Dinner at The Merrion Hotel Dublin

The Merrion Hotel is the epicenter of festive and luxurious dining in Dublin. The Hotel, located in Merrion Square, is steps or minutes away from Grafton Street, Trinity College/The Book of Kells, and Chester Beatty. There are several dining options inside from an intimate cocktail bar to a two star Michelin restaurant. We dined at The Garden Room on this particular evening. The Garden Room, led by Executive Chef Ed Cooney, serves delightfully whimsical artisan dishes. The dishes quite literally pop off the plate. Not only is everything so delicious, the presentation and unique concepts are hard to come by elsewhere.

The Garden Room is family friendly, and lovingly pays great attention to the menu for their youngest guests. Their lunch and dinner menu includes diverse selections like a Grilled Dubliner Cheddar Cheese and Baby Tomato Toastie, and Steamed Filet of Cod.

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Rich Farm Ice Cream

Rich Farm Ice Cream dairy farm and ice cream shop is renowned across Connecticut. This ‘Dairy Farm of Distinction’ has been maintained by the same family since the 1950’s. Rich Dairy became a creamery in the mid-1990s and quickly amassed a cult following for their ice cream. Connecticut residents cannot drive within a ten-mile radius of Oxford, CT without making a pit stop at Rich Farm. Rich Farm is a working dairy farm, and children delight in visiting the cows while waiting in the consistently long line to get their ice cream.

History & Locations

What started as a small, little known location has grown to something of famed proportion. The creamery is so busy, lot attendants must be employed to help the masses park safely in the field. Rich Farm has also franchised. In addition to the original location in Oxford, CT, has locations in Brookfield, CT, Bristol, CT and Placentia, CA. Despite these changes and unprecedented growth, the ice cream is still made the same way it was nearly 30 years ago. It is made every day by hand on the premises in small batches.

Ice Cream Creations

From simple cups of vanilla soft serve to wacky limited availability flavors, Rich Dairy has something for everyone. Try the hot apple cider doughnut sundae a true farmhouse treat. They also offer Ice Cream Cannoli and Ice Cream Pies. Rich Farm also offers frozen Greek yogurt and no sugar added flavors. Other treats served include ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cakes, soda floats, and a superb soft serve and candy mashup known as a Razzle.

Whether you have fond memories of visiting Rich Dairy as a kid or are looking to create a new family tradition, this creamery is a stop you need to make this season.

Rich Farm is currently open seven days a week from 11:30am-9pm. Cash only.

Call // 203-881-1040

Batch Gastropub Miami

Get to know the Brickell neighborhood of Miami, Florida from the inside out. One place to start is at Batch Gastropub’s Miami location, steps away from the complimentary Metromover, notable hotel EAST Miami and the shopping center Brickell City Centre, Batch Gastropub is the epicenter of plenty of friendly fun and entertainment in this beloved neighborhood. A family-friendly eatery known for the expansive drink list and a locally sourced menu, Batch Gastropub serves lunch and dinner as well as brunch on the weekends. An all-day breakfast menu is also available.

On this particular occasion we visited for brunch and were seated outside. Allot at least two hours to enjoy brunch. The portions are packed to the brim, the service is flawless, and the food will have you hooked on the first bite and will keep you satisfied for most of the entire day.

The Meal

We started with Bottomless Mimosas ($20) and Bottomless Ginger Peach White Sangria: Pinot Grigio, Ginger Root, Lemon Peel ($20), followed by the Carolina Hash: Slow Roasted Pulled Pork, and Batch Root Beer BBQ Sauce ($16); and Smokehouse Omelet: 3 Eggs, 9-Hour Pulled Pork, Pecanwood-Smoked Bacon, House-Smoked Cheddar & Mozzarella, “B1” Aioli, Crispy Potatoes ($14).

The hash is crafted with mounds of crispy Yukon potatoes, Spanish onion, red bell pepper, and poached eggs. Batch serves a total three specialty hashes including a Baja Avocado, and Hangover Hash.

Don’t want the buzz in the AM? Try a selection of Batch Gastropub’s house-made sodas including Root Beer: Wintergreen, Honey, Tahitian Vanilla Bean; Grapefruit Fizz: Florida Grapefruit, Cracked Cardamom Syrup; Blackstrap Molasses Ginger Beer: Spicy Ginger Root, Blackstrap Molasses; or Sparkling Blueberry-Mint Lemonade: Muddled Blueberries, Fresh Mint to name a few.

We chose a Fruit Medley side ($4), and the Pecan-Whiskey Candied Bacon ($6) as our sides. Everything we ate was recommended by our waitress. She obviously wanted us to have the best brunch, because we certainly did. We never felt rushed, we were very relaxed, and were able to savor each plate. We still cannot believe we came close to finishing our plates. Two people could easily split a Hash.

Craving something on the lunch side? Try their Mac Attack with a variety of add ons, the Heath Nut Salad, or the Brisket & Short Rib Burger. Made from scratch desserts are the Cast Iron Cookie, Key Lime Pie Parfait, a House Brewed Root Beer Float, and more.

Photos courtesy of Batch Miami

Batch Gastropub Miami is open seven days week, Monday-Saturday beginning at 11:30am, and Sunday beginning at 10am. They also have a location in Delray.

Call Now  // 305-808-5555

Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa

Located exactly one hour north of Palm Beach is Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, a stunning, tranquil beach-side resort on Hutchinson Island in the town Jensen Beach. As guest step inside, they are greeted by a warm and friendly color spectrum of blues, greens and pearl that reflect the beauty of the ocean’s coastline. The resort, which is perfect for both couples and families of all ages, boasts a signature spa, two pools and cabanas, three resort dining options including Drift Kitchen + Bar, endless beach-side activities, a gym, and so much more that is waiting to be discovered. Continue reading

Nikki Beach- Miami Beach

Tell only your best friends. Nikki Beach in Miami Beach is a year round restaurant and beach club in Miami’s famous South Pointe off of Ocean Drive. Cuisine and cocktails can be enjoyed inside or outside on one of their daybeds, cabanas or tables with feet in the sand steps away from the beach. An experience at Nikki Beach is complemented by fun, lively music and plenty of entertainment including a live saxophonist.

2019 is a very special year for Nikki Beach as they are celebrating their 20 year milestone on Saturday, December 14th at the location where it all began: Nikki Beach Miami Beach. Expect a celebration with live music and entertainment, a dance tribe, delicious food and creative cocktails all encompassed in their legendary White Party theme.

Nikki Beach is the perfect destination to step away from the crowds of Miami Beach and into your own oasis with your whole family, your best friends, colleagues, or even that special someone for some serious fun. Experience plenty of upbeat vibes and so many surprises around every corner. There is also a gift shop that sells sunglasses, hats, shirts, swim cover ups, and more.

Specials

A selection of events take place at Nikki Beach weekly, including Rosé Saturdays every Saturday from 12-6pm. Experience “La Vie en Rosé” for the afternoon where the vibe is Côte d’Azur chic as guests sip rosé, dine on seafood and experience live music by Felipe Kaval & Keidy. Specials include $5 glasses of Rosé and $25 bottles of Rosé.

And then there is their famous Sunday Brunch from 11am-4pm where guests can experience an afternoon with international cuisine, cocktails, and Champagne, music by Stephan M & Felipe Kaval, entertainment by the Nikki Beach Tribe and plenty of barefoot chic vibes. Specials include $50 Brunch, $7 Mimosas, and $7 Bloody Marys.

Images courtesy of Nikki Beach

Menu

Their menu features a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, a raw bar, sushi platters, sushi rolls, desserts, and so much more. Notable menu items include the Tempura Shrimp Tacos with avocado and lime aioli; the Miami Beach Platter with Key West Conch Fritters, Angus Beef Sliders, Aristan Bruschetta, and Calamari Fritto; Nikki Beach’s Famous Chicken Satay with sesame marinated chicken strips, Asian vegetables, and spicy peanut sauce; Dubai Grilled Cauliflower with green harissa, golden raisins, garden herbs, and lemon and tahini dressing; and Nikki Beach’s Famous Sushi & Ceviche Boat with a variety of specialty rolls, sashimi, tropical ceviche, tuna tartare, steamed edamame, and more.

Some of my favorite cocktails, including one our waiter recommend, were the Classic Piña Colada served in a shaved coconut that tastes (noted by our waiter) just like cinnamon toast crunch, and the World Famous Nikki Beach Mojito made with lemon flavored rum.

Desserts include their homemade Key Lime Pie, New York Style Cheesecake, Pistachio Tiramisu, and Vanilla-Infused Crème Brûlée.

View our full video recap of our visit to Nikki Beach via our IGTV channel on Instagram.

Hours & Locations

Nikki Beach in Miami Beach is open year round seven days a week from 10am-midnight serving food and drinks.

Nikki Beach has restaurants and beach clubs as well as hotels and resorts all around the world. Restaurants & Beach Club locations include Saint Barth, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Dubai, and Saint Tropez.

Hotel & Resort locations include Koh Samui (Thailand), Porto Heli (Greece), Dubai (UAE), Bodrum (Turkey), and Santorini (Greece). Currently there are pop ups in Cannes (France), and Porto Cervo (Italy).

http://miami-beach.nikkibeach.com // 305-538-1111

Culinary Discoveries & Family Fun with Aruba Marriott Resort

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is a culinary dream destination for the whole family, located less than twenty minutes away from Queen Beatrix International Airport, Aruba. My daughter and I had the pleasure of visiting the resort for three nights in mid June. Awaiting us was a culinary extravaganza set in a picture-perfect scene of palapas (umbrella-like roofs) and sparkling turquoise waters on beautiful Palm Beach.

The resort boasts the largest accommodations on the island with ten restaurants and bars including a pop-up beach restaurant, Atardi, and every water sport imaginable in addition to tennis. As Aruba is famously known as One Happy Island, there are endless opportunities for every family member, from exploring the nightlife and nearby shopping destinations, to adventurous off-road treks, windsurfing, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, SUP yoga, boating, and more. All of these activities mixed with unforgettable culinary discoveries await you in Aruba. Continue reading

Five Things to See and Do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which neighbors the majestic Smoky Mountains, is less than a two hour flight from New York (to Knoxville), and about a four and a half hour drive away from Nashville. This family friendly destination serves as an ideal long weekend getaway for families, couples, and groups of friends who want to escape the city and discover a whole new world of peace and beauty entwined with genuine southern hospitality.

I visited Gatlinburg for the first time in mid September with Nicole Teitler of Nikki on the Daily. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn right in the heart of town. During our time, we hiked the Smoky Mountains while capturing so many breathtaking images of the trails and mountains, and explored so much that the town has to offer. I long to return with my family soon as I know they would enjoy their time as I much as I did.

Below are five adventures you must experience when you visit Gatlinburg,

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Best Family Travel Companions: Food and Fun

The month of September, as we transition from summer to autumn, is one of my favorite times to take my family on a trip upstate, to New England, or simply up the island to Nassau County. One of our top priorities is making sure everyone is well-fed and entertained during our car trips, and we always love to mix it up with different games, snacks, and toys.

I have below five unique family-friendly snacks and travel companions that the whole family will love and appreciate.

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Mumbelli: A Loving Transition for Newborns

Thinking of that perfect baby shower gift or something special for your new bundle of joy? Mumbelli is a luxuriously crafted space for your newborn that cradles them in cradles your baby in womb-like comfort. By mirroring the calm and secure environment experienced in the womb, the exceptionally crafted and portable Mumbelli is designed exclusively for babys first months until they start to roll over independently.

It allows new babies to transition to life outside the womb with gradual ease by offering such benefits as sounder sleeping, fewer fussy, moments, less crying, and less restlessness.
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Saybrook Point Inn and Spa

One of the most charming and down-to-earth seaside resorts I have ever stayed at. Located just twenty minutes away by car from New London, Saybrook Point Inn and Spa offers beautiful, scenic views of of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. A perfect getaway for the weekend away from Boston or New York City as well as a prime location for a wedding or family reunion, the resort and spa is also less than thirty minutes away from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, offering an exceptional alternative to relax the weekend away with the close proximity of the arenas and casinos. Old Saybrook itself is a quaint, historic town rich in history. Did you know, for example, that Yale’s original college campus was in what is now Old Saybrook, and the town was the former home of one of Hollywood’s greatest, Katharine Hepburn? There is a cultural arts center affectionately named ‘The Kate’ in her honor less than two miles from the Inn.

The details and amenities throughout are exquisite. The Inn includes several different types of accommodations including the Main Inn, two guesthouses, the Lighthouse Suite located on the marina, and vacation and long term rentals. Their villas are available for you to enjoy year-round on a weekly and monthly basis or even longer. The two historic guesthouses, Tall Tales and Three Stories, located just steps away and opposite from the Main Inn, allowing for ample privacy. The houses feature living spaces such as common room areas, game rooms, and roof-top fire pits that are perfect for mingling with fellow guests, enjoying a late night snack or early breakfast.

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Dinner at Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn and Spa

Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa in Old Saybrook, Connecticut encompasses every dreamy detail of your perfect restaurant: local, seasonal ingredients; friendly, genuine staff, fantastic food, and some of the most breathtaking views of the Connecticut River. The dining room as well as its outdoor dining space, including a high top table, overlooks the mouth of the Connecticut River where it meets the Long Island Sound, and has a stunning vantage point of the marina. Inside, the coastal interior is very warm and inviting, with cozy corner booths and dim lighting.

There was plenty of activity throughout the restaurant and bar area when we arrived on a Friday evening in late October. Our waitress, the sweetest woman we had ever met, went above and beyond by suggesting a dish from each course from their dinner menu as well as detailing local points of interest in the area. She truly wanted us to have a wonderful experience while tasting a variety of dishes, and we certainly did!

My martini of choice was the Pumpktini: spiced pumpkin liqueur, Svedka vodka, Fultons spiced pumpkin cream, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove rimmed ($12.75). My husband had the Thimble Island American Ale ($6.25), a Connecticut brew. We were pleased to see that local brew and fare was predominant on the menu.

The menu includes classic, upscale American fare with a New England influence. We started with their heartwarming, delightful soups. I chose the Roasted Butternut Squash and Chestnut Bisque: roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and ginger with toasted pumpkin seeds over crème fraiche, vegetable stock (cup for $7.95/bowl for $9.95). My husband had the Rhode Island Clam Chowder (cup for $7.95/bowl for $10.95). Rhode Island Clam Chowder is made with a clear broth with no tomatoes or cream, but instead celery, potatoes, thyme, clams, and a splash of white wine.

Our appetizer plates were Sriracha-Style Calamari: golden brown, sweet chili glaze, spicy cherry peppers Julienne fresh vegetables, scallions ($14.95); and from The Raw Bar, Sushi Tuna Triangles: tuna tartare, sushi rice, ponzu sauce, pickled ginger, sriracha ($14.95). Fresh Salt also serves a traditional calamari appetizer with marinara sauce ($13.95). The calamari was so tasty, and I just loved the presentation of the tuna triangles. Both were very different and a must try when dining at Fresh Salt.

We split the Autumn Arcadia Lettuce: spiced candied pistachio, crumbled gorgonzola, apple cider vinaigrette ($12.95). I loved the salty crunch of the pistachios, a great pairing with the soft gorgonzola.

My husband had his favorite, Sautéed Shrimp: Orecchiette pasta, broccoli, cherry tomato, Kalamata olives, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herb-white wine-parmesan sauce ($29.95). My main course was Pan-roasted All-Natural Black Pearl Salmon: saffron polenta cake, fall vegetable confetti, apricot fumet ($28.95). The shrimp pasta, cooked al dente, with strong hints of fresh garlic and prepared with plenty of vegetables and they were generous with the amount of shrimp. My salmon entree was cooked to my exact specification of medium rare served with perfectly diced vegetables. A word we don’t see very often, fumet is a concentrated stock made from fish.

 

 

Dessert was very special. We split Pumpkin-Chai Crème Brûlée ($9.95) that was lovingly garnished with a warm snickerdoodle cookie. I wish I could turn back time and enjoy this dessert over and over again. One of the best crème brûlée dishes I have had this year. A perfect marriage of my two favorite autumn spices: pumpkin and chai. I had a cappuccino that was served in an Irish coffee mug.

We had the pleasure of enjoying brunch on Sunday, which consisted of a very generous spread that included a Pasta Station, Create Your Own Omelet Station, Waffle Bar, a carving station, soup, risotto, Eggs Benedict, fresh fruit, salad, shrimp cocktail, and a Smoked Seafood Station. In addition, there was an array of desserts that will ‘knock your socks off!’ In celebration of Halloween, there was apple crumble, festive cake pops (my favorite!), mini cupcakes, pies, flan, gooey chocolate cookies, and more. I was so happy that we made it for brunch that Sunday, I highly recommend it. Brunch is $40 per person, excluding alcohol.

Fresh Salt is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu changes seasonally. Brunch is served every Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m.

860-269-9181