DC Food Swap: Food, with a Story

DC Food Swap: Food, with a Story was written by PoPville contributor Duy Huynh. Duy lives in Rosslyn.

“A space is now available for DC Food Swap” showed up in my inbox. Wait, when did I sign up for this? It sounds interesting enough; I might as well sign up. Success—I’m in! Now to figure out: what exactly is a Food Swap?

The DC food scene has been transformed into a vibrant place over the last few years. Options are abundant—eclectic—thanks to this city’s diversity. What does that have to do with a Food Swap? Spillage! Spillage from the food scene over into the home cooks, preservers, growers, brewers, and vintners creating the community of the DC Food Swap.

DC Food Swap was created to “nurture a space for our community to learn about growing, preserving, cooking, and foraging wholesome foods.” They meet a few times throughout the year with a bartering system is a hybrid of a farmers market with a splash of the silent auction. People converse to share stories and samples of their products, suggesting how to use the fruits of their labor tastefully. It is “food with a story,” as Jess Schreibstein, one of the founders of DC Food Swap, put it.

Continues after the jump.

Ok, back to the story. So now that I’m in—what do I bring? Something shelf stable and packable that’s worth trading for would be a start. Infused tonics syrups from scratch! Thankfully I obtained the craft from my mixology class at Gin Joint bar over in the New Heights Restaurant. I had three distinct flavors to concoct: Mint Cucumber, Ginger Kick, and Zesty Orange. Each tonic will start of with a base, with the separate infusions added later to each separate batch of base tonic syrup.

The tonic syrup base consist of:

4 cups of simple syrup
4 cup of water
2 cups of sugar or 1 cup agave nectar
Pinch of salt
½ tablespoon of quinine (Cinchona Bark powder)
¼ tablespoon of citric acid

Bring the base to a low simmer, stirring periodically. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and set aside. Next, start the infusions: Start the infusion process in a sauce pan on medium heat. The infusions should simmer for 10-15 minutes, allowing for the extraction of spice notes.

Mint Cucumber Infusion:

1 inch of water
1 diced cucumber
2 cups of fresh mint (including stems)

Ginger Kick Infusion:

2 tablespoons of whole cumin spice.
½ cup of fresh cut ginger root
1 diced jalapeño

Zesty Orange Infusion:

½ tablespoon of cinnamon
1 ½ tablespoon of French Lavender spice
1 ½ tablespoons dry eucalyptus spice
2 whole Satsuma Clementine rinds (or regular clementine)
1 whole orange rind

After simmering, add the infusion to the tonic base. Simmer the base with the infusions for a few more minutes on low heat. Strain the solids out of the infusions using a metal strainer or a cheesecloth (this saves you from the likelihood of performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a fellow swapper). It’s now ready to be bottled and labeled—and done. To serve, just add a half-ounce of seltzer water to an ounce of tonic syrup.

Having something to barter with, I made sure there was extra tonics to provide samples. I had just enough time to get to the food swap, held—oddly enough—above Adams Morgan’s City Bikes Shop. I carried my goods, climbing the flights of stairs leading to the inconspicuous room, where I’m greeted by the hustle and bustle of the DC Food Swappers. I pay my dues, sign the wavier, and am given a space number to where I setup my samples and tonic.

The Swap starts with an hour of walking around the different stations, sampling, talking, and living out the dreams the founders intended—through the stories you share. As you traverse the stations, things catch your eye which you must have. Write down your item you wish to barter with, leaving it to the purveyor’s judgment to decide if it’s a fair trade. After the hour is up, the frenzy starts of the Wall Street-like trading floor of foodies begin. You review your list of offers to trade your goods away—win-win. Everyone leaves with an assortment of tasty treats, new friendships, and insight into this underground world of Food Swapping.

DC Food Swap, Facebook/Twitter: dcfoodswap, [email protected] Visit for more information and ask Jess Schreibstein, Tanya Fey, and Claire Sadeghzadeh to join their mailing list.

Gin Joint, Facebook: The Gin Joint, 202-232-4110; 2317 Calvert St. NW Washington, DC. Visit to learn more at what Nicole Hassoun has to offer.

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