Today I went to a food swap in Troy. I am sure from my own experience organizing a cookie exchange that getting that all organized is not as easy as it looks. I got a New York state cookie cutter at The Hungry Fish Cafe this weekend and decided to make a speculoo cookie recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Check out what I made, and I'll mention what I got for it!
Check out the packaging I made and the signs for my table display:
There were over 40 people there at the Oakwood Community Center in Troy. It was super fun. You can't believe the creativity and skill people show in what they come up with to make. I did notice that the people who made alcoholic things were most popular. It seems like if you made infused vodka you get to choose between all the canned tomatoes. Also, I could not have expected that there would be so many vegans! It was weird that it kind of felt like speed dating or a high school popularity contest. The girl who made the beer was basically the prom queen, and as a vegan turned most people down for swapping. Things I was super impressed with but didn't end up taking home: curried carrot spread, caramels made from goat cheese with sea salt (as amazing as it sounds), lavender lotion, apple butter, pickled jalapenos, the beer. Very good things I ended up with: lemon lip balm, cauliflower white bean spread (very tasty), green tomatoes, maraschino cherries (I didn't even see these during the sampling section of the evening, but these will be great in cocktails I think), sunflower seed brittle (delicious), feta sun dried tomato spread (from the very nice woman I was sharing a table with), grape jelly (my other table neighbor who gets the grapes from a plant on her lawn), fabric sewn postcards (adorable, I may frame them), and homemade grape nuts. It was quite the haul. I have already finished off the sunflower seed brittle, and that was a real treat.
There is a bit of a game in that the more in demand your product is the more you get your absolute top choices. Of course, also, everything seems tasty, so maybe it doesn't matter so much what you end up with. I think people either go for something very time consuming they can't do themselves or something a little gimmicky or trendy like the liqueurs. I came home thinking of what I could make again - I thought of my homemade marshmallows, but thought again that the vegans wouldn't want the gelatin so I couldn't get what they would be offering. I thought of granola, but more than a few people had that. Perhaps my bagels would be a good choice (my friend said yesterday that she had recently craved my bagels one day after I brought them to a brunch party last week), but they really need to be eaten very soon after they are made to be at their best. I read some cordial recipes like limoncello and blackberry brandy in my New York Times Essential Cookbook tonight, but for some reason I felt like a bit of a sell-out only wanting to make those because everyone crowded the beer girl's table all at once, which gave her the pick of everything (it was pretty hilarious actually).
Anyways - it was very fun! Thanks to those who organized it! They told me they loved me right when I walked in, and said they hoped I had fun as I left - very hospitable. It was also nice how they asked everyone to list their ingredients and make obvious notes of potential allergens. It was fun to meet people, think they were really nice, and then realize I've read their blogs. I would love to attend another swap!