"It's easy for me to eat carbohydrates all day long — bagels and pastries," says Melissa Weller, the head baker and managing partner of Sadelle's. In an effort to avoid the lure of her own (wildly acclaimed) babka, sticky buns, and oatmeal-raisin cookies, Weller ends up doing a lot of cooking at home — more so than the average professional chef — preparing healthy stews for the week ahead and dinners for her family. Still, her habits aren't too virtuous (though Weller's coffee is decaf), as she enjoys pizza nights and additional rounds of hot toddies, too. Read all about it in this week's Grub Street Diet.
Thursday, January 14
I am up at 5 a.m. I feel pretty under the weather today, so I have a large glass of water and throw in a packet of Emergen-C. While I get ready for the day, I start brewing some coffee from beans I’ve purchased from Toby’s Estate. I have to admit that I am brewing decaf coffee, which I don’t usually drink. A few years ago, I stopped drinking coffee for an entire year. I felt really good when I did this, and so I am trying it again. However, I can never really go cold turkey without getting a huge migraine, so I am drinking decaf this week, which has a little bit of caffeine. It’s my step-down method.
I also make some oatmeal for breakfast. I have a very specific way that I like it: I make it with steel-cut oats, water, a very good amount of salt, some coconut oil, chopped dates, and banana. Once it's cooked, I throw in some sliced almonds and dried cherries. I leave out the dairy. Great oatmeal doesn’t need milk or butter.
Mid-morning at the bakery, I make some hot lemon water. I juice half a lemon and pour hot water from the coffeemaker over it. It helps soothe my throat. Somewhere in mid-morning, I grab a handful of hazelnuts.
Around noon, I head to Sadelle's to meet with Matt Stevens from Dessert Professional magazine for a tasting. I am bringing a loaf of marbled rye with me, and I taste it to make sure I like it. I prepare a slew of bagels, bread, and pastries for Matt and his colleague to taste. I drink some water during the tasting and head back to the bakery to bake the challah.
Back at the bakery, I have a late lunch of brown rice and vegetable curry that I made last weekend. I head back to the restaurant at 4 p.m. to work on the bread for dinner service. I am really busy and also really hungry. I start to look around for a bite to eat, and there isn’t too much available, since it’s in between lunch and dinner. I find a couple of slices of rye bread and eat that.
I get home at about 8:30 p.m., and at this point, I am exhausted and not really hungry anymore. I snack on my 5-year-old son’s veggie chips and hummus and then go to bed ... I generally try to spend evenings with my son as much as possible. The opening was rather difficult and challenging because I’d leave at 7 a.m. and get home at 10:30 at night. At one point, in the morning, he said, “Bye-bye, Mommy — see you tomorrow morning," and it crushed me to hear that. I try to be home at 6 p.m. when I can, so I have a couple of hours with him before he goes to bed.
Friday, January 15
I’m up again at 5 a.m. I still feel pretty under the weather. I grab a glass of water and start brewing coffee. I drink the black decaf while I’m helping my son finish his homework. I cook some more oatmeal and pack it up to bring to the bakery, and I eat the oatmeal in between mixing the rye bread and shaping the challah.
I have a 10 a.m. meeting at the restaurant. I don’t eat anything but have some sparkling water, and then head back to the bakery to continue work. I have the last of the vegetable curry and rice that I made last weekend. I also have some hot lemon water again, which has been really helping my throat.
Later in the afternoon, I grab a handful of hazelnuts. This time I add on some milk chocolate fèves.
It’s Friday, and it’s a wine-and-pizza night for me. I am usually pretty beat by the end of the week, and I like to relax at home. Once I get back to my neighborhood, I stop by Uva. I’ve been living in Williamsburg for 11 years (and in the same apartment!), and I’ve been stopping by Uva since it was first in the mini mall. I like its esoteric selection of wine. I spot a bottle of Beaujolais imported by Kermit Lynch, and I purchase it. You can never go wrong with wine from Kermit.
Once home, I order pizza from Best Pizza. It really is the best, and it happens to be three blocks from our apartment. I met Frank Pinello, the owner, over five years ago when I first started making bread for Roberta’s. I love his white pie. My son and I order it half with pepperoni and half with seasonal veggies. The seasonal veggies are my favorite — it’s a mix of pickled veggies and things like kale and smashed potatoes.
Saturday, January 16
I wake up late at 8 a.m. I make some black decaf and drink it with a banana and some almond butter. Once I am a little more awake, I make breakfast for my husband, son, and myself. I sauté a shallot and then throw in some kale and mushrooms that my husband had made for my son’s lunch this past week. I fry some eggs and put them on top of the veggies. My son won’t eat this, so I reheat a pancake from the freezer.
Mid-morning, while my son is at swim class, I head over to the Brooklyn Kitchen. I generally stay pretty close to home on the weekends. Today I find some black beans, farro, butternut squash, and apples. I also get some spaghetti and pick up some ground beef from the Meat Hook. I see my friend Brent Young, and we chat before I head back home.
Today I am meeting a girlfriend for brunch at Reynard at the Wythe Hotel. I am still feeling a little under the weather, and I decide to order a hot toddy at the bar to warm me up while I wait for her. Once we’re seated, I order the crispy red rice with scallops, chile oil, pickled eggs, and mayo. It’s pretty satisfying, and my girlfriend and I each order another hot toddy, since we don’t usually get to see each other without our kids.
Later in the afternoon, I roast some veggies, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and red peppers, and I make a farro salad with the veggies. I have this for dinner. I also finish off the veggie chips and hummus. I think I do more cooking at home compared to the average chef. I feel like I need that outlet — and it’s different than making pastries.
Sunday, January 17
I wake up and make some black decaf. While I am drinking coffee, I fry a shallot and then throw in some of the leftover brown rice. I fry some eggs and slice some avocado, and I toss it all together in a bowl and have this for breakfast.
Back at home, I have a couple of the thick Lundberg rice crackers with almond butter before I head back out. I had agreed to be a guest on the Heritage Radio show “The Morning After,” so I head over to Roberta’s. I’m a little early, so I stop at Roberta’s bakery and buy a loaf of sunflower and spelt bread, and then I head to the radio studio. I have a beer during the interview.
At home, I start cooking a black-bean stew that I will have for lunch during the week ahead. Lately, and I don’t always do this, but I’m trying in the New Year to be really healthy, so I’ve been packing my lunch.
Sunday evenings are family evenings, and we like to cook together. My husband is a bartender at Babbo — we met at Babbo. We’ve had opposite schedules for a long time. I always try for us to have Sunday together, in some way. He makes the meatballs from the Frankie’s Spuntino cookbook, and he makes some sauce and spaghetti. I make a Caesar salad. I always go to the Zuni Café cookbook for the recipe. I use some of the Roberta’s bread for the croutons, and I snack on more of the bread and some wine while cooking. The wine is another bottle from Uva that my husband chose.
After dinner, we split the last slice of Jen Yee’s bûche de Noël, which we had frozen.
Monday, January 18
I have black decaf first thing. I make oatmeal again: I pack it up and head to the bakery. Around noon, I have quinoa and black-bean stew that I made yesterday.
Today we are testing spelt puff pastry, and we shape it into palmiers and bake it off to see if we like the technique and flavor that we have decided to use. I eat one palmier, and then I think I eat at least a couple more. They are good.
In the evening I head home and get ready to go out. I am meeting my friend Charlotte Druckman for dinner at Via Carota. My husband and son are having burger night, and I grab a few French fries as I change and get ready.
I get to Via Carota first, and I sit at the bar and order a glass of the Arneis while I wait for Charlotte. Once she arrives, we share the fried olives stuffed with sausage, the fried artichokes, the cabbage-and-farro salad, the fried rabbit, and the octopus. This is the first time that I have been to Via Carota, and I love everything. Tasting and eating everything really imparts on me that I want to eat out more than I have been. I've been in the trenches the last year and haven’t made time to go out to eat as much as I would have liked. Throughout dinner, I have a couple of glasses of Nebbiolo. We head home, and I vow to go out for dinner more.
Tuesday, January 19
I have a banana with a little almond butter and some black decaf. I also have a glass of water with Emergen-C.
At the bakery, mid-morning, I eat a couple of dried apricots and have some hot lemon water. And then for lunch I have my black-bean stew again. When I don't have a lot of time, it's the easiest thing I can do.
We don’t have staff meal right now at the bakery. It’s still hectic, even though the reviews are done. I have some hiring to do, and I have a baker who’s out sick, so I’m in the middle of production. I'm trying to balance production with management work. I make the caraway-rye loaves that we serve our sandwiches on, and I shape and proof the challah.
I don’t really eat again until I get home in the evening, so I am ravenous when I walk through the door. I reheat the spaghetti and meatballs for my son and myself, and I think I probably have a good two servings. I must have had five or six meatballs, and I think my son had one. It’s not good to eat and then go straight to sleep, but that’s pretty much what I do tonight. I am exhausted.