- Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 6/6/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Distant lands

This week vaguely resembled a Norse saga: four adventurers charting a course around the outer limits of the continent hoping to find safe harbours, new peoples to trade with and some fine hospitality on the way. By chance, my crew were all of the right stock to make this tale somewhat believable. Ed, our Europe editor at large, is a wiry Englishman and would look good in a horny helmet (you know what I mean) and a matted sheepskin vest. Guido, Monocle’s ad manager in charge of Benelux, the Nordics and east Asia, looks like a Dutch conqueror and has a frame that would have had villagers fleeing for the forests and abandoning their livestock. And my assistant Julia’s Latvian roots make her look like she wouldn’t have been out of place tending the hearth in a longhouse while also managing the affairs of the chief.

On Tuesday our little group made landfall in the buzzy harbour city of Antwerp (in fact we all landed at Brussels airport but never mind). And while others went off to scout and forage I was invited into the castle of the local press baron to hear how he was creating ever-higher paywalls, with some success I might add, while also setting about conquering new lands. We feasted on delicious fish while the baron told me how there was more he wanted to do and that he was going after a big target in the neighbouring Netherlands. We discussed the problems of overly liberal newsrooms that fail to listen to the centre and the right, the need for greater investment in journalism and the opportunities to occupy more premium niches in other corners of Europe. Post-feast there was a bit of pillaging at Morrison (a wonderful Flemish retailer) and in the evening we met both locals and others who’d travelled from afar to purchase our perfectly bound volume on homes. Over Asian dishes at Camino we noted that the locals in the catering industry must be some of the most tattooed people in all of Europe, with all kinds of exotic creatures and inscriptions crawling up arms and from out of collars.

The following morning a small vessel took us from Antwerp up to Copenhagen, and along the way Guido pointed out his family house near The Hague. There was so much excitement with everyone peering out the window hoping to spot Guido’s family in the garden that I thought we were in danger of doing a barrel roll, but we managed to keep things level and 45 minutes later we arrived on Danish soil under slightly grey skies with a promise of sun.

Being in the home of the Vikings (is one allowed to make this claim?) does not disappoint – particularly when the sun comes out and layers are shed. Has there ever been a group that loves showing their legs any more than the Danes? And well-toned ones I might add! As the day improved it seemed as if all of Denmark wanted us to see how well they’d been maintaining themselves over these dark, dark months. By early eve the parks were packed, bronzed youth were jumping into the harbour and Copenhagen looked like the most attractive place to meet the locals and certainly to do a bit of commerce. At breakfast the following day we met a fabric trader who told us a fantastic tale about how to turn fabric into planks so stiff that you could build furniture with them. At lunch we met a young woman from the Faroe Islands who was so enchanting that her stories about the slaughtering of sheep and whales felt like they should be part of the territory’s tourism campaign. (You guide them into the bay and if there are any who stay too close to the surface or aren’t so fast, those are the ones you get!)

In the evening we ventured north to Hellerup to offer up more of our books to locals who were so hungry for stories from the outside world that we could have spent the whole night answering questions about what it’s like to venture beyond the horizon. “What happens in these far-off lands? Is it true that there are hairy, grumpy, one-eyed beasts that snort fire?” they asked. “Yes! Yes! The same people at airport security from a year and half ago are still there,” I explained to the wide-eyed crowd. “And is it difficult to be an adventurer and roam from one kingdom to another? We’re told it’s complicated and dangerous,” asked a tanned, leathery woman. “Oh no, no, no,” I said. “This is nothing more than an absurd fable about control. It is possible to leave your country, to roam, to trade and exchange – it’s just that many rulers want to scare you and make everything as complicated as possible. I’d encourage you to try it; it’s actually rather pleasant.” At this point the townspeople of the small Danish enclave cheered, reached for their phones and furiously started searching for places to escape to. And my troupe? Some of us were ready to journey south to the lands of the Portuguese but sadly the English had other ideas and put a stop to all the fun, so we had to abandon the plans. We’re very sorry we’re not tying up in Lisbon today but we look forward to continuing our world tour soon.


Perfect blend

Brooklyn isn’t short of places to get a good flat white. But unlike most of the area’s cafes, Crown Heights joint Daughter is committed to more than just a quality cup of joe. Launched in April, it describes itself as a “community-first” coffee spot and donates 10 per cent of its monthly profits to social initiatives.

The decor is inspired by the neighbourhood’s architecture with bespoke stoop-style seating, and the counters are filled with sticky rye buns and salted cookies from a nearby bakery. If you’re stopping by for breakfast, we recommend the egg and cheese brioche sandwich. daughter.nyc

Subscribe to Monocle’s Digital Editions to access the latest issue of the magazine, our back catalogue and regularly updated tips for exploring key cities, such as this editor’s pick from our New York guide.


Star power

Beloved Brazilian actress and soap star Taís Araújo’s 25-year career has both won her acclaim and helped to change perceptions in her home nation, when she became the first black lead in a Globo telenovela in 2004. “In a country with a non-white majority, we didn’t have black leads in these shows,” she told us in an interview for the June issue of Monocle. “This first step was really important.” This year she’s starring in a new film called Medida Provisória, directed by her husband, Lázaro Ramos. Here she talks about Sunday routines, rising early and the joy of a whisky and tonic.

Where do we find you this weekend?
At home in Rio, although I enjoy going to the mountains.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
My mornings are full of energy but more and more I am trying to slow down, not to rush. I wake up two hours before everyone in my house so I can do my own things and have my own time. Only later do I see what the kids, my husband, work or anything else is in need of.

Soundtrack of choice?
I’ve been listening to MPB, a genre of post-bossa nova urban music that revisits typical Brazilian styles. There’s an album called Onde? by Fran and Chico Chico, which is so cool; it’s incredible. I also listen to Emicida’s album Amarelo.

What’s for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs, orange juice and black coffee.

News or not?
At the moment I am allowing myself to not check the news daily because the news in Brazil depresses me.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Always yoga and meditation.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
We should do exercise every day. Not a lot but some stretches are incredibly helpful to get you moving and pump the blood.

Lunch in or out?
If there was no pandemic, I’d certainly be eating out for lunch.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
Pasta and eggs. Pasta is just so easy; I just add a few tomatoes and it’s a perfect and practical meal.

Sunday culture must?
A book on Sunday is such a blessing – one of life’s pleasures.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
Whisky with tonic and a touch of lemon.

Ideal dinner venue?
On Sundays I like to eat in. Sunday evening already looks a bit like Monday: the thought of kids going to school the next day, everyone going to bed a bit earlier.

Who’s joining?
My kids and husband, always.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
I prepare my head and spirit for a good beginning to the week. I used to work a lot during weekends but I am finally learning to appreciate the value of a Saturday and Sunday.

Will you lay out your look for Monday?
Absolutely not. I will wake up and see what I feel like wearing.


Feast your eyes

Anyone who’s hopped in a cab from Singapore’s Changi Airport will be familiar with the friendly question “Have you eaten?”, usually asked by the well-meaning “uncle” behind the wheel (writes Josh Fehnert). For the uninitiated, the phrase is more akin to “How are you?” than a genuine entreaty to discuss what you’ve consumed (just smile and say, “Yes, thanks”). What’s more interesting perhaps is how much the phrase – from the Hokkien dialect – betrays how important eating is to this food-obsessed city-state. From hawker centres to the city’s top tables, its culinary mix is a riot of Chinese, south Asian, Peranakan and Malay influences and ideas – many of which can feel daunting for home-cooks to undertake at home.

That’s where Makan, a new recipe book from Singapore-born Elizabeth Haigh, published by Bloomsbury, comes in. The chef worked at London restaurant Pidgin (where she helped the Hackney favourite scoop a Michelin star) before starting hospitality group Kaizen House and opening her counter restaurant Mei Mei in London’s Borough Market – her take on a Singaporean kopitiam (“coffee shop”). Haigh’s knack for flavour is borne out in dish after delicious dish, from beef rendang to chilli crab and nasi goreng, prepared with ingredients that are easy to find in Europe or the US. Add to that lashings of family lore and tips and tricks passed down through generations of her family. Have we eaten? Very well, thank you. bloomsbury.com


Chickpea shawarma with labneh

Think of this recipe less as a stricture and more as a starting point. You could add tahini to the chickpeas for a different texture or swap them out for hummus. The pitta bread could easily be substituted by wraps or even naan – you can also mix up the spices or herbs to pleasing effect or exclude the labneh. It’s time to experiment.

Serves 4

3-4 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp paprika paste
1 tsp ground cumin
300g chickpeas, cooked and drained
250g labneh (or strained yoghurt)
2 cloves of garlic
½ bunch mint, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sumac
4 pitta breads
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 small piece of red cabbage, chopped
½ bunch parsley, chopped
Juice and zest of half a lemon

1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the paprika paste and cumin in it until they release their aromas. Add the chickpeas and fry for about 2 minutes or until warmed through.

  1. Put the labneh in a bowl. Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, and mint.

  2. Mix the onion with the sumac.

  3. Lightly toast the pitta bread and fill with the chickpeas, labneh, onions, vegetables and herbs. Salt lightly if necessary and sprinkle with the additional lemon juice.


Rest assured

The smart eight-room Posada Ayana hotel in the Uruguayan town of José Ignacio, moments from Mansa beach on the southern side of the lighthouse, opened in December 2020 at a tough time for hospitality. General manager Felice Kofler, who is originally from Vienna, designed the space with her sister Koko and parents Edda and Robert, in collaboration with architect Álvaro Perez Azar.

The vintage chairs and tables in Posada Ayana’s library were sourced by local design shop Mutate and the ceramics in the dining room were designed by Uruguayan potter Alfe. “We’ve had time to arrange dinners and cinema screenings, and open up beyond hosting guests,” says Kofler of having opened a hotel during a pandemic. “This has made us feel part of the community.” Getting to know where to find the best flowers, soaps and a decent plumber would have taken years to figure out, says Kofler, but it only took one summer season in 2021. The pandemic has been challenging for many but proved to be an important learning curve for her debut project. posada-ayana.com

To read more about how the town of José Ignacio’s entrepreneurs bound together in tough times to rethink tourism, pick up a copy of The Entrepreneurs, which is out now.

José Ignacio address book

Mutate. Curious objects from across the continent to take home as souvenirs or decorate your living room. Other outposts are in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

Rizoma bookshop. Hidden between shady pine trees. Enjoy a sweet treat or light bite from the café at the back.

La Susana. Sink your toes in the sand and feel the ocean breeze while enjoying freshly caught seafood and glasses of Uruguayan rosé at this all-day restaurant.

Mostrador Santa Teresita. A village mainstay offering a beautifully presented lunch buffet. Just moments from José Ignacio’s main square on Calle Las Garzas y Calle Los Tordos.
+598 4486 2861

Pueblo Garzón. A sleepy hamlet and gastronomic getaway 22 miles inland, where Francis Mallmann runs the Restaurante Garzón. He also hosts spectacular “seven fires” dinners at his country estate.

Haras Godiva. Trek into the wide, expansive landscapes on horseback. Open to all abilities. Ask about courses and full-moon rides.

José Ignacio International Film Festival (JIIFF). Premieres of international feature films under the stars. Runs every January. All performances begin at sunset.


Growing up

London bookshop and publisher Daunt does delightful books, well, dauntlessly and its latest collection of essays on gardening is as pleasing as a peony in June (writes Josh Fehnert). The 14 short pieces from the likes of writer Penelope Lively, chef Nigel Slater and novelist Jamaica Kincaid unpack the importance of gardens as spaces for personal growth, expression and reflection. So far so pleasant, right? People with vast gardens prattling on about their year in tulips or why mimosa reminds them of mummy dearest? Well, there’s a whiff of such tweeness at times but there’s also more than enough to root the book in a deeper conversation about what gardens represent and what they can teach us (about life as well as lillies).

Paul Mendez, for one, talks about his upbringing in one of the few black families at that time in the West Midlands and the tough transition from being a Jehovah’s Witness to a London sex worker to a barnstorming voice-of-a-generation novelist – and how lawns represented the anonymity and uniformity that his second-generation Jamaican family craved. That and how he hated raking leaves. Elsewhere, we hear about the power of community gardens and pots on a windowsill, and why there’s no such thing as a weed. With that in mind, the gardening can wait a while. Sit back and have a super Sunday.

Images: Mackenzie Jamieson, Tony Hay, Kristin Bethge, Tali Kimelman. Illustration: Xihanation


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