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Great Kids' Classes for Fall: Kidz Central Station

As New Yorkers, we pride ourselves on certain qualities: we’re cosmopolitan, confident, and open.  We love our city because of the unique opportunities it provides us to experience the best in education, culture, art, and science.  Of course, as parents we would like to share these values and opportunities with our children, too.  But the curse of having so much available to us is that the choices can be overwhelming. We at Kidz Central Station can help!

Below are our picks for some of the best New York City-centric classes for the Fall.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and
Art Adventures and Story Art-Ventures
Does your child lean towards the Pollock school of art (i.e. great when it lands on paper. Not so much on your couch)?  If so, encourage your little artist by enrolling her in a creative adventure. Claire’s Creative Adventures, based on the Upper East Side, boasts a variety of offerings for students ages 2 to twelve. Art Adventures and Mini-Art Adventures introduces children to modern and contemporary artists and gives them the supplies to try their hands at creating their own masterpieces. Field trips to city galleries draw on the wealth of art displayed around New York.  Does talent run in the family?  Try the  Parent/Child Workshop together. To give your child some artistic inspiration, sign her up for Story Art-Ventures at Let’s Gogh Art NYC where students from ages 2 to 4 are read a popular children’s story in every session, followed by the completion of a unique art project related to the story. The class also incorporates age-appropriate math, science, writing, geography and history concepts. Depending on the theme, students might also sing, dance and play games.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and
Little Scientists and Magical Math
Many of the best minds in the country are based at New York’s myriad institutions of higher learning.  If your child is a budding brainiac, check out these intellectual outings: Little Scientists, offered in lower Manhattan by Little Peep Prep for kids from 16 months to 3 years old and by the 14th Street Y in the East Village for ages 3 to 5, provides a venue for mini-Einsteins to conduct hands-on experiments and to discover the natural world.  If your son or daughter has more of a mathematical bent, Little Peep Prep’s Magical Math for students from 20 months to 4 years old provides children the opportunity to count, sort, match and explore a variety of materials, allowing them to naturally understand the relationship between everyday life and math.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and
Animal Care
Healthy, local food is a New York obsession.  We sign up for farm shares and patronize farmer’s markets, but your city kid may wonder what, exactly, a farm is.  Nurture your child’s curiosity and/or love of animals by signing her up for the Animal Care class at the Art Farm in the City, an indoor organic farm on the Upper East Side.  Students from ages 4 to 7 participate in a variety of stories, games, and other activities.  Every session  includes actively caring for the animals in the farm’s indoor petting zoo, up-close  encounters and time to record observations. Before it’s time to go, students can read an animal-themed book or just relax with a favorite creature on the farm.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and

¡HOLA! A Playgroup in Spanish
There are hundreds of languages spoken around New York City.  It’s never too early to begin teaching your child a second language; in fact, as we’ve previously discussed on Kidz Buzz, young children’s brains are primed to learn new languages.  The ¡Hola! program hosts Spanish-language playgroups and after-school programs for aspiring polyglots from ages 18 months to 8 years in multiple locations throughout Manhattan and Queens. The program focuses on a wide repertory of concepts to build vocabulary and to help children acquire the correct use of phonetics from a native speaker while also enhancing children’s cognitive abilities, fine/gross motor skills, and social and artistic capabilities.

Best #Kids' Classes for Fall, thanks to Kidz Central Station and
PopFit and JumpLife KIDS
New Yorkers are some of the most physically fit people in the country, but students sit in classrooms for most of the day during the school year; and, with the decreasing prevalence of physical education classes in schools, it’s more important than ever to help your child stay active throughout the year. PopFit Kidssignature class (and their junior class), develops “The Fab Five” (Cardio, Balance, Flexibility, Strength and Endurance), in students ages 3 to 8; through energizing circuits, dynamic drills, exciting games, yoga, and more. JumpLife‘s appropriately-named kids’ class in Tribeca caters to older students, ages 8 to thirteen.  The unique 45-minute trampoline workout distinguishes itself from other classes by its atmosphere of non-competition, where students can express themselves and avoid the pressure of organized sports.

The suggestions above only scratch the surface of the wide range of fun, educational, and enriching classes listed at Kidz Central Station.  KCS does the work of finding and researching kids’ classes for you.  Visit our website, where you can sort offerings by activity type, age, price, schedule, and location and peruse the in-depth descriptions and reviews to identify the perfect class for your child.

Lauren Pohl, Kidz Central StationLauren Pohl is the founder of Kidz Central Station, a website where parents can search for and book fun classes and activities for their kids. Lauren lives with her husband and two kids, her four-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son, in Manhattan.

Freemans: Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, New York

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

On an unexpectedly rainy day, I did something I NEVER do — I let my friends (without kids) choose a restaurant for brunch. My only prerequisite was that they have vegetarian options and that it was below Union Square so I didn’t have to travel much. Their selection was Freemans, a restaurant they discovered not long after they moved into the Lower East Side a few years back, and that they love so much that it has become their go-to place for a reliable, delicious (and somewhat hipster) brunch.

Sign number one that the restaurant you’re going to is probably hipper than you are — it’s hidden at the back of an alley, and the only sign of it is a chalkboard at the end of the alley way to guide you.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

Down the alley way … would we really find brunch??

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

As promised, a super-stealthy (and adorable) entry awaited us — with the air of a secret club that you have to be invited into (wait — am I cool enough for this??? I HAVE A TODDLER).

Our friends made the reservation for our party of six adults and one cheesy toddler. I was travelling solo while I waited for Alec to arrive with Cheese after her nap, so my friends and I sat at the bar watching the bearded bartender in flannelette light drinks on fire (they don’t seat you until your entire party has arrived).

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

This was one of those restaurants that I walked into and immediately thought that it was NOT going to be the best choice for our family. I was happy to be mistaken. The creepy taxidermy on the walls actually entertained Cheese (“DUCK!!” “QUACK QUACK!”). Thankfully even LES hipsters are entertained by a cute, well-behaved toddler.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

You could call the space “cozy”. There’s enough room to move and there are plenty of tables, but the layout is twisty and turny — little rooms lead into more little rooms with multiple bars. There’s an air of it being an exclusive party.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

When Alec and Cheese arrived, we were sat immediately at our table, with a high chair. Menus and water arrived quickly, and after we ordered, the food was also fast to arrive. LOVE when that happens. Let’s move it along so we can GET THE TODDLER OUTTA HERE.

We ordered a few dishes, including the Poached Eggs with Roasted Tomato (with cheddar cheese grits & buttered toast, $12). The eggs were cooked to perfection, delicious tomato and toast, but not a huge fan of grits in general … must be because we’re Australian? I had to ask what grits were.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

I ordered the Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes (with whipped cream, $12). The pancakes were a delicious surprise — light and fluffy, with a lot of juicy blueberries cooked into the bottoms of the pancakes.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

Alec ordered the Open Faced Egg White Omelet (with charred zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil and mixed greens, $13). It was delicious and had a very attractive presentation — but it wasn’t very filling. We also ordered the Hot Artichoke Dip with Crisp Bread, $11, for the table to share (it was devoured in minutes — highly recommend), and a side of fries for Cheese to eat and play with.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

I balanced Cheese on my lap while we ate — she highly enjoyed dipping fries into tomato ketchup, and THEN into my pancakes. Yum? It was pretty noisy inside and the loud environment made her a little anxious, hence my lap and NOT the highchair being used.

Freemans: kid-friendly restaurants, LES, New York - via

Outside it was wet and dreary. It was much more fun inside our secret, cozy tavern.

Last bite: Nothing special for kids, but fast service and reliable reservations make this a great choice for a kid-friendly brunch that will impress your trendy friends. 

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes but minimal. Bring the umbrella stroller.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Off Freeman Alley
191 Chrystie St,
New York
Phone: (212) 420 0012
Prices: $$$
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am – 4pm, Brunch Sat, Sun & holidays 10am-4pm, cocktails & bar menu daily 4pm-6pm, dinner daily 6pm-11:30pm
Reservations recommended, but they also take walk ins. You can order the full menu while seated at the bar.
Book a table via

Britax Carrier Review + Giveaway!

On the surface, the Britax Carrier doesn’t look much different from most other carriers on the market. Believe me, I’ve become quite the baby carrying expert over these past two years. I must have tried nearly half a dozen carriers in the hopes that just one might be comfortable for long treks around the ‘hood or in and out of the city.

Word around the Mommy Block was that this particular carrier was something special. Curious, I had to try it. Especially since Cheese is pretty vocal about not wanting to go in her stroller as often as she used to. And, short of putting her on a leash, I was running out of options to keep her in my grasp. But once I tried the Britax Carrier for myself, it was clear that this was one very unique and well designed carrier.

#Britax #Carrier review and #giveaway! via

Here’s what I enjoyed about using the Britax Carrier:

It’s easy to put on
Straight out of the box, just unclip the buckle that folds it together and slide it over your shoulders. Clip the waste band, adjust the straps, and you’re ready to go. It’s just so easy — so easy you almost don’t need to read the instruction manual (Disclaimer: but you should read it anyway! You should always read the manual!).

It’s easy to get baby in and out 
It was super simple to slip even my giant, wiggly, Cheese into the carrier. All of the clips and straps are easy to access and can be maneuvered using just one hand.

It takes you from infant to toddler
The carrier can be used for babies 8 pounds up to toddlers 32 pounds (which is basically newborn to around age 2-2.5, depending on your kid’s weight). Out of the box, the carrier is set up with the removable infant insert, which stays in place until Baby outgrows it; at which point you replace it with the older infant piece, which extends the seating area, making it more comfortable for older babies and toddlers. My Cheese just turned two and weighs 26 pounds. Not only does she enjoy being in the carrier (she actually snuggled against my chest last time I used it), but its nice being hands-free again, plus I love carrying my baby so close to me once more.

It’s REALLY comfortable to wear 
The Britax carrier has a specially designed CarryLong System incorporated into it: a padded waist belt and shoulder straps, which distributes weight across shoulders, back and hips for maximum extended wear comfort. It felt very comfortable, and both my husband and I were able to carry Cheese for long periods of time walking around Brooklyn with no resulting back aches or pain (a miracle!). I can definitely feel Cheese’s weight being well distributed across my hips (as opposed to just my back), making it really easy to carry her for extended periods of time.

It’s a comfortable ride for babies AND toddlers
Baby can face towards you as a newborn, then outwards as she gets older and wants to experience the world. Toddlers can face you again, in a comfortable position where their legs can wrap around your waist. Both our tester infant and toddler really enjoyed being in the carrier (no screams of protest! Hoorah!)

What I’d change:
The Britax carrier is a front carrier only. Now that my toddler is older, I like wearing her on my back as well. If I could change one thing about the carrier, it would be to have the ability to wear my baby on my back as well as front.

#Britax #Carrier review and #giveaway! via

#Britax #Carrier review and #giveaway! via

#Britax #Carrier review and #giveaway! via

The Britax Carrier retails for $129.99, and comes in black and navy. The carrier is also available in organic cotton for $139.99.

Tester #2: The Britax Carrier with an infant

#Britax #carrier review & #giveaway via

We had our good friend Jenna (the beautiful calligrapher behind Love*Jenna Calligraphy) test drive the organic carrier with her four-month-old, Georgette, to get the scoop on how the carrier performs for infants.

A little bit about our tester, Jenna: she creates beautiful custom, modern calligraphy for weddings, magazine features & special styled photo shoots as well as logos & tattoos. Her clients include Martha Stewart Weddings, Balenciaga, The Knot & many happy brides. Jenna lives in the awesome borough of Brooklyn with her two girly girls, Clementine Bea, 2 and Georgette Pearl, 4 months.

Here is what Jenna had to say about the carrier:

#Britax #Carrier review and #giveaway! via

What Mama likes:

It’s easy to put on

I love the slip-over-the-head feature. It’s easier than most carriers to put on.It’s super comfy to wear
The carrier is much softer and cushier & less stiff than others I’ve used making it easier to pack at the bottom of my double stroller and in a carry on-bag for plane travel. It’s also more comfortable in general.

The great design for new babies
The carrier has a very smart, intuitive zip in & out infant insert. I like the little hammock it creates for my baby.

What Baby likes:
The soft terrycloth fold over fabric to munch on! Also the tan color. It’s much cooler in the summer than the black one.
What Mama thinks could be improved:
Since the carrier slips on over the head and you can’t remove or flap open the back piece, I can’t lay my already napping baby gently on a bed upon arriving home. I have to slip her out which wakes her up.

#Britax #Carrier review and #giveaway! via


The kind folks over at Britax are offering one Brunch With My Baby reader a chance to win a Britax Carrier in their choice of color (RRP $129.99, black, navy, $139.99 for organic cotton). Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition opens Monday, Sept 16th, and closes Sunday, Sept 22nd, 11:59pm, 2013.

Open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent a product sample to aid us with this review. All opinions are our own.

Dapple On-The-Go Essentials Kit Review + GIVEAWAY

Dapple - Dapple Essentials Kit - Review and GIVEAWAY via
Dapple founders Dana Rubenstein and
Tamar Rosenthal

We were introduced to Dapple’s line of green, baby-friendly cleaners when we were new mothers, terrified of germs (Alexis was especially OCD about it), and uncertain of what cleaning products we could safely use around our newborns. Dapple came to the rescue for all of our cleaning needs. All Dapple products are made with all-natural ingredients, and are free of nasties like parabens, BPA and dyes.

A little bit about the history of Dapple from co-founder (and local NY mom of four), Dana Rubenstein
“Tamar (Rosenthal, co-founder of Dapple) and I have been close friends forever. She had her first baby a couple of years before me so of course I turned to her when I had a question about washing baby bottles and pump parts: Did she know of an all natural and baby-safe solution to clean baby bottles and utensils that actually worked? It’s hard to stump Tamar but this question did. So we decided to do something about this and create our own solution. We assembled a small team of knowledgeable pediatricians and experienced green chemists and the rest is Dapple history.”

Dapple’s offices are in Long Island City, so when you buy Dapple, you’re supporting a great local business.

#Dapple On-The-Go kit review and #GIVEAWAY via

REVIEW: Dapple On-The-Go Essentials Kit
The Dapple On-The-Go Essentials Kit combines our four favourite Dapple products into one throw-in-the-diaper bag essentials box. The kit is perfect for keeping in your bag for daily outings around town, or for weekends away. The Dapple range is baby-safe, hypoallergenic and biodegradable, so not only are their products going to help you stress less about keeping Baby’s bottles clean and Baby healthy, they’re also great for the environment. Each item is TSA compliant, so you can keep them in your carry-on luggage when you fly.

Travel Baby Bottle and Dish Cleaner
Christine: I’ve been using this to clean Cheese’s bottles, sippy cups and utensils since she was born. It removes milk film and gets rid of any smells. You can also use this to clean breast pump parts. As well as being a thorough cleaner, it has a subtle, pleasant scent, is gentle on skin, and a little bit goes a long way. Bottle size is 3oz.

Toy & Surface Wipes
Christine: These wipes are essential for sticky situations when you’re out in restaurants and on public transport. They quickly clean surfaces and toys that have hit the subway floor. Since they’re made with natural ingredients, Baby can put toys straight back in her mouth again without you worrying about what chemicals (or subway germs) she is also eating. Contains 20 count wipes.

Food Grade Pacifier Wipes
Alexis: Unfortunately my almost two-year-old is still hooked on his paci. And as much as I am a firm believer in the “5 Second Rule” there are those moments when the paci falls on the subway floor or city sidewalk and a quick wipe on my pants leg won’t cut it. I use the paci wipes for those kinds of falls, and feel a little better about the fact that I almost always forget to bring a backup paci. So far,Little J has failed to exhibit any signs of that third eye or second head springing up due to paci contamination so the wipes must be working! Contains 10 individually-wrapped pacifier wipes.

Baby Laundry Detergent Handwash in Sink
Christine: I’ve taken these small laundry detergent bottles on all of our trips. It’s so helpful to have baby-safe detergent in a small bottle on hand when you travel. It’s also useful to keep in your diaper bag in case of any diaper blowouts that require emergency attention, since you can use it to wash clothes in a sink. I’ve found the detergent to clean clothes well, leave a pleasant smell, and produce zero irritation on Cheese’s skin. Contains three travel sink packs.

#Dapple On-The-Go kit review and #GIVEAWAY via

GIVEAWAY The kind folks at Dapple have given us FOUR Dapple On-The-Go Essential Kits to give away to Brunch With My Baby readers. Enter the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win one of these four boxes.

The competition is open Wed Sept 11th to 11:59pm, Tue 17th, 2013.

Competition is open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent a product sample to aid us with this review. All opinions are our own.

Butcher's Daughter: Kid-Friendly Cafes Nolita, New York


Being vegetarian, I was super excited to try out The Butcher’s Daughter, a new juice bar, cafe and “vegetable slaughter house”. The cafe treats fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat: They chop, fillet and carve fresh produce into heathy vegetarian dishes as well as press them into pretty juices. The menu changes daily to reflect seasonal fruits and vegetables, and is 100% vegetarian and non-dairy. Most of the items on the menu items are vegan and gluten-free, and they are happy to prepare substitutions for most dietary restrictions (yay! Fussy eaters + special dietary folks rejoice!).

The Butcher's Daughter - kid-friendly cafes, Nolita, New York via

We arrived at peak brunch hour — 1pm on a Sunday. There were a few free tables and we were seated straight away at the communal table. The interior is pretty small (seating 35 people max). During the warmer months they can fit an additional 30 people outside.

The Butcher's Daughter - kid-friendly cafes, Nolita, New York via

While we were seated quickly, we had to wait a while for our server to realise that we needed menus, and again a while longer to be served water. Our server helpfully offered to give Cheese a smaller paper cup out of which to drink, but of course Cheese only wanted Mommy and Daddy’s huge metal cups (but it was a really nice thought).

The Butcher's Daughter - kid-friendly cafes, Nolita, New York via

Alec’s standard favourite brunch dish is eggs Benedict. He ordered The Butcher’s Daughter equivalent — the Smashed Avocado Benedict (two poached eggs, curried hollandaise, ripe avocado smashed with curry, mustard seed and lime, on a whole-grain English muffin, served with roasted potato hash, $15). Alec’s comments: “The bread was quite solid and dense, which balanced the light eggs and hollandaise sauce. The potatoes were quite lightly spiced too. Really tasty. The only odd note was the watermelon, but I didn’t mind it.”

The Butcher's Daughter - kid-friendly cafes, Nolita, New York via

I ordered the Egg Sandwich Platter (folded eggs, carrot cashew cheese, kale, tomato jam on toasted 7-grain served with roasted potato hash, $14). I was in absolute heaven. The eggs and carrot cashew cheese were creamy and flavoursome — but the big hit was the sweet and spicy tomato jam. It really gave a punch to the sandwich and elevated it to one of my top brekkie sandwiches (my other fave is from local Brooklyn cafe Ted & Honey).

The Butcher's Daughter - kid-friendly cafes, Nolita, New York via

Cheese was being a fussy bugger and only picked at a few things from our plates. We tried bribing her to sit still with the phone, but it only gave us enough time to scarf down our food at an indigestion-inducing rate, and to high-tail it out before we embarrassed ourselves in this super-hip joint.

Despite the high prices and slow service, The Butcher’s Daughter is my kinda place. There are a lot of vegan joints, but few (if any?) that are dedicated vegetarian, where you can still get things like eggs, honey and yogurt on the menu (you can have these items substituted for things like tofu eggs if you’re vegan). All the food is foraged from farms in upstate New York and Connecticut by Michael Geller of Mike’s Organics.

The Butcher’s Daughter also specialises in freshly-made juices and smoothies, plus a juice cleanse of varying levels that you can try (juice and raw food, juice and a bit of raw food, or just juice).

It’s worth noting that while this cafe is small, there is some room for the odd full-size stroller, especially near the bar area on the left side of the cafe. Your best bet is to bring an umbrella stroller or carrier.

The Butcher's Daughter - kid-friendly cafes, Nolita, New York via

Last Bite: A vegetarian and juice-lover’s heaven. Be prepared for a long wait and steep prices, but once your food comes out you won’t regret it. Kids are welcome although not catered to. Start your baby’s hipster training right here!

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: Very little.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

The Butcher’s Daughter
19 Kenmare St
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 2193434
Prices: $$
Hours: Sun-Thur 8am-10pm, Fri-Sat 8am-11pm

Brunch Special: Jessi Brelsford, Owner of Taste Buds Kitchen

Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Jessi Brelsford, owner of Taste Buds Kitchen. Jessi and her husband, Jeff (who just joined TBK full-time), live in Murray Hill, after having lived seven years in a 5th floor walk-up in the West Village. 

Tastebuds Kitchen


How would you sum up Taste Buds Kitchen? How did it start?
Taste Buds Kitchen offers fresh and creative culinary events for kids and families ages two to adults. We love kids, families and food! Cooking birthday parties, summer camps and our in-school after-school programs are our most popular offerings. Our home base is our Kids Kitchen in Chelsea but we also have satellite locations at FAO Schwarz and in Bridgehampton for the summer.

I started Taste Buds as a hobby back in 2007 when I was working full-time on Wall Street. A few baking classes later, I made it into a full-time business and I haven’t looked back since. I love the challenge and adventure of being a small business owner and bringing smiles to the budding chefs of NYC through our lip-smacking culinary adventures.


Why is food important to you and your family? What are you trying to teach your children about food?
My husband and I love food and, of course, we love to eat. The best part of my day is a glass of wine and one of my husband’s home cooked meals. I love that food brings people together and offers the opportunity for connection in the kitchen. I enjoy exploring all of the tastes, textures and combinations and, most of all, the conversation and fun that happens in the kitchen. And of course being a resident New Yorker, I love checking out all restaurants and markets and pursuing my never-ending quest for the best cup of hot chocolate.

My passion for the kitchen started in high school when my mom, sister and I started hosting a weekly “gourmet night” for my family. Each week, we’d each be in charge of a course — starter, main and dessert — and the only rules were that it had to be a new recipe. We had a blast and I love the recipes that we discovered and, to this day, make them often.

Tell us a bit about what kids will learn in the Taste Buds Kitchen classes?
We make everything from scratch and have a blast doing it! The kids learn so much, from measuring, to kneading and decorating, to more advanced Iron Chef type challenges. The younger chefs work on ingredient identification, tastes and textures while older chefs whip up gourmet meals from scratch without following a recipe. We strive to keep food and kitchen knowledge age appropriate and, most of all, to keep the classes fun. Our BYOB adult classes are also a ton of fun and a great way to learn a new skill, like making sushi and dumplings, homemade pasta and more. We also offer special caregiver classes for Baby Food 101 and Cooking for Toddlers.

What do you hope will be the end result of kids taking the classes?
My goal is that Taste Buds Kitchen offers buddings chefs of all ages a new and engaging experience that makes their week. I want everyone who walks through our door to feel welcomed and excited for our culinary adventure. We teach skills that you can apply to food and the kitchen for the rest of your life!

Tips for introducing kids to a great range of food?
Taste, taste, taste and then taste some more. Everyone’s taste buds change multiple times over the course of a lifetime so it’s never too late to try to introduce a new food. And of course, the more kids help to prepare something, the more they’ll want to try it. We like to use  “I Tried Something New” stickers that work like a charm on the 2 and 3-year-olds.

What exciting classes are coming up in the Kitchen?
Our Fall Semester Classes are really amazing! We offer six weekly classes in our Chelsea Kitchen for children ages two to teen. Plus evening BYOB classes for adults.

And then of course my favorite month of the year is December, when we turn our kitchen into a Winter Gingerbread Wonderland with Gingerbread House Decorating Classes for families all month long. It’s the best!

Lastly, what are a few of your favourite local spots to eat out with your family?
Our favorite places of late are Spasso in the West Village, Cacio Peppe for their signature dish and S’Mac for their amazing Mac & Cheese. I keep a restaurant spreadsheet with over 300+ entries of all restaurants that I’ve tried with a special section for where I want to go next. Yum NYC!

Taste Buds Kitchen
109 West 27th Street, 10FL (btw 6th & 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-242-2248

Brunch Survival Guide: Rockaway Beach Day Trip

Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Being from the land of beaches, I’ve found myself desperately missing white sand and blue waves – yet I feel trapped at home because of the timing of Cheese’s naps. Today, however, we decided to throw caution (and naps!) to the wind and catch the A train to Rockaway for a day at the beach.

Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Getting there by train was a lot easier than I’d expected. We caught the A to Broad Channel, then switched to the S (Shuttle) to 90th St. The whole trip took 50 minutes from our apartment in Brooklyn. After getting off the train, it was a 10 minute walk to the beach.

The Rockaways were hit extremely hard during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. You can still see the extensive damage as you walk to the beach – the houses with ground floor construction still being done, the buildings missing shingles on their walls, parts of the boardwalk still being rebuilt. The beach has undergone a massive reconstruction since the hurricane and it is pretty amazing that the beaches were able to reopen again this summer.  The boardwalk is still in the process of being re-constructed, and sections of the beach are closed off, but don’t let that stop you. There are still 14 miles of white beach for you and your kids to enjoy.

The beach in Rockaway is particularly kid-friendly. The water is calm and shallow at the shoreline, and several newly-reopened playgrounds line the boardwalk.

Rockaway Taco: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via
Rockaway Taco
First stop is breakfast, after surviving the train trip intact. Everyone we asked recommended Rockaway Tacos, a tiny little taco stand tucked away on 96th street. Breakfast is served 9am-10:45am, then the regular menu from 11am onwards. You won’t be the only taco-seeker, so be prepared for a long wait. Their side garden features benches to sit on in the shade, and cool murals to point out to the older kids. Grab a coffee or smoothie from the coffee and juice stand, Veggie Island, next door, then come back for your tacos. Tacos start from $3.50 each. Go for the fried fish taco – it’s a lightly fried piece of white fish, topped with cabbage and crema in true Mexican style. They also do a nice Elote (corn on the cob smothered in mayo and spices, $3.50).

Rockaways Taco: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rockaways Taco: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rockaway Taco
95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard

Rockaway Beach, NY
Phone: (347) 213-7466)
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-8pm, Thur-Sun 9am-8pm

Veggie Island: kid-friendly cafes, Rockaways Day Trip Guide, via

Veggie Island
Next door to the famous tacos sits the aforementioned Veggie Island – home of great coffee, smoothies and snacks like the peach muffin ($3) I sampled. You can also grab some brightly-colored fresh fruit and veggies. I also picked up a Strawberry and Banana Smoothie ($6). It was more like a slushie than a smoothie (blended with ice rather than yoghurt or milk), which was great for the hot day.

Veggie Island: kid-friendly cafes, Rockaways Day Trip Guide, via

Veggie Island: kid-friendly cafes, Rockaways Day Trip Guide, via

Indoor seating is limited to bar stools, so take your smoothie and coffee to go.

Veggie Island
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd (on 95th St.)
Far Rockaway, NY 11693
Phone:(347) 277-2268
Prices: $$

Rippers: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rippers is currently the only concession stand open on the boardwalk. You’ll find breakfast burritos, hamburgers and fries – good, solid beach food. They also have a large, shaded seating area and phone charging station, and are located next to the brand new bathrooms installed on the boardwalk.

Ripper': Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rockaway Boardwalk
Beach 86th Street
Far Rockaway, NY 11693

Roberta's concession stand, Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Walking along the street to get Cheese to nap in the stroller, I spotted this sign (above), which made my heart jump. Yes, it was the pizzeria I never venture to because I hate, hate waiting.

Roberta's concession stand, Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

The Roberta’s pop-up stand features a wood-fire oven on wheels (genius!), delivering some seriously tasty pies. Each pizza is a single serve, with a basic Margarita costing $6. The pizza took over half an hour to arrive (at least that was better than waiting in line for a seat at a restaurant), but it was absolutely worth it (and better than waiting for over an hour on a line alone). Crispy base, with a soft crusty edge, the perfect savoury tomato sauce and daubs of mozzarella cheese on top. O.M.G. My only regret was not ordering two as Cheese ate a big chunk of mine.

Roberta's pizza, Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

There are a few tables and benches near Roberta’s, but no shade. One option is to take it to the nearby toddler playground to eat on a bench there while your kids run in the sprinklers.

Beach 69th Street
Rockaway Beach, NY 11693
Prices $$
Hours: Fri 12:30pm-6:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-6:30pm

What you need to know before you go

  • Swimming is permitted only when life guards are on duty, which is from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend, daily from 10-6 p.m.
  • Avoid areas with red flags or “beach closed” signs. Temporary “islands” have been built at sections where the boardwalk is still damaged.
  • If you need chairs & umbrellas, there are stores at 116 Beach Street (near the subway) that sell them relatively inexpensively (there are no places to rent them).
  • LABOR DAY UPDATE: The stretch from Beach 110th Street to Beach 130th Street, and Beach 88th Street to Beach 93rd Street, will be closed over the long weekend for dredging.

Getting there

  • Take the A train to Far Rockaway, change at Broad Channel to the S train to 90th st. Travel time from Manhattan is about an hour and 15 minutes.
  • Rockabus has weekend buses from Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.
  • A weekend ferry runs between Pier 11 on Wall Street and Jacob Riis Park.

Brunch Survival Guide: Governors Island Day Trip

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

Desperate to get away from the cement landscape that is Manhattan? Us too, especially on days when the heat radiates from the ground up. One of our favourite easy escapes is an afternoon trip to Governors Island. The 172-acre island is just off the southern tip of Manhattan, near Brooklyn. Governors Island was used as a military base for almost two centuries, before 150 acres were sold to the people of New York in 2003. (The remaining 22 acres of the Island was declared the Governors Island National Monument that is overseen by the National Park Service.)

Each year, Governors Island opens every Memorial Day weekend through to the end of September, and is chock full of fun events all summer long. With a young toddler, our choices are a bit limited —so this year the best bets for us were the FIGMENT interactive installations (including the treehouse pictured, above) and a mini-golf course (open summer-long, at the Parade Grounds) the Fête Paradiso and Compost Outpost. Older kids will love the Children’s Museum of the Arts Free Art Island Outpost Program, which is open all season from 11am to 3pm, at Nolan Park. Kids can enjoy hands-on workshops including painting, sound design, sculpture, animation and podcasting.

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

As well as enjoying the seasonal events offered, it’s also really nice to simply take a walk around the island. I love this walkway  (above) through the middle of the park, with the towering trees on both sides, and the empty buildings that once housed military personal (which can sometimes make you feel like you’re in a ghost town).  On a quiet day, it’s an eerie vibe. You can walk or bike (BYO bike or hire one when you get there) around the entire island, to take in an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and southern tip of Manhattan.

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

The hot event to visit this summer has been Fête Paradiso, a traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels, making its American debut. The collection includes attractions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as carousels, flying swings and a pipe organ. Not only is it cool seeing rare, museum-quality items in a setting as beautiful as the island, you can also ride most of the vintage attractions. Insider tip: The rides are a bit on the pricey side, particularly if you’re going with a toddler. If you’re riding with your kid, it will cost you each a ticket, even if you’re just holding your kid while they’re riding the carousel. The best value is a buying in bulk.

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

There are a lot of rides, mostly suited to adults and older kids due to lack of modern safety features. The best rides for small kids are the carousels.

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

A carousel with cars was the favourite among the junior set (vroom vroom!). The only problem? No seat belts to strap the kids in, so the merry-go-round presents a couple of challenges — a moving platform, plus a moving toddler ON the platform who wants to buzz from car to car to car. TOO MANY CHOICES FOR TODDLER BRAINS!

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

This miniature VW van was dubbed “the party bus” by the parents watching the chaos unfold, as all the kids scrambled to squeeze inside and take the wheel at once.

Governor's Island Survival Guide via

For a change of pace, calm everyone down at Earth Matter’s Compost Outpost (open all season, 10am-5pm, South Battery). Kids can get up close to chickens, goats, rabbits and worms, all of whom spend their days eating compost, care of Governor’s Island visitors. Older kids can learn about compost first-hand, by taking part in the daily composting.

Eating On The Island
When it comes to food, you have a few expensive choices. Fête Paradiso features an eatery inside a pavilion designed in 1900 for bumper cars. Food is available in a tent, catered by French eatery Le Gamin. You’ll be able to try some traditional bistro fare like Steak Frites ($15), Croque Monsieur ($8) Salade Nicoise ($8) and sweet crepes with Nutella, lemon sugar or jam ($5). Kid-friendly options include hamburgers ($8) and Rotisserie Chicken ($10). Adults can enjoy spirits and wine from the Languedoc region of France. There is also the King Island Food Court, featuring a variety of vendors and cuisines, and picnic tables at which to sit. For a really relaxing day, bring a packed picnic and blanket.

Tips to Know Before You Go:

  • There’s no drinkable water on the island (so no drinking fountains). You can buy water from island vendors and vending machines, but we’d advise bringing plenty of your own. Water bottles can be re-filled in the Governors Island Ferry Waiting Room at the Battery Maritime Building.
  • The only indoor bathrooms are located on the upper and lower level of Building 110, adjacent to the ferry landing. There are plenty of port-a-loos placed around the island if you can’t hold on to find these bathrooms.

Governors Island
Open every Sat, Sun and holiday Monday from 10am-7pm through to September 29. To get there, catch the East River ferry from Manhattan (from Wall St/Pier 11 ($4) or the free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building) or the free Brooklyn ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6. Check out the ferry schedules before you go, and be prepared for a long line if you’re heading across from Brooklyn.

Popbar: Kid-Friendly Desserts, West Village, New York

PopBar: kid-friendly desserts, West Village, via

One super hot day wandering through the West Village, my family and I stumbled into Popbar in a heat-induced daze. Desperate for something cool, I ordered my first hand-crafted gelato on a stick (mango!) and there it was: A delicious, cooling treat that took me right back to the summers of childhood, riding my bicycle around the neighbourhood and getting sticky hands from eating popsicles.

PopBar: kid-friendly desserts, West Village, via

Popbar produces small batches of their pops (only 26 are made at a time), using natural and fresh ingredients. “The strawberries taste like strawberries, the snozberries taste like snozeberries!”.

Order your custom-made treat at the counter. First, choose your base flavor: PopGelato, PopSorbetto or YogurtPop. Then, either eat it as-is, or have it dipped in dark, milk or white chocolate. The last step is toppings – you can choose from a variety extras like crushed nuts, sprinkles and waffle cone to have your pop dipped in for the finishing touch.

PopBar: kid-friendly desserts, West Village, via

The inside seating is limited to bar stools at the counter, so we usually sit on the bench outside, or walk across the street to the park and sit next to the fountain.

PopBar: kid-friendly desserts, West Village, via

My favourite flavor is peach with milk chocolate and crushed waffle cone. Alec’s is strawberry with dark chocolate. A custom pop isn’t cheap. A basic pop starts at $4.50. Add 50c for dipping in chocolate and 50c for additional toppings. It’s worth it though – every bite is a taste of sweet, decadent heaven.

Last bite: A fast, sweet, customizable treat that will please the pickiest snackers in every family.

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

5 Carmine St,
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 255 4874
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-11pm Sat-Sun 12pm-1am