Chicago marathon recap part 2: the weekend

img_0583Howdy, friends! I’m back to recapping my time in Chicago–click here if you missed my race day recap. It was such a fun weekend to be in town! Chicago is one of my favorite cities, and it happens to be where one of my favorite friends lives. Here’s a recap of what we did before and after the race–including lots of food and a little bit of Hamilton!

I’ll rewind back to last Thursday, when we flew out late in the day and popped into Lyfe Kitchen for a quick dinner. We really liked it–they had a nice and varied menu with lots of gluten free options. Friday morning we were up relatively early–J wanted to pop into the November Project workout and I wanted to get rolling pretty early to the expo. We hopped on a shuttle around 9am from one of the downtown hotels and it dropped us off right at the expo–definitely a super smooth way to get there.img_0600

Having been to the marathon expos in both NYC and Boston I have to say this one was really well organized and actually not that overwhelming–although we did miss Shalene Flanagan’s book signing, which I was bummed about. We snagged my number and t-shirt and then I picked out my splurge marathon swag item–a red half-zip I have basically been living in since the race. It’s really easy to get overzealous and spend way too much time walking around (and shopping around) at the expo, so I’m pleased we were able to sneak out with just a few purchases. J did get me one of these babies as a marathon present and I LOVE IT. Totally worth spending the money for the real deal.img_0610

After the expo we meandered our way up to Wheat’s End Cafe, where had to keep myself from ordering every single thing on the menu–the entire restaurant is gluten free!! Nirvana. In the end we split a pumpkin cinnamon roll and I had a fig, brie, and prosciutto sammie. Next time I’ll have to come back and try the gf popover!

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering down through the zoo–I’m not the biggest zoo person (they make me a little sad) but we had a great time. It’s super cool that the zoo there is free and easily accessible. img_0618We met up with my college bestie Deby and made our way to The Northman, which is a cider bar! So cool–I really loved the ones we tried. We need one of these in Boston, stat. The evening was spent catching up and chowing down at Homeslice, which has fabulous gf pizza. Good food, good times, good people 🙂img_0670

Saturday morning I harangued J into coming on my shakeout run with me, so we did some run-sightseeing and stopped by the bean for the requisite photo opp. We also checked out the runner reunite area to get our bearings for Sunday. Post-run we met back up with Deby and ventured to Grange Hall for my pre-race lunch burger. This baby is sitting on top of two slices of gf french toast and is topped with bacon, Canadian bacon, cheese, and an egg. WOOF. I swear there is actually a burger under there somewhere…img_0626

Basically all that eating had to be enough to sustain me through the many emotional ups and downs of finally seeing Hamilton!!! I am a total musical nerd and have been obsessively listening to the soundtrack for a good year, so when I saw the show was going to be in town I bit the bullet and spent way too much on a couple of tickets. I have to say that it was totally worth every penny–I laughed, I cried (a couple of times… ok, maybe 3…) and just absolutely adored it. It was hands-down it was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. Other musical geeks, get at it–it’s worth it.img_0655

Post-Hamilton we grabbed a simple dinner at Whole Foods and hunkered down for some TV time while I prepped all of my race stuff. Then, you know, I ran a marathon (obviously it has its own post). After the race we wound down at Deby’s and then had lunch with another college friend. I’m usually not super hungry after a big race (the next day though, watch out!) so we took things easy. It was so nice to celebrate with these fine folks!

dindinJust to make our departure experience extra exciting, we got to the airport to watch our flight get delayed due to the hurricane… twice… so we bit the bullet and decided to reschedule for the following morning, which meant staying at a hotel and eating some microwaveable meals for dinner. Definitely not a high note on which to end our weekend, but I was SO ready to sleep and grateful to get home at a reasonable hour. Overall it was a wonderful weekend and lovely to see so many great people and eat so many delicious things!

I’ll be back shortly with a more running-centric look at what went well, what went not so well, and what my future plans are in regards to the marathon.

Talk to you soon!


Linking up with Tuesdays on the run!

Treat Yourself Tuesday: Gluten Free in Berlin, Krakow, and Prague

Happy Tuesday! I’m dedicating my second #treatyourselftuesday to my biggest treat of the summer: my trip to Europe. Click here to read Becky’s fabulous blog and learn more about why she believes in the power of treating yourself every week. Happy to be linking up!

We celebrated my last summer of “freedom” (aka no grad school) with a week and a half of vacationing and adventuring. The trip was incredible, and thanks in large part to my exhaustive (anal?) pre-research, I got to treat myself to some of the local cuisine safely and gluten freely.

1) Stop number one: Berlin! The most surprising thing about Berlin, for me, was just how much of an international city it is. People like to compare it to Brooklyn–the city is stuffed to the gills with hipsters from all over the world, cute coffee shops, clubs, hole-in-the-wall bars, and brunch places. But if you’re looking for German food, German culture, or even German people, Berlin isn’t the place. That said, it is a fascinating city and definitely one I hope to come back to.

Late night at one of the cute local bars in Prenzlauer Berg
Late night at a cute local bar in Prenzlauer Berg

Due to the influx of trendy ethnic food and English speakers, it was super easy to navigate around the food scene. We had fabulous tacos and margaritas at Santa Berlin, which clearly marks all of their gluten free options right on the menu. A great, affordable choice for a dinner out–just be prepared to wait a bit for a table.

Tacos and margs!
Tacos and margs!

Since we had so many sights to visit, Berlin was a great place to grab groceries and store them in our Airbnb kitchen.

Healthy breakfasting at our Airbnb home!
Healthy breakfasting at our Airbnb home

We stopped by LPG Biomarkt (there are a bunch of locations around the city) for groceries and it had a GIANT gluten free section. Their bread and granola lasted me all the way to Prague.

2) From Berlin we hopped on a quick flight over to Krakow. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but Krakow was a truly lovely little city and a pleasure to explore. In addition to a finding a shocking number of gluten free eats, some pretty magical things happened in Krakow: J and I celebrated our second anniversary and I officially accepted a new job. Can’t really complain! Onto the eats…

We got to the city late and were pretty ravenous, so we followed our hostel’s recommendation to a salad bar called Chimera. While it wasn’t a salad bar in the traditional serve-yourself American sense, the food was fresh and plentiful… and they had gluten free cake on display! I knew good things were in store. The next afternoon, we had amazing potato latkes with mushroom sauce at Cafe Mlynek, a vegetarian joint in the Jewish district.


Our anniversary dinner at Pod Baranem, however, absolutely blew me away. I had done some research on this one and it exceeded all expectations. The gluten free menu was extensive, the service was absolutely impeccable, and the traditional Polish food was DELISH (and very reasonably priced)! I didn’t take many photos since we were busy celebrating but these pierogies were probably the best thing I ate in Europe.

Pierogies--filled with beef, cabbage, and potato! NOMS.
Pierogies–filled with beef, cabbage, and potato

Don’t skip Restaurajca Pod Baranem if you’re in Poland!

3) Our last stop in Europe was in Prague.

Beautiful Prague by night
Beautiful Prague by night

I was last in Prague 14 years ago, and it was such a treat to be back in such a magical city–especially since we got to visit my wonderful great aunt on her home turf.

J, Mom, Dad, Aunt V, and me!
J, Mom, Dad, Aunt V, and me

Finding food in Prague was a little bit tricky–the city just hasn’t seemed to embrace the gluten free trend the way that Krakow and Berlin have. Regardless, I dragged the crew to Švejk Restaurant U Karla, where I treated myself to a traditional Czech goulash with dumplings and a Celia Lager (my new favorite gluten free beer).

GF goulash and dumplings
GF goulash and dumplings

Overall, I had a fabulous time in Europe–the trip was a treat in itself, filled with lots of gluten free treats!

The BEST gluten free beer!

I’ve been a bit radio-silent on the blog front recently–for several reasons. Life has been pretty hectic recently: I moved, accepted a new job, and am starting grad school in a couple of weeks. On top of all of that craziness, I just happened to have a 2 week international vacation on the books. On top of THAT, part of the vacation (and the impetus for it) was my very dear friend’s wedding in Israel.

Still with me? To recap: new home, new job, new school, and a huge trip to a potentially war-torn area of the globe.

Putting aside all of the crazy new and exciting life things for a minute, let’s focus in on my vacation adventures. First and foremost, clearly I am home and safe. Thankfully there was a cease-fire in effect the entire time we were in Israel, so everything went off without a hitch. And we had a wonderful time during the first two thirds of our trip, which we spent in Berlin, Krakow, and Prague.

Barring a few mishaps and challenges, I ate and drank my way through Europe and Israel like a gluten free queen!! While I’ll chronicle my eating adventures in at least a couple of upcoming posts, I wanted to shout out my most important discovery: I found THE BEST gluten free beer. Hands down. I was diagnosed with Celiac at 21 and I’ve tried em all: Dogfish Tweason’ale, Omission, Glutenberg, Redbridge, Bard’s, New Planet, Trader Joe’s NGB, Estrella Damm Daura, etc., etc… and this one takes the cake.

To back up: J and I spent our second anniversary exploring the beautiful little city of Krakow.

Sunset in Krakow's main square
Sunset in Krakow’s main square

I was a little bit nervous to be somewhere slightly off the beaten path–which generally makes it tricky to find things that I can eat. Boy, was I ever wrong! This gorgeous little city was bursting with gluten free gems. When I saw this sign I knew good things were coming my way.

Show me the beer!

Enter: Celia Lager, from the Zatecky brewery in the Czech Republic. (Sidenote: it is apparently brewed in a castle. Yes, a magical castle that brews gluten free beer. I want to go to there!) The beer was light, crisp, refreshing, and tasted GOOD–none of the metallic, sour, or vegetable-like edge that other gluten free beers have.

Apparently I was so excited I forgot how to pour beer.
Apparently I was so excited I forgot how to pour beer.

It even got two thumbs up from J and from my dad–I sometimes bring in ringers to see if something actually tastes good or if it just tastes good to me since I can’t really remember what gluten-ous foods taste like.

Ladies and gents, this one is a winner. I found it again in Prague and happily slurped down another bottle. So here’s the challenge: while the delicious treat is all the rage in the UK, the interwebs seem to be telling me it’s not available here in the US. Why oh why, Celia?? We need you here–big time!

Do they need a spokesperson? I think I would do an excellent job!
Do they need a spokesperson? I think I would do an excellent job!

Does anyone know where I can find this wondrous beer stateside? Have you ever tried it? What’s your favorite gluten free beer?

Beyond Boston, Gluten Free

Happy summer, y’all! After an extraordinarily long, cold, and snowy winter, I’m loving being outside and soaking up the sun. For me, summertime means a whole lot of hiking in New Hampshire, lounging by the lake in Maine, outdoor concerts and festivals, long weekends and road trips, and lazy beach days. In the spirit of weekend getaways, I’m going to share a few of my favorite gluten free finds outside of Boston.

Green Lotus Cafe, Hyannis MA

Last August, the bf and I celebrated our first anniversary with a day trip on the Cape Flyer to Hyannis. We came prepared to bike around, lounge on the beach, and get some sun, but the weather had other plans in store.

Beachy keen (in the rain)
Beachy keen (in the rain)

Despite the rain, it was a fantastic day, and we stumbled upon a fantastic little vegetarian hole-in-the-wall with tons of gluten free options. Green Lotus Cafe has gluten free bread and wraps available, along with a fabulous selection of baked goods. Be sure to swing by if you’re headed down the cape!

Delicious vegetarian wraps at Green Lotus
Delicious vegetarian wraps at Green Lotus

Silly’s, Portland ME

My family’s summer getaway is in a tiny cabin on a lake in the middle of nowhere, Maine. The best way to make the 3 hour drive up there bearable is to stop off in Portland for a bite to eat.

Portland is one of my favorite New England cities, and it’s bursting at the seams with amazing restaurants. One of my favorites is Silly’s, which boasts kitschy decor, a fantastic outdoor garden/patio space, and well-labeled gluten free options on their extensive menu. Check out the incredible selection here and get yourself over to Silly’s!

Get in my belly!

The Mooring Restaurant, Newport RI

Last summer I had the incredible opportunity to go to the Newport Folk Festival. I was so excited about the lineup (Old Crow Medicine Show! The Decemberists! The Avett Brothers!) that I barely had time to think about what I was going to be eating.

The Avett Brothers at Newport

Luckily we managed to snag a reservation at The Mooring Restaurant in downtown Newport, which has a wonderful gluten free menu full of classic seafood fare. I chowed down on a lobstah roll (my first as a Celiac!) and they even brought me a delicious gf roll to start my meal. Bravo, Newport–I hope to be back at the Folk Fest soon!

Gluten free lobstah roll!

Rein’s Deli, Vernon CT

This one is slightly further off the beaten path, but if you’re driving from Boston to New York City this summer, you won’t be able to miss the gigantic billboards on Route 84 pointing you towards Rein’s Deli. I make a point to head down to NYC at least two or three times a year, and we always stop off at Rein’s for a deli sandwich and pickle or two–my brother and I literally cut our teeth on Rein’s famous pickles on family road trips as kids. A few year’s ago, Rein’s introduced a gluten free menu, a meticulously maintained separate preparation area, and hands-down the best gluten free bagels I have ever had. If you’re jonesing for a corned beef on rye or a classic bagel with with a thick shmear of cream cheese and a heaping pile of lox, head on down to Rein’s and I promise you’ll leave full and happy.

Where are your favorite New England summer vacation spots? Any can’t-miss gluten free hidden gems you’d recommend?

Happy summer road tripping!