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Dose Market: a cure for the common shopping experience

This past Sunday I visited the opening of Dose Market, a monthly event featuring Chicago food artisans and fashion designers held at the spacious River East Arts Center. Dose is the brainchild of four local food and fashion mavens, including the Chicago editors of Daily Candy and Tasting Table, and their impeccable tastes were evident in the well-curated selection of goods. From the sparkling gemstone necklaces by Mineralogy to Sprout Home’s charming terrariums to Artfully Disheveled’s cheeky pocket squares for the handful of gentlemen in tow, there was something to catch everyone’s eye. But I was really there for the food.

With almost twenty booths and just under an hour to spare, I managed to sample something from about half of them. I ate a spoonful of smooth, tangy rhubarb-crème fraîche sherbet at Snookelfritz Ice Cream and wandered over to the Salted Caramel booth for a refreshing watermelon-coriander ice. They also had chocolate-molé pudding pops and Thai-mango-curry yogurt pops, but I had to pace myself.

It was especially exciting to try cheese and charcuterie from vendors who don’t normally appear at markets. I picked up a sharp, caramelly gouda from Great American Cheese Collection, a cheese purveyor located on the Southwest Side that holds free tastings every Saturday, one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Old Town Social was there, too, with loads of house-cured meats. Their whirring meat-slicer was in constant motion as they handed out samples of the Tuscan salami, making it one of the liveliest corners of room. “My boyfriend’s blood type is bacon,” said the girl next to me as she reached for a pack. Mine would be finocchiona (fennel salami) if I could gorge myself on OTS’s particularly robust version.

 

Underground dining dynamos X-marx threw down the gauntlet with a variety of items inspired by their recent trip through China, Hong Kong, and Macau. I was thrilled to see Chinese flavors used in challenging, creative ways such as Sichuan cold noodles with smoked tofu and shiitake mushrooms. But I was completely blown away by their Macau rice crisps — rice krispy treats covered with a layer of spicy housemade pork floss, shredded nori, and sesame seeds. Sure, there’s the sweet-savory appeal, but it resonated with me on a deeper level, which sounds completely ridiculous but just bear with me. I asked X-marx chef Adrienne Lo about it, and she said her dad made congee with these ingredients when she was growing up. So there you have it — traditional Chinese rice porridge toppings garnishing an iconic American dessert — nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the United States, double nostalgia for those with Chinese heritage.

 

Lest we forget this was a food and fashion event, kudos to Truffle Truffle for excelling at both. Their rustic wooden table was bedecked with piles and piles of confections, each more adorable and scrumptious-looking than the last: bite-sized brownie bonbons decorated with fondant polka dots, cake and pie parfaits in cute little jars, gourmet pop tarts showered with rainbow sprinkles, and the I Love Chicago truffle collection, making its debut at the market. Draped in the colors of the Chicago flag, the sweets are infused with Half Acre Over Ale, Metropolis Coffee, and spices from The Spice House, a delicious homage to the city.

 

Forthcoming market days will feature different vendors, but it’ll be quite a challenge to top those at the inaugural event. I’ve already booked my calendar for the next one on July 10 and can’t wait for another dose of Chicago’s imaginative artisans.

See below for more pictures and information about Dose Market.

 

striped tote by Lisa Spagnolo; Balenciaga bag from Luxury Garage Sale for the high rollers

 

speakers made of vintage trunks by Gentleman’s Boombox

 

vintage housewares from STUDY

 

spicy, mouth-numbing Sichuan peanut brittle by X-marx (I love the fobby Asian mom on the package)

 

lemon raspberry “wandering pie” by Truffle Truffle

 

What: Dose Market at the River East Arts Center (435 E. Illinois), dosemarket.com
When: Monthly dates for 2011 are July 10, August 14, September 25, October 16, November 6, December 4
Cost: $10 entry fee at the door, $8 in advance online, children under 13 free. Bring extra to buy the goods. Many vendors take credit cards but come prepared with cash just in case.

 

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