dinner rolls from Prairie Bread, Ciabatta that I cube for stuffing from Red Hen and coffee cake for breakfast from Oak Park Bakery.  And, I couldn’t resist popping into Sugar Fixe for some after-dinner macaroons.

Wine from Careful Peach. Locally-brewed beer from Kinslahger.  Locally-roasted coffee beans from Sugar Beet Food Co-Op.  Gourmet candy and nuts from River Forest Chocolates.  Flowers from Westgate and Garland.  Everything I needed, purchased right here at home.

A big “thank you” to our independent small business community, working hard all year to provide us quality products and good service.   Please don’t forget about them this season. 

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...