Sunday 7 November 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 7/11/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Take the plunge

If you’re craving a last-ditch taste of sun and sea before the year is out, don’t miss our insiders’ guide to the lesser-known Greek islands. Plus: a collection of art-filled restaurants, a versatile recipe for focaccia and Sotheby’s CEO Charles F Stewart’s favourite New York restaurant. First: a whirl around Dubai with Tyler Brûlé.


Gulf stream

If you’d asked me a few months ago where I’d be flying to long-haul for business this autumn I would have said Los Angeles (sadly this didn’t go quite to plan), Tokyo (could potentially happen with the new work visa but will wait till it’s properly up and running to avoid disappointment), Bangkok and Seoul (in the diary for next week but let’s see if the papers come through). It’s unlikely that I would have said the UAE as I was just there in June and thought I’d done all the business I needed to for the coming year. But there I was last Sunday flying eastbound on Swiss – destination Dubai. Off the back of my last trip, I concluded that the emirate was moving swiftly to fashion itself as a new Hong Kong and doing a pretty good job of attracting talent, tourists, trophy chefs and bartenders, sought-after retail brands, big-ticket events, and French bankers and entrepreneurs looking for life after the bars of Hollywood Road and Wan Chai. Four months later, I was keen to gauge how Dubai was faring now that more of the world is open for business and there is a bit more competition from other global hubs than there was at the end of Q2. Here are a few observations across 72 hours.

Back in June, Dubai airport was rather quiet with empty concourses and scores of unoccupied gates. No longer. At 01.00 on Monday the airport was absolutely rammed with people flying in and out, to and from all corners of the world. The Khaleej Times announced that DXB was back to pre-pandemic capacity and a luxury goods retailer reported that last Sunday marked a record for their highest duty-free sales – ever.

If you’ve ever wondered who actually shops for a complete head-to-toe look for their kids from the likes of Fendi and Burberry, I have the answer: moms from Omsk, Kazan and Perm. In front of a bar at one of the larger properties along Jumeirah Beach I spotted more samovar-sized Svetlanas, Igors and Oksanas in full designer gear than I did older siblings in Adidas or Nike. Yes, dear reader, all rather Volga indeed.

On Monday evening I decided to join the locals in one of their biggest autumn rituals and made my way to a nearby Toyota dealership. The 2022 Land Cruiser had just pulled up in showrooms across the UAE and parking lots were full of couples, singles and families all keen to inspect the new-style grille, slightly tweaked headlights and various interior improvements. While billboards and TV ad spots might be crowded with hybrid and e-vehicles in Europe and North America, it’s rather different in Dubai. “Forget about fashion launches,” explained a senior bureaucrat. “It’s the latest Land Cruiser or new Nissan Patrol that gets consumers excited here.” I drove out of the dealership wondering what kind of crowd Greta would draw in Dubai and what colour I’d like to order. Indeed, I was having a very different mobility day than my colleague Andrew was in Copenhagen – see yesterday’s column.

Correction: what the bureaucrat said about fashion launches and excitement wasn’t quite true. On Tuesday evening, Chanel invited well over 1,000 people to watch its cruise collection stride down the runway, enjoy a mini John Legend concert and go a bit bananas on the dancefloor. While it’s always a delight to watch the brand’s Brazilian house model Amanda Sanchez effortlessly carry the best of the collection on her perfect frame, the highlight of the evening was Valentin Brunel, better known as Kungs, commandeering the DJ perch and ruling the evening. If you’ve not sorted out the entertainment for your company Christmas bash it might be worth seeing if there’s enough money in the company kitty to book him.

If you’re looking for a little business opportunity you could do a lot worse than finding a tired strip mall around Deira or in one of the older stretches of Jumeirah and embarking on a gentle face-lift. Life is moving outside the mall and there’s room here for projects on a smaller scale that don’t involve a 30-minute drive across town. Didn’t you say you were looking for a new challenge for 2022?

Eating out / Zur Goldige Guttere, Zürich

Fare well

Having made a name for themselves thanks to their cheese sandwiches and chips in the past year, Linda Hüsser (formerly of Monocle) and Meret Diener have found a more permanent home in Zürich’s Kreis 3 district. Zur Goldige Guttere – “the golden pitcher” – is the name of the new establishment, where the duo serves a modern twist on traditional Swiss fare. Dinner comes in two rounds of three dishes each and the menu changes monthly.

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Diener and Hüsser (pictured, Hüsser on left) continue their keenness for regional produce: the brioche with apple butter and pickles, roasted squash with salsa verde, and sautéed mushrooms with lentil stew, were all sublime. That’s before we got to the boar dumplings, which were even better. Desserts arrived on a rather fetching trolley and included double cream and salted caramel cake with caramelised apples, which was gobbled before our host Diener could recommend a matching eau de vie.

“Everything is homemade and we preserve vegetables throughout the year,” says Hüsser, who stocks more than 700 jars of preserves in the basement. “And while all the food is made with regional ingredients, the inspiration comes from cuisines around the globe.” The wine comes exclusively from small Swiss estates and the seasonal cocktails are worth trying. The pair met at the École hôtelière de Lausanne and despite the casual atmosphere and homely grub, the Zur Goldige Guttere is a rather refined affair.
Open evenings, Tuesday to Saturday.

Food scoop / ‘Aesthetic Dining’

Feast your eyes

Creating a great restaurant starts with what’s on the plate and extends to everything from the service to what’s on the walls (writes Nyasha Oliver). A new book published by ACC Art Books, Aesthetic Dining, is a good place to hone an understanding of the latter: how some culinary institutions have amassed art collections to rival those of respected museums – only with better menus.

Using anecdotes, interviews and snaps, author Christina Makris creates her own portraits of 25 restaurants that pride themselves on their cultural clout as well as their culinary chops. Readers are shuttled from service at Abou el Sid in Cairo to Berlin’s Paris Bar and Hong Kong’s Bibo – and are fed with the secrets of how these establishments’ art collections started, grew and still whet their customers’ appetites for the aesthetic as well as the edible.

Sunday Roast / Charles F Stewart

Selling points

Since joining in 2019, Sotheby’s CEO Charles F Stewart has drawn on his background in banking and finance to inject a little energy into one of the world’s largest and most respected auction houses (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). Stewart tells us about weekends in New York, a breathtaking exhibition and his penchant for chocolatey Brazilian wafers.

Where do we find you this weekend?
In New York – specifically, in the Upper East Side.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or jolt?
A bit of a lie-in, followed by a jolt.

Soundtrack of choice?
I like to keep it chilled out on a Sunday, which is why I usually go for an Ibiza chillout soundtrack on Spotify.

What’s for breakfast?
I’ll scramble some eggs and maybe grill some tomatoes too. And some wholegrain toast.

News or not?
On the weekends, I’m a print-newspaper reader. It’s a great time to read The New York Times, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
Usually a run around the Central Park reservoir.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
My wife is from Brazil so there’s a lot of Brazilian food, including pão de queijo [cheese bread] and Bis, a Brazilian chocolate wafer, as a snack.

Sunday culture must?
I’ll always go to see an art show, either at Sotheby’s or at a gallery or museum. This summer, I went to the Alice Neel exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was incredible.

Ideal dinner venue?
One place I love in New York is Café Sabarsky, an Austrian restaurant inside the Neue Galerie, which is full of Klimts and works by 20th-century artists from Austria and Germany.

Who’s joining?
Definitely my wife and three children.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
A 2005 bordeaux.

Evening beauty or betterment routine?
I like getting organised and preparing for Monday, maybe by laying out what I’m going to be wearing.

And what will you be wearing?
A Brunello Cucinelli jacket and Brunello Cucinelli sneakers to match. That’s my go-to.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Focaccia with datterini tomatoes

Our Swiss chef offers a simple focaccia recipe that’s divine with ripe tomatoes – but treat this as a starting point rather than the final version. Add some dried marjoram, thyme or rosemary if you fancy. You can also freeze and save the dough before baking, or switch the flour for wholemeal and the yeast for a sourdough starter.

Serves 8 as a starter

40g baker’s yeast
500ml lukewarm water
1kg plain white flour
20g table salt
150ml olive oil
100g fresh datterini tomatoes
Coarse sea salt

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.

Pour the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the water, table salt and 50ml of the olive oil, and combine.

Once combined, mix in a food processor with a dough hook for a minute or two (or knead by hand for about 5 minutes) until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise at room temperature for no less than an hour.

Preheat oven to 240C. Pour another 50ml of the olive oil onto a lined, 23cm x 33cm x 5cm baking tray and spread the dough to a thickness of about half a centimetre. Press tomatoes at regular lengths almost completely into the dough (say every 5cm or 6cm).

Drizzle over the remaining 50ml of olive oil and a teaspoon of the coarse sea salt, evenly.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bread begins to brown and the tomatoes pucker. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving lukewarm.

Weekend plans? / Greek island guide

Isle say

Greeks are more likely to admit which is their favourite child than volunteer their favourite island escape (writes Daphne Karnezis). Secrecy keeps the crowds thin in summer, you see. But when autumn rolls around, the tourist numbers plummet. There are more than 100 inhabited Greek islands – and thousands more that are uninhabited. Take Polyaigos (“many goats”): a popular stop to take a dip among those sailing in the southern Cyclades, a cluster of Aegean islands known for their whitewashed houses and windmills. To the east are the Dodecanese, where there are plenty of gems to discover even among well-trodden islands such as Rhodes and Kos, which mellow in the off-season. Whether you’re eyeing up that last dip of the year on a secluded beach or taking a hike through ancient shepherds’ routes, then we have you covered. Here’s our insider’s guide to autumn on the islands – and no, we’re not telling you our favourite.

Close to the Turkish coast, Patmos is an eight-hour ferry from Athens or a short boat ride from Leros. After a day at Psili Ammos beach, try a cocktail at Astivi before dinner at Benetos on the shore.

Drive from the capital to Rafina to take a two-hour ferry, pick one of the ancient routes that wend through the mountains and stop at Pythara waterfalls for a swim. Or drop by the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Start at Chania’s old harbour and eat at Pallas, before a sunset drink at Chania Sailing Club. The best beaches are to the west and the hike to Samaria Gorge is a treat.

The only cars here are taxis, so go by bike or horse-drawn carriage between the old and new ports. Dine at Orloff restaurant in the old harbour, have drinks at Bikini bar and dance at Guzel.

Just below Corfu, this Ionian islet has some of the country’s loveliest beaches. Eat in Longos harbour to try traditional Paxiot specialities such as seabass bianco.

The villages here offer as much as the main town. Visit Volax, Pyrgos and Komi, where you should eat at Svoura, a meze spot in the square.

Book Club / ‘Septime, La Cave, Clamato, D’une Île’

Soupçon of secrets

When you think of French fare, courgette-flower fritters with saffron mayonnaise and a dusting of sumac might not spring to mind (writes Grace Charlton). Nor would pickled chanterelles or cockles with Tosazu beurre blanc. But those are exactly the kind of dishes that have catapulted restaurateurs Bertrand Grébaut and Théophile Pourriat to culinary stardom in France and far beyond.

The pair has covered a lot of ground, starting in 2011 with a restaurant-turned-bakery in the 11th arrondissement called Septime, followed by wine bar La Cave, seafood joint Clamato and 17th-century farmhouse-hotel and restaurant, D’Une Île, in Normandy. In a handsome new hardback, Septime, La Cave, Clamato, D’une Île, Grébaut and Pourriat pored over their oeuvre to find 50 recipes that represent their four venues and demonstrate their irreverent and iconoclastic approach to French cookery. Expect caramelised cabbage with Madras curry butter and French onion soup with eggnog-brioche perdue. If this is a taste of things to come then French cookery has plenty to be smug about.

Parting shot / ‘The Entrepreneurs’

Make your mark

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 creative director Richard Spencer Powell shares some trade secrets from the world of branding.

A company’s brand identity should bring its founding values to life – and draw in a few customers too. Just don’t forget to have a bit of fun with it. Here are a few rules to get you started.

1. Research. Look at the market, visit similar operations and sample the competition. Keep a record of the elements that you like: it will help to explain your ideal positioning to any prospective design team. The more direction at the outset the better.

2. Pick a good agency. It’s crucial to have faith in the team that you entrust with designing your brand. They are the experts and have both the tools and the eye to create the most alluring package, so it is important to listen to their advice. However, don’t allow them to go off-point and create work that only satisfies their taste. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

3. Go beyond the logo. When thinking about your company’s brand, try to expand the thinking beyond the logo, colour palette, business card and letterhead. Designers will often refer to these items as the basic elements but you don’t want to be left with these things alone. Extra printed material and branded pieces can convey a great deal more.

4. Application. How you colour, print and position your brand is actually the branding part. A beautiful logo that is too small or disappears two clicks into your website fails to make an impression. Make sure that your brand’s palette is as colourful as you want it and that logos and patterns are suitably scaled. Think of this in terms of volume: some things need to be quieter than others but, on certain occasions, you need to turn it up.

5. Further development. Think big and test your brand. Things that may seem unlikely at the outset may quickly come into play, such as additional packaging fixes, collaborative projects or mailing solutions. Your logo, which starts off largely screen-based, might have to be scaled up to live on the side of a delivery van. Test it to see if it works and check that it doesn’t alter the tone.

6. Maintenance. Make sure you have simple guidelines in place as to how your brand is handled visually. There’s room for movement here but not much and the bigger you grow, invariably the more people can, and will, affect the aesthetics. Regular checks should ensure that the appearance stays true to the original design.

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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