Riding through Crestline the other day I drove slowly to take in this Birmingham enclave that seems to relish fall and Halloween in particular. The front porch stoops are loaded with vignettes that are whimsical without being campy and predictable. I had one question: Where do all these great pumpkins come from? They certainly weren’t the regular orange carving variety sold at the big box stores.
I turned down Oak Street and there they were: Pumpkins of every variety piled high and tumbling in every direction. White ones, knobby ones, giants and miniatures – including a romantic sounding (for a gourd, anyway) Cinderella variety.
Turns out the pumpkins were just the beginning of what was to be discovered in this gorgeous shop, Oak Street Local. Inside were tables abundant with locally harvested produce from heirloom tomatoes to muscadines. I knew it was organic even before I asked because it was so… real. Here were apple varieties besides Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, and pears that I could envision actually falling from a tree, not rumbling down an endless conveyor belt. Sure, I inspect my giant-size supermarket fruit as much as anyone, but here I didn’t miss the high gloss wax and the tiny stickers.
Maybe the biggest thrill was the presentation, which made the experience feel like a walk through a cookbook coming to life. This was way more inspiring than buying tomatoes from a roadside tent! And the produce prices weren’t outrageous, either – $1.89 per pound for locally grown sweet potatoes. A special touch was the photo display of the farmers and growers who supply the store. (BirminghamMom tip: Don’t miss the photo of the farmer who is a dead ringer for Fabio.)
My white pumpkin from Oak Street Local will be a beautiful, easy easy centerpiece set against a dark brown tablecloth. Let the kids carve the regular orange ones; Mama is stepping out of her usual gourd this year.
Oak Street Local is at 115 Oak Street in the Crestline area of Mountain Brook. Don’t miss the Oak Street Garden Shop next door. A limeade from Zoe’s is just a short stroll up the street.