Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Serena Sutcliffe’s London

The head of Sotheby’s International Wine Department since 1991 was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 2006.

January 14 2012
John Stimpfig

“One of the many blissful things about weekends at home in Marylebone is waking up without the tyranny of the alarm clock. We might not surface till 9am and always begin the day with Radio 3, masses of freshly ground coffee, some yoghurt, honey and toast.

I travel a lot for work, and with so many Saturday auctions in New York and Hong Kong, it’s both a rarity and a treat to have a whole weekend with my husband, David Peppercorn, who is also a master of wine. So the first thing we do is have a summit about what to do, eat and drink.

If we’re not going to be drinking wine at lunchtime, I will permit myself a rare squirt of scent, which, working in the fine-wine trade, is virtually forbidden during the week. However, not having to dress for New Bond Street, my clothes will be ultra-casual – invariably a pair of jeans and a polo-neck jumper.

Afterwards, we head off to Marylebone High Street, which is on our doorstep. I have a good saunter around Daunt Books, and always come away with something interesting. Then I pop into the fabulous Ginger Pig butcher to buy the meat for Sunday dinner, which, at this time of year, will probably be game. And on the way home, I’ll pick up more provisions from Waitrose and La Fromagerie.

Lunch will be one of The Ginger Pig’s divine homemade sausage rolls with a rocket salad and a good bottle of one of the Beaujolais Crus. Right now, the 2009 Fleurie Clos de la Roilette is in its prime.

Refreshed and raring to go, we’ll see an exhibition at the British Museum. We adored its Treasures of Heaven and are looking forward to seeing Landscape, Heroes and Folktales, its current show of German Romantic prints and drawings, which will require a full afternoon.

As a result, we won’t get back until the early evening – just in time for a concert at the Wigmore Hall, which regularly features some of my favourite artists, such as pianist András Schiff and baritone Christian Gerhaher. Music is one of our many mutual passions, and I am mad about chamber music and lieder.

We always go for supper afterwards, because when we come out of a great performance we really want to talk about it. Union Café is a favourite, because it’s cosmopolitan and, again, just around the corner. Also, the food is good and the wine list well priced. Otherwise, we’ll go to my beloved Galvin Bistrot de Luxe.

Sunday is another relaxed start to the day. At breakfast, we discuss what fine wines to pour for dinner. At this time of year it will be from Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Rhône, with game, and a 1970 vintage port. Then we’ll go down to the cellar, bring up the wines and decant the port. It’s better if you do it after breakfast, because it needs that much time.

Afterwards, David attends mass at Farm Street and I will go too. On my part, it’s not for religious reasons, but rather to keep him company and enjoy the 11am mass, sung in Latin by the Farm Street Singers. As a member of the Friends of Cathedral Music, I believe it’s important to support our church choirs.

For lunch, we’ll meet up with friends for dim sum at the Phoenix Palace. The food is authentic and it’s always buzzing; it’s almost like being in Hong Kong. Then we’ll go for a brisk, long walk from Hyde Park to Kensington Gardens, right up to the Palace. We’re inveterate walkers and talkers, and never stop chatting.

I love to cook and we both enjoy entertaining, so we have friends over for dinner. While I’m preparing the meal, David decants the rest of the reds, which we’ll pre-taste. We begin with a glass of champagne around 8pm and often don’t pour the port until just before midnight. The following day is an early start, but I find I sleep so much better after a great weekend and a really good dinner with lots of lovely wines.”

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