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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, July 24

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« Friday Foodporn: Jeni's Ice Cream with Shagbark Gravel Eating on $35 a Week: the SNAP Challenge »

Event Mon Sep 16 2013

September Chicago Food Swap

rsz_1dsc_2169.jpg Thanks to the September Chicago Food Swap, I have officially restocked on canning jars and Tupperware (and lots of delicious pastries). Food swaps are like mini comic-cons for homemade enthusiasts (a.k.a. stay-at-home mamas, grandmothers, & me); each month, we gather to ogle at and exchange hand-crafted creations made with love and care. The silent auction, bartering format can intimidate even the bravest of spirits, as people bid for delicious goat cheese dips or homemade marshmallows. Will she trade these bacon cupcakes for my measly pickles, you wonder with apprehension. But once you breathe, relax, and embody the spirit of Martha Stewart, it's really a piece of cake. Speaking of indulgent desserts, my strategy involves thoroughly perusing/sampling the items, finding those that I would cry without, and locating its owner before the swap begins.

This month, I lugged along some fresh produce, homemade cookies, and fine Wisconsin cheese to the Peterson Garden Project. Although I was drenched and freezing by the time I walked into this small, intimate space, my initial glimpse of the offerings warmed me right up. Swaps usually have plenty of pickles, jams, and pastries, but occasionally I'll discover a couple of many things that really excite me:


• Kalamay (filiipino sticky rice cake)
• Apple cinnamon crisps
• Ube (purple yam buns)
• Bourbon marshmallows
• White chocolate lemon pepper cookies
• Orange chocolate cupcakes, dark chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, black sesame seeds
• Caramel and white chocolate dipped granny smiths rolled in pie spices and brown sugar crust
• Others: Red velvet mini cupcakes, Pumpkin spice syrup, Lavender cookies, Oatmeal raisin cookies, Mini fruit tarts, Chocolate fudge, Lemon curd, Apple cider caramels, Cream cheese pound cake, Zucchini pound cake, macaroons, blueberry and pecan granola, applesauce, banana and Nutella cupcakes, S'more brownies, Oatmeal cookie & cream sandwiches, chocolate cupcake with bacon bits

• Wheat berry and butternut squash salad
• Vegan green curry base
• Goat cheese caramelized-onion rolls
• Brussels sprout & bacon salad
• Vegan pumpkin pesto
• Jalapeno cheese poppers
• Goat cheese empanadas
• Others: Cheese from Jarlsberg USA and Woolwich Dairy, flatbread with smoked paprika, Edamame hummus, Clarified and organic butter, Eggplant and goat cheese dip, Roasted corn salad, Carrot and avocado salad, Quiches, Goat cheese dip, lemon tabbouleh

rsz_dsc_2163.jpg PICKLED & PRESERVED
• Pickled: Tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, Cucumbers, Peaches, Peas, Green beans, Beets, Cherries, Watermelon rind
• Fruit butters/jams, Red pepper jelly, Peach basil preserves, Red Wine jelly, Cherry vanilla jam

• Raw sunflower seeds picked straight from the sunflowers
• Sprouted mung beans
• Grape leaves
• Others: Cultured buttermilk, Organic butter, Chimichurri, Blueberry basil vinegar, Homemade soap, Croatian truffle oil, creamed honey, banana vanilla rum butter

The actual swap is a confusing, exhilarating dash to seize your favorite items. Although I missed the cream cheese pound cake, I scored the wheatberry salad and vegan curry base! And if you bide your time, swappers will usually give away freebies or extras that never even crossed your mind. I got extremely excited about my vegan pumpkin pesto, ube rolls, raw sunflower seeds, and grape leaves.

rsz_dsc_2148(1).jpg Although I ramble extensively about everything I collected and will make, there are two important takeaways about the swap:
• You don't have to be a white, suburban mom with two kids to fit in. For instance, I met a very tall, tattooed, and pierced-up man swapping purple cookies. You will meet all types of nice, friendly people with enviable talents and skills.
• Sharing is caring. It can be really is fun.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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