Farmers markets. French markets. Outdoor markets. If it has the word “market” in it, it’s a pretty good bet that I’ve been there. So I was surprised when someone brought up the Dose Market to me last month, specifically because I had never heard of it.
In case you’ve also been out of the Dose loop, here’s the rundown: one Sunday a month, a collection of food and fashion vendors descends upon the River East Arts Center to work foodies and fashionistas––and fashionisters?––into a frenzy. It’s a small but highly curated group; some of the vendors have an exclusively online presence, while others sell their stuff in independent coffee shops, boutiques and grocery stores around the city.
The best part of all this? Samples.
Dose is a great place to try before you buy and also a great place to chat up some the butchers, bakers and cocktail makers about their goods. The $10 ticket price includes one drink ticket, which guests exchange at their drink vendor of choice for a (fairly large) sample, but some of the vendors are so excited for you to try their boozy concoction they won’t even ask you for it. Another tip: play it like me and go with a friend who doesn’t drink. Then make sure they drive home.
Dose changes its vendors each month to keep things fresh. In case you missed this month’s, I’ve compiled five of the best things I tasted (and one I wish I had).
1. Pig & Fig Terrine from Smoking Goose
Smoking Goose’s website describes this as “a rustic country style pate.” Read: a silky, melt-in-your mouth blend of all those tasty pig parts you’d never eat if you knew you were eating them. Ignorance is bliss, though, and if bliss had a taste, it would be this hearty, smoky, slightly sweet cracker-topper, which is blended with red wine for a little tang. If it makes you feel better, all of Smoking Goose’s products come from humanely raised animals reared on local family farms, and all of their products are made without nitrates, gluten or casein.
2. Ginger Peach Le Sirop by Femme du Coupe
Three crystal punch bowls held a trio of tipples made with Le Sirop’s newest cocktail syrups. The one I sipped…okay guzzled…included bourbon, ginger peach Le Sirop and lemon. The results were sweet but not cloying, as bright and refreshing as a good whiskey smash, minus all that mint muddling. I have no doubt that whatever was in those other two punch bowls (one vodka-based, one gin) was just as good, but one sip of my drink erased all memory of the contenders. I thought of nothing else but that drink for the rest of my Sunday, and when the temperatures capped 70 later that afternoon, it felt downright criminal not to have another in my hand.
3. Pear White Balsamic Vinegar from Old Town Oil
Old Town Oil warned us that this oil would have a bite, and it did. The taste is immediately sweet, followed by a sudden, violent burst of tartness that leaves almost as suddenly as it came as the whole thing fades to a mellow finish.
4. Beer and Pretzel Caramels from Becky’s Blissful Bakery
Caramel. Pretzel. Beer. Repeat. To make this salty-sweet confection, Becky’s uses organic pretzels and sea salt along with Lakefront Brewery’s organic E.S.B.
5. Chicago Mule Cocktail made with Next Star Vodka
Just like the Moscow version, this mule has ginger beer and lime but gets a WindyCity upgrade thanks to this local, small-batch vodka. The Chicago skyline on the label also ensures the bottle will make an eye-catching addition to any bar.
6. Thing I Missed: Pastries from Tres Jolie Patisserie
This article is all about the free stuff, but by the looks of things, a treat from this booth would have been well worth the splurge. I first spotted the tray of pain au chocolate as it wound its way through the market and came to rest on a table filled with the most picture-perfect pastries I have ever seen. Chef Jillian Dorrestein studied in Paris and now sells her swoon-worthy sweets at coffee shops around town, including Bow Truss. At Dose, the spread included bacon and date scones, a cinnamon crumb cake and seventh inning stretch cupcakes (brown butter vanilla cake with salted caramel buttercream and Cracker Jack crunch topping).