Karis Gesua is one half of the dream duo behind natural ice lolly brand LICKALIX. After whipping up batches of ice pops in her home kitchen, Karis and husband Dominic decided it was time to bid adieu to their day jobs and set up LICKALIX with the mission to start a lolly revolution!
From fruit laden lollies, alcohol spiked popsicles and chocolate dreams blended from cacao and coconut milk, LICKALIX really have created a family of flavours fit for the freezer (although these won’t last long in the ice box!). When Karis isn’t formulating new frozen treats, she loves nothing more than heading out with Rocco and Dominic for a some well earned family down-time…which mostly includes equal measures of playing and eating. From local loves to London stalwarts, here Karis reveals her favourite family bites in and around town…
1. I’d like a table for…
Two at one of my favourite London restaurants, Ostuni. My husband and I are so busy both running our business we don’t get much time together that isn’t family time or work. A great Italian with food roots based in Puglia. It’s a special date night treat. Their pink grapefruit margaritas were so good I started to make them myself and their green olive leaf and truffle pasta is always a top choice.
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
Whatever time Rocco, my son, wakes up ;)…so anytime from about 5am most days. Or late nights at 12am, but caffeine at 12am would just silly. Most cafes aren’t open at this hour so for coffee on the go, I grab an iced coffee at a local Portuguese deli at the end of my road.
Also clever birds catch babyccinos! Rocco loves them, he gets to be just like us and it keeps him entertained so we can enjoy our coffee at the same time. They’ve now become a great, healthy and easy snack (or fun distraction as he helps to make them) at home as well.
3. Best brunch with kids?
Ou that’s a hard one as I’m not really a brunch person. I tend to go for lunch and marry it with a kids activity out and I match the place for lunch based on the day out planned…
Family fun dim sum – we go to a great family dim um place called Wing Yip in Cricklewood. Really authentic, down to earth place with delicious food and we pop to the Asian supermarket afterward. They also do fresh bubble teas in the cafe next door, so ask for it without the bubbles and it’s just a fruit smoothie for dessert.
Sacro Cuore italian wood oven pizzaria in Kensal Rise. The staff are so nice. Food is served within about 5mins of ordering and the pizza is delicious. They also have great gelato as a desert treat. Also a fab option for an early dinner as well. We often play at Queens Park playground. Their playground there is good and the splash paddling pool is fun as well.
Diana Memorial playground we go for lunch at this delicious Vietnamese place called Tem Tep. My fave food, and I find it hard to find a good Vietnamese outside of East London. Family friendly each time I’ve been, and they’re not busy during lunchtime. Rocco loves the noodles and summer rolls. This place is only a 5min walk from the playground.
We love the Southbank for a Friday fun filled day out, there is just so much to do. We always go for lunch at the street food market behind the Royal Festival Hall. You can choose between soooooo many fabulous types of food. Perfect use for the clip on chair (see my answer to question number 7) to be able to eat anywhere anytime. Another great place if there are lots of you.
Museum of the Docklands is also really great for kids so we go there as well as the Cross Rail rooftop gardens and then have lunch on the river at Pizza Pilgrims next to the museum.
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
We don’t really do kids menus. Rocco is still a toddler so at this stage the kids menu portion is often too big for him and I find that most kids menus don’t have less salt or sugar but just plainer, and sometimes more boring food. So what normally happens is he just eats the same food as me or whichever adults he’s with. Or we get a starter and main to share altogether and it works really well. He’s now so used to trying lots of different foods. He may love Vietnamese as much as me 🙂 so I just pick my favourite cuisines or restaurants and go from there.
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
Now Rocco is a crazy toddler with way too much energy so we often do a park picnic. Kids can do what they want, everyone brings something (including a bottle of prosecco), mess doesn’t matter and it’s easy. If choosing somewhere indoors, it’s always in my fave Almas cafe, Rubios or the Royal Oak pub, which is a local for us. They are all super family friendly with great food.
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
Well obviously I’m going to say it…but our LICKALIX lollies! Rocco is obsessed, his favourite is the mango one. They’re guilt free for me and gets extra fruit into his diet. I find in this heat, our organic lollies cool him down and then they pick him up when he’s been lethargic from the heat and make him happy again. We’re now stocked in a lot of the places I take him out to for fun days out so this makes it easy to have a healthy treat to choose. Although I’m not sure if he’ll ever leave Queens Park without a lolly again 😉
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
I would probably have two. Try baby led weaning and be prepared.
I did baby led weaning with Rocco and it was great. A bit of a mix works well as well at the beginning with things like porridge but he got the hang of a spoon pretty quickly and if not that’s what hands are for. It means that I could bring food for Rocco, set him up at the same time my food arrived or whenever the best time is. Then he’s busy eating his food and I can enjoy mine. I would bring food for him or just sides of veg & fruit and often he would then just share my food as long as it had no added salt or sugar.
Secondly, be prepared. I have an ‘eating out’ kit, I don’t call it that, it’s just a mental checklist I try and remember to put in a bag but it helps. Depending on where we’re going I used to bring our foldable clip on high chair. I got a Mountain Buggy one. It’s amazing. Fold small, comes with a bag and fits in the buggy and clips on securely to almost any table, also doubles up as a spare high chair at home and doesn’t take up room. Means that if we’re eating out in a large group and I knew there wouldn’t be enough high chairs, I wouldn’t have to go to a kid specific restaurant. I could choose wherever I liked and you can fit the foldable clip chair on to almost any table and squeeze in easily. I have a silicone cloud mat that the chair clips on to so I don’t need to worry if the restaurant has kids plates, the kids making a mess or things not being clean. Bring toys that they can play with at the table before the food comes. Then a bib, their own water bottle and kid cutlery. Again you then don’t have to be bound to go to kid specific restaurants, you have everything when you need it and they don’t knock over water and make a mess.
Now that Rocco is two and a bit, I don’t need to worry as much about baby lean weaning and being prepared. He sits on any chair and I just need a few of the things to make sure meals go smoothly, but in the beginning the things above really helped to make sure eating out was a pleasure and not a stress for our family. You don’t want pay a lot of money to eat out and just be really stressed the whole time. So embrace eating out with kids as then they will get used to it and it will be a pleasure.
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
Normally takeaway as I’m so tired but on the odd occasion I do love a good date night out at a restaurant that’s been on my list to try or old fave restaurant of ours. Just more time and childcare for more date night would be lovely and I would take either takeaway or take me out straight away 😉
9. My earliest food memory…
Brown spaghetti…now I’ve said it out loud what a weird one but that truly is what popped into my head first ;). My mum has always been quite healthy and think she started with the wholegrains from the beginning and just served what we already had in the fridge and cupboard. I remember my mum making a lot faces and art with my meals. I was such a fussy eater and there was nothing I would eat so my mum worried, but thank goodness I now eat absolutely everything. I also remember family meal times. My mum and dad were both good cooks. I remember helping and playing in the kitchen while they cooked. We would always have a family meal at the table together and we would all eat the same thing, which is what I try and do now with Rocco as much as possible.
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
Probably my best friends from school as we all live all over the place so to sit down and have a proper conversation without being interrupted by the kids before being able to finish just one sentence would be lovely as I don’t get to see them as much as I want to. Or was I meant to say famous mums? If so I would choose Serena Willams (I play a lot of tennis and have always admired her), David Walliams (because he is hilarious), Beyonce (because she is just so fabulous it hurts) and Jessica Alba (business mum, I love her brand and it’s amazing how she’s grown her business).
Images courtesy of LICKALIX