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Bittersweet news: Urban Harvest, a gourmet food shop in downtown Arlington Heights, is closing this week.    (Details can be found in this article from the Daily Herald.)

There are three businesses (and their owners) in downtown Arlington Heights that figured prominently in both my establishment as a newly-single person and in Lisa’s and my courtship.  Mary Ellen Hogan’s Urban Harvest is one of those.

In the early 2000s I used to pass by Urban Harvest’s original location every day on my way to and from the Vail Avenue garage.  One day I was enticed inside by a lady named Courtney who was standing in the doorway, holding a platter of seven-layer cookie bars.  Entering the store, I discovered all sorts of neat stuff:  cheeses, hummus, wines, cookies, gourmet lollipops, and chocolates.  A beautiful relationship was born.

Urban Harvest became a regular stop a couple times a week and practically part of my everyday. They even invited me to be a part of a Labatt Beer Academy tasting, the first event of its kind that I ever attended.

One day I went into the store with the intention of getting something for Lisa, whom I wanted to impress.  Mary Ellen pulled a little basket from behind the counter and said, “Try this.”  I asked what they were, and she  called them the “Oh My God Chocolates.”  I took a bite of one and immediately said.. well, you get the picture.  I bought two boxes of these things and they became an integral part of our courtship.    And Lisa was impressed.

Over the years, we’ve stopped in for blue-cheese stuffed olives, pastas, and all sorts of goodness.  The other day we stopped in to buy a final seven-layer bar and I was able to wish Mary Ellen all the best. We’re sad to see a wonderful store closing in town, but here’s wishing  her a wonderful future as pursues her new dream job.

(Postscript on the “Oh My God Chocolates:”  Urban Harvest couldn’t get them after carrying them for a couple years, but here’s a link to someone who’s selling the original product.  I was told that Whole Foods sold a very similar item, and sure enough they do: here’s a link to a blog entry that reviews the Whole Foods product. The chocolates within are identical to my palate.)

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