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AWP 2012: Part I

Hello from Chicago! Even though this is my third time in Chicago, for the first time, I feel like I have gotten a really expansive glimpse of the city and it is SO fun! It really is a mini-New York City!



Yesterday, I arrived at the Palmer House Hilton at 11am.


I  met my mom in our very spacious and modern room.

After getting settled, we headed over the the Chicago Hilton to pick up my registration and conference it up for a bit.  While the weather is a bit nippy, it was really fun to walk around the city! I have the WORST sense of direction and I did A-ok navigating, so that speaks volumes about the city.  We are very close to the Art Institute of Chicago and right on Lake Michigan, so it is a beautiful part of the city.



On a whole, the city is very clean and safe! There are tons of shops and places to eat and many hotel options.  I love the Palmer House because it has so much history and the décor is truly amazing.


Last night we adventured out to dinner at one of the delectable Italian restaurants. If you are a fan of Italian food, Chicago KNOWS how to make truly excellent fare.  When I am traveling, especially in a city with insanely delicious dining options, I tend to shift my eating to a more Primal style (as opposed to Paleo, Primal eating allows some full fat dairy).  As long as I eat dairy in moderation and not too frequently, my stomach tolerates it.  This is perfect for times, like last night, when I am in an incredibly amazing Italian restaurant and want a bit of fresh, local cheese.  While I may have to avoid gluten, a bit of good cheese now and then totally makes up for the loss.

We went to Rosebud–a little restaurant in the theater district.  Everything looked fresh and tasty and the staff went above and beyond to accommodate any and all dietary restrictions and preferences. Knowing that I could not eat gluten, they created the most delicious Grilled Chicken Parmesan with Asparagus.

It HIT the spot. Gosh, it was so yummy! And the asparagus was divine!

Today, I began the day with a 7 mile run in the Palmer House fitness center. This place was magical. They had a mini-fridge full of chilled towels for a post-run freshen up—AWESOME!



By the time I finished my run, I had completely missed any and all breakfast opportunities, so we ended up eating a salad for brunch.  It may not be my normal breakfast food of choice, but it was delicious, no less.  Plus, with such a healthy lunch, it made me all the more excited for our big non-conferencs event: The Chicago Cupcake Taste-off.


In between conference events, Mumsie and I did what we do best—critique cupcakes.  While I have to avoid the cake, it does not mean I am not still a very excellent judge of frosting.  Whenever we get together, Mumsie and I have been expertly critiquing cupcakes for the past 5 years and consider ourselves quite experienced cake and frosting critics.


Today’s cupcake competition was between Sprinkles and Magnolia.  The competition was VERY steep.


Sprinkle’s cupcakes had AMAZING frosting—very smooth, and the texture of the cake was springy perfection.  They also allow you to buy frosting shots–um, YES PLEASE. (The cinnamon cream cheese is bananas–so stinking good!) My mom stated that it was the best white cake she had ever had.


Magnolia’s frosting was incredible—but just a smidgen too sugary sweet for me.  Don’t get me wrong, it was YUMMY—but the flavor nuances were just not quite up to Sprinkles’.  When we taste cupcakes, we do it like wine–we do not finish the cupcake.  It is kind of ridiculous. We take tiny bites and attempt to note all of the various aspects that make a good cupcake–the cupcake workers thought we were CRAZY, but we didn’t care!


Who needs wine tasting when you can gave cupcake FROSTING tastings?  In my book, few things in life are better than buttercream frosting. It is the simple things in life, right?


Mumsie and I also squeezed in a bit of shopping on Michigan Avenue—otherwise known as the Magnificent Mile. It has every single store in the world—Saks, Bloomies, Tiffany and Co., Cartier, you name it—Michigan Avenue has it!



We meandered into Banana Republic and left with this beauty for me (it actually looks MUCH better and less poofy in person):


And this gem for Mumsie (actually hers is a different color combination–and even MORE adorable):


Also, we dropped into J Crew and  Mumsie  found a VERY amazing dress that she FORCED me to try on…We then proceeded to buy it toot-sweet. However, it will remain a secret until a later date–don’t worry, it is DARN cute!

Tonight, after a conference session, we decided to call it an early night. We grabbed dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was all about local food–so it was yummy and relaxed,  just what we both needed!


So far our trip has been amazing.  I am officially Chicago’s new best friend! 🙂


What is your favorite city?  What do you like to do in new cities?



About paleorunnergirl

I am obsessed with cooking, running and reading! I teach American Literature at the college level, but enjoy books of all kind! After years of GI issues and being prescribed numerous medications, I found perfection in eating Paleo! I am no longer bloated, nauseous, or miserable on a daily basis. I have delved into creating Paleo recipe-making and embracing an active and playful life!

17 responses »

  1. This all looks like so much fun! Cupcake tasting is a very serious business.

  2. That looks absolutly amazing! Now, I am really regretting the decision to not book those tickets earlier so I could afford them- how amazing!!! 🙂 ……The cupcake frosting tastings! How stinking cool!!!

  3. Love the cupcake tasting!! Cupcakes are the best 🙂

  4. Looks like you’re having a great time! A cupcake tasting sounds right up my alley! My favorite cities are NYC & LA… I love them both for very different reasons, but both are great!

  5. Looks like you had an amazing time! That gym looks divine. That’s a good thing so you could eat lots of icing. I’m an icing fan too, I want some of those icing shots!

  6. ahh i love chicago! i lived there for 2 years it is SO awesome! definitely one of my favorite cities!

  7. This trip looks so much fun 🙂 LOL frosting tasting for you, hey whatever works and I’d be in the same boat! Who needs wine tasting when there are cupcakes, girl your a riot! Enjoy your day!

  8. Hey Friend! I’d love to visit Chicago! ALSO though, I have no idea how mcuh you have read about food intolerances etc BUT (so long as you are not actually a celiac, which it seems obv youre not thankfully) you may actually be able to heal your gut. My elminiating all your food intolerances for like 6 – 12 months, you may find re-introducing them on an occasional basis ( I think the usual protocol is once every 4 days) is totally fine. It sounds like that already is the case with dairy, but could eventually work with gluten, if you ever did fancy eating a cupcake or something :). My friend totally healed all her intolerances! Drinking lots of bone broths and eating foods like avocado and flax seed also helps!

  9. LOVE Chi-town! That is where Ash is from so love love LOVE going back to visit! Looks like you’re having such a fun vacay! Seems like there is always so much to do there and never enough time. 😦 Enjoy the rest of your trip with your mumsie!

  10. Ahhhh! I am so jealous of your Chicago adventure and cupcakes!! Glad y’all had such a great time!

  11. I love New York. Yes we almost go every year and culinary tourism has got to be my favorite thing to do. Magnolia is a must when in NYC, have yet to try Sprinkles. But do have Mischa’s cupcakes right on my backyard which are AH-MAH-ZING! They are the minis too so I get to eat more than one without feeling too guilty. Might be going to visit a friend and do the RNR half in Chicago in July, you just added a couple more reasons to do the trip.


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