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?