New York

Ital­ian restaurateur Mas­simo Bot­tura, chef pa­tron of Mo­dena’s Os­te­ria Frances­cana, which boasts three Miche­lin stars, tells of his favourite haunts in the Big Ap­ple

Hong Kong Tatler - - The Last Word -

met my wife in New York in 1993 when we were both work­ing at a small cafe in Soho, so the Big Ap­ple is close to my heart. Since then the city has be­come a sec­ond home, with my in-laws liv­ing on the Up­per East Side, just be­hind the Guggen­heim Mu­seum. We’ve spent nearly ev­ery sum­mer there, our chil­dren vis­it­ing art gal­leries and mu­se­ums, or climb­ing the rocks in Cen­tral Park, and tak­ing trains to Coney Is­land or Long Is­land beaches for the day.

What I love is wan­der­ing the city from north to south with­out a plan. It’s like med­i­ta­tion and serendip­i­tous things hap­pen—i’ll bump into an old friend, find a vinyl record shop I hadn’t heard of be­fore, or stum­ble on a small Ja­panese restau­rant. I try to erase my mind of any agenda or obli­ga­tions so I can ex­plore in a pure and un­tainted way.

I’ll select one des­ti­na­tion and as I head to­wards it, I stop at a deli for salmon, cream cheese and a toasted bagel. That’s my break­fast rou­tine; I re­peat it ev­ery day un­til I leave. Then I head to a mu­seum or gallery to see some­thing I’m curious about. One of my favourite mu­se­ums is MOMA PS1 in Long Is­land City. The for­mer ele­men­tary school has in­stal­la­tions on ev­ery floor and a great court­yard. In the late af­ter­noon I like to find a park or take a long walk on the wa­ter­front. There’s noth­ing like a sun­set walk in Bat­tery Park.

The Fri­day Arts and Leisure sec­tion of the New York Times al­ways has a good list of must-see ex­hi­bi­tions. Some­times I fit in five or six gal­leries a day and a cou­ple of mu­se­ums. I’m a cul­ture junkie and these are great spots not only to see art, but to buy books, meet friends and es­cape a downpour or a muggy sum­mer day.

The Union Square Green­mar­ket is a pri­or­ity des­ti­na­tion, es­pe­cially if I’m in the city to cook. You can find the most amaz­ing pro­duce at this farm­ers mar­ket. About 15 min­utes away down­town is my favourite record store, Other Mu­sic. I al­ways stop by James Perse for their soft cash­mere hood­ies. I like to wan­der the Bow­ery, Lafayette and the Lower East Side for young de­sign­ers, ac­ces­sories and vinyl. Bar­neys on Madi­son is al­ways a must, if only to check out the new de­signer col­lec­tions.

I eat a lot when I’m in New York. My break­fast can hap­pen any­where that serves a fresh bagel, cream cheese and cured salmon. Lunch is usu­ally un­planned and of­ten eth­nic or im­pro­vised, like a spicy hot dog on the street. For din­ner I try to visit my chef friends: Daniel Humm at No­mad or 11 Madi­son Park; Dave Chang at Mo­mo­fuku Ko; Mario Batali at Otto or Del Posto; En­rique Olvera at Cosme; or Carlo Mi­rar­chi at Roberta’s in Brook­lyn. When your friends are chefs, you never go hun­gry.

Mu­sic is a pas­sion of mine. There is noth­ing bet­ter than sit­ting in on a jazz ses­sion, and there are al­ways some amaz­ing mu­si­cian play­ing in the city, up­town or down­town. What I love most about live mu­sic is how the room fills up with en­ergy, and I’ve never been to a city that’s of­fered more kinds of mu­sic than New York.

I hit the streets again after din­ner. I of­ten walk home— even if I’m in Brook­lyn and it takes me two hours. In New York, the jour­ney is as im­por­tant as the des­ti­na­tion.

Mas­simo’s book, Never Trust a Skinny Ital­ian Chef, is out this month via Phaidon Press.

When in New York, Mas­simo loves shop­ping for in­gre­di­ents at Union Square Green­mar­ket; “beau­ti­ful, psy­che­delic, spin-painted veal” (below) is one of Os­te­ria Frances­cana’s sig­na­ture dishes

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