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!

Pizza, Baby, Pizza

So apparently last week was National Pizza Week in the US and we missed it! But not to worry, because, really, isn't every week pizza week??  Here are some ways to celebrate slice spirit everyday!

For the adults:  Now, we don't know any pizzaiolo who slices their pie into 7 (?) slices, but in case you and your six best friends need a way to show the world your love, the pizza friendship necklace has you covered!  // Or, decorate the most-used item in your daily life to show your pizza love --with a phone case to make you smile. // Sneak pizza into your wardrobe with a not-so-subtle pair of socks... 

For the little ones: Let the kiddos impress with their favorite food too!  We're not a fan of the photorealistic tees out there (too real!), but here are some cheery (not cheesy) pizza items for little feet, hands, bedroom walls and necks:  

As home decor: Give pizza the pride of place it deserves in your living room:  Isn't the coffee table more accurately the pizza table, anyway? Treat it that way with a glorious tome by aficionado Daniel Young// Get graphic with artwork that shows off pizza's best side //  Or go festive at any time of the year with a string of pizza lights!

Fun for Everyone: And a few more pizza-themed things for family play together!

NYE with Pipsqueaks-in-tow

New Year's Eve can be a tough one to celebrate with the littles, BUT it is possible!  Whether you're ready to strap an infant on for a night on the town or would prefer an early evening in your pajamas, there's a way to make a family-friendly midnight work -- even if it means cheating the countdown clock a little...  Besides, marking the successful survival of a calendar year together is certainly cause enough for a celebration!

Cheating the Clock

The best trick in the book: countdown doesn't HAVE to take place exactly at midnight.... in fact, it could take place at any time!!  An after-dinner appointed hour is fine for kiddos.  Netflix declared that "9PM is the New Midnight" and we couldn't agree more!

 Celebrating in Solidarity -- with Someplace Else!

This is one of our favorite ideas because unless you live in Samoa, somewhere in the world is turning over to the new year before you!  If you live in London, UK, why not celebrate with an Indian-flavored feast when Mumbai's midnight hits (around 6:30pm GMT!)  Or if you're in New York or elsewhere on the US east coast, try joining the European's with a Greek (5pm EST) or an Italian (6pm EST) or even a British-themed (7pm) repast!  Chicagoans, go Brazilian with Rio de Janeiro (at 8pm Central), and Californians, you have your pick, including Buenos Aires (at 7pm Pacific) or much of the Caribbean (8pm).  Take a cue from another culture this year!

Festive Foods

Another fun way to mark the moment is with the food itself!  Here are some easy ways to take part in a globally-minded way:

  • Spain and Portugal famously down 12 grapes -- one on each stroke of the midnight bell.
  • Turkey and Greece smash a pomegranate on the floor and count the scattered pieces for good luck.
  • In lots of places -- Italy, India, Brazil among others -- lentils or other legumes like black-eyed peas are considered good luck foods.
  • Long noodles symbolize longevity and make many new years appearances across Asia
  • Savor a Scandianvian-style new year's treat with pickled herring
  • Don't mis any excuse to include donuts as a festive dessert, their round shape is good luck too!

Fun for All!

Lastly, fireworks or not, make sure you've got something to set a sparkly scene...

-- and don't forget to take some special pics to remember the occasion!

Hit the town, TOGETHER!

If staying out until midnight doesn't suit, there are earlier options for all ages in lots of cities.  Check out some fun ideas:

 

Books: A Food-focused Reading List -- Part 1

Everyone loves food -- at least everyone we know! -- so here's a group of food-related books about food culture, lives, history, etc. (just not cook-books) that we're excited about this season.  Some are brand-new, some have become classics, but all of them are thoroughly satisfying reads.

(The links are all affiliate links to Amazon -- so you can choose your fave edition or just download to Kindle.)

We love a good sweeping culinary history:

And our chef-worshiping side can't resist a gripping memoir:

Or maybe a novel with a nod to the culinary world:

Try something quirky for the coffee table:

For short-on-alone-time new parents, an anthology can be a great way to fit a read into brief quiet moments:

We already selected some books for the kids in our Holiday Gift Guide, but here are a few more, for all those nieces and nephews and cousins on your list:

Gift-worthy Charities We Love

This holiday season, consider donating to a cause that's meaningful to you.  Here are some worthy food-related options.

Feeding those in need: Here are some amazing organizations that address hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity, either nationally or globally -- (from left to right: Action Against Hunger, No Kid Hungry, Feed America, Feed the Children, and the UN's World Food Program)

If you like to see exactly what your money buys for those in need, there are some much-needed items you can donate through these charities -- (from L to R: a goat from Heifer International, a cooking stove from Oxfam, a beehive from Send a Cow, a fishing kit from World Vision)

Support great causes when seasonal gift-giving -- with some edible gifts that give back too: (from L to R: Hot Bread Kitchen, Olivera, FEED + Mouth, One Hope Wines, Jcoco Chocolates, The Bee Cause Project)

And lend your support -- or just check out! -- these food-related education and cultural institutions: (Slow Food, Farm Aid, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, James Beard Foundation, MOFAD)

Nibble+squeak's Holiday Gift Guide 2016

We would prefer to spend our holiday prep time eating rather than shopping, But still... it's fun to look. We thought we would share the items we're *drooling* over right now! some links below are affiliate links.  And coming up next, our list of worthy charities to donate to this season...

Even the littlest babies can get a grown-up food fix -- a pretzel teether, ABC food onesies, donut slippers, or a pair of "appealing" toothbrushes:

If you've been to one of our events, you've probably seen the phil&teds' Lobster in action (full disclosure: they provided a lot of highchairs)  Use our exclusive discount code "NIBBLE+SQUEAK" for 20% off your purchase!

SAM_7276.jpg
phil-teds-lobster-portable-high-chair-with-tray-in-red-1200_product_large.jpg

For the fashion-forward foodie -- a pizza purse, vegetable tattoos (I'm partial to the corn, toddler wants broccoli), some spiffy socks, and a statement tee:

We are big readers, so naturally we gravitate toward children's books that pique our other interests too:

And some random cheer-me-up food-related fun -- pickles that make everything better, an ice-cream truck toy, re-useable stickers, and a special treat for your Saturday morning:

But the item that is saving our life this season is the Echo Dot -- from reordering toothpaste and diapers, to turning off lights while there is a toddler on our lap, the Dot allows us that hand-free access to the internet that we wished for when we were nursing/napping our infant.  It (she?) can read books aloud, play music, even tell jokes or set reminders about what we put in the freezer and when. Techie and futuristic, but cheap ($39.99) and user-friendly enough to use every day, constantly. Thanks, Alexa.

Wishing everyone a warm and happy, content and full holiday season from Nibble+squeak.

"New" Nordic Cuisine, Toddler Style

In honor of all those end-of-year accolades going to Agern, here's a guest post from one of the dads who attended our NYC Nibble+squeak lunch with his daughter!

Oranges are not what you typically expect out of New Nordic cuisine, but that’s what my 20-month old daughter wanted. So while I dined on an exquisite three-course seasonal meal that Nibble+Squeak recently hosted at Agern, Baby S munched on orange wedges. But even she couldn’t resist the grated leek, celeriac and apple topping on my skate wing when it was served.

She kindly alternated between munching on the medley herself and sticking grated slivers in my mouth. Sitting with a friendly group of other parents and their young children at the table, nobody minded the fine dining faux pas.

Shortly after we first arrived, while we were getting to know our fellow diners next to us, the servers brought the toddlers each a small bowl of fresh Icelandic Skyr with big, beautiful blackberries and blueberries on top. This was a perfect start! Yogurt and blackberries are S’s favorite. But as she is wont to do, she was having none of it. The other kids tucked right in (and I caught a parent or two sneaking a bite), but S refused. Rest assured, I ate every bite so nothing went to waste.

But before our next course, we went for a little stroll to the bar. And that’s when she spied them, between the lemons and limes: oranges! She shouted and asked for one. The bartender needed some help in translation, but he kindly sliced a small wedge of orange and handed it to S on a small black napkin.

S smiled ear to ear and bit right in. Eyeing the one little slice, I was just counting down until she…”MORE!”  We kindly asked the bartender for a bit more oranges and this time he happily sliced up half an orange and put it on a plate that we took back to our table.

My bitter salad with blackberry, almonds and havgus had arrived. So while I enjoyed a taste of Nordic cuisine at its finest, S munched on oranges. Everyone was happy.

There may have been a couple more trips to the bar to refill our plate of oranges, but the bartender was happy to oblige.  Once the skate arrived, S was clearly starting to feel the menu.  Maybe it was her attempt at drawing a fish using the crayons provided on the table that inspired her. She didn’t eat much of the fish in the end, but she did enjoy the leek, celeriac and apple mélange.

When the chocolate cake arrived, it was a battle to eat fast enough before S devoured it. She was slowed down picking off the sour cherries and trying to throw them across the table. With my superior coordination to a toddler, I could eat with one hand and play cherry defense with the other.

It was a terrific meal with lovely company. Clearly S isn’t bothered ordering off-menu, and thankfully neither was the bartender at Agern.

Brunch, with Baby: 9 Steps to Surviving Your New Weekend Tradition

When I moved back to New York with my new baby, brunch was one of the many American things I was really looking forward to: a lazy meal, Bloody Marys, friends around the table…brunch is the epitome of “weekend.”

In my mind, the sun was always shining, the food was piled high, and everyone was smiling. But brunch is also notorious for fussy customers, (occasionally) grumpy servers, and (sometimes) disappointing food. Plus, now, with new baby-in-tow, almost everything takes a little extra adjustment.

But that small adjustment is worth it! Please don’t shy away from things that you loved pre-children, thinking that it won’t work. It can! It will! And parents need brunch more than ever. It’s probably not a hangover that you are nursing, but a living child — and that exhaustion isn’t from one late night out partying, but weeks or months of sleep deprivation. Your weekend life probably revolves around baby, and you need to treat yourself too!

What follows is a mother’s guide to enjoying brunch again, with infant- or toddler-in-tow. Every article I’ve ever seen on dining out with children is a list of etiquette rules, or cautions, or preparedness advice. This is none of those. I know you are doing your best. I always find that I’ve forgotten the toy or bib or snack at home, so this is what to do under my typical frazzled parent conditions. This is a step-by-step survival guide.

  1. Go Early. Simply because no one likes to line up and wait for brunch! It’s worth noting that for those of us with small children, Brunch is really just Lunch. We’ve been awake since dawn, ate some form of breakfast at home, changed, dressed, and played with baby, gone up and down the slide in the playground a million times, had a mid-morning snack, and then ran circles around the block three times before the restaurant even opened its doors at 10am. So this part should be easy.
  2. Be Friendly. To everyone. Your host, your server, and especially your fellow diners. Yes, as all the etiquette mavens will tell you, part of any restaurant experience is a social contract with those around you. I know that you know this already. The most stressful part of eating out can be worrying about disturbing others. So smile at your neighbors when you are seated. Say hello if it seems right. It’s the genial thing to do, and it’s also a way to open the dialogue in a positive way, so that if disturbance strikes — a scream, a spill, an errant pea — you can apologize, and they will be more likely to shrug it off and smile than to give you “a look” or complain.
  3. Order. Just do it. Don’t deliberate too long — it’s busy at brunch! — just choose the item that jumped out at you and sounds good right now. If your server is ready, get your order in to the kitchen. And be straightforward. Order from the menu. For everyone. Pro tip: sides often work well as baby meals!
  4. Entertain. This is where lots of experts tell you to bring a toy,  or snack. They are probably right, but I’ll never know! Still, there is a lot to do during the wait time at table. It sounds obvious, but try having a normal animated conversation (like you used to do at brunch!), but this time including little one. If that fails, a game of napkin peek-a-boo makes for happy tableside giggles. Sometimes, a quick peek outside for fresh air helps.
  5. Eat. Enjoy! Feed yourself first, but share some with your little one too if you can. When your baby is old enough  to explore the taste, texture, color or smell of the food on your plate, it’s exciting to expose them to lots of new things.
  6. Feed. Depending on the age of your child, you will probably need to facilitate feeding in some way: by fork, spoon, bottle, or breast. Like many mamas, I cringe at the thought of starting a scene, but nursing in public is easier now. It helps to have a friend or partner as a physical buffer, so that you aren’t rubbing elbows or shoulders with a stranger, but do what makes YOU most comfortable.
  7. Clean-up. I do grab a napkin and clean up the floor after restaurant meals. I figure we make a bigger mess than most guests, and I’d rather help a little than not at all.
  8. Tip. Graciousness does go a long way, but a tip goes farther. You want to return next weekend, don’t you?
  9. Relax. Really. Take a deep breath. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Next time you’ll be even more calm and confident!

Melissa is the founder of Nibble+squeak.  Originally written for Well Rounded.