For many years I never had a weekend off, so when I opened my last restaurant, I decided to take them back for myself. Now those two days are my sanctuary.
I’m a big tea drinker and Saturday mornings begin with PG Tips – five large Le Parfait jars full of proper builder’s brew – and a browse through the Daily Mail and the Guardian on my iPad. Then, I like to walk through Madison Square Park down to the Union Square Greenmarket, where I stock up on fruit, vegetables and bread for the weekend. My first stop is always Berried Treasures, where Franca, the stall owner, sells my favourite things – shelling beans, pole beans and Jerusalem artichokes. She’s such a dear and always gives me punnets of delicious tomatoes or strawberries.
After working up an appetite, I will often head to Saravana Bhavan, an Indian restaurant in my Curry Hill neighbourhood that specialises in dosas filled with spicy potatoes, onions, coriander and sesame seeds. If I feel like some vegetables, however, I’ll go for lunch at Eataly, where I sit at the counter and enjoy a good eggplant Parmesan with bitter greens, olive oil and lemon, and a glass of wine. It’s an ideal spot for people watching, and as I’m working on a cookbook about vegetables – ones with complex flavours – this is a great place to think about produce and recipes.
Saturday afternoon is the perfect time to browse for homeware. Sur La Table is wonderful for tabletop accessories, as is the flea market on West 25th Street, where I pick up kitchen things such as 1960s bowls and Dansk cookware. The shop I like best, though, is Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in the Village for stocking up on gifts to give my staff.
Saturday nights involve a visit with friends to my local, the Waterfront Ale House, where there is an amazing selection of beers and cask ales. I’m partial to Oregon’s Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale, not to mention the delicious chicken wings with homemade hot sauce. From there we might head to Maialino, where I love the malfatti, a delicious pasta with suckling pig that is not at all heavy, and a side of crispy artichokes with anchovy dressing. If we’re feeling more casual, then we’ll go to Blue Smoke, also nearby, and have pulled-pork sandwiches. A lovely end to an evening is a movie – action, adventure or comedy – at the Angelika Film Center in SoHo, or a documentary from Netflix watched from my couch.
If I can sleep in on Sunday, I will. This is my day for washing, reading cookbooks and enjoying the sourdough loaf I bought at the Greenmarket. I love it toasted with lots of butter, sea salt and apricot or greengage jam from my friend Claire Ptak, who runs Violet Cakes in London. If I’m feeling in need of something more substantial, I’ll head to A Salt & Battery for an incredible sausage sandwich, before checking in on one of my restaurants to see how things are going.
When I am missing home and in search of comfort, I will roast a poulet rouge and some potatoes for a Sunday supper with friends. I love the smell of chicken roasting and we’ll likely combine that with watching a classic film such as Roman Holiday, or a bit of BBC America or Graham Norton, who I find hilarious.
At the end of the day, I like to enjoy a bath and a glass of wine – white, red, whatever I’ve got to hand. And in the summer I can take in the sunset from my rooftop. I tend not to think about work too much over the weekend, as I know that by 7am Monday morning the texts and emails will be pouring in. But by then I will be rested and ready to hit the ground running.