Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka host a pasta-making demo at Studio Arte in New York.Capital One
“It’s basically two ingredients: flour and eggs,” said chef David Burtka at the start of a pasta-making demonstration he and his husband, Neil Patrick Harris, recently hosted at Manhattan’s Studio Arte. He proceeded to plop two cups of flour right on the table, creating a small well and cracking a couple of eggs in the middle. “Make sure you don’t get any shells in there,” he cautioned, before whisking it all together with a fork and later adding in a bit of oil.
“Why wouldn’t you just do this in a bowl?” Harris asked, peering over his shoulder. “You could…but I like doing it by hand,” Burtka said. “Yeah you do,” Harris grinned, drawing laughter from the audience.
Burtka kneaded the dough into a smooth, even ball, which Harris then cut into eighths. “The key to rolling out pasta,” the Emmy Award-winning actor said with playful inflection, “is to make sure you use a lot of extra flour.” He then began flattening out each chunk until it resembled, in his words, “a large human tongue.”
After running each piece through the pasta maker a number of times—“You don’t want to mess with it too much, or else it’ll turn gummy and rubbery,” he warned—Harris used the same machine to slice the long, thin sheets into strings. “You take the pasta. You put it in the water. Then you boil it,” he comically intoned.
“In very salty water—the water should taste like the sea,” Burtka noted as he placed the finishing touches on a pesto made with basil, garlic, and pine nuts. “When your pasta has come up to temperature, it’ll float. You take it out and add it to the sauce right away, with some cheese. And that’s it!”
The couple held the rollicking demo as ambassadors of Capital One’s new Savor card, which offers 4% cash back on restaurants and entertainment, 2% on groceries, and 1% on all other purchases. “With getting so much back on everything you do, it not only makes it less expensive, but it’s also motivation to go out and do more stuff,” Harris enthused. “You’re building memories—and getting your money back,” Burtka added. “It just makes sense!”
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are ambassadors for the new Capital One Savor card, which offers 4% cash back on dining and entertaining.Capital One
Here, the dynamic duo—who live in Harlem with their twins, Harper and Gideon (turning eight tomorrow)—dish on their favorite places to drink and dine in the city, imagine their dream dinner party, and reveal the best part about being a dad.
Where do you like to hang out with the kids?
David Burtka: They’re loving the Ninja restaurant lately—it’s fun! And we love taking them to restaurants where we get tapas. GATO is a really great place to take the kids, because you get to try all these different dishes and you don’t get bored. And they can be loud!
Neil Patrick Harris: I have two answers for that. One would be Eataly. The idea of eating delicious food and then getting to go purchase it makes it experiential, which is a big thing of mine. The other one would be the Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of Moving Image by Kaufman Astoria Studios. That’s just fantastic.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka pose with their twins, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace, at Wigstock 2.HO last month.Bruce Glikas/Getty Images
What do the twins like to cook?
NPH: They have been super into breakfasts lately. Harper is super into pancakes right now, and David very smartly wrote the recipe for pancakes on a piece of paper in large font, so it’s helping her learn how to read, and learn fractions. She’s been making pancakes completely on her own, which allows us to sleep in!
DB: It’s really great to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Not only will they have an appreciation for food, but their palates will expand. They’ll want to be a part of it. The other day I was making chicken and she wanted to make gravy, so I taught her how to make gravy.
NPH: When they were two or three and they’d make gravy, it wasn’t so good. We had to say “Wow! This gravy with banana and cumin is fantastic!”
The Burtka-Harris family attends the Saks Fifth Avenue and Disney ‘Once Upon A Holiday’ windows unveiling in 2017.Gary Gershoff/Getty Images
What’s the best part about having kids?
DB: Them doing stuff for you.
NPH: When they get to the age and they can go and fetch the newspaper and make you coffee. We’ve essentially raised golden retrievers!
I think the best is when they need a hug.
DB: That’s so true! I love them at night, that five minutes before they go to bed. They’re very vulnerable and sweet—they’re cuddly, and they want to tell you everything about the day because they don’t want to go to sleep. That’s pretty amazing.
NPH: When I’m sitting and reading a book with them both, they’ll put their heads on my shoulder and intertwine their arms in mine. That is such a unique experience. Even as an uncle, I didn’t get that kind of affection. There’s a really lovely simplicity to the physical dynamic of a dad and his kids.
What’s your favorite adults-only spot in the city?
NPH: Where they do Sleep No More—the Manderley Bar at The McKittrick Hotel. They have a bunch of variety arts-adjacent shows that go on there all the time—late-night jazz, magic, burlesque—and I think they’re keeping it alive in a really immersive way.
DB: And what’s that bar we went to where you have to go through the telephone booth? Please Don’t Tell!
What do you like most about living in New York?
NPH: We just feel very lucky that we live in a metropolis where there are lots of options of things to do that aren’t a drive away. That’s one of the best things about Manhattan. We live in Harlem, so we’re north of most things. We can hop on the express line and go from 125th to 86th Street and be in the action. In four stops, we’re at Union Square. There are just so many things to do.
What’s happening up in Harlem?
NPH: Harlem has exploded in a very interesting way. When we first moved there, there weren’t really any grocery stores. You had to kind of shop at bodegas. Now there’s a Whole Foods. But with the Whole Foods comes a mentality shift, and you suddenly have smaller organic restaurants, farm-to-table restaurants.
Where do you like to dine around there?
DB: Melba’s is great. And what’s that place on 141st and Lenox, with sushi, ramen, and oysters?
NPH: ROKC. They have these cocktails that are works of art.
DB: They’re smoking and on fire! Especially on a cold night, they have the best ramen.
NPH: And do you know what’s coming on Fifth and 125th? A Shake Shack.
DB: It’s four buildings away from us. The next time you see me, I’m going to be 400 pounds.
Tell us about your cookbook.
DB: It’s called Life Is a Party, and it has parties for every single occasion. [For instance] you have harvest fest, where you have everyone bring over produce. It’s a cookbook with a hundred recipes, but it also gives you playlists and decoration tips and over-the-top ideas.
David Burtka’s first cookbook, ‘Life Is a Party,’ comes out in May.Grand Central Publishing
NPH: It’s broken down into four different seasons, and each season has different parties that you can throw. David came up with this idea that’s not only a cookbook, and something you can use not just for Thanksgiving or Christmas. He tested a hundred different recipes and we actually threw the parties. A great contemporary photographer friend of ours, Danielle Levitt, took photos of the parties, so the book is art-infused as well. I’m excited for it.
What’s your favorite gift to receive as a party host, and what’s the worst present a guest can bring?
DB: I love getting anything homemade—anything that’s from the heart. If you can make or craft your own something, that always goes above and beyond like, a candle—which is great, but if it’s homemade, that’s so much better for me. Anything that people put time into.
I hate getting flowers. I can’t stand when I get a bouquet of flowers, because I have to stop what I do, cut the flowers, put them in a vase—if you’re going to bring flowers, bring them in a vase already!
If you were hosting a dinner party and could invite anyone—dead or alive—who would be on your guest list?
NPH: I would invite Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, who passed away unexpectedly with a lot of creative life left in him; Walter Elias Disney, because I feel he was super cool and would tell good stories; and Howard Thurston, stage magician from the turn of the century—just because I think he would be grand and theatrical. I wouldn’t invite Houdini, because he would just talk about how much he hated mediums and stuff like that.
Neil Patrick Harris at the premiere of ‘The Muppets’ in 2011.Christian JENTZ/GAMMA-RAPHO
DB: I would probably say James Beard—gay, really sweet, and an amazing chef. Julia Child, because she would probably just take over and cook. I think Joan Rivers and Noël Coward would be hilarious. Truman Capote would be a really fun guest. And, Jesus…
NPH: And Jesus? I feel like everyone would defer to Jesus every time he spoke…
DB: Or Oprah. Oprah or Jesus!
NPH: I feel like everyone would defer to Oprah or Jesus, and then you wouldn’t have a lively conversation.
DB: That was a joke—I would not want Jesus there.
NPH: I mean, I want Jesus there—I think that’d be an exciting topic of conversation. “What’s up, Jesus? Tell us some stuff!”
What kind of gathering would it be?
NPH: It would be a murder mystery party. Everyone would have a character that they would play, and every half an hour someone would die.
David, if you had to be married to one of Neil’s characters for the rest of your life, who would you pick?
NPH [in an accent]: I hope you pick Shirley St. Ives!
DB: You’ve played some awful characters…
NPH: Barney Stinson! He only has a few venereal diseases.
Neil Patrick Harris plays Barney Stinson in CBS’ hit sitcom, ‘How I Met Your Mother.’CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
DB: Absolutely not. Probably that guy from The Christmas Wish. You were sweet and nice—you cared about your grandma!
NPH: That’s who you would date? You like the rough and tumble, don’t you?
DB: No! You’ve played some real sickos!
NPH: What about the guy in A Million Ways to Die in the West?
DB: Absolutely not!
NPH: Because he shit in the derby hat?
DB: He was so vain and awful. And then your Neil Patrick Harris in Harold and Kumar was just the worst version of you ever!
NPH: What about Patrick from The Smurfs?
DB: Oh, you were sweet in The Smurfs! You were a family guy, and treated your wife nicely. I wish I was married to Patrick from The Smurfs. Why can’t you be more like him?
The cute clan attends the premiere of ‘The Smurfs 2’ in 2013.Getty Images
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