By Emily Paster
Sunday May 12 was not just Mother's Day; it was the latest meeting of the Chicago Food Swap! Our host for this Mother of all Food Swaps (ha!) was The Scrumptious Pantry, a company that produces heirloom pantry items, from pasta to pickles to catsup, using ingredients from sustainable family farms. Owner Lee Greene had observed the February swap at Katherine-Anne Confections and was so charmed by our swappers and their amazing products that she offered to host a future swap on the spot. The Scrumptious Pantry has a beautiful open office space in Logan Square that was perfect for a food swap. Lee even swapped some of her homemade relish and preserves!
Although some of our veteran swappers had family commitments and could not join us, we still had a great turn-out of first-time and repeat swappers. As always, the items up for swapping were varied, delicious and unusual. If you were looking to plan out your breakfasts for the week, you would've wanted to score some of Sara's whole milk yogurt (I did!) and Genevieve's pumpkin seed granola to sprinkle in it. Maybe a swirl of one of Ava's gorgeous jams to sweeten the deal? If you prefer eggs for breakfast, there were frittatas available from two different swappers. I was lucky to enough to get one of Katherine's frittatas with a delicious gluten-free crust and one of Genevieve's potato, cheddar and chive frittatas. If breakfast pastries are your thing, you would've headed straight for Laura's blackberry lavender scones, Rachel's Swedish cinnamon buns or Maureen's adorable pink doughnuts. I was lucky enough to get the Swedish cinnamon buns and they were delicious! I'm already planning how to make my own.
Some people look to the food swap as a way to stock their pantries with unusual items to help them cook and bake better. To that end, people found crystallized ginger from Shanna, fresh herbs, two different spice mixes and vanilla extract from me, walnut thyme honey, compound butter, flavored nut butters, poached apricots, hot pepper and and green tomato relishes. If you were at the swap looking to round out your dinners for the week, you would have found focaccia and fresh pasta from Karen and Evan, chicken mole sauce from Michelle (got some!) artisan breads, and gravlax and dill labneh cheese from Dora.
Of course, some people just want to satisfy their sweet tooth at the swap and those people were in luck as well. Peanut butter whoopies pies from Morgan, amazing brownies from new swapper Chelsea, caramels, French macarons, my oatmeal cookies and Serena's divine chocolate raspberry sauce. And don't forget the drinks! There were flavored syrups ranging from ginger to rhubarb and I even spied some infused bourbon.
In all, it was a terrific event with lots of enthusiasm and connections made. We even had a little bonus for our swappers: free copies of a book on dehydrating foods thanks to swapper Jill. (Her own cookbook on dehydrating will be out in July and I am excited to see it.) I expect we will be seeing some dehydrated goodies in swaps to come.
I also have some exciting news to share about the June swap. For the first time ever, the Chicago Food Swap will meet at a location big enough to accommodate everyone who wants to swap. The next swap will take place on June 23 at 2:30 pm at Gallery 1028, a raw gallery space at 1028 N. Hooker St. on Goose Island. Gallery 1028 is an edgy modern space with exposed brick and wooden plank floors; in short, I love it! (Is it too soon to plan for Zuzu's bat mitzvah there?) And with over 4000 square feet, Gallery 1028 has room for as large a group as you could imagine. We are incredibly lucky to have access to this space and to finally be able to open the swap up to everyone who wants to attend. Registration for the June swap is open now on Event Brite.
The only downside to Gallery 1028 is that it is a completely raw space, meaning no tables or counters to display swap items. We are asking swappers to bring tables, chairs, sawhorses -- whatever they can and to share with one another. Luckily, there is plenty of street parking right out front of the gallery and I am confident that our swappers will figure it out. I hope that you will join us for what is sure to be the biggest and best Chicago Food Swap ever!