Harris, who both starts and ends his days with some coffee. Illustration: Ryan Inzana
Neil Patrick Harris has never had trouble sleeping. “I fall asleep within a couple of minutes regardless of the situation, the location, or caffeine intake,” he says. That skill has been helpful this week as he’s trying to reacclimate to New York time after a few weeks traveling through Japan. He’s also launched a line of espresso martinis with Thomas Ashbourne that’s become his go-to drink before a Broadway show. “My drink of choice for pre-theater is usually some sort of tequila drink, because it’s the only hooch that has a natural upper effect,” he says. “But given that my espresso martini has actual espresso in it, I’ve pivoted to that.”
Friday, July 7
I knew that jet lag was inevitable this morning after getting back from a three-week family trip to Japan. I made coffee on this machine we bought from Sur La Table ten years ago. It was not inexpensive, but instead of going to Starbucks every morning and spending $7 on a coffee, we get to make delicious coffee on our own. I feel like I’ve saved a ton of money with a single investment in my coffee life. It’s like your own little barista. It does the grinding, the pouring, the everything. I added three sugar cubes and, since I was feeling frisky, French vanilla creamer. I have a theatrical appreciation of the British aesthetic, so I love sugar cubes. David found these very artisanal brown-sugar ones with modeled edges. They’re awesome. I feel like I’m living in Sleep No More.
I had my usual packet of oatmeal with a little of the hot water from the same coffee-maker, with Union Square Greenmarket blueberries for breakfast. I’m a big blueberry fan. I think they’re the best food. They’re maybe my No. 1. They’re certainly my No. 1 fruit because you don’t have seeds like raspberry or boysenberry, so you don’t have to deal with anything in your teeth. It’s a good foundation.
Since we moved from Harlem to midtown, our building has a nice little gym now. I have an awesome trainer who meets me there. It felt good because where we were staying in Japan, there were no real fitness rooms, gyms, or weights of any sort. We stretched a bit, but I hadn’t worked out in almost three weeks. I had a post-workout protein shake with almond milk, frozen blueberries, pineapple (because that makes everything taste better with a wink and a pow), banana, and frozen cubes of kale from our garden in East Hampton. We’ll make a big batch of them and put them in the cooler and bring them to the city.
After lunch, I did 1,000 loads of laundry. We took four suitcases to Japan, one for each family member. We were all a bit bleary, unpacking and everything, so dinner didn’t happen until later. We didn’t really want to go anywhere. We ordered some post-Japan Indian food: butter chicken, saag paneer, naan, and basmati rice. It was a great call. We ate that while watching an episode of The Mandalorian.
Saturday, July 8
I had my same usual breakfast and coffee, but got hungry a few hours later. My timing is all weird coming back from the trip. For a snack, I went with an English muffin with almond butter and jelly. Plus, my favorite addition: nacho-cheese Doritos in the sandwich itself. It adds umami and a crunch. You get the brightness of the nacho cheese to balance out the almond butter and the jelly. I think it’s magnificent, while others wince.
I took the dogs for a walk with the kids to the dog run in Madison Square Park. I love that dog park. It’s really well designed. Everyone’s nice. There’s decent respect. And if you’re bored, you can always just go next door to Eataly.
For lunch, I had a turkey sandwich, avocado, lettuce, tomato, on ciabatta from Eataly — it was on my mind. I love Eataly. When it opened, I was mesmerized, as were most New Yorkers. I always thought you really kind of need to live around that area to fully appreciate it. What made Eataly exciting is the idea that you could just go in and get some charcuterie and get some cool vegetables that the vegetable butcher would chop into whatever shape you wanted. But we lived in Harlem, so that was not really an option. It was fun to look at but not to do. Once we moved down closer to that area, we’re using it a lot more. I wish I could say Eataly was my main “grocery” store, but I’m no Bezos. It’s worth it for a good ciabatta, though.
That night, we went to see Sweeney Todd. I had a lot of history with that show. I’ve been in it twice and got to know Mr. Sondheim through that. You get random pangs of sadness when you realize that Steve’s no longer around. Seeing it was a treat, especially since our kids had never seen that show. They’re 12, and I think this was the 18th Broadway show they’ve seen. My daughter Harper was most excited to meet one of the stars of Stranger Things. That’s the 2023 perspective.
My post-show dinner was a classic Shake Shack burger and fries. When we got home, I had some Van Leeuwen’s cookies-and-cream ice cream from a pint.
Sunday, July 9
I didn’t have my oatmeal today since it was Sunday, and we have a family breakfast tradition. Everyone cooks. Gideon is very good with a slow-cooked scrambled egg. Harper’s made this sort of extra-fluffy Japanese pancake that she’s been fascinated by from Pinterest. It has lots of egg white in it or something. My description is terrible, but they were quite good.
We tried to find them in Japan, at this place that was supposed to have the Most Amazing Pancakes, and … they tasted like Really Good Pancakes. It’s hard to complain when you’re eating pancakes. David made Pat LaFrieda bacon. I’m not saying the brand to be fancy, it just literally is the greatest meat. Bacon is fine, but Pat LaFrieda bacon is remarkable. David adds maple syrup and cracked pepper, so it candies as it hardens and cooks.
A few hours later, I worked out to shake the food coma. I was fairly hungry by then and had a nice shake. I went for mango instead of pineapple this time. We were all still jet-lagged. I mostly just put away the clothes that we’d washed before, opened all the Amazon and FedEx boxes, broke them down, and got back into our groove.
I didn’t put any of our treats from Japan away just yet, but I Rolodexed them to put away later. They had these big vending machines called gachas. They’re like those things next to a gumball machine that have little plastic eggs that have an eraser or maybe Pokémon inside. Imagine that, but an entire store that’s just walls and aisles of them, all filled with incredibly random small things that you can purchase for 300 to 500 yen. It was so hilarious how obscure and weird these things are. Like, you’d put in 400 yen, turn the thing, an egg comes out, you open it, and you have this mini plastic croissant sitting cross-legged, shrugging. There was one that was all mini-turnstiles, as in, like, subway turnstiles. You’re expected to collect all five turnstiles, so I did. It made me laugh so hard. How did mini-turnstiles become the thing on the whiteboard when they were brainstorming what to put in these little vending machines?
For dinner, we were desperate for my husband David’s famous Bolognese. He tends to make a big batch, and then we’ll freeze about two-thirds of it. It’s way better when you eat it from the freezer because it has a chance to sit longer. He had just been craving a family meal after such a long trip. We needed to get back into our normal routine — use our dishes, make a salad with veggies. It was perfect. I slept deeply and had Bolognese dreams.
Monday, July 10
I had my usual breakfast, and then we headed to Funhouse Farm, our summer place in East Hampton. It’s a big property that was once home to circus performers that were aged out or injured, or evading the law. It was a sort of safe haven for them. There’s still an old nonworking Ferris wheel in the back that’s got ivy growing up all over it.
We had a Funhouse Farm salad for lunch with lettuce, radish, fresh herbs, and some beets. Our garden out east is one of the great joys in my life. I was hardly able to keep a houseplant alive when I lived by myself. When I met David, he tends to make things grow and blossom and be utilized to their full potential. Having a garden has been exceptional. I love that our kids are getting the education, and we all can decide what to plant and see how it’s growing.
For dinner, I got fish and chips at Bostwick’s East Hampton. It feels very East Hampton–local there, instead of East Hampton–bougie–tourist. Just normal people eating delicious food. Since we live here as much as we can year-round, we don’t often go out to be seen. We go out to be fed. The staff there is lovely. Almost everyone in the food-service industry in the Hamptons is so nice. It’s only an irritant when you’re having to watch them navigate assholes. That’s the challenge. It’s unbelievable how much everything changes when summer rolls around. It’s fun and it’s exciting, but very different. When the majority of the people driving up and down the streets have paid a stupid amount of money to rent someone else’s place for one month, the energy shifts. They certainly feel that they’re owed a better parking spot.
Tuesday, July 11
We wake up and make eggs from our new family hens. We just installed a coop. We call it the Peep Show. I assumed that they’d be eaten by foxes or red-tailed hawks by now (or that we’d mistreat them or forget to do something). But everything’s been great. The coop has some sort of mesh, so they’re not free-roaming and can’t be attacked. The dogs were fascinated by the chickens, and two of the four are salivating. Spike, our smallest dog, loves the wild turkeys that wind up on our property and has had his way with a handful. It’s jarring but also impressive. You can’t reprimand a dog for doing what they do to wild turkeys that have flown on your property. I don’t want to scold the poor guy; he’s half their size. He’s the nicest dog in every other way. He doesn’t growl or bite except when there are animals on the property. We are definitely trying to keep him away from the chickens.
The chickens lay different-colored eggs every day. They all taste delicious. The more interesting food you feed them, the better the taste. When I give them grubs of composted fruit and vegetable pieces, then the eggs are, I think, more flavorful. We used the eggs for breakfast tacos, New Mexico–style with flour tortillas, salsa, shredded cheese, and Hatch green chiles. I’m very particular about using that kind. There are a few places you can order them online. Eating them makes me miss New Mexico so much. We went back more often when we lived in California because it was less than two hours on Southwest Airlines, but New York to Albuquerque is a trek. I’d love to rent an RV and take the kids around where I grew up for a week or ten days.
I had coffee in the morning, but the jet lag was wearing off, so I switched to Neurosonic and Neurogasm energy drinks throughout the day. I often forget to eat, but my assistant is good at making me snacks and reminding me. I tend to just keep working on things in my workshop, and John will just force me to stop and sit down and say, “Eat this half of a wrap.”
I started building things more once we got the Fun House, where I had enough space to buy some saws and the freedom to make a mess. I was terrible at first, as everyone is, but that’s life. You have to have some sort of guide or watch YouTube tutorials. I followed them and started making things and I like doing it. I hope to be Nick Offerman–esque someday. The dude’s like Yoda. He literally knows every type of wood, what it does, and how it works. He’s one with the wood.
I’m building and distressing these wooden caddies that’ll go in our guest rooms. They’ll have welcome packets and a letter that’ll say what the Wi-Fi password is. I thought about throwing in a bag of peanuts since it’s a fun-house theme, to go with the circus-carnival vibe.
We had eaten so many different varieties of Japanese food in Japan, but we still had cravings for our western simple nigiri and sushi sampler plates that we always get from Sen in Sag Harbor. I drank some sake from some sake cups that I procured in Kyoto and we played Codenames and called it a night.