Smorgasburg is our absolute fave food market every year — not just because the 100 or so vendors are local and absolutely delish, but also because it’s literally in our backyards. A quick stroll and we are able to grab a tasty lunch or snack on the Brooklyn waterfront — not a bad view either.
This year, the location has changed (it’s now located at Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park), but the vibe and food remains the same. We stopped by on opening day to pick up our favorite Dough doughnuts, and also a corn on a stick — which Missy E absolutely loved, by the way.
Plan to get there when it opens or in the late afternoon for less queuing. If you arrive at peak lunch time you’ll spend most of your day in a line for that Buttermilk Channel fried chicken. At least there are plenty of playgrounds nearby to let the kids run around while you’re lining up!
Children and ice cream . . . it’s a sure fire way to bribe, I mean, occasionally treat your kids as well as yourself. One of my absolutely favorite dessert spots in the city is Popbar in the West Village. Their iconic dessert is a custom gelato (or sorbet) on a stick, made from fresh ingredients in the store, daily. You choose your flavor (lots of fruity options like peach and mixed berry, vegan options, plus seasonal flavors like pumpkin and kiwi), then either eat it just like that, or have it dipped in mint, milk, dark or white chocolate, and covered with “poppings” like crushed waffle (my personal favorite), or nuts. It. Is. Heaven. My husband has been known to eat two at a time.
During the cooler months, Popbar serves some warmer options, like their wafflePops and hot chocolate-on-a-stick. The wafflePops are customised waffles on sticks, a nice twist on regular waffles. Pick your filling (blueberry, chocolate chip or plain, $3.49), dip it ($.50), add poppings ($.50 each), and whipped cream ($.50 each). We had a chocolate chip filling with milk chocolate, icing sugar, crushed waffles and whipped cream on top. Holy moly.
The other cooler-weather option we tried was the hot chocolate, made with chocolate on a stick. The high-quality Belgian chocolate blocks on sticks can be bought to make at home, or mixed in the store with warm milk. And yes, if you’re temped, you can eat it right off the stick, no milk needed. Simply dip the chocolate block in warm milk and stir it in — and voila, amazing hot chocolate.
On a very rainy day, Alexis and I were invited to come into Popbar with the kids and sample some of their tasty goods. As always, bringing the kids anywhere is absolute chaos these days — but watching the little ones go to town on their wafflePops and gelatos on sticks was entertaining (not to mention messy!). It was so cute to see them sitting on stools and eating at a table like big people. Little J enjoyed half of a pistachio pop and a dark-chocolate-dipped pumpkin-flavored pop. There was a minor debacle over sharing the pumpkin one, so I am declaring that the day’s winner in terms of flavors.
Franny’s is a firm neighbourhood favorite for families. As well as serving up a great pizza pie, Franny’s is committed to sustainable agriculture. They buy locally grown foods and serve seasonal produce. The vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, and fish are largely sourced from local and/or organic producers; all the meats at Franny’s are from sustainable sources, containing no hormones or antibiotics. It’s a place you can go to and feel really good about what you are eating there.
While this is all well and good, the question remains . . . Are their pizzas any good?? We dropped in recently with some hungry friends and proceeded to test out a significant section of their pizza menu, in search of the perfect slice.
Franny’s is a goodly size, with plenty of seating and space. We arrived at peak lunch hour with a party of four adults and two wiggly toddlers and were quickly seated at our table. Missy E was in a particularly squirmy mood since we hadn’t had time to stop at a playground beforehand to wear her out (not the smartest move we’ve ever made, but thank God we had the iPhones). Franny’s was our destination of choice because I was really feeling pizza that day, and our friends were big Franny’s fans. They also have a lot of tables so you’ve always got a pretty good chance of being seated straight away with no wait, even with a party the size of ours (Franny’s only tasks reservations for parties of 8 – 12).
Our umbrella strollers were stored in their stroller and scooter parking space (note — bring a folding stroller only as there is no room for the jumbo ones inside).
The service was adequate but nothing special. Not particularly fast, even though we had two toddlers with us who really did not want to be sitting down for long. We ordered four pies (it seems like a lot, but hey, don’t forget that pizza is a toddler crowd-favorite!). Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Sausage ($17); Tomato, Basil and Buffalo Mozzarella ($16); Wax Peppers, Onions, Olives, Oregano and Provolone Piccante ($17); and Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Meatballs ($17).
The pizzas come as one giant pie, requiring you to cut it up with cutlery yourself. The pies are pretty big — larger than personal, but not as big as family. If you’re particularly hungry and are sharing with a pizza-loving toddler, you and any other adults you dine with may want to order as we did (ahem, one each). The base is soft and pliable, with a crisp bottom (no soggy pizza!) and the high-grade toppings deliciously melt together. I’d prefer the toppings to be closer to the edge of the pizza since I prefer a higher topping-to-crust ratio. The pizza tasted as a great pizza should — mouthfuls of slightly sweet tomato sauce and stringy mozzarella.
Missy E ADORES pizza and was in absolute heaven. With the DIY pizza-slicing, we could cut her pieces into the perfect size for little toddler hands. Luckily I’d remembered her disposable bib, which was absolutely integral to saving the adorable outfit I’d dressed her in that morning. E eats pizza with gusto, shall we say. And in large quantities. Two adult size slices vanished into her tummy like she was a Toddler Pizza Houdini that day. Amazingly she sat still while she was eating — it was literally the only time she sat still for an entire meal. The rest of her time at Franny’s was spent running up and down the bench Alec and I were seated on. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it before — but so far E is a vegetarian like me, so the only pizza she was sampling was mine.
Little E’s friend who was dining with us and her parents is a few months younger. Not quite so active, she’s usually happier to sit rather than stand/run/drive the servers wild like Cheese does. It was the cutest thing to watch the two little pizza fans gorging themselves, and knowing that at least it was a relatively healthy meal (for a pizza, I mean!). Pizza is often my fall-back for Cheese because I know she’s guaranteed to eat it. At Franny’s, at least I don’t feel so lazy for our meal choice, because of the super healthy ingredients.
Last bite: Great pizza that will cost you a pretty penny but that you can feel really good about. Enjoy easting local, seasonal and organic produce, and give your kids some big chunks of pizza to gnaw on (and enjoy slicing it up yourself).
We are always searching for a new great coffee place that will deliver my flat white-obsessed husband with a consistent cup of decent coffee. His most recent obsession is Konditori, a Swedish cafe that aspires to combine the hominess of Swedish Coffee Culture with the edginess of Brooklyn. I’ve never been to Sweden, so I can’t comment on how accurately the cafe represents the “Swedish coffee hominess”, but what I do know is my husband has been stopping by this cafe twice a week on his way to deliver Cheese to pre school since it opened, and gets REALLY mad if Cheese isn’t ready for school in time for him to get his regular cup of jo.
Since I’m not a coffee drinker he promised me a good hot chocolate and selection of fine baked goods, which was enough for me to accompany him and Cheese on their regular coffee ritual one morning.
As well as a seriously good cup of coffee (the husband obviously has stamped it so) you can pick up a hand rolled kettle boiled bagel, gourmet muffins and Swedish treats like Cardamom Bread (coffee bread with almond filling), Kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls) and Coco Balls.
The cafe also has a fresh juice bar, which has a little IKEA train set running around the tip jar — a magnet for toddlers and adults waiting for their juices alike. Cheese was obsessed with the trains, and we were both very happy when told it was fine for her to take the train back to the table play with (bless you!).
In the back of the store is a huge foosball table (another prime toddler distractor) and plenty of room if you need to park your giant stroller.
I ordered a hot chocolate ($2.25) and one of the gourmet muffins ($2.50). I thought it was blueberry banana, but I could only find blueberries, so who knows, maybe I read the sign wrong. Either way, it was a good, solid muffin, and the hot chocolate was delicious.
I had to act quickly to snap Alec’s latte ($3.50) and croissant ($2.50) before they disappeared. Part of his weekly ritual with Cheese is for them to enjoy croissants together.
The Konditori staff were very happy to make a special “toddler” hot chocolate for Cheese. Basically this means I ask them to dilute the hot chocolate heavily with whole milk, and put it in a straw cup for her to drink. This both takes away from it being too chocolately for a toddler, and also brings it down to the perfect temperature for toddlers straight away, so we can skip the “you have to wait, it’s too hot!” talk.
Last Bite: Great coffee, friendly staff, and plenty of room and distractions for toddlers. Stop by to find us hibernating at Konditori all winter long.
The Brunch With My Baby team are huge fans of Appaman, a Brooklyn clothing brand known for their stylish kids’ clothes. Lynn Husum owns the brand, along with her husband Harald. She filled us in on what it’s like running a family business and raising kids (Kaya, 9, and Elie, 7) in NYC.
We hear that Appaman was named after Harald’s childhood stuffed monkey. Is he still kicking around?
Yes Appaman (the original) is still around. He is a little floppy but he is in the office on a shelf for inspiration.
Appaman is a husband and wife team — how has it been working together AND raising two girls?
We truly love to work together. We are great at the division of labor thing. I won’t lie, there are good days and bad days, but the good far outweighs the bad. We each have tasks at work and home and we don’t micromanage each other. I think trust and a sense of humor are imperative when you have a working marriage like ours. The highs are being able to be in each others lives on a consistent and regular basis, to celebrate the triumphs and laugh at the daily absurdities. The lows are that we have most of the same problems so when something goes wrong we are both stressing about it. Rather than just one party having a work issue, we both have it.
Starting your own business is a brave endeavor — what were Appaman’s humble beginnings?
We started in our 659 square foot apartment in Brooklyn. We dyed clothing in our washing machine and went door-to-door selling our wares. Harald took some screen-printing classes and was printing on our kitchen table. I took a night course on marketing to the children’s wear industry on a shoestring. I was a star pupil, did everything I was told and it worked.
Were there any big setbacks or disasters along the way?
Knock wood, we have not had too many disasters. The biggest one I can recall is the season very early on that we shipped pants that could not fit any human child. They were very long and incredibly thin. We had to recall them but at the time we only had a few dozen accounts so although it seemed like a big deal at the time it was pretty minor.
What was the biggest “We’ve made it!” moment with Appaman so far?
One of our T-shirts was photographed on Maddox Jolie-Pitt on the day Angelina announced her pregnancy with Brad Pitt’s baby. It was like the photo that went around the world. It was a perfect shot of our t-shirt and our phones were ringing off the hook. It was an exciting moment and a great example of the power of celebrity in the day and age.
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
We live in NYC so inspiration is everywhere you look. Walking down the street can fuel creativity any day of the week.
What do your kids think of your designs? Do they wear them?
We have two girls and they are fans of Appaman but are very picky. They like to choose the styles they are into at the current moment and are very vocal about their opinions. They are both pretty proud of Appaman but do not wear it exclusively.
You’re based in Brooklyn! What are your favorite places in the ‘hood to take your family?
I love Brooklyn and my family has extreme Brooklyn pride. We are big fans of Coney Island for the boardwalk, Nathan’s and the Cyclones. We spend a lot of time at Fort Tilden beach in the summer. We hit Bay Ridge regularly for eating. We love Tanoreen for Middle Eastern food. Grand Sichuan House for Chinese. My kids’ favorite is Vietnamese food. They are obsessed with Pork Pho. We always go to Gia Lam in Sunset Park. We spend a lot of time at Brooklyn Bridge Park and weekends on Governor’s Island. Brooklyn is an amazing place to raise a family. I like to refer to it as small town living in an urban setting. My kids know all of the merchants in town and we shop at small bodegas for fruits, veggies, fish and meat. It’s friendly and family oriented.
The kind folks at Appaman are giving one lucky Brunch My Baby reader the chance to win an outfit from their fall/winter collection. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
Entry open to US mailing addresses only. Giveaway opens Wed February 19, 2014 to 11:59pm 25 February EST. By entering this competition you are agreeing to sign up to the Brunch With My Baby mailing list.
New York winters are brutal. Icy winds, sleet and snow, and long, gloomy days. What you need to survive the long cold days is warm things, lots and lots of them, for you and your baby. We are particularly enamoured with the new stroller bunting from 7 A.M. Enfant — the Blanket 212 Chevron. You might be freezing as you’re trudging through grey sludge, but at least your kid will be so warm and snug that you’ll want to climb in there with them.
If you haven’t heard of the 7 A.M. Enfant brand before, they are known for their innovative, high-quality line of baby and children’s products, particularly those suited to the cold. Designed by French designer Rebecca Campora, the brand is colorful, playful and stylish, using the kinds of luxurious fabrics that you wish your own bags and clothes were made out of.
Their latest version of the popular 212 stroller bunting is called the Chevron. As well as being the most attractive and eye-catching bunting we’ve ever seen (CHEVRON!), it fits any stroller, so you can easily use it on your SUV-sized or umbrella stroller equally well. The new Chevron pattern comes in six color combinations, from bright pinks, greens and reds, to subtler blues and the black and tan one pictured.
The exterior is a water-repellent shell, designed to withstand rain and snow, with ultra-soft premium fiber insulation (read: super, super, super warm). The interior is anti-pilling micro-fleece that is not only warm enough for extreme New York winters, but also comes out of the washing machine looking like new. They’re not lying about the anti-piling — that feature alone makes this bunting worth its cost.
Other features you’ll love:
2 length extensions so it grows with your child
Ergonomic hood with safe buttoned elastic adjuster
5-point harness openings for securing into any stroller and car seat
Side strap attachments to secure the footmuff
Anti-slip back panel
Large front pocket
As mother to one very squirmy child, what I also love about this bunting is the strong zip up the middle. It means that tricksy toddlers like mine can’t kick it off – they must submit to being warm.
Bottom line is, this is an investment piece. A gorgeous-looking bunting made from high-quality materials, that’s made to last. Not kidding — you will pass this bunting down from kid to kid to kid, and it will still look fantastic when toddler number three is using it.
Brunch With My Baby was provided with a sample for reviewing purposes. All opinions are our own.
On a cold winter’s day, we made a trek on the G train to Williamsburg to visit friends and try out Cafe Colette. With a lot of restaurants cramped with elbow-tight tables, it can be hard to find kid-friendly restaurants in the ‘Burg. This little gem was a lucky find for this hungry family.
Serving New American cuisine, Cafe Colette serves up primarily locally-sourced in a menu that is influenced by flavors and techniques from Spain, Italy, Central America, and beyond.
The vintage feel, with the tin roof and cosy booths, conjours up a scene from a movie. Luckily for us, we arrive just when the cafe opens, and are shown to the corner booth, where there is plenty of room to park our stroller (and toddler).
The staff are welcoming and friendly to our crazy two-year-old. Missy E chose that morning to wake up pre-dawn, and so, by brunch-time, was a hot mess. While we felt stressed out by her antics, the staff showed no signs of dismay or judgement (thank you!!) and could not have been nicer, even when she tipped over a large glass of water all over the floor, requiring mopping.
We visited on a Monday and were served the lunch menu. I chose the Soup and Sandwich (tomato soup and grilled cheddar cheese on sourdough, $11) and the Hand Cut French Fries, $6, hoping missy E would eat some, and the rest of our party selected Breakfast Sandwich (fried farm eggs, cheddar cheese, smoked paprika aioli, lettuce, choice of bacon or sausage, $10), Garlic Herb French Fries (red chili oil, cracked black pepper, $8), Grilled Flatbread (caramelized onions, arugula, pecorino romano, garlic chili oil, $11) and the Grilled Fish Tacos (cilantro, red cabbage, pickled onions, chipotle mayonnaise, $12).
Miss E did indeed enjoy my lunch choice — after she ate all the fries, she progressed to demanding my soup to feed to herself (not a good idea, let it be noted). She’s a fussy eater, so it was actually great to see her wanting to try something like tomato soup, even if it had messy results. She wouldn’t try my grilled cheese, but I enjoyed it immensly. I adore sourdough, and this was good sourdough (not the fake kind with vinegar), with the right amount of cheese (not too little so it’s dry, but not too much to make it artery-clogging).
Missy E was a manaic and I spent most of the time trying to stop the tomato soup flying through the air. Alec and our friends enjoyed their meals, although the flatbread and garlic herb fries were deemed a bit too hot (both contained chili oil).
Last Bite: A bustling brunch or lunch joint, perfect for a casual lunch with friends AND a crazy baby or toddler.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a picky eater. I’ve gotten a lot better as I’ve gotten older and have forced myself to keep trying new foods, but the fact remains that I am indeed annoyingly picky. So nothing makes me happier than to be able to choose every ingredient in my food (A.K.A. control freak syndrome).
Back in Sydney, I used to frequent The Counter, a choose-your-own-burger-adventure restaurant on Sydney’s North Shore. Delighted is an understatement to describe how I felt when I discovered The Counter also had a home in Times Square. I usually avoid Times Square like the G train, but I often end up in the area, starving after seeing a show, and The Counter is my go-to to escape the Times Square crazy and indulge my food OCD with a really fine burger.
We ended up back at The Counter after taking Cheese to see a dance/theatre show for kids called Ballerina Swan that was playing in a theatre nearby. After an hour of watching some very athletic people on stage, we were all famished.
When you sit down at The Counter, you’re handed a massive menu. The top portion is for you to fill out with your burger requirements. Burgers start from $10.95. Choose your size and type of meat, bun type and toppings. Not eating carbs? Select the burger in a bowl, with salad instead. The Counter caters to lots of dietary restrictions, with gluten-free burger buns and a vegan veggie patty. The menu also serves as something for toddlers to scribble all over while you’re waiting for your meal.
The Counter makes amazing shakes. We always order one to share — this time it was Butterscotch with Malt ($6.50). There is no kids’ menu, so Cheese makes do with shake, fries and bites of our burgers.
I always order the same burger — I have it perfected finally, after multiple visits. I get the 1/3lb vegan veggie patty on a whole wheat bun, with baby spinach, tomato, carrot, pineapple and Tillamook cheddar cheese.
Alec had the 1/3 lb beef burger (100% natural angus beef, hormone and antibiotic-free), on a ciabatta bun, with baby spinach, tomato, avocado, and Tillamook cheddar cheese.
It’s important to order fries at The Counter. We always get the Fifty-Fifty ($6) with half regular fries and half sweet potato fries. They are just so good. Trust me.
The atmosphere at The Counter is great for kids. Upbeat music playing, friendly staff and lots of chatting means you don’t have to stress over how your kid is behaving. It’s a low-key, great meal option in an area of NYC that’s devoid of really great places to eat.
Looking for somewhere nearby to play? If it’s cold, let the kids roam around the Disney or Toys R Us stores — endless (warm!) fun.
Last Bite: Build your own burger at this kid-friendly restaurant in Times Square. The Counter delivers on great food and a no-stress attitude.
If your little one is at the age where she is curious about where mommy or daddy goes all day when they head off to this mysterious place called “work”, then this new children’s book by NYC author (and mom!) Marissa Klein are for you.
After struggling to find career-related books suitable to teach her own 2.5-year-old about careers, Klein decided to write her own story, The Dream Big Academy: Rosie Wants to be a Fireman. With whimsical illustrations by the talented Brooke Hagel, Rosie Wants to be a Fireman is the first in a series of books that are based on that question that stumps us even now: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Each night when Rosie goes off to sleep, a whole new world opens up for her. In this dreamworld, Rosie can be anything she wants to be. In Rosie Wants to be a Fireman, she helps rescue a cat from a tree and decides that when she grows up, she’ll be a fireman. Tomorrow, however, who knows what Rosie will want to be — you’ll have to follow the series to find out! With gorgeous, fashion-inspired illustrations and sweet rhyming language, little girls will adore following Rosie on her adventures — and hopefully be inspired to find some new big dreams for themselves.
The stories are intended for 4-7 year olds, but 2-3 year olds can enjoy a good read with an older sibling. While this is a children’s book, the message rings true for adults as well – it gives parents an opportunity to explain to their children why they have to go to work every day and how important it is to chase your dreams.
The Dream Big Academy: Rosie Wants to be a Fireman (Rissylyn; June 2013; $12.99, paperback; $19.95, hardcover; $4.95, Kindle) is now available for purchase via Amazon and Create Space. Visit http://www.thedreambigacademy.com to learn more or to buy your copy today.
We’re huge Daniel Tiger fans in this household (I MAY be guilty of using Daniel Tiger’s songs in our day-to-day lives (“Problem solved!”). So it was a very exciting day for one little toddler when the Daniel Tiger 3-in-1 Convertable Treehouse arrived. Miss E is really into pretend play and dollhouses right now, so this toy is right up her alley.
The treehouse arrives set up as above, with three figures — Daniel Tiger, O the Owl and Katerina Kittycat. Designed to encourage imaginative play, the familiar figures can play with their environment in numerous ways, (The slide! The swing! The stairs!). A rocket in the center of the tree goes up and down between levels, and Katerina Kittycat spins in her bedroom while music plays. Super cute. The pieces all detach and can be aranged however the child decides.
With a few changes, the tree house is transformed into a space station (here’s where the rocket elevator is most fun).
The third playspace is on the other side of the toy — the front yard. A section of the treehouse flips down for Daniel’s telescope.
What I like best about this toy is how interactive it is. There are so many ways children can engage with the treehouse and the characters within it. At $39.95 it’s not cheap, but for big fans of the show, it will entertain for hours (or at least the length of a Daniel Tiger episode), making it money well spent.
The treehouse is also solidly gender neutral. Boys will enjoy this toy just as much as girls. You can pick up your own Daniel Tiger 3-in-1 Convertable Treehouse from stores like Toys R Us.
The kind folks at Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood are giving one lucky Brunch With My Baby reader the chance to win their own Daniel Tiger 3-in-1 Convertable Treehouse. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
Giveaway is open Wednesday January 22 to 11:59pm Tuesday 28, 2014 EST.