Miami's Hidden Gems, from a Dad Who Knows

To most people, Miami exudes a certain luxurious lifestyle, with sleek expensive cars, sun-kissed skin, expensive hotels and glamorous beaches. But for those that call Miami home year-round, there’s much more happening behind the scenes than perhaps tourists get to see...

As a native South Floridian (and proud dad to identical twin 4-year old daughters), our Nibble+squeak Miami host Juan believes Miami is on the verge of being proclaimed one of the best foodie cities in America. He’s here to tell us where to eat in the Magic City whether you’re there on vacation with the family or a local who wants to enjoy a good meal with pipsqueaks-in-tow.

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Café Roval   A favorite brunch spot from longtime Miami restaurateur, Mark Soyka (and one of the locations where we held a Nibble+squeak lunch!) This aesthetically gorgeous restaurant built inside a historic coral rock house, is surrounded by lush backyard gardens, a Japanese-style pond and a romantic ambiance that’s hard to find in Miami. At night, it’s the perfect date spot but for Sunday brunch, there may not be a better spot with the kids than Café Roval.

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What to Eat?  The kids (and adults) will love the Meyer lemon pancakes, garnished with a scoop of brandy-soaked blueberries and a drop of cream. Pipsqueak tip: Make reservations and ask for backyard seating. Take a stroll with the little ones around the charming pond while you wait for your food to arrive.

Ceviche 105   The Peruvian restaurant scene in Miami is highly competitive and that’s great for us consumers. This Downtown Miami hot-spot never disappoints and is arguably the most recognizable name in Peruvian cuisine in town. Fancy a pisco sour? Sangria? Try them both and take an Uber back to your Airbnb/Hotel.

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What to Eat?  What not to eat should be the question. If so, no holds barred. We’re big fans of Peruvian cuisine in my household. My girls love the lomo saltado, a stir fry with marinated strips of steak, with onions, tomatoes, french fries and rice. We pick at their dish but we also order fish ceviche. You can do mixed variations of ceviche with different seafood types but I judge a good Peruvian restaurant by how fresh their fish ceviche in lime juice tastes.   Pipsqueak Tip: Families congregate here all the time so they have high chairs and a designated family bathroom with a changing table. They recently opened up a second location in Aventura Mall, the 4th largest mall in the US.

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Finka Table & Tap  This gastropub is located in Kendall, a suburb about 30 minutes west of the city of Miami. Finka in certain ways embodies what Miami is all about: a melting pot of cultures and flavors infused together. Cuban, Peruvian and Korean influences are unified to create a distinctive flavor set with a gorgeous ambiance and décor. What to Eat? Korean style brussels sprouts, oxtail mushroom risotto, and ‘Japchae’ Noodles are musts for parents. For the kids, order the Mac n’ 3 Cheese with carne asada, bacon and scallions, hold the scallions if your little one is picky (like mine).  Pipsqueak Tip: Make Finka part of your day if you plan on going south to visit Zoo Miami. The gastropub is about a 20 minute drive north from the zoo.  

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Beaker & Gray Wynwood’s favorite casual, yet hip, happy hour and dinner spot has small plates, inventive food and a warm ambiance that welcomes families and a trendy crowd alike. Their beloved happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4pm to 7 pm and features a variety of $5 - $7 libations and small plates. What to Eat?  They produce my favorite ‘old-fashioned’ in Miami and at $7 during happy hour, a steal. Their ‘bites’ menu must try’s are the cheeseburger croquettes (wagyu, aji amarillo, bacon) and sandwichito, a creative take on the traditional cuban sandwich. The pumpkin gnocchi with pork rib is divine.  Pipsqueak Tip: The kids love the skirt steak or the chicken thighs.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro  This Greek restaurant housed in a transformed 1940’s bungalow in the design district neighborhood is an absolute gem. Serving simple Greek dishes using the freshest ingredients thanks to their own farm in the back of the restaurant. The charming outdoor space houses the majority of seating but if you really want to avoid the sun, they have ample indoor seating. All tables outside have canopy umbrellas so you can enjoy a lunch outdoors.

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What to Eat? Start with the ‘mezes’ and smother your bread with the spreads. Order a spicy mandolin kebab sandwich or try the delicious moussaka made with eggplant, ground beef, potatoes and béchamel. Sit outside, close your eyes and you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to the Greek islands.  Parent Tip: One block south of the restaurant, Mrs. Mandolin curates a beautiful selection of homeware in her boutique, plus a café and coffee bar. 

Sabor a Peru  Home cooking. That’s exactly what Sabor a Peru delivers. We visit often and every time we dine here, there’s 2-3 older ladies in the kitchen preparing the dishes with love and care. I’d venture to say this is our favorite Peruvian restaurant in all of Miami. Despite stiff competition, my brother-in-law who is of Peruvian descent says Sabor a Peru serves up the most authentic cuisine of the hundreds of Peruvian restaurants in Miami. What to Eat?  Go with the jalea, a heap of breaded shrimp, clams, calamari and fish. The jalea is enormous so split it with the table and then order arroz chaufa, a fried rice better than anything you’ll have at any Chinese takeout spot. Finish off the meal with an alfajor, a cookie with dulce de leche filling. Share with the kids.  Pipsqueak Tip: If your pipsqueak prefers chicken over steak, order the lomo saltado with chicken instead of beef. Easier to chew for them and equally delicious. Comes with french fries and rice too.

Genuine Pizzeria  James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz (of Michael's Genuine) was the brainchild behind one of the top pizzerias in America, Harry’s. He decided to expand his brand and re-named the pizzeria, Genuine Pizzeria. With locations expected to open up all over South Florida, this coal-fired pizza jewel uses only fresh, chef-curated toppings and the pizza crust is tender.  What to Eat? Signature items include polenta fries and my two favorite pies: rock shrimp pizza with roasted lemon, manchego, scallion and cilantro and the short rib pizza with gruyère, caramelized onions and arugula. The kids will love the banana Nutella panini for dessert and so will your sweet tooth.  Pipsqueak Tip: Genuine Pizza is located at the Aventura Mall, the 4th largest mall in America. Walk off that pizza and take the pipsqueak to the indoor playground area inside the mall.

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Wynwood Kitchen & Bar  Definitely one of the most visually striking restaurants in the city, WKB is directly inside the Wynwood Walls. An hip place to stop by for deliciously international-inspired small plates with a unique surrounding of walls covered with graffiti and street art behind you. My girls are usually mesmerized for the first 30 minutes here.  What to Eat? Start with the ‘The Wynwood’ salad with red and yellow beefsteak tomatoes, manchego cheese, piquillo peppers, arugula puree. Order several tapas: tuna ceviche with watermelon lime sauce, jicama, red onion, cilantro slaw, and avocado, and ropa vieja empanadas which are heavenly. Add a side of brussels sprouts with caramelized onions and bacon for good measure.  Pipsqueak Tip: Ask for a table in the outside patio area and observe the wall art from your seat. Best area for people watching in the hippest neighborhood of Miami.

Blue Collar  The man behind this unpretentious, American comfort food gem is owner and local celebrity chef Daniel Serfer. Located 10 minutes from the Wynwood/Design District neighborhoods, this small mom-and-pop spot has been pleasing Miami palates for years. Although there isn’t much space for two high-chairs for twins in this joint, we have dined with babies on laps because the food is so darn good. I’ve dubbed this "the most consistent restaurant in Miami" because I have never, ever, had a bad meal here. 

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What to Eat?  Veg Chalkboard. I am as carnivorous as the next meat-loving Dad but the veggie plate at Blue Collar puts all veggie dishes, anywhere, to shame. Choose 4 items from 20+ veggie options including the roasted beets with goat cheese, curried cauliflower puree and roasted artichoke hearts. If you are still craving something heartier, the dry aged cheeseburger made with prime NY strip beef, lettuce, tomato and onions inside a Portuguese muffin, is a killer burger. Pipsqueak Tip: With a location right on busy Biscayne boulevard, opt to sit inside with small ones.

Ironside Kitchen Pizza & Coffee Co.  Tucked away in Miami’s historic Upper Eastside neighborhood, Ironside serves up authentic Neapolitan pizza pies. “Authentic” is such a cliché word to describe a restaurant’s true-to-form cuisine but Ironside even hired a professional pizza maker, certified by Italy's pizza polizia, to oversee pie creation. The pizza here is produced according to the Neapolitan tradition on wood fired oven with only the finest "00" flour from Mulino San Felice and tomatoes from San Marzano in Italy. On any given afternoon, you’ll find large families with small children sharing a coal-fired pizza and succulent pasta in a relaxing outdoor space.  

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What to Eat? Really hungry? Start your meal off with delicious Italian meats like prosciutto di Parma, Parmacotto ham, calabrese, salame. The game plan here is to order either two pies or a pie-pasta combination in order to fully appreciate the flavors of this authentic Italian eatery. I recommend the Regina with toppings of cherry tomato, arugula, parmigiano, prosciutto crudo and mozzarella fiordilatte. They’re not afraid to customize a pasta for you so ask and you shall receive.  Pipsqueak Tip: I’m not a pizza purist. I like toppings. But the classic Margherita here is very tasty and the kids love it. Just hold the basil, please.

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Spring Chicken  From the same owners of the famous Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in South Beach, this casual Coral Gables eatery proudly makes everything from scratch in–house, including some of the tastiest fried chicken in South Florida. It is inundated with families on weekends looking to enjoy a casual yet delicious meal.  What to Eat? We usually go with the Superfood Kale Salad which comes with crispy or grilled chicken breast or ‘The Yardbird’ sandwich, an ode to the beloved South Beach restaurant which is served on a toasted potato bun and includes pickles and mayo. Pipsqueak Tip: The jumbo tenders are hand-breaded and HUGE and they have a section on the menu titled “Lil Ones” where you can get Jumbo Tenders with a choice of fries or watermelon for the pipsqueak. If you have multiple children with you, order the tender combos that come with 3 or 4 jumbo tenders for under $10. You may need to help them finish because they are enormous!

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94th Aero Squadron  The aviation geek in me loves this place. I come here for the views and enjoy the food but the focal point is the unobstructed views of planes taking off and landing at Miami International Airport. Reasonably priced brunch on the weekends is why locals come here but tourists flock to this place all week. This place is a necessary stop before your flight back home.  What to Eat? Come for a brunch of seafood items like stone crab claws and shrimp along with prime rib, chicken dishes and steaks. There’s really something for everyone.  Pipsqueak Tip: Make a reservation in advance and ask for a table by the windows. The AvGeek in your family will thank you.

Smith & Wollensky  Besides the beautiful location at South Point Park and stunning views of Fisher Island and yachts frisking by, this South Beach steakhouse institution cooks up one of the best dry-aged beef steaks around. Enjoy your meal while you relax, people-watch and reflect on the views.  What to Eat? Any cut of beef you prefer is prepared to your liking here. The lobster mac n’ cheese is one of the best I’ve ever had. The Wollensky’s Butcher Burger is succulent and tastes as it should, fresh and of top quality.  Pipsqueak Tip: If you’re visiting during lunch and want to enjoy the proximity of the beach, pack some belongings and walk 5 minutes. There’s a small children’s playground with water features that my kids love. Find shade under a palm tree and let the little ones enjoy.
 

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Wynwood Yard   Wynwood is Miami’s hippest artsy neighborhood and one of the hottest neighborhoods in the nation. Before 10:00pm, both children and furry children are embraced in this outdoor hub of food, drink and entertainment in the heart of Wynwood. Trendy food trucks, live music and craft brews abound with plenty of space for children to run around. You’ll see a nice mixture of after-work crowd, couples and groups along with an eclectic international family crowd. Embrace the multiple languages being spoken at once.  What to Eat?  Many food truck concepts to choose from. Hop around and try multiple.  Pipsqueak Tip: Go early. Enjoy a few hours of evening family time before the late crowd (around 10:00pm) begins their night.

Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor Located in Dania Beach, approximately 20 minutes from Miami and 5 minutes from Fort Lauderdale, Jaxson’s is an iconic institutional ice cream parlor in South Florida. Show up on a hot summer day and the lines are insanely long. To be fair, the line goes by fast and you’re rewarded with a heap of delicious ice cream concoctions. What to Eat?  Jaxson’s Jr. Sampler - three jumbo scoops of creamy ice cream, beautified with whipped cream, a cherry and your choice of three syrups or toppings. The traditional hot fudge sundae is also awesome.  Pipsqueak Tip: If there’s a long wait, find a table in the front outdoor covered area (behind the small horse carousel) and you’ll get your order in quicker.

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The Salty Donut  What started as a Wynwood pop-up donut stand selling donuts out of a trailer is now the latest and greatest donut shop in Miami. No longer a pop-up, this brick and mortar shop produces donuts such as the maple-bacon 24-hour-raised brioche doughnut and a guava and cream cheese donut (very Miami). Innovative donuts is what they do and they do it better than most. Alcohol infused donuts? Yup, they do this too and they are divine. Lines are a bit long but worth the wait.  What to Eat?  Get a ½ dozen donuts and make sure to try 6 unique ones. The artisanal donut game is strong here and it’s just a shame to just try one or two. Self-guilt not included. Pipsqueak Tip: Go early in the morning. They tend to sell out by the late afternoon of the popular donut flavors.

Juan Ruiz, a devoted father and self-proclaimed “foodie”, works at a university and when he’s not with his identical twin girls, he’s busy writing about travel, parenting and the latest foodie spots in his blog, doubledutydaddy.com

SXSW with Baby? Yes! An Insider Parent Guide to Austin:

Each March, as the film, music, and interactive media worlds make their pilgrimage to Texas for the iconic South by Southwest festival, a spotlight shines on the vibrant food and restaurant community in Austin.  In a town known for it's superlative barbecue and Tex-Mex -- which are not to be missed -- there is an outsized energy around the food scene, with so many inspired and creative and delicious options to explore in a short time!

With SXSW coming up, there will be an influx of visitors to Austin, (some of whom will be parents traveling with infants, toddlers, young children), but that doesn’t mean the restaurants will be as busy as you might think: with so many shows and events going on it can be a great time for families to get into some of the best restaurants

For those parents traveling down to Austin with their pipsqueaks this week, or any time of year for that matter, our lovely Austin host, Kelsey, has put together her favorite spots in ATX -- feel free to bring your crazy crew as there are a ton of kid-friendly options and all these restaurants are very warm and welcoming:

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June baby

 Matzo ball caldo, bolognese, burger 

Matzo ball caldo, bolognese, burger 

June’s All Day  

This is my spot. It’s got that perfect neighborhood vibe, and while the setting is casual, the food is phenomenal and they have a killer wine list that rotates constantly.  I love everything on the menu, but the snapper carpaccio, matzo ball caldo and bone marrow Bolognese are favorites (and my kids love the burger and fries.) They are open all day and have the best happy hour from 4-6, which is conveniently when my kids eat.  There are highchairs for the younger kids, but the space is a bit small so be prepared to sit close together. It’s worth it, I promise.

La Barbecue

If you’re the type of person who is willing to wait in line for the best BBQ, I would do it at La Barbeque.  If you go with enough adults that one can hold the line and one can play with the kids, there’s enough space to have them run a bit.  Plus, you can get a coffee or beer while you wait.  Go for the brisket and beef rib, but the sausages, pulled pork, sauces and all the sides are phenomenal and worth the wait. 

That said there are a number of barbecue places in ATX that would be the best place for miles in any other town! A few faves with only a *little* wait: Stiles Switch, Brown’s and Freedman’s.

Mattie’s

A revival of an Austin icon, Mattie’s is in an impeccably renovated Victorian home on gorgeous grounds.  The food is seasonal and the biscuits and fried chicken are not to be missed. If you’re going with kids, they have a picture-perfect lawn that has a pared down menu. You can sit under their beautiful live oak trees while sipping porch cocktails as your kids have a bit of space to run. There are also peacocks that live on the grounds and my kids love spotting them in the trees!

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Elizabeth Street Café  

This Vietnamese café and boulangerie in Bouldin is a beautiful neighborhood spot.  About as Instagram-worthy as restaurants come, ESC also has amazing pho and super fresh spring rolls and noodle bowls.  They also have delicious French pastries and a fun kids menu that isn’t just the standard.

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Olamaie

Michael Fojtasek’s Olamaie is a perfect interpretation of southern food with a focus on local ingredients.  More upscale than some others on this list, the food here is thoughtfully prepared and delicious. Don’t miss the off the menu Biscuits, especially if bringing the kids!  Reservations recommended here and this one you’ll want to dress a little nicer for.

Emmer & Rye

Chef Kevin Fink and his team consistently impress with their unique dining experience on Rainey Street.  They mill their own heritage grains, source local ingredients and have a nifty Dim Sum cart with small, inventive plates to try.  The menu rotates but the Cacio e Pepe is a staple and I love the Short Rib Carnitas.

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Pitchfork Pretty

Upscale Hill Country cuisine in a beautifully designed A-Frame setting.  This restaurant is gorgeous and their delicious food is a good representation of Texas cuisine.  I loved the Ruby Trout Crudo, Marinated Broccoli and the Sweet Potato Rosette. The Fried Chicken is also a hit.  I have admittedly not taken my kids here yet, but it’s fairly new so I just haven’t had a chance.

Perla’s

The patio at Perla’s doesn’t get much better.  Right on South Congress, it’s a perfect place to watch the bustle of the famous Austin strip.  I’m a big fan of the Wood Grilled Oysters and Grilled Octopus. My kids love the Shells and Cheese, as do all of the adults.

Odd Duck

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Odd Duck has a small bites menu that is always changing with the seasons.  It’s one of the best restaurants here that captures the culture of Austin in its cuisine and vibe.  Everything is handcrafted from the cocktails to the entrees and flavor here is king. There are always a couple of dishes that my kids like but no dedicated kids menu, and I’ll admit it’s a little more adventurous than usual for them.

Launderette

Everything here from the food to the drinks to the vibe is so well done and so wonderfully Austin.  The flavorful food has a Mediterranean influence and their desserts are not to be missed. The Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwich is one of the best desserts in Austin and super kid friendly at that.  They have a dedicated kids menu, wikki sticks and colorful straws for the littles also.

Kemuri Tatsu-ya

As a disclaimer, Kemuri is not the most kid-friendly and really fun late at night, but I wanted to put on the list because if you want to feel the pulse of Austin food right now, it’s here.  The Japanese/Texas cuisine is really unique and immensely flavorful. If you can get a reservation, snag one but otherwise go willing to wait and have a drink in their outdoor area in front.

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Fresa’s

This is a great kid-friendly option in South Austin that also happens to have delicious food.  They have an amazing outdoor space that kids can run around in and a special menu for the kids as well.  Parents can feast on tacos, healthy bowls and wood-grilled chicken and steaks, as well as all the guac and queso you can handle. Because you aren’t in Austin until you’re eating queso.

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Ramen Tatsu-ya

I don’t know if many people see ramen as kid-friendly, but my kids love it.  Ramen Tatsu-ya on South Lamar is some of the best ramen you’ll find in the city – super flavorful broths and inventive add-ins.  It’s popular for good reason, but if you’re going with kids get there early (for lunch or dinner) so you don’t have to wait in line.

Veracruz All-Natural

Breakfast tacos are like a religion here and Veracruz are my family’s faves.  They use handmade tortillas and salsas and their Migas Taco is one of the best around. One of their locations is at a coffee shop (Radio Coffee and Beer), which has a big outdoor space for the kids to run around while you wait for your tacos.

 Veracruz All Natural

Veracruz All Natural

 Radio Coffee and Beer

Radio Coffee and Beer

Other Family-Friendly Spots in Austin

One of my favorite things about eating and drinking in Austin is the amount of restaurants/coffee shops/breweries that have wonderful outdoor spaces for the kids to run around while you get to have coffee or a beer with friends.  Some of the places we frequent the most are Radio Coffee and Beer (mentioned above), Cosmic Coffee (has Leroy and Lewis BBQ), ABGB (a beer garden that has pretty great food and live music), Friends and Allies Brewing Company (next to a sweet climbing gym with a kid area, Austin Bouldering Project), and Live Oak Brewing Company.

In addition to all the eating and drinking you can do, there are so many fun activities to do with kids here.  The Zilker Zephyr train in Zilker Park is a hit with any kid I know and we love walking or running the nearby Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail with the stroller.  The Thinkery is an amazing children’s museum with tons to do for pretty much any age of kid. The Austin Nature & Science Center is wonderfully eclectic and a great outdoor space to explore and dig for dinosaur bones.  If you’re coming for SXSW, there are also a lot of kid-friendly shows at various venues around town. Check out Do512 Family for suggestions on which shows are kid-friendly.

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After 9 years of living in New York City, Kelsey moved down to Austin with her family.  Originally from Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where she earned a degree in Marketing.  In NYC, she spent 6 years at advertising agencies and then 3 years at Cisse Cocoa Co., a startup food brand, as their Director of Marketing and taste tester of their delicious products. Dining out is one of Kelsey's favorite activities and she loves exploring Austin's booming dining scene and of course trying out all the tacos. She specially loves doing so with her husband and young children, Archer and Wren. 

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The World's Biggest Mama Meetup!

We're joining our good friends at Mindr (and their friends at the United Nations Foundation's Global Moms Challenge) to help make history, with the World's Biggest Mama Meetup EVER!

On March 8th, 2018 -- International Women's Day -- Nibble+squeak will be facilitating mama meet-ups across the USA and around the world!  We'll take part in a global conversation about how we can make the world better for all moms, and how moms can make the world better for everyone.

Our core philosophy at Nibble+squeak is that there’s nothing more powerful than a community of parents. We’re proud to be bringing people together around the world as part of the World’s Biggest Mama Meetup.

WHAT SHOULD WE DISCUSS?

Whatever you'd like!  It would be great to have a conversation about some of the big issues facing mamas today, like access to care for a safe and healthy pregnancy, the #MeToo movement and how to make workplaces and neighborhoods safe for all, ways to fight the "motherhood penalty" in the workplace, and get mothers into boardrooms and onto ballots, and how educational opportunities can empower women and girls.

WHERE ARE MEETUPS HAPPENING?

Everywhere! There are global meet-ups planned, but Nibble+squeak will be fostering meet-ups in our existing communities, plus a few beyond!   Contact us below if you'd like to connect with the group in your city.

Adelaide - Atlanta - Austin - Bangkok - Beijing - Berlin - Boston - Boulder - Brazil - Brisbane - Canberra - Cape Town - Charleston - Chicago - Cincinnati - Connecticut - Dallas - Denver - Des Moines - Detroit - Edmonton - Fort Lauderdale - Guangzhou - Guatemala - Ho Chi Minh City - Hong Kong Houston - Indianapolis - Istanbul - Kansas City - Krakow - Lagos - London - Los Angeles - Memphis - Melbourne - Mexico - Miami - Munich - New Jersey - New York - Newcastle - Omaha - Orange County - Paris - Perth - Philadelphia - Phoenix - Pittsburgh - Salt Lake City - San Diego - San Francisco - Seattle - Shanghai - Shenzen - Silicon Valley - St. Louis - Sweden - Sydney - Toronto - Twin Cities - Washington, D.C.
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An Insider Parent's Guide to New Orleans with the Kids

Jenni is celebrating her 19th Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year. She met her husband Mike when they were freshmen at Tulane, and while life has changed a bit for them since then (a wedding, a move to the northeast, a now seven year old daughter, and twin two year olds), they haven't missed a Mardi Gras yet. Ahead of this year's trip with her family of five, Jenni took the time to give Nibble+squeak her tips for navigating NOLA with pipsqueaks-in-tow:

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I always thought that NOLA was not exactly kid-friendly.  Maybe that's because NOLA and I met while I was in college, or maybe that's because I gave in to common stereotypes about the city.  But, whatever the reason I thought that, I was wrong.  After having our first child in 2010, we have taken our (now three) kids to New Orleans every year.  We always visit at Mardi Gras, but sometimes during other seasons too. 

In New Orleans, "fancy" doesn't always feel fancy and casual doesn't always feel casual.  I've categorized as best I can, but know that you can kind of just "go with the flow" when in NOLA.  Be sure to check the restaurant's website for a dress code, but most won't have one. This is a list of restaurants that I've taken my kids to and that I love, in no particular order:

Higher-end

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 Strawberry shortcake perfection

Strawberry shortcake perfection

Commander's Palace  This is classic and quintessential New Orleans.  The turtle soup is not to be missed and the three-course offering is always great.  The absolute highlight of the meal though for me and my daughter is the Strawberry Shortcake.  A perfect shortcake (just enough salt, not too sweet) with fresh Ponchatoula strawberries.  You can't find this anywhere else.   

Brennan's  Another New Orleans classic, this one had me at dessert also.  Brennan's is the birthplace of Bananas Foster and it is magical as the chef prepares it table-side. 

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Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch is available every day here and is a wonderful option with kids because there's a little something for everyone.  Don't be turned off by the fact that this is a buffet; the food is fresh and inspired.  Plus courtyard seating and live music to keep their attention.  A great French Quarter brunch option.

Dante's Kitchen  Located uptown, this is a hidden gem.  Don't miss out on the Vietnamese Style Pork Belly appetizer and the fingerling potatoes which are roasted with herbs and brown butter and topped with a bacon gremolata.

Cochon  Donald Link doesn't disappoint.  The duck and andouille gumbo is great as is the macaroni and cheese casserole.  The creamy grits are always cooked to perfection and the braised short rib is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  The last time I ate here I was pregnant with the twins so, yes, I sampled a LOT.  

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Jacques-Imo's Another uptown fave.  Be warned that they don't take reservations and you *will* have to wait to be seated.  That said, it's NOLA.  So order a cocktail from the bar in a go-cup (yes, that's a thing.  a glorious thing.) and take it outside to let the kids play and be noisy.  The shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake is the must-have app and I go for the blackened redfish every single time and it has never disappointed.  

So-Bou  Short for "South of Bourbon," this newcomer has impressed us in recent years!  The menu is varied and oh-so-interesting.  This one's for the families with more adventurous kiddos but I can attest that my daughter was last there at 4 years old and she had no problem finding delicious "kid-friendly" things to eat (the drumettes of fried chicken confit were a big hit).  For dessert, I highly recommend the "Pecan Pie, Not Pie" which includes a chocolate covered cracklin' (yes, you read that correctly) as well as peanut butter whipped cream.  To.die.for.  (Did I mention I was also pregnant with twins for this meal?)

 So-Bou

So-Bou

 Fried green tomatoes at Dick & Jenny's

Fried green tomatoes at Dick & Jenny's

Dick & Jenny's  This is another New Orleans classic, with some of the best Creole food to be found.  The fried green tomatoes and the fried gulf oysters are both fabulous, as are the BBQ gulf shrimp.  Boudin balls are great!  My kids like to get a table by the window and watch the cars pass by on Tchoupitoulas Street.    

Fun and Casual-ish

Juan's Flying Burrito  They do New Orleans Mexican food right.  The Bacon Azul Quesadilla is my go-to filled with blue cheese and bacon.  The Hawaii 5-0-4 (a play on NOLA's area code) nachos are also delicious, featuring bacon, pulled pork, mango salsa, pineapple salsa, chipotle sour cream, avocado, cilantro and jalapeños. They're famous for their burritos which are a big hit with my husband.  If you go to their Magazine Street location, you can sit inside or outside and don't forget to grab one of their excellent margaritas to-go.  The perfect drink to savor while shopping the stores on Magazine.

Camellia Grill Note to parents of littles, this is a counter-seat only diner.  So if your little one isn't yet able to sit solo on a backless stool, skip this one until they can.  Classic diner fare served by some of the best waiters you'll ever meet.  Always met with a smile.  Chocolate cherry freeze is my daughter's dream beverage.

Superior Grill  More good Mexican in NOLA, this time with a few creole-inspired options.  The crawfish quesadilla is a must-eat.  And, again, don't forget your go-cup of margarita!  They'll even salt the lid for you so you can enjoy the full fun of a margarita as you walk around uptown or wait for a parade.

 Crawfish Quesadilla at Superior Grill

Crawfish Quesadilla at Superior Grill

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Frankie & Johnny's This is the place that we go to FIRST every single trip.  Literally land at the airport, rent the minivan (yes, I know, whatever), and show up thirsty and hungry at F&J's.  This is classic NOLA fare including great po-boys.  My husband gets the french fry po-boy with debris (don't judge, it's once a year) and we always get the fried pepper and onion rings appetizer.  This is our go-to for boiled crawfish as well as boiled shrimp - they are pure perfection.  And, there's a kid's menu here that offers red beans and rice, chicken fingers, shrimp and fries or even a delicious (or so I'm told by my oldest) noodles with butter.  Pitchers of Abita on tap are best to wash it all down.

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 Waiting on crawfish at Frankie & Johnny’s

Waiting on crawfish at Frankie & Johnny’s

Domilise's This place basically feels like you're having lunch in your grandma's kitchen.  BEST po-boys in the city, hands down.  Come at me.  Ha!  The menu is short and simple (and extra delicious).  Get an oyster po-boy, dressed.

Crescent City Brewhouse  Sit outside on the balcony with a view of the river and enjoy beers and excellent pub fare.  The specialty salads are awesome here (and because I'm recommending a SALAD while in NOLA, you know it has to be good).  A great option with kids if you're downtown in the French Quarter and don't have a reservation but want to have a decent sit-down lunch.

Cafe Du Monde  OK, fine.  It isn't really a full-service restaurant.  But beignets make everyone of all ages happy.  Full stop

 Beignet bite

Beignet bite

Lagniappe

In New Orleans, Lagniappe means "a little something extra," so here are a few ideas for foodie-adjacent must-dos!

If you're looking for a quick sweet treat with the kids instead of a full meal, two of my fave dessert spots are Hansen's Sno-Bliz and Sucre.  Hansen's is old-school (since 1939!) and serves snoballs (shaved ice) to NOLA locals and tourists alike.  Keep an eye open for special flavors like Bananas Foster or Chai and definitely indulge with the condensed milk drizzle.  Be sure to check their website before you go, Hansen's is only open seasonally.  Sucre is new-school and serves sweet treats including chocolates, macarons, cakes, sundaes, gelato and, every mom's favorite, boozy milkshakes. 

Columns Hotel - My home away from home when in New Orleans.  Drink a mint julep and enjoy sitting on the large front porch overlooking St. Charles Avenue while you watch the streetcars roll by.

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 Zapp’s  crawtators  (seasonal Mardi Gras packaging)

Zapp’s crawtators (seasonal Mardi Gras packaging)

Zapp's potato chips - Zapp's has many different flavors but the Crawtators are my favorite!  In fact, we included them in our wedding goodie bags.  Pick some up at a convenience store on your drive to another meal (hey, it's NOLA), crank up WWOZ on the radio (90.7 FM) and do a little dance.  Because life is good here.

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King cake - I won't even begin to embroil myself in the "who has the best king cake" discussion (although I definitely do have an opinion).  These can be found during carnival season and are the pastry of my dreams.  A recent wedding attended while in New Orleans even had a king cake wedding cake.  I had never been so thankful for being pregnant with twins as I was at that wedding; I felt zero shame going back for a second slice!

Hotel Monteleone - Want an interesting cocktail in the French Quarter?  Check out the carousel bar in the Hotel Monteleone.  OK, maybe this is one that isn't for the kiddos, but more for the kids at heart.  

Finally, beer

Abita is a fave that now distributes far and wide.  I still love finding a Purple Haze on tap at home on the East Coast, but I think they taste a bit better in NOLA.  You can find more Abita flavors locally too.  Although, our (and when I say our, I mean my husband's) most recent fave NOLA brewery is the NOLA Brewing Company.  Two thumbs up for their Hopitoulas IPA.

Freret Beer Room  Craft beers.  Great burgers.  Inspired dining.  Family-friendly.  What more can you ask for?

And New Orleans never disappoints with its kid-friendly offerings.  For activities, there are amazing Audubon offerings including Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas and the Insectarium (yes, my little one ate bugs there for the first time!)  There is also City Park, including Storyland, as well as plenty of fun kid-friendly tours on swamp boats and riverboats.  And let's be honest, a streetcar ride is fun at any age!


Jenni (Stivrins) and Mike (Murin) met in New Orleans in 1999 during their freshman year of college at Tulane.  After moving away post-graduation in 2003, they decided to make New Orleans a permanent part of their lives and were in town paying their wedding deposits the week that Hurricane Katrina was approaching.  While they never ended up settling down in NOLA as planned, they have made it a point to return annually during Mardi Gras (and sometimes more often!)  That hasn't changed as they added kids to their lives.  Their three children, aged 7 (girl) and 2 (boy/girl twins), are experiencing their 8th and 3rd Mardi Gras this year, respectively.  This year is Jenni and Mike's 19th Mardi Gras in NOLA.

 

 

Celeb Chef Marcus Samuelsson on Fatherhood, Flavor, and Family Meals

Marcus Samuelsson may just be the busiest chef in the business right now. He is a bona fide TV star, celebrated cookbook author—and wrote the best-selling memoir Yes, Chef.  He was the youngest person ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times; has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards including Best Chef: New York City; and was tasked with planning and executing the Obama Administration’s first State dinner. Plus, along with New York and London, he has over 32 restaurant locations across the US, UK, Sweden, Norway and Bermuda.  

Ahead of our gospel brunch at Red Rooster Harlem, Marcus chatted with Nibble+squeak about the globetrotting lifestyle he enjoys with his wife Maya Haile and his 18-month old son Zion Mandela

By Liza Hamm (Photo credit @mayahaile and @marcuscooks!)

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Tell us a little about Zion's personality...

He's the happiest baby with a lot of energy. It doesn't matter how tired you are, when Maya and I see his grinning face, and all the energy, it fuels us. It's thrilling to experience the world through him. Just watching a baby learn new things and experience parts of life for the first time is so fascinating. 

Has being a parent changed your style in the kitchen at all? 

Going out to eat is such a positive experience for kids. It opens their world.

In some ways, yes. I feel inspired to make things that I think he'll enjoy eating. He's still just a baby, but we can tell he's liking the process of tasting food and forming opinions on what he loves and what he doesn't. It's actually very entertaining to watch. 

What is the first food you introduced him to?

I think it was sweet potato. It’s the perfect thing because it doesn’t give off any kind of smell. He often dislikes something the first time because he’s not used to it. But we just keep trying. 

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What are his current favorite foods?

Right now, it’s chicken, roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower. But I also boil salmon and mash it up with avocado. He loves that. 

What are you most excited to teach him in the kitchen?

I can't wait to show him how to catch and filet a fish. That was something I did all the time as kid growing up in Sweden. Of course I'm excited to teach him knife skills and cooking techniques, but also the bigger picture with food– the history of where certain foods come from, why we eat the way we do, and about waste and sustainability. All of that excites me and I look forward to passing on that knowledge to him while having thoughtful conversations with him about it. 

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How soon will Zion get to help out in the kitchen?

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He's already with us in the kitchen when we cook and we love it!  He observes and will help us out with dusting some berbere spice onto finished dishes. I'm thinking he'll really start to get into it once he's ready to stir and mix of ingredients, and then we can move forward from there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a special routine with Zion at the moment? 

We are starting to form a few routines. At the moment we read books super early in the morning. He's an early riser and ready to take on the world at 4:30am, so that's our time to dive into the baby books and bond. He loves all the classic, like Goodnight Moon, and anything with animals and some explanation about them.

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Has Zion traveled to any of your other restaurants yet?

He’s been all over. We’ve gone to Bermuda, London and Ethiopia. He’s a good traveler. London to New York is nothing to him. But once it gets a lot over 5 hours, it’s tricky. 

 @mayahaile

@mayahaile

My Mom always said ‘you came into *my* world, not the other way around.’

Does he like to visit your restaurants?

He’s not aware of what’s going on. But he clearly has the right priorities. If I'm cooking on the beach in Bermuda, he loves it—not because I am cooking but because the beach is there. 

Does he get VIP treatment at your restaurants?

No, none of that! Of course, everyone is excited to see him running around. But I am very concerned about him being over-pampered. It’s already a little weird for him when so many people come up to him, when we walk from home to the restaurant. 

How do you balance being a Dad with a very busy career?

I think balance is one of the hardest things. I’m just lucky to have an amazing wife. We do it together. And we bring Zion into our world. My Mom always said ‘you came into my world, not the other way around.’ I appreciated that. So he’s going to be exposed to my world—he’s going to meet wait staff, dishwashers, purveyors. He’ll constantly be around teamwork. 

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How else did your Mom and Dad influence your partnering style?

They were always behind, next and in front of me. I never forget that support. I would not be here today without it. I knew I could go to my parents no matter what problem I put myself in. I don’t take that for granted. Every family goes through stuff and you just have to know we’re in it together. 

Nibble+squeak is all about the joy of dining out -- together with your family. What’s your philosophy on family meals?

I take a lot of pride that people come through Red Rooster with their family. Going out to eat is such a positive experience for kids. First, you get to interact with other people, which is always good. You’re constantly introducing them to new experiences. That only helps them socially. It opens their world. 

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Nibble+squeak is thrilled that Marcus will be welcoming our community into his culinary world, with a gospel brunch at RED ROOSTER HARLEM, on February 11th!

An Insider Parent's Guide to the Top Family-Friendly Restaurants in Portugal

I don’t remember if it was the sunny beaches that beckoned us back from the delightful cliff-top restaurant every afternoon, or the memory of succulent little clams that pulled us off the sand, but either way our last trip to the Algarve is an amazing blur of sunshine and great food.  Portugal has always had a special place in our hearts, with its terrific historical sites, unrivaled food, beautiful beaches and friendly people.

That’s why Nibble+squeak is delighted to partner with Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts and share with you Martinhal founder Chitra Stern’s pick of best restaurants to dine with your kids in the Algarve and around Lisbon.

 Breakfast at Martinhal Sagres

Breakfast at Martinhal Sagres

Your Guide to the Algarve and Lisbon from Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts' Chitra Stern:

My favourite restaurants in Portugal…

… in the Algarve – apart from our own O Terraço at Martinhal Sagres, which has the best view combined with great food and wine and child-friendliness, here are some others:

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Parrilla Natural in the Quinta do Lago area is an excellent restaurant to visit as a family looking for an elegant night out.  They have a good menu with great meat dishes and other options too.  The setting is beautiful with tables set in a grove outside the main building.

São Gabriel Thai Garden– also in the Quinta do Lago area, this is a truly excellent place to go out with the family.  The Thai menu obviously has some popular Thai dishes and the setting in in a beautiful old house with a garden.

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Vila Velha – in Sagres.  One of our old-time favourites in Sagres for family dining.  The restaurant has excellent service and a great range of dishes – both Portuguese and international.  A good selection of dishes for vegetarians, too.

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Vivendos – at Meia Praia, Lagos.  A small restaurant with great daily specials that the chef works hard on – good for lunch when you make a day-trip into Lagos from Sagres.  Go before you get to the beach as it is not a beach restaurant.

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… in the Greater Lisbon area – apart from our restaurants in Martinhal Cascais and Martinhal Chiado, we love:

 Sud Lisboa 

Sud Lisboa 

Sud Lisboa – fabulous setting at the River Tagus with views to the 25th of April Bridge (which looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco).  Located right next to so many tours must-sees in Lisbon like the Jeronimos Monastery, the Discoveries Monument and MAAT Musuem.  Great for lunch.

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Panorama – Guincho – close to our Cascais property.  Fabulous seafood and fish place with amazing Sea Bass baked in sea salt.  Other favourites include the “Açorda” which is a typical dish from the Alentejo made with bread, garlic, coriander and prawns.  Superb lunch experience with views onto the Atlantic.

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O Watt – in central Lisbon.  Good gourmet food by Chef Kiko Martins – which little gourmets will enjoy too!  Very close to Martinhal Chiado. 

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Palácio Chiado – a very chic and elegant “food court” set in an old palace.  A wide variety of food offers from Charcuterie to Sushi/ Sashimi.  The hamburgers downstairs are fantastic.

[Ed. note: Even the New York Times is enamored with the scene here.]

Bairro de Avillez – Chef José Avillez’s latest hit!  Fabulous food inside a heritage building – simply amazing Lisbon experience.  Also located very close to Martinhal Chiado.

 Bairro de Avillez

Bairro de Avillez

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Mercado da Ribeira– also known as the Time Out Market – offers food by some of the best chefs in Portugal and stalls by some famous restaurants.  Each member of the family can choose a different food stall to try the best of Lisbon’s chefs. 

 

Dessert? 

A post shared by Santini (@geladosantini) on

Santini of course!  Santini is the best “gelato” place in greater Lisbon – they now have several outlets but this is a great place to have their ice-cream.  Go early if going for lunch or dinner – it isn’t too difficult to find seats together at noon or at 5.30pm, but it gets crowded at peak times.

 

ENTER TO WIN!  Martinhal and TAP Air Portugal are offering YOU a chance to WIN a one-week family vacation to Portugal!

 Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts

Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts

Chef Dan Kluger Opens Up About What it Took to Open Loring Place

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NYC chef Dan Kluger is getting ready to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Loring Place, his acclaimed Greenwich Village Restaurant.  It’s the first restaurant he’s designed and owned but not the first time that his cooking has drawn raves from both critics and guests... 

When Dan isn’t in the kitchen, he spends time with his wife and two daughters, Ella, 11, and Georgia, 8.  He kindly hosted a wonderful Nibble+squeak event at Loring Place earlier this fall.

By Liza Hamm

Congrats on Loring Place’s success! Tell me a little bit about the experience of building a restaurant from scratch.

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It was quite a project. It was a lot of fun to choose everything, and design something I wanted, and to see it come to fruition. At the same time it was incredibly tough. It was a trying time, managing construction, and managing budgets, and managing the timeline, all of which did not necessarily go as planned.

Well, the result was worth the headache. Do you feel like it accomplished all your goals? 

I am very pleased with the food and the reactions to the food. It’s fun, flavorful twists on simple food.  I am happy with our space and staff. We are quite busy and it’s still a hard ticket to get into but I always feel like we can be busier. I certainly spent some of the summertime worrying about how to build the business. 

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Did your daughters give you any particular input or suggestions for Loring Place?

They would like to think they did! I’ll make something for them at home and they’ll like it and say, "you should put that on the menu." It’s more wishful thinking than anything else... But I made a spinach pizza one day, and they loved it and said that should go on the menu. 

Do they visit the restaurant often?

They probably come every six weeks or so. My oldest likes to spend some time in the kitchen with me. She likes to see what’s going on. They’re simple eaters. They love the pizzas and basic pastas. I always do a bunch of vegetables for them.  

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Do they like helping you with the cooking at home? 

Yes.  Georgia is into baking. She’ll get it into her head to make cupcakes, and the next thing you know she has everything out and she’ll whip them up and decorate them on her own. Ella is more interested in making pasta together. We made gnocchi the other day. She likes to cut vegetables. 

Was getting them interested in cooking very important to you?

It wasn’t necessarily important but they did start early -- when Ella was about 5, I bought her a knife. She started doing a little prep work here and there. 

Clearly opening a restaurant is very time-consuming. How do you balance that work with being a parent?

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That was definitely a hard time because I didn’t see [my daughters] at all. Now, I take one to two days off a week and try to make the most of those days!  They’ve gotten the short end of the stick because [being at the restaurant] is really important right now. I think they understand and respect that.

At some point, I’m sure [the restaurant] will be on auto-pilot and I won’t have to change my schedule around and I’ll get to spend more time with them.

If anything, I put . . . the family life on hold. I took just one day off for the first four or five months  I worked straight through.

They must think it’s very cool that you’re created your own restaurant.

I don’t know if they get the magnitude of it, but I think they’re very excited about the fact that I own the restaurant. They saw it come to fruition and I think they appreciate it. 

Do you have a favorite activity to do with the kids on your days off?

We typically go out for a meal. I’ll take them to our local diner. That’s our tradition. They can have whatever they want, but we have to talk about real things, which is always a good time. 

Sounds like they’re pretty adventurous eaters. Is that something you tried to make happen? 

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No, I think they’re picky eaters! They know they have to try things. They have no problem going to a sushi restaurant and finding something to eat but they’re certainly not having eel like I am. We’ve become friends with the owner. He’s certainly opened Ella’s eyes to Kobe beef and things like that. He sends stuff over as a nice treat for them. 

Any tips about making kids a little less picky at mealtime?

I wish I did. The one thing is they have to try it, at least take one bite of something new. That’s a big challenge and it’s hard to commit to that but recently…Ella doesn’t like shrimp and always whines about it when I try to get her to taste it. Somehow she tried tempura shrimp and now she loves it. So now I try to convince her she would never have figured that out if she hadn’t tried something new. 

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I make everything simple for the most part when I cook for them. I’ll put hot sauce on my food but leave things simply prepared. As a result, they have to eat some of everything—from Brussels sprouts to asparagus to steak. They get plenty of vegetables and the meat we buy is local and naturally raised. 

Nibble + squeak is all about the joy of taking your kids out to dine at restaurants….what’s your policy about having kids at your restaurant?

We welcome kids -- [our] menu is constantly changing but there are always one or two winners with kids every season. We had butternut squash fries that kids ate because they thought they were french fries. The pizzas have vegetables on them…there’s a Brussels sprouts pizza, spinach pizza.  

Why is important for families to get the chance to go out and dine together? What do kids learn from that experience? 

[Children] should get to go out and see what it’s like to have wonderful service.
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In general, families need to eat together. In terms of dining out, we need to expose kids to it more!  Learning how to behave at dinner is very important to me when my kids go out. That they’re constantly saying please and thank you and looking the server in the eye. They’re forced to speak to "a stranger." All of that is important when it comes to basic manners. Also, they can’t just be going out for Chinese food and pizza. 

What do you remember most from your times dining at a restaurant as a kid? Is that how you got interested in a culinary career?

That’s why it’s ironic to be talking about it. As a kid, I don’t really remember going out at all. We went to the local Chinese restaurant for Sunday night meal every once in a while. 

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So how did you get interested in cooking?

I went to Syracuse and ended up becoming a nutrition major and took some food science and food safety classes.

I really fell in love with everything about food service and ended up doing an internship at Union Square Cafe with Danny Meyer. After graduating, I’d still go and hang out and after a couple of months, they offered me a job in the kitchen. The rest is history. 

 

Fall Harvest - Tips for Picking with the Pipsqueaks!

We could wax poetic about fall forever -- the crisp air, fiery foliage, and sweet bounty of the harvest . . .

Whether you're venturing to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch, we're here to help you maximize the outdoor adventures with the kids. What to bring (don't forget snacks!), what to wear (this is prime family photo opportunity, after all...), and how to go from field to feastBecause babies can't be basic.... let's have some old-fashioned, food-focused, family fun!

Dress for Success -- Let's face it, those sun-dappled, leaf-filled photos are a big part of the occasion! No need to super coordinate the fam', just a nod to fall with your fashion picks is great -- as long as it's still comfortable! Nothing cuts the occasion short like a too-chilly child with damp socks, so dress in layers to be prepared. As Scandinavian parents say, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes"

Be prepared -- The lovely thing about pick-your-own is that you don't need much to do the actual picking, but you will want to bring some supplies for a picnic in the field (colorful cloths, a child-friendly knife), and think about a way to get the produce back home.  Little arms will appreciate a cart that they can pull -- those apples are heavy! 

Farm to Table -- There's no better hands-on way to experience the harvest than in your own kitchen.  And you don't need to be a master chef -- or have more than a few minutes of prep time -- to whip up homemade applesauce (seriously, just throw chunked apples in a pot with a splash of water!), oven-dried apple rings, or toasted pumpkin seeds.  But if you want to go the extra mile, and, say, peel those apples to make pie, go for it!  We'll be too busy straight-up dipping wedges in goat's milk caramel...

Victorio Apple Peeler & Corer
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DIY Goat's Milk Caramel Apple Kit

It's in a Book -- Celebrate and learn together with some seasonal bedtime tales...

Looking for an idyllic scene near you? Here are some apple (and some pumpkin) -picking spot from our friends at Mommy Nearest to get you started: New York, in Washington D.C., in Philadelphia, in Boston, in Miami, in Houston, and Chicago and Los Angeles Looking in London, here's a list from Time Out UK to peruse.

Michael White on Pasta, Parenting and Kids in His Kitchens

Nibble+squeak loves to get to know the people behind a restaurant, so we’re putting the spotlight on an industry parent each month:

Michael White is a Midwestern-raised chef who can school most Italians on how to cook delicious pasta. As co-owner of the Altamarea Group, he has 15 restaurants around the globe, including Marea in Manhattan, which won best new restaurant at the 2010 James Beard Awards. 

Chef White took time from his busy schedule opening a second Marea (in Shanghai) to speak with N+S about the joy of having kids visit his upscale dining rooms and exploring NYC's culinary scene with his daughter, Francesca, 13.

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Interview by Liza Hamm

Did you cook a lot as a kid?

I certainly did. I'm of Norwegian descent and Norwegians are always eating good food. I grew up in Wisconsin making bread with my dad. Wisconsin was so cold so we started with bread and soups. My dad was an avid cook. He still is. That's how I got the bug.

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What’s the most important lesson you learned from your dad in the kitchen?

Make sure you make enough, right!? Especially when you’re cooking in the midwest. Just spending time with my father and watching his passion….whether it was refurbishing wooden boats or cooking...was so important.

Nibble+squeak focuses on kid-friendly dining experiences. What is your definition of a kid-friendly restaurant?

I always thank parents for bringing their son or daughter in because it’s such a cool experience. I love having them. From a business standpoint, it perpetuates your business. It also gets kids excited about cooking. I bring kids into the kitchen at Marea, Ai Fiori, Due Mari. People come to a restaurant like Marea for a birthday or other special occasion…..I want these kids to have their prom at Marea. 

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they send me notes saying ‘this pasta was so much better than Mr. Batali’s.’ I absolutely love that.

Do you take kids to the kitchen for special events or just regular nights?

Oh no, when I see them in the dining room, I ask if they want to see the kitchen. Then, they send me notes saying 'this pasta was so much better than Mr. Batali’s.' I absolutely love that. I get letters with designs and pictures of spaghetti. It's humbling.

Sounds like all your restaurants are kid-friendly but are there any you specifically recommend to families?

I’ll say Nicoletta and Osteria Morini the ones that hit home for casual fun pizza and pasta, all the things that young people like, but I also have kids come here and want to eat crudo and more. 

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I think many kid have more sophisticated palates than we give them credit for….do you agree?

Definitely. They taste nuances, especially when you start them out young. They have what I call taste memories. That’s so important. Each and everyone of us have taste memories. I love what I do and to be able to spread the good word about food. 

So tell me about taking Francesca out to dinner when she was younger. What are some of your favorite memories from then?

She has no idea how lucky she is. Whether it was being in a high-chair at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in the South of France or having a chef hat on in the kitchen at Ducasse, she was a lucky kid. She’s been to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bali. She has had food experiences all over the world. So she’s very food savvy but my wife doesn’t want her to be a chef.

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Why not?

She knows the hours that I work. It’s a tough business. 

Do you and Francesca have favorite places to dine together?

You bet. We love to eat ethnic food, whether we go to eat at Won Jo in Korea Town or Thai food in Queens. We’re very adventuresome. Or it could just be grabbing cheeseburgers at Joe Juniors. My restaurants aren't as fun for her anymore. It’s cooler to go to different restaurants. 

I assume she has VIP status at your restaurants?

Listen, she better behave herself when she brings her friends. 

Does she have a favorite dish you make?

Like all kids, it’s pasta. The fusilli with octopus and bone marrow here at Marea or the Epaulettes (rabbit and cheese ravioli, with black truffle jus) at Vaucluse. She loves pasta. 

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Are you teaching her to cook?

Just by osmosis, I would say. If [my wife] Giovanna and I aren’t at home, she can fend for herself.

Why do you think it’s important for her to know how to cook, even if she doesn’t pursue it professionally?

We want her to know that you take time out to sit, eat and talk about what transpired during the day. It can also set the tone for the rest of kids' lives. They can take the initiative to eat healthy, to eat in moderation. 

I’ve read about your regular Sunday family dinners in the press before. How often do you try and get the family together for a meal with everyone’s busy schedules? 

We always sit down on Sundays but I also try to get home at least once a week for a meal. There is too much stuff going on...tutoring and tennis for her...the rest of the time. 

What does Francesca cook for you? What are her specific strengths in the kitchen?

She's very resourceful. She can do a plate of pasta if she has to. She loves making omelettes and oatmeal.

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What is your favorite dish she makes?

She makes a really good mortadella sandwich nowadays. On whole wheat with arugula. 

So if she doesn’t follow in your culinary footsteps, what would you like to see Francesca do?

Whatever makes her happy. I want her to feel fulfilled. If that’s with food, that’s awesome. If not, I’ll be happy to see her do something else.

 

(Ai Fiori will HOst Nibble+squeak's "Tykesgiving" this November)

Back to School: Food-Inspired Finds

we've always liked stocking up on school supplies...

to herald new beginningS, WE SELECT a few FUN transitional items FOR YOUR LUNCH-OBSESSED LITTLES.  HERE aRE some stylish and eco-minded picks for the start of the season:

First Day Excitement -- start the year off on the right foot, and quell any first day jitters, with a few extra-special accessories like a classic denim backpack (purchase this gorgeous one from FEED and provide 75 meals for children in need), a fun and functional lunch tote, or a brown "paper" bag built to last:

Packed Lunch -- For us, "what's for lunch" is always top of mind, but for many people the process of planning and producing meals is a chore.  Brighten up the task with some practical and *plastic-free* containers, and fill them with colorful produce to bring variety to their little lunch break: 

Don't forget the flatware!  We often overlook how the food is going to reach their mouths, but whether they're eating with their fingers, figuring out a fork and spoon, or are chopstick pros, it makes sense to pack the tools along too:

 

First-Day (Foodie) Fashion -- Wear your stomach on your sleeve with these food-inspired fashion items:

 

Patrick Connolly of RIDER on How He Rocks the Parent-Chef Life

Nibble + Squeak loves to get to know the people behind a restaurant, so we’ve decided to put the spotlight on an industry parent each month:

Our first featured chef is Patrick Connolly, owner of RIDER, a hip, Michelin-approved eatery, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Patrick is a James Beard Award-winner known for whipping up delectable vegetable dishes, but like many parents, he caves to his three-year-old daughter’s culinary whims time and time again.

Interview by Liza Hamm

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We chatted with Patrick and learned about the food his family loves, the importance of living near your own restaurant, and why his daughter Sadie is the kid with the ultimate VIP status at RIDER. 

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Tell us about your specific goals with RIDER

My goal with RIDER is to let the menu react to the season. I also wanted to set us apart with the service, not so much the technical side, but to really connect with people and give them a good time. My front of the house does an awesome job creating a comfortable atmosphere, where people aren't intimidated by the menu. They can relax and try dishes they haven't tried before. 

Do you live in Williamsburg?

I live a block away from the restaurant.  Living so close is 100% necessary. We've created an excellent situation where I can literally pop home to put Sadie to bed or cook her dinner then I am back on the line in the restaurant. Or I can take a full day off from the restaurant but know that if something serious does down, I can be there in a minute.

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Do you do most of the cooking at home?

My wife [Suzanne, a sales and customer service consultant for the kids’ fashion line Egg by Susan Lazar] has probably surpassed me in the last six months. She has taken the initiative to learn a few dinners that she, Sadie and I like. 

What does Sadie love to eat?

Suzanne makes stir fry for her pretty often—and baby corn is her favorite. And strangely enough, broccoli. Those are her two vegetables. 

 Congrats!  Not every parent can say their child likes veggies.

That’s true. I don’t want to pretend that just because she’s a chef’s daughter she doesn’t eat crap, because she does. We fall for the cake pop at the coffee shop all the time. I just took her to soccer and picked her up a mint chocolate macaroon—the breakfast of champions. But she’s pretty good. If food gets too fussy, she loses interest. It has to be straightforward. My quick meal [for her] now is roasted carrots and pan-roasted chicken. It takes 15 minutes. 

You sound very laid-back….what is your philosophy about kids and eating?

The most important thing is that it’s just real food. Everything she eats has simple ingredients and is more or less organic.  

What is your favorite ritual with Sadie at this time?

Just getting a glimpse into that brain of hers. She's making points and some of them are totally ridiculous but some are very insightful. 

I can literally pop home to put Sadie to bed or cook her dinner then I am back on the line in the restaurant.

Does Sadie help in the kitchen?

She loves it. She’s made meatloaf with me and turkey burgers with Suzanne. I’ll have her pick herbs and she thinks it fun to put salt on everything

Do you agree that it’s great to get kids in the kitchen at an early age because it makes them more comfortable there?

That’s a luxury I had. My parents both worked so my brothers and I used to prepare dinner for the family, I’ve been comfortable there since I was a kid. It does shock me when I meet adults who have no idea where to start in the kitchen. 

What does Sadie like to do at the restaurant?

She comes in for brunch or an early dinner and goes straight to the kitchen to say hi to everybody. Then she likes to go fix herself a sparkling water. 

 Sadie as "guest expediter" at RIDER

Sadie as "guest expediter" at RIDER

Does Sadie have a fave dish at the menu at RIDER?

It’s definitely pancakes and chicken sausage for brunch. Recently, at dinner she's loved the spicy pork and broccoli rabe strangely enough. She might avoid the pork in it though.

Do you like to take her to other restaurants in the neighborhood?

Of course, There was a time between 2-3 years old when we didn’t take her out because she would throw glass or food, She just turned 3 in May and we’re back to being able to take her to a restaurant for an hour. We like to go to Esquina diner because they have an outdoor area where she can run around in and not do too much damage. We also take her to Sunday in Brooklyn for brunch.

Parents don’t make a huge ordeal about having their kids at the restaurant, and the kids are chill and know their way around a restaurant table. 

What’s your policy about kids in the restaurant?

We’re completely kid-friendly. We try to be creative and find ways to occupy children so their parents can have a meal. It helps that I have a child. Parents don’t make a huge ordeal about having their kids at the restaurant, and the kids are chill and know their way around a restaurant table. They know how to order. It’s awesome to see. 

Why is that a positive thing?

[It's about] laying the ground work for being polite. Manners are huge. It’s also about the urban idea of the family table. Families of all sizes and ages are pulled in several different directions every day, especially in New York. Sometimes it’s just more efficient to have everyone meet at one of their favorite restaurants. You maximize the time spent at the table, and not in the kitchen or on that last leg of the commute. Plus, there’s no clean up.

 

Being a Dad certainly inspires Patrick to make RIDER very kid-friendly, and that’s no surprise to N+S since he hosted one of our first events! Families should also visit the restaurant in conjunction with Puppetsburg, which performs there every Wednesday, and definitely check out the performances at National Sawdust, a very cool concert venue attached to RIDER.

Nibble+squeak's Top Hamptons Restaurants 2017

The summer season is in full swing and we already have some new favorite restaurants to add to your rotation in the Hamptons... Food that's more than worth a detour, fab people- and boat- and sunset watching opportunities, and arguably the most well-trained hospitality staffs ever to grace the East End!

To help "Parents with Pipsqueaks" navigate their lunch and dinner planning, Nibble+squeak got the *low down* straight from the restaurants about what they do to welcome families at the table.

And DON'T MISS our two Nibble+squeak Hamptons events this summer: Saturday, July 29th at Jean-Georges at Topping Rose and Saturday, August 19th at EMP Summer House!

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Calissa, Water Mill: Simply prepared Greek dishes are a perfect match for the Hamptons bounty.  Chef Dominic Rice (ex-Narcissa) is happy to make kid-friendly versions of his tasty Mediterranean dishes, although the bucatini and chicken are two items that are popular just the way they are. The restaurant's bocce court is also a crowd-pleaser.

The Clam Bar, Napeague: On the highway between Montauk and Amagansett is the quintessential roadside shack, serving what is in our opinion, the best lobster roll in the East End.  They've also got local beers by the can, super soups, and daily specials that often include oysters and steamers and a local grilled fish sandwich.

Elaia Estiatorio, Bridgehampton:  The newest kid on the block, the doors just opened two days ago, and they are ready to welcome families!  Come for authentic, fresh Greek dishes like grilled shrimp and succulent chicken.  Kids will love the gigantes beans (they're huge!) and fava (split pea) dip, and we can't pass up a homemade spanakopita at any time of day (they're open for breakfast!)

Sometimes this is all you want, poached lobster with tomatoes and corn #makeitnice #empsummerhouse

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EMP Summer House, East Hampton:  While Eleven Madison Park (recently named the Best Restaurant in the World) is undergoing renovations, they decided to decamp the entire staff to a Hamptons pop-up... (and we're hosting a SqueakUp there on Aug 19th!)  The front dining room is relaxed-formal, with pretty platings and luxe ingredients like summer truffles and lobster, while the back patio is a different scene altogether, with a bar, swings, and piles of fried chicken with tomato salad.  No matter where you dine, the whole family can enjoy the enormous backyard after the meal -- bocce, ping pong, picnic tables and lots of space!

Hampton Chutney Co., Amagansett:  This lively take-out spot serving delicious dosas -- both authentic and irreverently not -- celebrates it's 20th anniversary this summer.  Get your thali or dosa to-go (with plenty of dipping sauce) so that you can enjoy it on the perfectly plush grass of Amagansett Square. Obviously, the pipsqueaks don't need permission to run around in circles here, but they'll gladly park themselves for a picnic like this. 

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Harbor East, East Hampton: A must-visit destination on the way home from Main Beach at the end of the day. The locally-sourced cuisine, makes both the adult crowd and the children happy -- everyone's raving about the Branzino with artichokes. Cushy, colorful banquette seating is perfect for the little ones, and they can keep busy drawing with the available crayons and paper, or bust a move to the music. 

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Harvest on Fort Pond, Montauk:  This is the place to go with a big crew!  Family-style pastas and platters get passed around the table, and if the kids get restless, you can always go feed the baby swans from the dock. Perfect sunset spot, with *plenty* of high chairs too. 

Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House, Bridgehampton: Our first Hamptons event venue (tix available for July 29th!), the beautiful hotel/restaurant/event spot gets the food right, with a vegetable-centric farm-to-table menu in a classic setting.

Lulu Kitchen and Bar, Sag Harbor: Lulu’s is a lesson in flames: fire makes everything taste better. Whether it's grilled cauliflower or whole black bass, almost every dish at Lulu has been cooked using Chef Corbet’s wood burning technique. The best part? The open kitchen layout lets you watch the massive wood fired grill and oven at work, and the horseshoe-shaped booths are perfect for corralling the kiddos.

Lunch (Lobster Roll): The iconic “Lunch” sign draws the crowds -- so try to get there slightly off-peak -- but the simple, homey seaside fare will hit the spot.  Plus, this is one of the few places where you can still get a so-naff-it's-chic lobster bib to enjoy your steamed specimen in style.  With its red, white, and blue decor, it's pretty for pics, and the kids get crayons and an underwater scene to color.

Navy Beach, Montauk  Eating your meal with pebbles underfoot and a stunning view of the sunset will make it taste even better. The kids in your group will happily intersperse their meal with skipping stones (and we won’t tell if you do too).

Wölffer Kitchen Amagansett:  Our new favorite go-to for a laid-back family dinner, this place nails the relaxed and happy vibe of the Hamptons -- with indoor or outdoor seating, you can happily share some apps and mains and sides for the family (with a bottle of their much-lauded, easy-drinking rosé for the adults of course!)  

This post brought to you by the Alyssa Brody Team at Compass.

Stars and Stripes and Sparkle

A few tips to make the most of the happy summer vibes this holiday weekend and all season long!

A sweet celebration: Use those sweet berries from the farm stand to their best effect in flag-adorned desserts, and don't underestimate the magic that a set of star cookie cutters can create! 

Frozen Fun:  Make a patriotic ice pop -- in an appropriately rocket-shaped mold, with a healthy and delicious recipe; let the kids don some popsicle-inspired (temporary) body art; or kick around a ball that doubles as an ice cream maker and put all that youthful energy towards a reward for everyone!

From Picnic to Pool to PJs: Summery styles in red, white and blue!

Things that sparkle or pop!  Fireworks are pretty awesome, but here are some fun and festive alternatives to bring the excitement down to ground level and light up the occasion! (Plus, if you're worried about loud noises for baby, a pair of effective earmuffs they'll love!)

Celebrating Pride!

 (photo credit: Oh Happy Day)

(photo credit: Oh Happy Day)

We're teaching our children to show their true colors, and support diversity, dignity and equality.  Here are some fun ways to celebrate Pride together!

Bring the rainbow to the table -- and make a healthy meal too -- with a full spectrum of vegetables or fruit in your meal!  Babies will go ga-ga for the smoothie ice cubes this summer, and our toddlers will eat anything on a stick. All of these recipes are simple and natural -- no food coloring needed!

Wear your pride proud -- whether your little one is feeling twirly, just experimenting with footwear, or managed to get a little booboo, there's a colorful way to accessorize for everyone, even if the sun isn't shining on your parade!

Plan a Pride picnic -- dish out some of those colorful recipes on a quality picnic blanket, and get the games out!

Six Tips for Kids in the Hamptons: Summer 2017

Nibble+squeak is headed to the beach!! We've just announced not one, but TWO amazing experiences out in the Hamptons this summer: July 29th at Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House, and August 19th at EMP Summer House!  

 Main Beach, East Hampton

Main Beach, East Hampton

In honor of the first two Hamptons events, our local Host and expert, Mia Ljundberg Nevado, is excited to share her tips for families heading to the East End this summer:

There is no place quite like the Hamptons in the summertime. I cannot imagine a better playground for kids (and adults!) to build memories that will last a lifetime. There are pristine beaches, authentic farmers’ markets, gorgeous sunsets plus so many wonderful activities for children of all ages.
 JohnJohn and BoBo at Madoo Garden

JohnJohn and BoBo at Madoo Garden

 Sunset Sag Harbor

Sunset Sag Harbor

1. Storytelling at Madoo Garden:  

The Madoo Conservancy is a magical oasis in the heart of Sagaponack, a garden full of hidden paths and many cozy smaller gardens with sculptures, flowers and plants. It is also the former private home of Robert Dash, a noted painter and writer and one of the world´s most visited gardens for garden lovers. My sons love Monday mornings at Madoo. The local library offers storytelling at Madoo every Monday all summer at 10 am. Bring a picnic and blanket and disappear into the story while surrounded by the songs of the birds and smells of the flowers.  

Mondays 10 am. Free of charge. Contact Hampton Library to confirm dates and times if weather is questionable: 6315370015 www.madoo.org

2. LongHouse Reserve:

Another favorite place to experience with my boys in the summer is the LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. It is a place of tranquility and peace and it is one of the most visited gardens in the world. A sixteen-acre sculpture and art installation garden featuring pieces from Yoko Ono to de Kooning. There are really no words to fully describe this place, it is a must-visit.

This summer LongHouse Reserve offers a very interesting Nature´s Music Program for children for children from age 16 months to four years. A six weeks program that celebrates music and nature where the kids will explore singing, dancing, imaginative storytelling surrounded by beautiful nature. Guided tours are offered all summer, check website for schedules and other fun activities.

LongHouse Reserve is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2-5pm in May, June and September.  In July and August open Wednesdays through Saturday. Admission is $10 per person (Children under 12 accompanied by an adult are free of charge) www.longhouse.org

 LongHouse Reserve

LongHouse Reserve

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3. Sunset Fridays and Saturdays at Wölffer Wine Stand

The whole family loves to spend Friday or Saturday afternoons at Wölffer Estate Vineyard´s wine stand in Sagaponack. This is where stylish families of the Hamptons get together. Kids can run safely around and play or dance to the live music while parents can enjoy a glass of wine and local cheese. Healthy snacks for children are also sold. Bring a blanket and just sit back and listen to the music while the sun sets over the vineyard.

Wölffer Wine Stand, 3312 Montauk Highway, Sagaponack. Every Friday and Saturday from May to end of September. 5pm until sunset. No cover charge.  www.wolffer.com

 Farmers Market

Farmers Market

 At Sunset Jazz at Wölffer Estate Wine Stand

At Sunset Jazz at Wölffer Estate Wine Stand

4. Outdoor Movie Nights for Kids at the Green School:

Imagine an outdoor movie theater surrounded by horses, sheep and guinea hens! There is nothing like a warm summer eve in the Hamptons and what better way to end a day at the beach than with an outdoor movie night at the idyllic Green School in Sagaponack. My sons LOVE this school. It is a small piece of heaven for small children.The kids gets to choose their very own box cars made of recycled paper boxes, that they then sit in during the movie.

Bring a blanket and a picnic and relax in the beautiful garden while the kids watch a great movie. The Green School also offers farm feeding of all its animals in the weekends. Check their website for the full summer schedule. The Green School. Thursdays 6-8pm in July and August. Suggested donation for the movie: $10 per child. Popcorn is served. To check Outdoor movie schedule visit www.the-green-school.org

 Movie Night at The Green School - Box Cars

Movie Night at The Green School - Box Cars

 Sunset Main Beach, East Hampton

Sunset Main Beach, East Hampton

5. Fun at The Children's Museum of the East End

Another favorite spot my sons love is the Children´s Museum of the East End in BridgeHampton, also known as CMEE. The sun is strong during the summer and it is nice to have an alternative to the beach on the few rainy days.

CMEE has a beautiful outdoor playground and a lovely outdoor mini-golf course too. CMEE is a big indoor and outdoor dream playground for children of all ages where they can use all their senses and skills and have fun. CMEE also offers a very impressive summer program with classes on LEGO, music, gardening to cooking and much more. Visit their website to see the full program. Don't miss their Family Fair Fundraiser Saturday, July 22 at CMEE from 10.30 am - 1.30pm. CMEE Family membership is $110. Admission $12 per child and adult. Open Sunday – Monday 9am-5pm. Closed Tuesdays www.cmee.org

6. Artsy Summer in the Hamptons

My sons love the Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner house in East Hampton and this summer famous children's book author Joyce Raimondo is offering Art Classes for kids at the iconic Pollock-Krasner house. A must for creative kids to explore this summer. Let the dripping begin! Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner House. Saturdays 10-11.30am. June 24, July1,8,15,22,29 and August 5,12,19,26 , September 2,9 and October 7. Register at www.imaginearted.com

 Jackson Pollock and

Jackson Pollock and

 Lee Krasner House

Lee Krasner House

Plus, three great shops for shopping with kids in the Hamptons:

SHAN: Beach wear for stylish moms and dads and sons – SHAN East Hampton, 3 N Main St, East Hampton

Relax: Beach wear for stylish moms and daughters – RELAX in Sag Harbor, 150 Main Street, Sag Harbor

Stella & Ruby: Cute toy and clothing store for babies and toddlers – Stella & Ruby in Sag Harbor, 144 Main Street, Sag Harbor

Best Toy Stores in the Hamptons:

The Wharf Shop: 69 Main Street, Sag Harbor

Steph´s Stuff: 62 The Circle, East Hampton

Stevenson´s Toys and Games: 69 Jobs Lane, South Hampton

This is just a glimpse of what is happening in the Hamptons in the summertime.

 Mia and JohnJohn and BoBo

Mia and JohnJohn and BoBo

 Mia and family

Mia and family

Mia Ljundberg Nevado is a true connoisseur when it comes to entertaining kids, especially in the Hamptons. Mia was born in Denmark, has lived in Sweden and Ecuador as well as jetted all over the world as a travel writer. Her work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveller, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, About.com and more. A few years ago, she settled down in the Hamptons with her husband Johnson and sons JohnJohn and BoBo. Mia loves to explore the area and knows the best inside tips for visiting the Hamptons. Follow her on Instagram @LittleValet where she will be posting all summer.

 JohnJohn & BoBo at Georgica Beach, East Hampton

JohnJohn & BoBo at Georgica Beach, East Hampton

It's Pancake Day!!

Happy Pancake Day!!  Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday -- whatever you want to call it, we don't have to be told twice to EAT PANCAKES!  Whether you have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner or all day long, here are some fun ways to celebrate:

Think outside the stack...  Not all pancakes are sweet and syrup-y.  Try a pancake of another kind from lots of different cultures, a crêpe or galette, a dosa, a bing, a cachapa, a Bánh xèo, injera, some blini!

Read up!  It's always fun to mark an occasion with a special book.  Here are some perfect ones for Pancake Day:

Pancake play --  Making pancakes, whether real or pretend is also lots of fun!

A Sweet, but not Saccharine, Valentine's Day

We love all things pink and sparkly, so we'll indulge that whimsical side of Valentine's Day for the children, but sometimes romance isn't all about sugar... Keep things spicy with some savory treats too, some of which can and should be enjoyed after the kiddos go to bed!

In Lieu of Flowers.... We'll take a sexy sushi dinner over a sugared heart any day!  So for those magical *moments* between their bedtime and your own, put on your most festive pjs and order in a special treat!

Order from our friends at Caviar, use our code SQUEAK and get $15 off your first order!  We found some of the sultriest dishes available for delivery -- shellfish, uni, duck, sushi, steak tartare...

Ok, so we said we don't have much of a sweet tooth, but sometimes special occasions call for a few exceptions... we'd be happy to share any of these with our sweetheart: Gruyere Cheese Caramels, Champagne Gummy Bears, make your own amaro-flavored treats, or the gift of a golden marshmallow.  If you're going the chocolate route, go all the way, with 100% cacao:

Lunar New Year for the Littles

We're all about celebrating different holidays and different cultures with our kids -- especially anytime that food is involved!  And this year, we're especially looking forward to welcoming the Year of the Rooster with the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations this weekend.  Check out some great ways to celebrate the season (and Chinese culture) with your little one: 

Read a book about traditional lunar new year celebrations (which always include food):

Or ring in the Year of the Rooster with some zodiac-appropriate items:

Celebrate Chinese culture year-round with a set of Chinese character blocks, or a series about a Brooklyn/Beijing BFF pair, or if you're sick of Baa Baa Black Sheep, mix it up with a mix of Chinese Children's songs:

P.S. If you are in NY and haven't had a chance to visit The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD Lab) yet, now is a great time to check it out!  The current exhibition, named "CHOW," celebrates the birth and evolution of Chinese American restaurants, tracing their nearly 170-year history and sparking conversation around immigration, cultural identity, and what it means to be American. Check out live demos of cooking techniques (and tastings!), a fortune cookie machine, and a fascinating collection of artifacts. This week, they are hosting TWO Chinese New Year Celebrations: one for the adults on Wed Jan 25, and then one for children of all ages featuring author/illustrator Kam Mak, on Saturday 28th!

Per Se Perfection

We're still floating on a magical cloud filled with food and wine and super-cute smiles after our recent Nibble and Squeak lunch at Thomas Keller's 3-Michelin-Starred Per Se... 

The official pics aren't in yet (stay tuned for portraits from talented and energetic Emily Burke), but some of you have been sharing your experience online and we couldn't resist giving the rest of our followers a sneak peek:

 photo by: Lucille Tung

photo by: Lucille Tung

 photo by: Per Se

photo by: Per Se

 photo by: Julie Chung

photo by: Julie Chung

 photo by: Julie Chung

photo by: Julie Chung

 photo by: Betty Kang

photo by: Betty Kang

There were some really special touches throughout: juice and water with colorful straws (alongside champagne!); an inspirational quote from Dr. Seuss; kitchen tours; our Ubbi-outfitted changing station in the elegant men's AND women's restrooms; snacks to take home from Plum Organics for the pipsqueaks; and Fawen drinkable soup for the adults; plus sweet treats from Call Me Caramel and from the Per Se team; and gorgeous views and freedom to roam in the elegant dining room!

Fun was had by all ages -- from infants to grandparents and everyone in between! 

Many thanks to the Per Se kitchen, their exemplary and enthusiastic staff, our NS team -- and the brands who made everything possible!