We decided to try the sumptuous brunch at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California (www.ritzcarlton.com/en/properties/halfmoonbay/default.htm).
Other than the drop-dead gorgeous views of the Pacific Coast, the main attraction here is the food – some 300 choices in all, much of it locally sourced – the fruits, vegetables, chicken, beef, ham and lamb. And despite all the kids, there’s not a chicken finger in sight.
“I don’t do kids' food at the brunch,” says Xavier Salomon, the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, and he adds, parents rarely ask for it – not when kids can eat delectable mashed potatoes, roast beef, just-made sushi rolls, veggies in season and mini-quiches that they can serve themselves. “And, of course, they go crazy for the desserts,” he says with a smile.
Chef Salomon says he’s most proud that the food at the brunch is so fresh, coming from a dozen local farms and purveyors with 11 chefs cooking, slicing and serving as we eat. No wonder this brunch is so popular in the Bay Area that people drive an hour or more to indulge. For some, it becomes an annual tradition to celebrate a birthday or Easter.
Half Moon Bay (www.visithalfmoonbay.org), famous for its fall pumpkin crop and pumpkin festival, is also known for its spectacular beaches, redwood forests and hiking trails along the bluffs. The region south of San Francisco also offers terrific opportunities for families that want their kids to see where their food comes from. There are farms here that date back to the 1800s and many welcome visitors. Kids will especially like Harley Farms Goat Dairy (www.harleyfarms.com) in Pescadero, where they can ogle the baby goats and sample goat cheese and fudge made with goat milk.
The hotel sits high on scenic bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean with two golf courses, tennis courts, walking trails to the beach and outdoor fire pits. Some of the rooms even have their own private fire pits where guests can sit and take in the ocean views while the kids make s’mores with the hotel’ s’mores kits. Fun!
Vacation is also a great time to encourage kids to try new foods and if you can afford it, splurge on a “special” meal, like brunch. It’s guaranteed to be memorable. (Another over-the-top brunch your gang is guaranteed to like is at the historic Broadmoor (www.broadmoor.com) at the base of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The kids will love the chocolate fountain!)
Of course, it’s not just big, fancy places where you can enjoy a memorable meal. At Dorothy’s Tamales in Fair Play, Colo., for example, we chatted up Dorothy, the 70-something grandmother and mother of eight who has won a loyal following for the tamales she learned to make from her grandmother.
You can also get your junior foodies into the kitchen. In Hershey, Pa., this spring, the Chocolate Lab at the Hershey Story (www.hersheystory.org) offers chocolate-themed classes daily. Kids also are invited to construct an old-fashioned toy pinwheel in the “Sugar, Spice, Slugs and Snails: Childhood in Early America” exhibit from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in April (www.hersheypa.com/).
And this summer, kids and teens not only get cooking lessons at Vermont’s Essex Resort and Spa’s Camp Cook (www.vtculinaryresort.com/campcook/), but they visit the chicken coop, the onsite gardens and local farms. (Rates start at $199 per night per room; the price for Camp Cook is $400 per child per week, not including taxes.)
Georgia’s Jekyll Island Club Hotel (www.jekyllclub.com/packages/kids-cooking-camp/) also offers a kids cooking camp this summer. And Atlantis in the Bahamas has a first-rate kids-size demonstration kitchen where your budding chefs, ages 6 to 12, can take a break from the sun and waterslides and make molten chocolate cakes, homemade pretzels and more.
Take the kids to visit a local food factory. A perennial favorite is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory tour in Waterbury, Vt., (www.benjerry.com/scoop-shops/factory-tours/), complete with ice cream samples.
Did you know that the national headquarters for PEZ candies (www.pez.com) is in Orange, Conn.? You can even watch the production process and make your own dispenser.