a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

Benihana in Chelsea, London – dinner and a show for the whole family

On the Kings Road in Chelsea is Benihana. A few blocks from Sloane Square tube station, Benihana is just steps away from the Marks & Spencer. Step through the glass door and down the stairs into the bar and you’re in for a whole new adventure of food and fun!

If you haven’t been to Benihana before it’s a Teppanyaki style Japanese hibachi steak house.  What is Teppanyaki you ask? Think of  grilling whilst  juggling and you’re getting close to the picture. You dine around a flat hibachi grill table and a chef prepares a meal for the table using all kinds of fabulous stage enhancements using fire, steam, chopping shrimp tails in the air and catching them.  Its’ good fun and delicious food.

The menu allows you to choose your protein and offers set multi-course meals. So for example, if you’re in the mood for a little surf & turf you can order the “Hibachi Steak & Lobster Tail.”

In addition to your protein of choice(like steak and lobster), their traditional hibachi dinner includes:

    • Japanese onion soup
    • Benihana Salad
    • Hibachi Vegetables
    • Hibachi Prawn Appetizer
    • Rice
    • Japanese tea (upon request)

Traditional hibachi lunches offer the same set course selection minus the soup. There seems to be a few less combo-options for the hibachi at lunch but more bento box meals on offer. Lunch meals are also a bit cheaper than their dinner prices. At both meals their is also sushi and other appetizers available. Here is the full Benihana Chelsea menu for your review.

Benihana ChelseaWhen visiting our group was mainly composed of Mums, but it seems like the ideal place to bring kids for a celebration dinner. Indeed they make a huge deal out of birthdays, so be prepared to be the center of attention if it’s yours. This includes balloons, singing in Japanese from the whole staff and birthday cake!

Whether you’re coming for a birthday, a celebration, lunch or dinner – there is so much going on the kids will love it.  In particular I know my boys will find it fun to sit at a “hot” table. Be entertained by the jokes, flames, and flying food/knives of our chef. Most importantly I think they’ll really enjoy the food - it’s simple yet delicious flavours will appeal to them and having 2 types of sauce to dip things in is always a plus.

Even though they have a kids menu(which doubles as a hat!), as far as kids menu prices go, at £12-£18 it’s on the medium to high range.  But in this case I think it’s worth it because I know my kids will eat it. The food is excellent and being a part of the creation process always seems to help with their appetite.

The trick will be trying to convince them not to play with their food when we return home. :0)

Top tips:

  • They have highchairs
  • Lots of stairs so leave the pram at home if you can
  • Remind the kids to keep their fingers back from the hot table – before/during your visit
  • Come hungry
  • They have a private room for parties/events/VIP’s (and a sneaky VIP exit!)
  • Ask for the Japanese tea – it’s included in the traditional lunch/dinner but you have to ask
  • Let them know if you’re celebrating a birthday

If you’re unfamiliar with Benihana Chelsea please click on their landing page and see a short clip of what Benihana is about.

Don’t just take my word on it – here are some reviews of Benihana Chelsea from other Mums & Bloggers:

Disclosure – I was treated to dinner by Benihana but the views on the food and experience and recommendation are my own.

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4 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Sensitive Baby – food intolerance to almost everything

tinkerbellAt about 3 weeks of age, baby “Tinkerbell” became generally irritable and a veritable puke-fountain. She’s nurse, then immediately spit it all back up with force, then want to nurse again as she’d just lost her lunch. She’d repeat this pattern for about 3-4 times until she was exhausted and I was tapped out on breastmilk. In between feedings she remained irritable, would vomit, arch and fuss. Additionally she had a very red and raw sore bottom.

It was the strangest thing – like flipping a switch. The first 3 weeks were fine then suddenly in that third week everything changed. At first I though perhaps she had a little tummy bug and it would get better soon. But as it continued and baby and I were having to both change clothes multiple times a day and our household was just swimming in baby puke I knew we needed help.

I made an appointment with her pediatrician who was first concerned that it may be pyloric stenosis. Luckily this was ruled out by an ultrasound so that left looking at food intolerance. As she was 100% breastfed that means something I was eating was bothering her. The DR gave me the choice of stopping nursing and giving her some special baby formula or continuing nursing, but going on an exclusion diet to identify the intolerance.

The DR actually pushed for the formula option but I wanted to at least give the nursing my best try before handing in the towel. When it comes to nursing I have a bit of history of with stubbornness. You see baby 1, (my big boy now) “Captain Hook” never wanted to latch on when he was a baby. We took him to 6 different Lactation Consultants, 1 pediatric Osteopath and Multiple Breastfeeding Clinics but nothing worked so I ended up pumping for 6 months and giving it to him in a bottle. To keep up the flow I’d wake up every few hours to pump even while he slept. Luckily this baby, Tinkerbell didn’t have any latching problems, just an intolerance.

So, before trying the special formula I decided to see what improvements if any could be made by modifying my diet this time. At first the DR had me cut out all DAIRY / GLUTEN / SOY / EGGS / NUTS. So what to eat? Pretty much meat, fish, fruit, veggies and rice. For snacks I have rice cakes with jam or sliced ham or fruit. I had wanted to try a dairy-free, gluten-free diet in any case so this was a good excuse. I was supposed to exclude everything for 2 wks, then re-introduce each item one at a time to see what was disturbing her. It turns out it’s all of them to some degree. So, as long as I don’t have any of these it’s smooth sailing. But let a shaving of Parmesan be in a salad, or a light dusting of flour on sauteed veggies and I’m in a world of trouble with baby-girl. After having something off-diet, the next evening she’ll be fussy, puking repeatedly, gassy and very irritable. After being up with her all night as she cried and fussed after inadvertently having some gluten – I’ve gotten very very careful about reading all ingredients and double/triple checking before I eat things.

Her intolerance isn’t equal. The worst offenders for her seem to be the Dairy & Gluten. Whilst those make her miserable in almost every way, the soy seems to have a similar yet milder reaction while the eggs and nuts seem to give her diarrhea and raw skin on her bottom and irritability, sparing us the total puke-fest.

Having now been on the diet for a bit I’ve found not only does she suffer when I’ve slipped, but so have I. I already knew I was lactose intolerant, but I still enjoyed the occasional yogurt or goats cheese which didn’t seem to trigger my intolerance. But now, not having any dairy or gluten, when some has made it’s way back into my diet I found I’ve had digestive issues. So, the restrictive diet for the baby has shown I do better without the dairy and gluten as well.

Having 2 older boys who are cheese and pasta fans – I’ve found myself making separate meals for myself vs what I’m making for the family. But seeing the benefits the baby has experienced, and for myself feel that I might start moving the rest of the family to a gluten-free / dairy-free diet as well. There’s no reason to cut out the soy / eggs / nuts for them as they seem to do ok with them.

What I’ve found most challenging is eating out. Even most salads which you’d think would be safe have nuts or a sprinkling of cheese or croutons. Sides of sauteed veggies often have some flour added and hidden ingredients lurk everywhere. I find myself ordering grilled fish and veggies, or steaks just to know I’ll be eating pure protein and not a prepared food.

I’ve bought a few cookbooks, but my favorite so far has been the one by Kiwi Magazine called Allergy Friendly Food for Families. It is big and bright with good photos and each page is color coded to show what intolerance it addresses. I’ve also been adapting some of my favorite recipes to be gluten or dairy free. Some of my favorite gluten free products to date include:

  • Tesco’s Free From Crumpets
  • Tesco’s Free From Digestive Biscuits
  • Doves Farm Self Rising White Flour

Hopefully she’ll grow out of these intolerances – but she might not. Even if she does, I’m not sure we’d go back to gluten and dairy seeing how much better I feel without it.

Have you had to deal with food intolerance in your family? What are some products or tips you recommend?

 

 

 

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4 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Mexican Food in London – Dinner at the Mexican Supper Club by Discovery Foods

Whilst Indian food might be the second national cuisine of England, the same could be said for Mexican food in America. Mexican, or even Tex-Mex  (an Americanized version of Mexican food incl Fajitas) can be found on most menus of “American” style restaurants. Salsa and guacamole are regular table condiments – and the heat from chiles are a customary addition to many a dish.

When I lived in London 10 years ago – there was absolutely no Mexican food available. I couldn’t find restaurants and stores were empty of salsa, taco mix or even tortillas. This time around – 10 years later, I’ve been delighted to find a little Mexican section in the International aisle of most large retailers. Because it’s so new here, it seems to be put together in packages so it serves as a complete set to introduce the market to.

A couple weeks back I was delighted to be invited to a dinner hosted by Discovery Foods, the chefs of Benito’s Hat and The London Foodie. The dinner was to introduce Discovery Foods line of Mexican Foods, prepared by the chefs of Benito’s Hat, a lovely Mexican restaurant in London in the supper club of Louis, The London Foodie. The event was delightful – and included both food bloggers and parenting bloggers as guests – along with hosts.

 

I think that by featuring the Discovery Foods ingredients in this setting was a brilliant idea . The food prepared by Benito’s Hat was amazing – and  it was a great idea to take you from the standard that you might have done at home – of tacos or fajitas and used the ingredients to take your meal to the next level. For the starter we had Taquitos Dorados de Papa con dos Quesos (a cheese and potato filled corn taco with avocado salsa) and 

the main was Tacos deCamaron (Garlic & Paprika Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Mayonnaise)

So one of the things I’ve found having travelled a bit is that each in each country the “foreign” food gets adjusted to the local tastes. For example, in Belgium when they order Chinese food, their eggrolls are served with curry sauce! (I don’t think they even have curry in China!) The same goes for Mexican food. As a very broad generalization, I’ve found that the Mexican food I’ve had in England, have less heat or spice than their American counterparts.

When chatting with the hosts from Discovery Foods I learned that Discovery Foods sells their products throughout Europe, that while they offer the same products, Fajita kits, taco seasoning etc. the same products are spicier in the Nordics than here in England – and this is because they have a more evolved taste and palate for Mexican cuisine, having enjoyed it far longer than it’s been available or popular here in England. I found that fascinating! Who’d have thought? Well I guess the Vikings have been exploring exotic and different tastes for centuries so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.

At home I cook Mexican Food or incorporate the flavors into my meals at least once a week. So I was delighted to be given a selection of Discovery Foods items to try out at home. To my delight – I’ve found that their “Medium” heat Fajita stir in sauce had a deeper flavor profile and a little more heat than others I’ve tried so far here in England.

Fajita’s are one of my favorite mid-week meals to make for the family. They are quick and delicious – even quicker using the stir-in sauce from Discovery Foods. To prep you slice the chicken, onions and peppers. You can then toss them into the same fry pan and cook it until the chicken is cooked through, adding in the Discovery Foods Fajita Sauce. You can then serve it with cheese, sour cream and salsa as condiments within it’s tortilla shell. Total time from prep to table is less than 15 minutes.

I’m delighted to have been invited to this event – it’s inspired me to go visit Benito’s Hat restaurant, visit the London Foodie for one of his Supper Clubs (Japanese tasting menu here I come!) and try out more of Discovery Foods line of Mexican food products – especially since I’ve found their “Medium” to have more heat than the similarly labelled “Medium” of competitors.

Do check out the blogs posts about this event from some of the other lovely guests:

Cherapeno has captured some amazing photos of each of the courses, and even better has shared the recipe for the delicious cinnamon flavored desert, Buñuelos (Cinnamon Fritters)!

Hot and Chili also has written about the event, is sharing some great photos and close ups of the dishes and has included the recipes for most of the courses we were served including the amazing Discovery chipotle and garlic mayo sauce! Yum!

 

The Bottom of the Ironing Basket has shared info about the event, and as one new to Mexican cuisine her delight at how tasty and light this cuisine can be – and how easy it is to make and serve with kids at home.

 

The whole Discovery Foods product line, recipes and party ideas can be found here: Discovery Foods

 

Also be sure to check out the blog of The London Foodie to learn more about his Supper Club, and his reviews of other London Supper Clubs and restaurants.

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5 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Quick, kid friendly pantry red pesto pasta and garlic chicken – takes only 20 minutes!

I love to cook (and even more so love to eat!) but as a working Mom I often don’t have as much time as I’d like to have for planning and cooking meals. So, one of the tricks I’ve developed over time is to keep ready to use ingredients, so the prep-time of cooking is shortened, without a loss of flavor.

I’ve found one of the easiest ways to be prepared for whipping together a quick dinner is to have ready to use herbs in a tube. They are handy – and you don’t have to worry about a big clump of herbs going bad quickly in the fridge.

Here is tonight’s dinner that I put together using all ingredients I had handy which took under 20 mins from prep to table:

kid friendly quick and easy red pesto pantry pasta

Ingredients:

  • Quick cook chicken breasts
  • 250g Spiral pasta
  • Sun dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup aged parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden minced basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

ingredients for red pesto pantry pasta with gourmet garden herbs

 

For the Pasta:

Cook your pasta per the directions and your own tastes. I generally add a dash of salt to the water when cooking, my spiral pasta takes approx 13 mins to cook. Cook and drain.

For the Red Pesto Sauce and Chicken:

At the same time, start 1 pan for the red pesto sauce and another to cook the chicken. Divide the olive oil and Gourmet Garden minced garlic between the pan for the pesto sauce and the chicken – turn both to medium heat.

gourmet garden garlic

Once the two pans with olive oil and Gourmet Garden garlic are heated do the following:

Red Pesto Pan (in which there is heated olive oil and garlic)

add the sun dried tomatoes, stir, and then add the can of chopped tomatoes and stir. Add in the Gourmet Garden minced basil and 2/3 of the grated cheese, stir and turn heat to low.

3 pans for cooking red pesto pantry pasta and garlic chicken

Chicken Pan (in which there is heated olive oil and garlic)

add the chicken, cover, after about 4 mins turn the chicken over and cook another 4 mins until fully cooked and golden brown and the internal temp of the chicken is 165 F or 71.1 C

To serve:

On your plate put one chicken breast, pasta with red pesto sauce and garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese and you can add a breadstick.

Total prep time, about 2 mins. Total cooking time, about 13 mins. 

Disclosure: While the recipe, opinions and cooking are all my own – the Gourmet Garden herbs were provided to me free as part of a cooking competition.

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5 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Beaufort House in Chelsea… Our local with kids

For some time, Beaufort House in Chelsea has been our go-to place when going out to eat with the kids. Their Brasserie is a large open room, tastefully decorated – and most importantly ringed with booth seats.Parents who are reading this – I think you’ll fully appreciate the strategic advantage of this. We put the boys in the middle, and my husband and I sit at the ends so there is no escape!

Fortunately the kids love eating there as well. We’re always warmly welcomed by the staff, while there are less kids there at dinner, other families have surely felt the warm welcome for families, as on Saturdays and Sundays this place is packed with families enjoying leisurely brunch/lunch etc. Hakim, the front of house Manager is extremely welcoming to kids and families and while the waitstaff has generally been different people each time we’ve visited they’ve all been very kind and great with the kids (and their needs for extra napkins and ketchup!)

From the kids perspective – they’ve enjoyed the tasty kids meals. The kid’s menu is a nicely designed menu/placemat with scenes of London. Each child gets their own menu/placemat as well as their own set of Beaufort House colored pencils with sharpeners. There’s enough to color to last the whole meal! On one visit, their delight – the boys were even given Beaufort House boys. This has happened once, so I’m not sure if it was a one off thing or not.

We found the kids meal prices reasonably priced and sized and includes dessert. (They were even running a kids eat free promo for a while, whose absence I miss!)

For adults I’ve been impressed with the creative menu, which seems to change frequently – and their cocktails are delicious.

While we’ve spent most of our time downstairs in the ground floor Brassierie, they do have a Member’s Club above.

This week, I was invited along with some other London Bloggers to come see the Member’s Club. The club is spread over several floors and while during the evenings it’s generally full with members and their guests – during the days they use the event spaces for kids parties! I think I’ve found our new birthday venue.

Stairs up to Members Club above the Brasserie (it’s over several floors)

Guests were served Mojitos, champagne and delicious appetizers like duck spring rolls, mini fish and chips, truffle arancini and decadent lemon meringue mini pies.

Beaufor House Champagne Bar on the top floor, this has been used for teen disco birthday parties

(Sadly I was unable to partake of the cocktails and pate, and some of the other tasty looking items because of my baby bump)

While you probably wouldn’t see those items on the menu for a kid’s party, the kids party menu and setup looks interesting, and seems like it would be nice for the parents accompanying them.

Kids Party in Club Room at Beaufort House, this room can also be used as a screening room and there is enough room for an entertainerI’m glad I was invited along and get to check out the Member’s Club and hope to be back soon for future events. They had a children’s event over the summer with Pippa’s Poppets, and from speaking with Simon, one of the co-owners it looks like their planning on more family focused events during the daytime, which I think would be great and certainly look forward to.

For the neighborhood, I think their prices are pretty good for children’s parties. Here’s a photo of their brochure for the price list for kids parties (accurate as of this publication, but do ring them in case menu items or prices change in the future)

Have you been to a kids party here before? Or visited the Brasserie with kids? What did you think? 

For another perspective on Beaufort House, read this blog post from Life At the Zoo, Beaufort House Chelsea – A Hidden Gem.

See what the Domestic Goddesque has to say about it here Domestic Goddesque, Cocktails at Beaufort House and also more reviews here at the Goodlife Bloggers , Beaufort House King’s Road Chelsea – yes please, thank you very much!

Beaufort House kids party menu

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5 years ago 6 Comments Short URL

The most outrageous lie I’ve told my children and gotten away with for over a year!…

When we lived in Chicago we had a daily commute of 7 miles in the morning and evening – that, due to speed limits and traffic took 45-1.5hrs each way and passed 4-6 McDonald’s depending upon the route. My kids had an unnatural ability to spot those Golden Arches from blocks away and create an unholy din in the car as they’d begin clamoring for Happy Meals.

While I don’t have anything against a Happy Meal – the problem was my kids never actually ate the food. So it became an expensive waste. They would only ever just drink the juicebox and play with the toy. We quickly learned that we could just purchase the Happy Meal toy from the drive through for less than $1, and they’d be happy – but it’s certainly not a precedent I wanted to set on a daily-drive basis.

So when we moved from Chicago to London – we got rid of our cars. Our daily commute now involves walking, buses, the tube and an occasional taxi. But here’s where we get to the good part. You see we seized up on the opportunity of the move, and that things are different here in England – to tell our children, that “There is no McDonald’s in England.” This strategy has served us amazingly well! We’ve even walked down the street past it and they’ve not noticed (as we’ve drawn their attention away…) thanks in part due to how different in appearance the McDonald’s restaurant locations are here, and how small their external signage and arches are. Thank you local building authority and regulations!!!

So we’ve gotten away with this for over a year. Recently, our 6yr old said he spotted a McDonald’s from the bus near his school, we told him he must have been mistaken, that it was advertising for America. Which, familiar with ads on his TV shows etc – he’s buying for now.

So how about you – what’s the most outrageous lie that you’ve told your kids? Did it work?

 

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6 years ago 5 Comments Short URL
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