Cali Girl Does Chicago - AGAIN...Comes to an End

2:55 PM

Let the good times roll...then go home ;)
In case you wanted to see the first part of our trip, peep these posts:

l MONDAY l
Day two of the IFT 2016! The second day of of the show is always the longest. All the hours. All the standing. All the talking! It went well for the booth and again, the ladies were clad in a new scarf! Postmates didn't fail me this time and we were able to order lunch from the Bongo Room. J was kind enough to intercept the food and bring it to us at the show. The name of the place looked familiar, then I realized it was where we had a delicious breakfast last year. That place does a great lunch too!
The Bongo Room // Chicken & Avocado Club - grilled chicken, avocado, plum tomatoes, fresh spinach and melted provolone with pineapple salsa & cilantro lime mayo on a bolo roll.
Blommer Milk Chocolate Ice Cream Bar, best sample at IFT 2016 (besides our booth)
We all were invited to a huge party put on by a huge company, but J and I passed on it this year. We went last year and it was amazing, all the free food and booze you could want, coupled with live jazz. But since this was J's last night in town we wanted to spend it together.

We hadn't done our favorite run along Lake Michigan yet, so we dared the humidity and got in a run. As we were running I noticed a guy with a bib and thought it was strange. Not 10 minutes later did we stumble upon a local Burgers & Beer 5k. We didn't have any money or credit cards to register for the race, I was bummed. Not too bummed when I found out it cost $50 day of to register and only $25 if you per-registered! J was in need of band-aids, so we sought some out from the paramedics. We also spent some time at the outdoor expo and looked at random things. We weren't in any hurry.
Once we saw enough, we continued our run at about the 2mi mark we turned around to head back. We decided to run out a little further than we'd ever done and were regretting it, it was really hot out that evening. We turned around and decided to swing by the 5k event again. We stopped for the National anthem and saw them all jet off to start their race. We sipped hot Nunn and went about our business finishing the run!
Showered and hungry, we went to find what Taylor from The Daily Tay said was the locals favorite pizza in Chicago. Pequod's Pizza. This girl knows her stuff! When I come back again in two years, I will reach out to her again for more current recommendations. Pequod's made me realize I need to order meatballs on my pizza, I will never question this option again. Our Uber driver dropped us off and we immediately ran to the hostess station. Their was a 45 minute wait, so we left our name. We were directed to put in our pizza order with another gal, so that we didn't have to wait long when we were seated. During that moment in time, the pizzas themselves were taking about an hour to come out. As Californian's I felt like a fish out of water, our pizza never takes that long...unless it's be delivered to you!
We were given a buzzer, so we decided to test its strength and walk kitty corner to the Barnes & Noble to browse. I ran straight to the sale section, my fave place in any bookstore. Finding hardbound books on sale makes my heart happy. We were only here for a short while, before we headed back, since J thought the buzzer went off. It didn't. So we hung out at the bar until it did. We were sat a high-top table, near the front. This place is small in size, but packed with customers eating and waiting to eat.

Our server confirmed our pizza order, yet she said a 'personal' sized pizza, when I in fact ordered a small. She said there wasn't anything she could do, since it was probably cooking, so we made due. They have half orders of all of their pastas and plenty of other menu options. We decided to get an order of fries, Caesar salad, and half of an order of spaghetti with pesto. We literally gobbled it all up before the pizza arrived. I guess that run took it out of us! Oh man, their ranch was good too. 
The pizza. This thing of beauty. Covered in pepperoni with hidden slices of meatball all over. Seriously, the flavor and seasoning of the meatballs was perfect. I'm starting to like deep dish, thanks to Chicago. The caramelized crust is soo good. I'm still not a huge fan of red sauce or large chunks of tomato, but I didn't care. I was sad that it was only a personal sized, because we would have killed a small size too! It was soo good, we licked up every last bite, crumb, and dripping of our pizza!
We wanted dessert, but nothing there looked too great. We contemplated going somewhere else, but just headed back to the hotel. J needed to pack and I need to get some ZZZ's before the last day of the tradeshow. Perfect way to end our last night in Chi Town together!

l TUESDAY l
UP and att'em early for J to get ready to leave for his flight. This year he had to leave a day earlier than me, which we both concluded -- traveling without one another sucks! I walked him down to his Lyft (first time using for either of us), said our sad goodbyes, then I went to workout before the tradeshow started.
Loved the color coordination, but the biggest one was only 35# :(
The last day of a tradeshow seems to go by slow after half of the day is over. Everyone is anticipating closing up shop and leaving, for those who are actually still there. Lots of people had already left to head home by this point. But not I! Again, we used Postmates to deliver another Chicago staple for lunch,  Portillo's Hot Dogs. Our co-worker loves this place and made us all go last time we were here, so we indulged him in ordering it. I had the Italian Beef and cheese fries. At this point, I'm pretty sure I had already gained 20lbs from my food adventures.
We closed down the booth faster than we ever had. I had it organized and efficient to get us out of there, before the lack of AC got too hot! There were only a few of us left, so we decided to go out for the evening, after we all rested for a bit.

We were trying to check off all the Chicago things before we left. Multiple people had mentioned that I should check out Three Dots and a Dash. I didn't really know what it was, other than they served good drinks! Not one person mentioned it was kinda like a speak easy, hard to find and in an alley. They also did NOT mention it was kitschy Hawaiian themed. It was fun, despite having to walk down two flights of dark stairs with a wall full of (faux) skeleton heads ;) When you get to the bottom, its as if you've walked onto a 60's Hawaiian movie set or something.
The cups/mugs are the best here. I wanted all of them, but not at the price point they were charging. I settled for pics with them instead ;) We all ordered different drinks: Banana Daiquiri, What's Frozen, Pain Killer, and a virgin Aloha Felicia! The names and holders were so damn cute, the food didn't look that great though. They pour with a heavy hand here, no doubt about that. After we all finished our drinks, it was on the next spot of the evening.
Enjoying my What's Frozen!
Sprinkle's Cupcakes. ATM. Yup! Just like Shake Shack, I've been dying to try Sprinkle's Cupcakes. As we walked up they were re-loading the ATM, which also requires a 30 minute grace period for the machine to reboot, so I couldn't even use the one thing I wanted there. So, instead I got in line and ordered three cupcakes -- chai latte, peanut butter chips, and cinnamon sugar.
 
We didn't have much time before our resie was due, so we headed straight to Carmine's for dinner. Yes, I finally made it to Carmine's! I think TDAD got me good, because Carmine's felt like a blur. As we sat down, I saw L was calling me from home so I stepped into the bathroom to speak with her -- it was the only quiet place there! We spoke for awhile and then I said goodbye. The bathroom attendant was super sweet and she made me smile, because she didn't mind that I took the call in there.

Almost as soon as I sat down, an appetizer arrived. The group ordered it and I was totally okay with some bruschetta! My co-worker and I decided to share two entrees, so we could try the best of both worlds. But we had to order quickly, since I spent so much time on the phone. I ordered the Fettuccine Crab & Lobster and she ordered the Chicken Parmesan. However, I didn't know the Chicken Parm didn't come over a bed of spaghetti, rather with a side of marina pasta. I really didn't know what I was doing. But I do know the dishes are huge and they quickly took our plates back and split them, once they knew we were sharing dishes. I thought that was amazing service! We all tried each others food and it was good. I wouldn't ever say this place is hype, but I think trying it once is a good option. Another Chicago staple checked off my list!
 
We did our research earlier in the day, we knew that Prime & Provision has an amazing dessert. So we skipped dessert at Carmine's and found our way to P&P.  Have you ever scrolled past one of those desserts on Facebook, where there is a choco ball and the pour warm melted choco over it and then it starts to dissipate? Well, when we realized P&P had one, we all had to experience it!

It looked closed inside, but it wasn't. The bar area was bare, but they had a lot of people back in the dining area. We grabbed a high top bar table and got down to business, ordering dessert and drinks. We had a mission to complete and we DID! We ordered the Tableside Smores and the Peanut Butter and Whipped Chocolate Pie. The interactive part of the Tableside Smores was amazing, to watch the outer ball of chocolate melt away, but the taste wasn't my favorite. It tasted like burnt marshmallow and chocolate to me. The PB pie was not as fun to interact with, but it tasted amazing. It was light and fluffy, with the crunchy bits on tops. Seriously, I probably ate 2/3rds of that dessert. It was a fun way to end our food tour of Chicago for the evening.
 

l WEDNESDAY
My last-ish day in Chicago, really it was me squeezing in a run before my flight! I decided to get some final Chicago miles in, which happens to be one of my fave runs to do. I run to Solider Field, then follow toward Lake Michigan, and generally turnaround. But this run went a little awry, since I thought I knew where and what I was doing. First off, I didn't start my Garmin until almost a mile into the run :( Runner pet peeve for sure!

As I approached the start of where Millennium Park is, I decided I'd run to the bean. Or at least where I thought the bean was. I underestimate the distance of the bean, as well as the heat and humidity! But if I hadn't made that decision I would have never found Buckingham Fountain! Nor would I have met a nice City employee who offered me a Piggly Wiggly (not joking) bottle of water when I looked exhausted. I normally wouldn't take things from a stranger, but it was sealed and I was in need of some H2O during my what turned out to be over 5 mi run!
 
I have no clue why I'm so obsessed with the damn bean! There weren't too many people at the bean, which made it hard to ask someone to take my pic. So, with my Piggly Wiggly water bottle and the timer function on the iPhone I got a whole lot of bad pics and a couple decent ones! My farewell to the bean felt like my final farewell to Chicago!
 
Following various IG's from Chicago, I was well aware of Stan's Donuts. What I wasn't aware of was that it originated in LA! I slowly made my way from the bean to Stan's to grab a treat before I got ready to head to the airport. The store seems sandwiched between a bus stop and the storefront, it was a little weird. Crazy sweaty, I walked in to a case of so many options...
 
I ended up going with the Toffee Cake donut and an iced coffee. I wanted more, but I was trying to a normal human. To the amusement and curiosity of an employee, I quickly did a little food styling on the table next to him during his break. He mentioned "I've never seen that done before." We laughed and he said it was cool that I like to blog and post about food! I left a happily caffeinated gal, although extremely sweaty still. I made my way back to the hotel to get ready to head to the airport.
Let's just say I had my second worst experience with Southwest on my connecting flight from Phoenix to Sacramento. This was the exact day that the SW computer fiasco occurred, but thankfully I wasn't stranded anywhere like some people, nor did I miss any flight. I was however stuck on a plane for over an hour in what felt like 90 degree heat. I was sweating like I just worked out at Midtown. My tank was drenched and I was so uncomfortable. If I've ever felt like I may have a panic attack, it was in that exact moment. Stuffy, hot air, sweating, and not going anywhere gave me the oddest feeling. I literally had to calm my breath and try to refocus my thoughts to something else. Needless to say, eventually we took off and not until we were in the air for at least 30-45minutes did the plane cool off.

Anyways, I will forget that was the way the trip technically ended and remember the great trip I had in all. Great food, as always. Great tradeshow. Great memories were made. Chicago is a great city to visit, I always love coming here. We won't be back for two years, but I am already excited for the new experiences that will bring!

Happy to have created more Chicago memories, but home is always home!  

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