Why You Should Start Making Family Mealtimes Special

Family mealtimes are something many families get wrong. When you’re busy, it’s too easy to make the kids their meals and put them in front of the TV. Many adults end up eating at different times to their children, and even if they eat at the same time, many are focused on the TV rather than one another.

Making family mealtimes special can be so beneficial to families as a whole. Read on to find out why this is something you should focus on and to get some ideas: 

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Lunch at Murger Hanhan in London

Murger Hanhan is the restaurant everyone should come to when they travel to London. As London’s first authentic Xi’an restaurant, it is home to the irresistibly delicious Chinese Biang Biang Noodles. These super long noodles (12 feet in fact) are just as much fun to eat as they are to photograph and videotape. With so many reasons to visit, from efficient service to top notch cuisine for the whole family, it is no wonder I keep thinking about this spot nearly a month after visiting.

Murger Hanhan specializes in regional Chinese cuisine from Xi’an City in the Shanxi Province. This province is located in North China close to Beijing.

I already know I will be visiting here multiple times when I am back in London in the summer of 2020.

Coming in for lunch? Make sure you are one of the first groups to arrive. Murger Hanhan gets busy (very) quickly. The service is very fast without being pushy or overbearing, so you have plenty of time to enjoy your meal without feeling rushed.

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The Rockwell in London

It would be almost impossible to devise a better meeting place after work or after a day exploring London. After stepping out into the frosty air from the National Art Gallery, walk across Trafalgar Square to The Rockwell. A new destination cocktail bar and lounge at The Trafalgar St. James, it is the ideal destination to escape into your own libation fantasy.

Dapper and demure meets a celestial and botanical hideaway. Easily meet friends, colleagues, and loved ones here for a drink and some innovative bar food after work or pre-theatre. We visited on a Wednesday evening during their Mid-Week Magic that begins at 6pm.

 

Pure Magic

As you settle into one of their plush and sophisticated banquettes, you may be greeted by one of their resident fortune tellers, a caricaturist, or illusionist. They rotate every Wednesday throughout the months. During these magical evenings, their bar team whips up an array of carefully curated apothecary-style magical cocktails. How about trying the Illusion cocktail? Crafted with Kinahan’s Cask Project, White Tea Rinomato, Marshmallow Leaf, and Mancino Bianco Ambrato. (£14).

Cocktails

This is the location to have fun with and experience out-of-the-ordinary libations. The Rockwell in Trafalgar Square is the reason why you go out for creative cocktails. It is also where you go to discover and try new pairings brimming with imaginative elements.

Cocktails to try first are the ones crafted with Gin. Try the Plymouth Navy Strength made with Franklin & Sons Natural Indian Tonic. Garnish with Rosemary & Cranberry Tea (£16). For a magical escape, sip Myrtle’s Escape with Banana Purée, Licorice Water, Eucalyptus Soda (£9).

For Festive Cocktails, my favorite was the Tea for Nicholas. A marvelously festive concoction of Sandalwood Rebel Yell Bourbon, Chestnut Syrup, English Breakfast Tea, and Milk Foam. Served hot. (£14). Additional festive cocktails are crafted with Gin or Whiskey, like the Yuletide Gin & Tonic.

The Food

All plates are perfect for sharing. Recommended is ordering 2-3 per party of two. For nibbles, we suggest Lemon & herb Chicken Skewers (£10); and Skin on Fries with Rosemary and Parmesan (£5). For small plates, chose the Tuna Tartare, Avocado, Ginger; Crispy Prawn Tempura; and Beef Sliders with Cheddar and Mayonnaise (£12/each).

For something sweet, go with the Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel (£8).

There is also an all day dining menu. That menu has the addition of main courses and additional appetizer selections. I could easily spend a few hours here. The high-spirited vibe is invigorating yet relaxing. Conversations at The Rockwell should never be rushed through.

Images courtesy of The Rockwell

The Rockwell in Trafalgar Square is open seven days a week beginning at 11am.

On Thursdays from 8pm, The Rockwell hosts an evening of smooth jazz and bespoke cocktails with New Orleans vibe.

Coming up, there will be a special Christmas, and New Year’s Eve menu.

020 7244 2000

Pastaio Soho, London

The merriment in London’s Soho neighborhood is all about. The streets are flowing with shoppers, and plenty of dining options await. Pastaio Soho, a lively restaurant that serves up the freshest pasta, is the place to be to relax and refuel in between shopping, and photographing the Christmas lights.

With two other locations in Westfield and Market Hills, their Soho location is conveniently located just behind Hamley’s, and the Carnaby Christmas Lights. Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Covent Garden are all within a short walking distance. With festivities all about in London, a hearty and housemade pasta dish is just the thing.

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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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The Kings Head in Galway, Ireland

The Kings Head, a medieval pub with 800 years of living history, is located within the heart of the Latin Quarter in Galway, Ireland. You could perhaps not choose a better time to visit Galway than during the festive season. The Christmas Markets are open until late with their dazzling lights and holiday tunes echo into the night through Eyre Square.

Visiting for the day from Dublin or the east? Galway is about a two and a half hour’s bus or train ride from Dublin’s Heuston Station. The Kings Head is a landmark in Galway. Famous for their nightly live music, it is also “steeped” in centuries of history. Owned and operated by the Grealish Family for 30 years, they continue to carry the intriguing history forward. The Pub’s building dates back to the 13th Century. The Pictorial Map of Galway dated in 1651, for example, shows 15 High Street, the address of The Kings Head, as one of the most prominent buildings in Galway. The Pub is adjoined to Stubbers Castle. First thought to be a legendary tale, it was Colonel Peter Stubbers who was linked to the execution of King Charles I with further research.

The Kings Head got its name with the tale of Colonel Stubbers seizing his grand house on High Street in Galway. This house is now home to The Kings Head Pub.

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A Romantic Getaway In New York

It is no surprise that countless romantic movies use the Big Apple as their backdrop as there’s nothing quite like New York City. That’s why it isn’t surprising when couples fly out to New York for a romantic getaway. However, most of these couples all experience the same problem. That is, what do we do in a city that has pretty much everything? Worry not as we’ve got you covered. After checking in in your hotel, drop by these spots to get the most out of your vacation. Continue reading

High West Distillery to Cook at James Beard House this November

High West Distillery is heading east this November. The famous distillery will showcase its culinary classics paired with their award-winning spirits for an exclusive dinner. Led by Executive Chef Michael J. Showers, the dinner will take place at the James Beard House in New York City on Friday, November 8th, at 7pm.  

“It is an absolute honor to prepare a meal at the renowned James Beard House,” High West Executive Chef Michael J. Showers said. “We are thrilled to bring High West’s unique alpine cuisine and a selection of our finest spirits for guests to imbibe, savor and enjoy.”

After collaborating with five other renowned Park City chefs to prepare a meal at the historic James Beard House last fall, High West Distillery was hand-picked to return this year to create a purely High West dining and imbibing experience for James Beard guests.  

The autumn evening will feature a range of High West Distillery cocktails and hor d’oeuvres, followed by a 5-course meal.

To Start

Hor d’oeuvres served will include an American Prairie Compressed D’Anjou Red Pear with Sesame & Nori, and Ginger & Duck Meatball with Whiskey Fish Sauce Caramel.

Cocktails will be the High West Old Fashioned Old Fashioned: High West Rendezvous Rye, Double Rye!, Demerara, Angostura, Orange, Lemon; and Wand’rin Star: High West Double Rye!, House Made Campfire Drambuie, Ramazzotti, Angostura, Grapefruit.

“[For the menu], we want to take our version of hospitality in Park City and bring it to Manhattan,” says Showers.

Images courtesy of High West Distillery

The Menu

Chef’s culinary influences stem from his experience cooking in Seattle, Spain, and Montana before settling in Park City. He had the pleasure of working with James Beard Award-winning chefs in Seattle. Chef Showers was also at Montage Deer Valley for two years. His emphasis is always on local, seasonal and farm-to-table cooking.

“Once we distilled the menu (pun intended), we came up with something that we are really excited about and very proud of,” adds Showers.

Courses will include a Fried Rabbit & Waffle: Buttermilk Fried Rabbit, Malted Barley, Sorghum & Rosemary Waffle, Maple & Sweet Chile Syrup; and “Corned Beef & Cabbage”: Niman Ranch Bavette, Tallow Fried Heirloom Potatoes, Creamed Napa Cabbage, and Sauce Au Poivre.

Lastly, dessert will be a Huckleberry Posset: Spruce & Late Harvest Huckleberry Posset, Brown Butter, and Oat & Pine Nut Shortbread.

Steve Walton, High West Beverage Director, and Arianne King, Whiskey Ambassador, have chosen a mixture of cocktails and spirits that pair perfectly with Chef’s delicious creations.

Tickets to dinner are $140 per person for members and $180 for non-members.

https://www.jamesbeard.org/events/high-west-whiskey-dinner

Mix Prime Woodbury

Recently we had the pleasure of dining at Mix Prime, a steakhouse, fish, and sushi bar in Woodbury, Connecticut.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by the manager Rick Raci and Executive Chef Walid Gad. Gad has been working in the United States for many years now and worked at the previous establishment named Carmen Anthony’s, which was a local favorite for many years. 

Gad’s experience in the restaurant scene has taught him that each restaurant has its own unique flavor and style. He always makes a point to incorporate fresh herbs and fresh products in his cooking. He says that incorporating foods like quinoa can be challenging though he doesn’t let that stop him with preparing delicious meals. 

Interior

The environment we are dining in is very warm and pleasant. There are wooden tables and they are decorated with candle lights as well as wooden lined walls and tables.  The atmosphere is somewhat rustic which falls in line with the classic New England flair. This restaurant is truly a standout New England establishment. What is unique about Mix Prime is that they have a sushi bar within their restaurant. The sushi bar is like those you would find in a classic sushi restaurant, where sushi chefs cater to your culinary needs right before your eyes. 

Talking to the manager, it is obvious that the patrons are what gives him the passion of working in the restaurant industry.  “The greatest experience for me is being able to be around the guests, there is no better feeling, it truly means everything for me.” Replied Rick. Our waiter Charlie is gracious and attentive and he provides us with standout service throughout our dining at the restaurant. I find it pleasant that every member of the team here is gracious and attentive. This is certainly something that creates a memorable dining experience. 

Menu Higlights

We are presented with an assortment of delicious sushi. I get to try the Samurai Rolland the Spicy Tuna Roll. The Spicy Tuna Roll has such a deep level of taste. It is among the best Spicy Tuna Rolls I have ever tasted.  The sushi is scrumptious, there is so much taste and flavor in every bite.  The level of spiciness is just perfect. In my opinion, the sushi that I tried could make a non sushi lover fall in love with sushi. 

I had a Malbec. The Malbec has a lot of flavor, there is a fine level of sweetness to the wine as well as a sweet aroma, and it presents itself with a smooth taste and leaves a refreshing feeling on the palate. 

The Chicken Parmesan ($22), served with linguini and marina, gives me the feeling I am in a true Italian establishment of sorts.  The Chicken Parmesan has an artisanal flavor.  These are fine choice cutlets of chicken, they are lightly breaded, and there is just the right amount of sauce. The parmesan cheese is melted on the chicken in a perfect fashion and there is an abundance of taste and flavor in every bite.  The Malbec paired with the Chicken Parmesan complement each other well. 

Dining at Mix Prime is a unique and pleasant experience. They offer menu options that no other restaurant in the area can match. Being able to enjoy sushi as an appetizer while having an Italian meal for dinner is certainly an eclectic and enjoyable experience.  This restaurant certainly gives the patron a desire to return.

View their full dinner menu here.

Hours

Mix Prime in Woodbury is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The bar is open late nightly, and as late as 2am on Friday and Saturday.

https://mixprimewoodbury.com // 203-586-1788

An Interview with Tara Lazar, Founder of F10 Creative

The F10 Creative is a small empire of iconic restaurants in the ever-growing travel destination of Palm Springs, California, less than two hours away from Los Angeles. The restaurant family includes the famous brunch hotspot Cheeky’s, the gorgeous modern steakhouse Mr. Lyons and their classic cocktail hideaway Seymour’s, a lively and al fresco Italian eatery Birba, the sleek and seree hotel Alcazar, and F10 Catering, the go-to service for all top-tier brand and celebrity events in the desert area.

Tara Lazar, a Palm Springs native, who after spending time traveling and sampling flavors around the world, she returned home to build Cheeky’s as the first establishment in the F10 line. Tara has been hands on in every step of the way for each property, from creating the menu and cooking on the line, to designing the atmosphere and touching tables nightly. She now employs almost 200 residents of Palm Springs, and has been an influential voice across staffing, sourcing and serving in the hospitality industry.

Below, Tara discusses the background of Mr. Lyons while highlighting local farms the restaurant group works closely with in addition to which will be the new arrivals to the menu come late summer and early fall.

Tell us your background and how you have brought your expertise to Mr. Lyons.

My background is ten + years in the restaurant business with a lifetime in Palm Springs. I felt there was a need for a glamorous farm forward elegant restaurant in Palm Springs. Certainly a place to see and be seen but with really solid food.

Which dishes on the menu have stood out for you this summer? For guests?

I’m loving the raw zucchini salad with squash blossoms and the Carolina Gold fried rice. It’s nice to have the mix of really good veggie options at the steakhouse.

I noticed you work closely with a number of local farms and markets. Which ingredients are your favorites to utilize and describe your partnership with these farms and businesses.

Everything is local right now since we’re at the peak of summer. I’m always a sucker for our local corn that comes so fresh and sweet you can eat it raw – as the starch hasn’t even started to form. Milliken farms for corn. Munak farms for the heirloom tomatoes. Weiser farms for squash flowers, etc.

Which are your favorite cocktail and dish pairings?

Rittenhouse rye whiskey sour and our roasted bone marrow with oxtail tellicherry pepper gastric.  A great Amarone and our Beef Wellington checks a lot of boxes too.

Which are your favorite dishes? 

We have incredible steak but our sides are [also] the stand outs. Onion rings are exceptional. Crispy brussel sprout leaves with balsamic, and our wedge is dipped in a red wine vinegar so it has this acidic element that helps it stand up to all the rich blue cheese and bacon components that gives it the perfect balance.

What are your plans for transitioning into the fall as far as the menu?

We’re excited to start revamping more classic dishes that seem to have fallen to a bygone time. Everything from onion dips, to green goddess dressings, to an epic chopped salad, or even a perfect lobster bisque. That’s what is piquing my palate right now.

How was the restaurant [Mr. Lyons] concept created and what will be new this coming late summer/early fall?

I am very nostalgic in general – and food and restaurants are my link to my best nostalgic moments. I’ve lived and dined at Mr. Lyons for over 40 years, so I wanted to restore the magic of Palm Springs through this concept. Less and less restauranteurs want huge restaurants with fine dining because it’s a big feat to pull off, but we were ready. We wanted something glamorous and classic and “that” place where if you went to Palm Springs and didn’t visit Mr. Lyons, you didn’t do Palm Springs properly.

New things: Our steak is so good it should be left alone but I want to really play with more interesting bar snacks. Bring back old classics but with great ingredients and fun presentations. That’s what we’re focusing our efforts on in the kitchen lab right now.

http://www.f10creative.com/new/f10-home.html

Roasted Masala in NYC’s Upper West Side

Roasted Masala is a Northern Indian restaurant tucked away in the Upper West Side on Columbus Avenue that serves authentic dishes with bold flavors and spices. These dishes are created from time-honored recipes passed down from the Executive Chef’s grandfather. Restaurant patrons can experience the true tastes of India to New York City while being surrounded by glistening gold and red accents inspired by the lavish Indian palaces with its high ceilings. Chandeliers hang overhead, creating an elegant aesthetic with greenery incorporated throughout to pay homage to the lush gardens these palaces are known for in India.

My guest and I felt very relaxed during our dining experience. When visiting Roasted Masala, allot at least two hours to really enjoy your time here as each dish is so unique and tasty. I, for example, would never forget our appetizer, the Lasooni Gobi, pictured below, that is made with crispy cauliflower, tomato & garlic sauce ($7.95). It quite literally tasted like chicken, and it was hard to take a break between each bite. This is a dish you will order again and again.

Lasooni Gobi

At Roasted Masala, it is encouraged that dishes be shared and served ‘family-style.’ The expansive menu has several main courses featuring a variety of choices, including chicken, beef, goat, lamb, seafood, vegan, and vegetarian (separated in these categories on the menu). To accompany your entrees, there is also the classic Indian rice selections and sides such as mango chutney and cucumber raita.

The menu also includes several types of traditional breads, such as dosas or naan, and a wide selection of starters like Spinach Chaat and Recheado Shrimp.

Our favorites included the Chicken Malai Kabab ($9.95), Beef Meatball Curry ($17.95), and the Tandoori Chicken. As starters, we recommend the Sesame Naan ($3.95), and Baadshah Pulao with cashews, almonds, raisins, saffron, and basmati rice ($6.95). You will fill up fast, so arrive hungry and always be prepared to take some food home with you.

View their full menu here. What I appreciate about their online menu is that it provides a photo of exactly how the dish is plated while clearly noting the level of spice and if it is a gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian dish.

Roasted Masala is BYOB with no corkage fee, but their specialty drinks provide a unique glimpse into some specialty Indian sips that I highly recommend. These include their own on a bubble tea with their Falooda Milk, a pink lightly sweetened strawberry milk shake with basil seeds that is irresistibly refreshing ($5). Others include a variety of Lassis such as Rose, Salted, Mango, and Sweet. I ordered the Rose and would order it again in a heartbeat.

Indian desserts are some of my favorite and Roasted Masala has covered all of the bases. I recommend trying the Gulab Jamun: golden dough puff topped with organic honey ($4.95); and Rabri Jalebi: golden pretzel, creamy cashew, almond, saffron milk ($6.95).

Dahi Batata

Executive Chef Jawad Rehman grew up in the kitchen helping his mother with different recipes, but his real inspiration for pursuing his culinary dreams came from his grandfather. Chef Rehman’s grandfather loved to try new dishes, and as a child he would watch his grandfather help craft lavish Indian wedding feasts using elaborate recipes to create one-of-a-kind dining experiences at these large-scale events. These recipes are the ones he is plating up at Roasted Masala to inspire his diners.

Gulab Jamun // Images courtesy of Roasted Masala

The restaurant features a 50% off lunch special as well as weekly specialty Indo-Chinese and tandoori dishes, which rotate throughout the season.

Roasted Masala provides catering services and can be found on popular service sites including Seamless, GrubHub and DoorDash. During my dining experience, I noticed several takeout orders being picked up for delivering. At least ten to twelve in a two hour time-frame.

They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Lunch begins at 11:30am, and dinner begins at 5pm during the week (closed between 3-5pm Monday-Friday). They are open straight through from lunch to dinner on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11:30am.

https://www.roastedmasala.com // 917-388-3586

Hooked in Montauk Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Eat like a local! There are so many reasons why Hooked Montauk is one of my favorite eateries out east. From the freshest seafood to some of the friendliest service around, Hooked reels in healthy and satisfying salads, grilled, fish and poke bowls, to our East End classics such as their to-die-for lobster roll, local steamers, and ‘off the hook’ plates such as their BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Chicken Sandwich. It is everything you crave and more this summer season. A trip to the beach or park is just not the same without takeout from Hooked.

Hooked is offering a lobster roll special for those looking to bring lunch to the beach in a timely manner. Place your order for take-out before you arrive and enjoy a lobster roll and beverage for a special price. Hooked is located near many beaches making it easy and accessible for those traveling without a vehicle.

With a focus on lobster, discover one of my new must-try dishes for the season, the Tom Lob (pictured below): vine ripened tomato stuffed with lobster salad ($25). They also serve lobster mac and cheese which has been a crowd favorite, a lobster salad roll served with coleslaw, and whole local steamed lobster served with mussels and corn. Owners and long-time locals Brian and Gillian Mooney know how to curate a menu that is perfect for everyone from seafood lovers and those who are health conscious to those who favorite ‘land’ fare and love to dig in to exceptional food that is served up fast.

Tom Lob

Additional must-try, signature dishes are their Lobster Bisque, Kick’n Crab and Corn Chowder, and Grilled Mahi Mahi served as a sandwich with fries or over greens.

Hooked in Montauk is currently open seven days a week from 11:30am. The restaurant is also available for preparing food for parties of up to 20 people.

https://www.hookedmtk.com // 631-668-2111

Dinner at Highway Restaurant & Bar East Hampton

Known for its well-crafted menu, unique nightly specials, and fresh organic ingredients is Highway Restaurant and Bar, located off of Montauk Highway in East Hampton. Chef Justin Finney creates sumptuous specials throughout the week like Chicken Pot Pie Mondays and Thai Thursdays, all in addition to their upscale New American menu with urban and global influences that features a variety of dishes that pay tribute to the bounties of the East End.

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