A bucket list family vacation at the plaza’s eloise suite_ travel + leisure

The delicious absurdity of staying in the Eloise Suite at New York City’s Plaza hotel reached its apotheosis at bedtime on our first night. Deep fried chicken fingers My daughters, who are seven and five—I’ll refer to them here as Fern and Pippi—had put on their pajamas and brushed their teeth. Baked chicken tenders recipe no breading We’d read (from Eloise, naturally), and it was time to turn out the lights. Homemade chicken strips recipe The task was more difficult than I’d expected.

Easy chicken fingers recipe On the wall above the king-size bed hung bright pink neon letters spelling out eloise in the book’s distinctive font, and though I flipped various switches and toyed with various plugs, I couldn’t figure out how to dim the neon. Oven fried chicken fingers While I was on the phone with the front desk, Fern and Pippi noticed, much to their delight, that their shadows on the white bedspread were pink. Homemade chicken fingers recipe I can’t say the discovery made it any easier to get them to go to sleep, but it lent a distinctly festive air to our wait for the maintenance man.

Staying at the Plaza had been Pippi’s idea because the classic children’s book series written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight was popular in our reading lineup. Chicken strips recipe easy My daughters adored the books’ depiction of an indulged, mischievous, and bitingly funny six-year-old wreaking havoc inside the famous hotel. Chicken tenders recipe healthy When I was a child, my favorite part of Eloise was any scene involving her pet turtle Skipperdee. Chicken tenders recipe ideas (I loved his miniature sneakers.) But I suspect my girls’ more playful sensibility is revealed by the fact that their favorite part is when Eloise torments her tutor, Philip, by repeating everything he says.

We visited New York over a long weekend in July, and making this pilgrimage was a big deal in all sorts of ways. Chicken tenders recipe oven For starters, it was our first real, pure, voluntary family vacation—we weren’t traveling to see relatives or toting the girls along on a work trip (we live in St. Baked chicken fingers panko Louis, where I’m a novelist and my husband is a professor). Crispy chicken fingers recipe When Fern was a baby, we’d taken her with us to Arizona, where I was attending a book festival. Easy chicken fingers One night, after coaxing her to bed around 8 p.m., as my husband and I sat on our hotel-room floor eating takeout (next to the bathroom, no less), we had a haunting realization: traveling with little kids is tough. How to cook chicken fingers Having a second child didn’t make things easier, nor did our discovery that Pippi has multiple food allergies, which means that we generally avoid restaurants. How to make homemade chicken fingers Thus, this trip was not only a celebration of all things Eloise, but also an experiment to determine if our kids had reached the age where a vacation with them could actually feel like a vacation.

We also had an Eloise-themed tea at the Plaza’s elegant Palm Court, and this was where we encountered the trip’s only real snafu. Deep fried chicken tenders recipe With regard to Pippi’s allergies, I’d been told in advance by the Plaza that the restaurant could accommodate any special food requests, and the chef’s assistant had patiently sent me ingredient lists and photos of, for example, the packaging of the frozen chicken tenders, which was how I realized the breading contained eggs. Chicken strips recipe ideas After all the back and forth, I decided it was simplest to just bring Pippi’s own food to the tea. Zaxby’s chicken fingers recipe She and I had discussed what she’d enjoy and decided on Oreos and gummy worms. Dipping sauce for chicken fingers (Hey, the goal was to be safe and festive, not healthy.) But the truth is that bringing Oreos and gummy worms into that grand space—being a “food allergy family,” being our idiosyncratic selves—seemed weird; it felt like a faux pas in a way that bringing food to, say, Panera, never has. Oven chicken fingers And this was because the Palm Court staffers were so very gracious. Chicken fingers recipe fried I suspect the premium they place on customer service made it impossible for them to believe it was fun—it was enough—for Pippi to drink ice water out of an Eloise teacup and eat gummy worms off an Eloise china plate, while her sister ate all the finger sandwiches. Deep fried chicken fingers recipe After this debacle, which I’m pretty sure seemed like a debacle only to the adults, I went shopping at Whole Foods, and Pippi and I ate the rest of our meals in the Nanny Suite while my husband and Fern mostly went out.

I realize that to people unacquainted with food allergies this might sound depressing. Chicken strips recipe oven But as both a reader and a writer, I’d argue that all stories are subjective—including that of Eloise herself. How to make chicken strips batter Is she actually a spoiled brat abandoned by her parents and left in the hands of a paid caretaker? Sure, but she’s also a plucky heroine who’s still an icon for young girls decades after Kay Thompson created her, in 1955. Zaxby’s chicken finger plate calories Now, when we reminisce about our trip, my daughters say their favorite parts were Central Park, the striped door of the suite, and the fancy floral armchairs, where they sat in dress-up clothes. Recipe chicken fingers Meanwhile, for my husband and me, our favorite part was the realization that traveling with kids does get easier. Baked chicken tenders calories The logistics are still not simple, but they’re a lot less challenging than they used to be. Cooking chicken tenders on stove For all of us, the trip felt like a decadent deviation from our usually unglamorous lives. Homemade chicken tenders fried It felt, you might even say, like a chapter in the book we’re writing as a family. Baked chicken strips in oven Eloise Suite from $2,043; theplazany.com.