I travel a great deal but always try to get home for weekends to see my wife, Barbara, and Sarah, our 13-year-old daughter. Our Paris apartment is a macaron’s throw from Parc Monceau, where we often picnic.
Saturday morning we’re up early for a leisurely breakfast of fruit salad and cakes I’ve baked. Jams and honey, made by my childhood friend Christine Ferber, are spread on warm croissants. Then it’s off to the Marché Avenue du Président Wilson, near Pont de l’Alma. The market sprawls along the wide avenue past handsome museums – it’s an interesting contrast between culture and gastronomy.
The first stop is Lorenzo, the fishmonger. The artistic presentation strikes you immediately; his stall would make a fabulous painting. He goes to Rungis market, outside Paris, at 2am nearly every day. Next is Joël Thiébault’s stall, an organic vegetable grower whose farm is at Carrières-sur-Seine, near Paris. The family have had a stall here since 1873. I meet many star chefs in the queue waiting to pick up carrots, cabbages, herbs and “forgotten vegetables”. I buy potatoes from Bar à Patate; goat’s cheese from Les Chevres de Sanvrin; Guérande salt from a man who calls himself the “George Clooney of Brittany marshes”.
Next, Sarah and I pop into Galignani bookshop on the Rue de Rivoli, where I recently bought the biography of perfume maker François Coty, creator of the modern perfume industry, while Barbara passes by her handbag boutique, around the corner; she loves chatting to clients.
We race home, put our haul in the fridge, then head to Saint-Germain-des-Prés and lunch at Coffee Parisien for Sarah’s favourite burgers – she adores American cuisine. While the girls are eating, I go and check what’s happening at my boutique. There’s often a line of customers outside, so we chat. The rose, vanilla and clove macaron dreamt up with my friend Jean-Michel Duriez, the “nose” at Rochas, seems very popular.
After lunch, there’s time for a museum. The Jeu de Paume hosts awesome photographic and contemporary art exhibitions. It’s on the edge of the Tuileries Gardens, where we love to stroll, and was built in 1861 to house “jeu de paume” courts, a precursor of tennis.
Saturday night is often spent at our favourite bistro, Le Baratin in Belleville, northeast Paris. Raquel Carena, an adorable and talented self-taught Argentinian chef, is in the kitchen; Philippe Pinoteau, her partner, takes care of the wines. I love Raquel’s thinly sliced spicy beef and the way she works with fish. There’s always a seasonal cheese and, from the vast wine list, we’ll choose, say, a Gevrey Chambertin from Philippe Pacalet. I can’t recommend dessert, as Raquel refuses to serve me – she says she can’t stand the competition.
There are many new palace hotels in Paris, and on Sundays we like to “test” them. A favourite is Raffles Le Royal Monceau, transformed by Philippe Starck. We go early; Sarah swims, while Barbara and I spa out. Then it’s brunch in the brasserie, or the bucolic Louis Benech-designed garden in warm weather.
Sunday night we invite friends for dinner. I prepare a fish tartare and cook my speciality – lemon-roasted poulet crapaudine, using a plump chicken bought in the market the day before. There’s slow-roasted potatoes and salad, dessert may be my Ibiza gateau made with pistachios, almonds, nougat and crème de mascarpone à l’orange. We light perfumed candles, nibble macarons, read the papers – I’m a great fan of Le Journal du Dimanche, as I don’t have much time to read during the week. Sometimes we watch a favourite DVD such as Moulin Rouge, open a few bottles of wine; it’s very convivial.
Bedtime’s around midnight and I climb into bed making to-do lists in my head. Inspiration for recipes keeps me awake; I bake cakes in my head.