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What local products to bring back from Chicago?

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Hi there,

Am visiting your city in 2 weeks and I was looking for suggestions of local products to bring back from Chicago as I always like to bring back home some food related gifts. For example, Blue bottle coffee from San Francisco, Pierre Herme macarons from Paris, Cava from Barcelona...you get the idea.

So what are some items that I should bring back? Thanks a bunch!

Ani

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  1. Garrett's Popcorn! Garrett's makes caramel popcorn (with or without pecans or cashews), cheese popcorn, or the "Chicago mix" of caramel and cheese. If you're flying back from O'Hare you can pick some up from one of their stores in Terminals 1 and 3; otherwise you can get it from their several locations downtown. www.garrettpopcorn.com

    You can also get frozen half-baked deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati's, depending on how long your trip is and your ability to keep it frozen between the time you buy it and the time you get home. www.loumalnatis.com If this doesn't work for you, there's a website where you can order frozen Malnati's pizza and other frozen Chicago specialties to be shipped to your home - see www.tastesofchicago.com

    4 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Garrett's has an awfully short half-life and while I agree it's a good idea, the quality drops off after 8 hours and then plummets. It's getting harder and harder to find "unique" products that are otherwise unobtainable out of state. I often sent the Malnati's pizzas to my sons when they were in college. If that's something that appeals to you then you'd be crazy NOT to order online. You can get 6 pizzas for $100 including shipping. Nowhere near worth carrying it home yourself.

      The Tastes of Chicago site has pretty reasonable prices for most of its offerings.

      1. re: ferret

        >> Garrett's has an awfully short half-life and while I agree it's a good idea, the quality drops off after 8 hours and then plummets.

        I agree.

        I've also found that, regardless of quantity purchased, it seems to disappear rapidly on the way home. :)

        >> It's getting harder and harder to find "unique" products that are otherwise unobtainable out of state. I often sent the Malnati's pizzas to my sons when they were in college. If that's something that appeals to you then you'd be crazy NOT to order online. You can get 6 pizzas for $100 including shipping. Nowhere near worth carrying it home yourself.

        They also pack it in dry ice, which may keep it frozen better than you can do by hand-carrying it home.

        Another one of my favorite local products is the cinnamon swirl buns at Fox & Obel. I often stop there when I'm driving out of town. I bring a heavy duty ziplock bag with me, and they last a couple of days.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          How to eat Garrett mix the next four days and really enjoy it.

          Keep the bag tightly sealed AND then just before eating put in a bowl and microwave for 10 - 15 seconds.

          1. re: jbontario

            >> Keep the bag tightly sealed

            The bags they sell it in are not all that airtight. I recommend using a heavy duty ziplock bag (either transfer the contents, or put the entire Garrett's bag inside).

            >> AND then just before eating put in a bowl and microwave for 10 - 15 seconds.

            Never tried that. Thanks for the tip!

    2. Hot giardiniera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Eli's cheesecake
      Vosges Chocolate.

      -----
      Vosges Chocolate
      520 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordeaux

        Oh yeah, that reminds me, the thing I most often bring from Chicago when visiting friends and relatives out of town is chocolates from Piron in Evanston. It's always well received! www.belgchocpiron.com

      2. Consider Koval liquers from our very own local distillery ... the ginger is stunning.

        http://www.koval-distillery.com/

        3 Replies
        1. re: Siun

          Just remember, if you're flying home with liquids, they will have to go inside your packed luggage. If you only have carry-ons, the liquids will be confiscated by airport security.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            I figured anyone who mentions bringing back Cava is an old hand at carrying liquids. ;->

            1. re: Siun

              That depends on when they did so. It's only been a little over four years that significant quantities of liquids in carry-ons have been banned.

              It never hurts to post a reminder, right?

        2. You could stop at the Swedish bakery to pick up some Swedish style cookies. Be sure to have a slice of Princesstårta while you are there. (Marzipan covered, custard-layered yellow cake with whipped cream.)

          Some folks like to pick up a box of Frango mints at Macy's---a remnant from Marshall Field's.

          You've got some good suggestions here!

          2 Replies
          1. re: twodales

            >> Some folks like to pick up a box of Frango mints at Macy's---a remnant from Marshall Field's.

            Many Chicagoans still lament the acquisition and renaming of Marshall Field's by Macy's. What's ironic is that Marshall Field's began selling Frango mints as the result of the 1929 acquisition by Marshall Field's of the Seattle-based Frederick & Nelson department stores which originally created them!

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Ironic isn't it?

              BTW I was hoping I wouldn't start a Macy's-Marshall Field's war here...holding my breath...

          2. Not from Chicago per se, but rather downstate Illinois: Little Bloom on the Prairie cheese from Prairie Fruit Farm is a delicious artisanal cheese. You should be able to fine it in the specialty cheese/gourmet shops in Chicago. Way easier to pack than a Malnatti's pizza.

            11 Replies
            1. re: masha

              I am going to have to hunt this cheese down. Never heard of it.

                1. re: twodales

                  The link didn't tell which retail shops stock the cheese in Chicago, as far as I could tell.

                  1. re: brentk

                    No, it didn't. You could call them up. Or, you could try calling Pastoral, Chicagoland's best cheese shop and the one most likely to have it. www.pastoralartisan.com

                    1. re: brentk

                      No, it did not tell you which shops carry it---if any, but it did mention markets: Oak Park, Green City and Andersonville on Wednesday afternoons. They also said: " We can also ship our cheeses either UPS ground or 2nd Day Air depending on where you reside. If you prefer to have our cheeses delivered to your doorstep in the Chicago area, we have a couple of distributors in the Chicago area with whom we can connect you."

                      1. re: twodales

                        Availability at markets might not help the OP, who is visiting in two weeks. Most of the farmers markets don't start until May. The Green City Market is an exception, but a visit in two weeks may put it outside the market's April dates of April 9 and April 23 (see details at www.greencitymarket.org ).

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          Apologies to the original poster...My last response was directed specifically to brentk. If there had been a retail store listed on the website, I would have posted that of course. There are options for both the original poster and for the rest of us. If you don't care to hit a market you can have the cheese directly shipped in the same vein as "Tastes of Chicago". One can also contact Prairie Fruits Farm for a local distributor. Hopefully this is helpful to anyone including the original poster.

                        2. re: twodales

                          If OP will be visiting Oak Park (e.g., to see the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio and/or Unity Temple), I know that the Marion St. Cheese Market in OP does stock Prairie Fruit Farm cheeses.

                          1. re: masha

                            Thank you for your helpful contribution masha. I have contacted PFF to see if they have any other outlets here.

                            Here is their response: "Yes, Pastoral carries our cheeses, Whole Foods has our chevre and there are several other small independent grocery stores around Chicago that carry our chevre as well (I believe the Dill Pickle Coop and Green Grocer are a couple that I know of). Occasionally, Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park carries some of our aged cheeses.
                            hope this helps.
                            leslie"

                            1. re: twodales

                              Sounds like my suggestion to try Pastoral was an equally helpful contribution as well.

                              You're welcome. :)

                  2. re: masha

                    Great tip on the Goat cheese Masha! It makes me wonder how many other treasures are out there...