Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ample Hills of Deliciousness; Ample Hills Ice Cream, Brooklyn, NY

Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Ave
 Brooklyn, NY

Houston, we have a problem.  And her name is ice cream.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good scoop of toffe heath or fresh strawberry.  But I married a icecreamaholic.  And what happens when you mix my recessive genes with her dominate sugartastic ones; a kiddo that loves the stuff.  "What do you want to do for your 8th birthday Sydney?"  "I want a party at Ample Hills, the best ice cream shop in the world!"  How does a parent say "no" to that?

Before opening this Prospect Heights bastion of the new "Brooklyn" cool, Brian Smith was a published Sci-fi author and producer for the Sy Fy station.  Clearly, giving up monster movies for cream was a genius career move.  Sydney got to go back stage to see the magic at work.  What makes that "cracked caramel" so good?  How many egg yolks go in that "egg nog" flavor? (uh, yeah 10!)  "I'm sorry, did you say the 'Munchies' has ritz, potato chips AND pretzels?"  He got to ride the ice cream bike, as did all of his friends.  Props to our friend Emily S ("Emily's Homemade" cookies, amazing!) for pioneering this outing in our circle, it was amazing AND delicious.

We used to walk the twenty or so minutes there every once and a while. It was a good buffer.  Today I discovered that they have an outpost at Pier 4 in the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  But then, on the way home I was reminded of something terribly sinister that I had read this spring.  There is now an Ample Hills factory and shop just down the street at Union at Nevins.   Oh no!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

World Cup Fever in the City, Red Bulls Arena, Harrison, NJ

World Cup Fever in the City
Red Bulls Arena
Harrison, NJ

RED SOX NATION SPOILER ALERT:  My kids might be growing up to be Red Bulls fans.

I'm so sorry Sox Nation.  I tried so hard.  We go to Fenway every year.  They wear Dustin jerseys to school in Brooklyn and to the Bronx for games.  They know that the Manning brothers are no match for Brady, Bledsoe, Eason or Grogan.  They danced in the streets when the B's won the Cup.  We even live five blocks from the Barclay Center where we rooted for KG and Pierce BEFORE they were Nets.  They even hate the Lakers and they don't know why.  But, I think I lost them on soccer.  I'm sorry.  Truly, I am.

It was the World Cup summer that did it.  Like Newton, in Park Slope soccer is king.  Kids stroll the streets in Messi and Neymar jerseys.  The boys play in the fall with AYSO and in the winter and summers with Super Soccer Stars.  This Cup we chose Argentina.  Messi was easy to love, who doesn't like a South American team over those European moneybags (Yanks anyone?).  We were heartbroken when Neymar went out before the finals.  We were even sadder that Messi didn't realize his dream of winning a Cup, and had to lose out to those damn Germans.

But we couldn't go to Brazil, so what's a Sox fan to do?  Head to NJ.  It didn't help that we rooted for France when they won the Cup and the captain of the Red Bulls is Thiery Henry.  We were doomed when Red Bull midfielder Tim Cahill tore it up for Australia. Now Bradley Wright-Philips is tearing up MLS by leading the Golden Boot race with his 17th goal (that we saw live!).    But the final straw were the chants from the fans, let's go Red Bulls as the boys sung along "let's go Red Sox" and we distinctly heard others joining in.  It ain't Foxboro, the Garden and it sure ain't Fenway, but at least it's in Jersey, not the Bronx!

Eating with Kiddos in China; Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing, PRC

Eating with Kiddos in China
Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing

The most significant source of fun and frustration traveling with kids is eating.  We were delighted at how willing they were to experiment. We were willing to give them a "break" from Chinese and also avoided the obvious.  That formula seemed to work. 

Familiar foods were always a great place to start.  Our first delights were donuts and dim sum, something our kids are used to and love. We sold them on dim sum for years before we travelled. 

Easy staples, available everywhere, included fried rice (although staying awake during jet lag made this takeout),  noodles, wonton soup and common dishes like sweet and sour or veggies without sauce are everywhere. 

Dumplings are the nexus of kid friendly and adventurous.  Fillings ranged from typical pork to intestines.  Staff know American kids are not used to the later, and will not offer unless you ask.  

Meals like Peking duck were more for the adults and the experience.  They tried it, but settled on duck spring rolls and  veggies. 

Then there is the Andrew Zimmern "off the map"; watch daddy and Nic try stuff.  I am a big believer in modeling and moderation. So, I let them watch me try a cricket, not a scorpion.  

Our goto fast food break in the states is Subway. Clean, relatively healthy (compared to McD or KFC) and there is always something they like. We were fortunate that they were everywhere.   We did DQ one time too.  Sometimes kids just need a little home, a playground, the pool.  Meatballs on sub rolls so hit the spot for our boys. 

Sometimes daddies just need their iced coffee too without worrying about water born bacteria in their ice. When it's 100 and feels like 115 because the humidity is 85% I am thankful for a little slice of home too.