April 22, 2007

Serving up a taste of Chicago to a famous English Author

Tonight I'm hosting a Mother-Talk literary salon featuring British author and journalist Rachel Johnson. Rachel will be reading from her book Notting Hell, which has just been released in the US.

I'm expecting a combination of friends, fellow bloggers and even one of my blog readers (don't tell my kids I invited people I've only "met" online!) to be a part of Chicago's first Mother-Talk.
But what to feed the famous British author and my small crowd? The easiest choice is to run to Costco and pick up everything I need in one fell swoop. From wine to one-bite brownies to a bright, beautiful bouquet of flowers, Costco has it all at low, low prices.

Convenience has it's own price, though. I recently read about a study in Austin, TX that showed if each household redirected just $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores to locally owned merchants, the local economic impact would reach approximately $10 million. I don't know how sound the research is or how the numbers truly pan out, but, Costco be damned!, I decided to shop local for my Mother-Talk spread. Especially since Isabel Kallman of Alpha-Mom is co-sponsoring the event and providing a generous food and drink budget.

I'm going to serve El Milagro tortilla chips along with fresh salsa and guacamole from Evanston's new mom-and-pop taco joint, Tacos del Lago. I ordered a veggie and dip tray from Marketplace on Oakton, Skokie's go-to store for high-quality, inexpensive produce (now with some organic products, too). I'll also put out some pita and Mediterranean spreads from Pita Inn (along with a few Kosher pita from the North Shore Bakery as my own little statement of Middle East peace).

To satisfy everyone's sweet tooth, I've got chocolate-covered pretzels from Mrs. Prindable's as well as chocolate-covered Rice-Krispie treats and white-chocolate-covered Oreos (see a theme here?) from the Long Grove Confectionery. Both of these companies have outlet shops (in Niles and Wheeling, respectively), which helped stretch my budget.

I caved a bit on the drinks- wine from Trader's Joe's and pop from my corner store. But I've also got a case of Goose Island beer and root beer for a little local flavor.

How do you resist the siren song of Costco? What are your local favorites?

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