Sunday 31 October 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 31/10/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

High spirits

This all hallows eve, we’re taking refuge in the elevated safety of two rooftop bars, in Lisbon for grilled octopus and New York to toast a new art-filled hotel opening. On the costume front, we try on some natty working uniforms in an extract from our new book on entrepreneurship, and chef Ralph Schelling provides a frightfully good recipe for mango sticky rice. Setting the stage is Tyler Brûlé.


Silver standards

You’ll be familiar with this couple as they seem to pop up everywhere – or at least they used to until some pangolin tartare put a stop to all their travels. She’s ever-so-slightly tanned and has perfect skin. Cheekbones are high and the nose has served as an engineering benchmark for ski jumps around the world. She favours pearls. They’re Mikimoto for sure. You’ve mostly seen her in an off-white linen dress and she’s usually looking out across the horizon. Is that a Norwegian fjord in the distance? Or Alaska? Or some fancy Photoshopping?

He’s also in white linen but just the shirt. He experimented with white-linen shorts recently and that turned out to be an eyeful for everyone at the country club. He’s a touch more bronzed, there’s four-day stubble and he’s looking at her warmly. Life is good. He got out of the corporate world while it was still acceptable for a mid-sized company to own a pair of Gulfstreams and well before there was a chief people officer. She stepped down as chair of the international school and not a moment too soon. Her successor told her that things got particularly heated at a recent parent-teacher evening as the clients started asking administrators why everything needed to be politicised and why their children were being taught what to think rather than how to think.

It does raise a question about why the silver set continues to be ignored at a time when inclusion runs a close second to sustainability.

Anyway, it’s all behind them now because they’re back where we last spotted them: in a magazine in autumn 2019 on the promenade deck of the Empress of the Gulf of Bothnia (did such a lady ever exist?) or gazing out from the balcony of their Admiral Suite on the maiden voyage of the Constellation of the Continents. They’re an important and powerful couple – not to mention super-hardworking, because they seem to be the only two people who get booked to positively represent anyone over 60 in global media. I’m sure they have Shanghai stand-ins for Mandarin media and a similar couple from Luanda for pan-African titles but it does raise a question about why the silver set continues to be ignored at a time when inclusion runs a close second to sustainability in any annual report, campaign platform or national manifesto.

Take a moment to flip through the ad pages of your favourite weekend supplement and take a poll of who’s selling to you. If the title is lucky enough to have a healthy run of ads you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone over 40 selling you a new bank account, set of e-wheels, watch, handbag or fragrance. For sure, we’d all like to look as fresh and perky as possible but that doesn’t mean a media landscape that distorts all sense of proportion and what daily life actually looks like in the mirror (yikes!) and on the street. As fashion campaigns start production for next spring and still-under-wraps autos head off to the coasts of South Africa for commercial shooting, brands need to come good on being properly inclusive and maybe thinking about who’s going to buy that new made-in-Germany grand tourer and who they relate to behind the wheel. Hard to believe but there are some rather dashing looking people over 60 out there. Even 80. Remarkable! More remarkable is how this rather sizeable audience is ignored in contemporary visual culture.

Eating out / Javá Rooftop, Lisbon

Raising the roof

When Brussels native Pierre Em d’Andrimont and his formerly Paris-based partner Margaux Marcy moved to Lisbon in 2018 to pursue a shared passion for hospitality projects, what they hadn’t reckoned on was the amount of work it would take to get it off the ground (writes Josh Fehnert). “It took us hundreds of letters to tenants to buy out their shops, dozens of hours spent at the Lisbon City Hall, a few scams that we escaped and one lawsuit, which we won,” says d’Andrimont. “We finally opened our very first spot called Café Janis, on an amazing little corner in Cais do Sodré.”

Image: Matilde Viegas
Image: Matilde Viegas

The pair’s latest venture, in the same lively neighbourhood, is Javá Rooftop: a laidback brasserie-style affair with soaring views over the Tagus. They worked with British-Portuguese design studio PIM on the space, which is perched on top of a lofty former telephone centre. It now serves unpretentious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inflected fare; the best mains come from the grill, including kebabs, smoky aubergine, and octopus served on a bed of buttery polenta. The pancakes – available either slathered in chocolate, with fruit or with a savoury twist – are also a major draw (“nothing fancy, just tasty,” says d’Andrimont).

The exposed beams, custom tiling, touches of terracotta, cane chairs and blue accents all combine to create an airy feel. “The past four years have been by far the most intense of my life,” says d’Andrimont. “It’s been a huge rollercoaster but it was for sure the best four years as well, and wouldn’t have been possible without Margaux.”

Top of the shops / Tilda, Los Angeles

Supping the ante

Echo Park-based Tilda is general manager Christian Clarke’s take on a bottle shop, filled with natural wine from the region and great food to take away or enjoy in the space or leafy courtyard.

The shop has outdoor and indoor areas in which to gather and try Californian wine by the glass or pick from a range of beer and cider, as well as saké, spritzers and vermouth, with small plates such as manzanilla olives wrapped with anchovies, pickled guindilla peppers, cheese boards or charcuterie. Kitted out by Los Angeles practice Stayner Architects, the woody and welcoming shop includes design pieces by Hans Bergstrom, Louis Kalf and Alexander Girard.

Sunday roast / Isay Weinfeld

Perfect blueprint

Isay Weinfeld once set out to be a film-maker but his masterpieces now come in the forms of artfully designed shops, hotels and homes in cities from New York to Barcelona and Brasília. Here, the São Paulo-based architect (and film director) tells us about his penchant for French toast, cachaça and the importance of silence.

Image: Bob Wolfenson

Where do we find you this weekend?
In the outskirts of São Paulo, taking photos.

What’s your ideal start to a Sunday: a gentle start or a jolt?
Probably working, which, for me, means I’m having fun.

Your soundtrack of choice?
John Cage’s “4’33” [a composition in which no sounds are made by instruments].

News or not?
News, always.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
No, exercise actually makes me feel worse.

Lunch in or out?
Normally out but during the pandemic I’ve been enjoying my time in.

Larder essentials that you can’t do without?

Your Sunday culture must?
I don’t really consider anything a “must”, unless I really must.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
Cachaça, a Brazilian distilled spirit.

Your ideal dinner venue?
Home, preferably in the kitchen.

What’s on the menu?
French toast.

What will you be wearing on Monday?
I’ll start with my briefs. The rest will come naturally.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Mango sticky rice

This week our Swiss chef extraordinaire, Ralph Schelling, offers his tips for getting your glutinous rice nice and sticky. “I sometimes steam the rice in banana leaves,” says Schelling. “Or perhaps steam some pandan leaves with the rice, which give it a wonderful flavour.” He also suggests toasted sesame seeds to top it off but coconut chips work equally well for a little crunch.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4

180g glutinous rice
200ml water
250ml coconut milk
65g cane sugar
½ tsp salt
2 mangoes
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then cover the rice with fresh water and leave it to soak for about 30 minutes. Then drain again (it’s fiddly but will make the final product better).

Add fresh water and bring the rice to the boil before covering and simmering over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice swell, covered, for about 20 minutes.

In a pan, dissolve the cane sugar in 200ml of the coconut milk with a pinch of salt. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved, then combine the rice and liquid, and stir.

Add the remaining 50ml of coconut milk to the pan with a further pinch of salt and heat through. This is the topping.

To serve, peel mangoes, cut into pieces and divide them and the rice between four dishes. Drizzle a little sauce over them and top with sesame seeds.

Weekend plans? / Modernhaus, New York

Creative achievement

As travel restrictions slowly ease, we’d suggest eyeing up a berth at Lower Manhattan’s latest art-filled hotel opening. One of the draws of the 114-key space in Soho is the vast array of works on show from the private collection of owner Jack Sitt, which includes pieces by George Condo and Alexander Calder. Food-wise, George Mendes, formerly of the Michelin-starred Aldea in the Flatiron district, has teamed up with hospitality impresario David Rabin for the hotel’s restaurants and function rooms – Veranda, The Signature Room and less formal Jumpin Jacks – which have impressed New Yorkers as much as they have the overnight guests.

Image: Nikolas Koenig

Veranda is a glass-sided structure with a retractable rooftop for alfresco dining, serving clever riffs on classic US fare that are comforting and creative in equal measure. Equally exciting is the reappearance of beloved rooftop bar and club Jimmy, which offers stiff drinks and a panoramic view of Soho.

Book club / ‘Golden Lane Estate’

Design for life

The City of London’s Golden Lane Estate is overshadowed by the Barbican, its larger and more photographed neighbour, and often dismissed as a plus-one in the current celebration of brutalism in the British capital (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). While many overlook its neat form, open spaces and colourful façade, a new book by Stefi Orazi, published by Batsford, encourages us to look again.

Image: Tony Hay

Like the better-known Barbican, Golden Lane was designed in the 1950s with a specific purpose. Its architects – Geoffry Powell, Christoph Bon and Peter Chamberlin – sought to build a community, albeit in a rather prescriptive way that fell out of favour in the decades that followed the estate’s construction.

Looking beyond the buildings’ concrete exterior, Orazi tells the story of the community that has thrived here, giving the reader vivid glimpses of its sun-soaked kitchens, wooden bookshelves and affable encounters across balconies. Through interviews with residents and the photography of Julian Ward and Mary Gaudin, the book beckons us into the estate and looks at its success through the eyes of those who call it home. The result is a fetching addition to any coffee table but also a homage to a style of urban living that feels pretty close to what the architects had hoped for.

Parting shot / ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’

Costume made

To celebrate the launch of ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’, we’ve selected a smattering of inspiring upstarts and smart business folk to spotlight. This week: Monocle’s senior correspondent Robert Bound on the dos and don’ts of a decent uniform.

Everyone’s favourite scene in Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg’s zippy ride through the life and crimes of 1970s conman Frank Abagnale Jr, is when our man (played with a twinkle by Leonardo DiCaprio) fakes his pilot licence and, as “captain Abagnale”, escorts a 747’s-worth of Pan-Am air stewardesses on a promotional tour of Europe. Sinatra belts out “Come Fly With Me” as DiCaprio becomes the grinning filling in a baby-blue sandwich. Sure, the chutzpah is to be saluted, but it’s those uniforms, from the pencil-skirts to the pillbox hats, that swung it. How come? Well, uniforms are designed to send a signal but the supposed sexiness of Pan Am’s is a projection from a more permissive era. In fact, the structured jackets and knee-length skirts advertise a certain sobriety, smartness and service. Perhaps it’s the very idea of restraint that’s stirring some sweet mischief beneath the surface?

A uniform should signal the attributes of the brand and the expertise of its staff. The tough brown workwear of the UPS delivery driver broadcasts an unfussy ability to get the parcel there on time. At its best, the smart utilitarianism of most traditional police uniforms signals a civic rather than martial strength. The waiter in his salt-and-pepper get-up practically tells the diner what’s for dinner – and that they’re in a brasserie, appetite whetted for the inevitable steak-frites. Meanwhile, the well-drilled forecourt staff at South Korean service stations are a joy to behold: a blur of washing, buffing and oil, water and tyre-checking faultlessness, all carried out by smiling young dudes in pressed, pristine, branded overalls (and you thought K-Pop videos had sharp choreography). The uniform, again, is a powerful shorthand.

For more inspiring start-ups, tips, advice and provocations about making your passion your vocation, pick up a copy of ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’. Have a super Sunday.


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