Sunday 27 March 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 27/3/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Tour de force

We head to the vineyards of Hungary this week, before meeting Asia’s Best Female Chef, Natsuko Shoji, in Shibuya, Tokyo, and gazing up at some unexpected architectural marvels in the UAE. Plus: turmeric lamb that falls off the bone. Tyler Brûlé sets us off.


Points of interest

It’s Saturday afternoon and we’ve just wrapped a whirlwind book tour for The Monocle Book of the Nordics. Our jaunt around the Baltic saw a hearty crew of six touch down in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki to meet long-time subscribers, sign up new ones and gather intel for future issues. Along the way we also found a few minutes to scope out some sharp new brands and services to experience. Here are a few of our finds.

Dallas Coffee (Copenhagen). Just when you thought the corner coffee shop couldn’t be further re-engineered, enter Dallas Coffee in the Danish capital’s Øesterbro district. Not far from Goods (a Monocle favourite for menswear), Dallas serves excellent coffee and outstanding sandwiches – and a tasty looking crowd gathered inside and out.

Børge Mogensen outdoor furniture collection (Copenhagen). It’s that time of year when you might soon survey the terrace and come to the conclusion that it’s high time for a furniture upgrade. Carl Hansen’s collection of Børge Mogensen-designed chairs, tables, benches and a lounger has all the handsome looks to work well in the garden of a Georgetown townhouse or a Barcelona balcony.

Norse Projects (Copenhagen). When it comes to turning out wearable, sporty gear for men and women, the team at Copenhagen-based Norse Projects have a keen understanding of cut, colour and fabrics. Having just launched a new multi-brand shop, the company also has a super-premium collection in the works focused on the best in knits.

Flytoget (Oslo). The rail shuttle that runs between Oslo Gardermoen Airport and the city centre (along with some suburban connections) continues to be an outstanding example of how a country should welcome and bid farewell to residents and visitors alike. The seats are slimline and comfy, the lighting dim and the speed impressive. Add to this the very well-designed airport and you have to wonder how Germany Inc and various governments got BER so wrong. If you haven’t sampled the much-delayed Berlin Brandenburg Airport, lucky you.

Ett Hem expansion (Stockholm). My favourite hotel in the Nordics is a few months away from unveiling the first phases of an expansion that will add a couple of other villas to the street, creating a proper compound with additional space for entertaining and more privacy for guests in residence.

Hakola (Helsinki). If you’re in the market for a new lounge set-up for the office or a sofa or two for home, this well-priced, sharply designed collection of mostly upholstered pieces is worth a peek. Best of all, everything is proudly “Made in Finland”.

Glasshouse (Helsinki). You might have seen the odd article in our pages about this rethink of an old department store in Helsinki’s city centre, which continues to be transformed by the always dynamic Mirkku Kullberg. The current operation will close at the end of summer, when the whole building will embark on a complete overhaul. Catch it while you can.

Finnair over the North Pole (creative detour to Japan). When your business model is built around connecting Asia to Europe via Helsinki, Russia’s closed airspace is devastating for Finland’s flag carrier. Not wanting to miss a marketing opportunity, passengers bound for Tokyo and Seoul can now join the top-of-the-world club: many Finnair flights fly right over the North Pole to reach Narita and Incheon. The hitch is that the new routing can add three to four hours extra in the air, depending on winds.

Helsinki Distilling Company. In need of some elegant bottles for the bar or simply a crisp spirit for your Sunday eve G&T? The Helsinki Distilling Company has a potent line-up of blends for a whole evening of mixing and shaking. The owners also have a very nice bar that they can keep open till you need to catch your 07.00 flight back to where you belong. Yes, loyal reader, it was an STP moment (straight to plane) for this editor and his sing-songy colleagues.

If you’d like to join in on the celebrations for Monocle’s 15th anniversary and engage in a necessary conversation about the future of Europe, then join me, our editor in chief Andrew Tuck and Monocle 24’s Georgina Godwin in St Moritz next Friday and Saturday. We’ll be sitting down at Suvretta House to speak to Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, author of Grand Hotel Europa. This will be followed by an apéro and an evening with our “resident” DJ, Herr Pitsch. For more details, drop a note to Hannah Grundy at or purchase a ticket here. Hope to see you next weekend.

House News / Monocle Weekender, St Moritz

Peak excitement

Join Monocle editors and readers for a high-altitude spring Weekender in St Moritz next weekend. To mark Monocle’s 15th anniversary, Tyler Brûlé and team have prepared three days of talks, walks, drinks and dancing in the Engadin town from 1 to 3 April. The event will include a special interview and signing session with celebrated Dutch author Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, author of the bestseller Grand Hotel Europa, as well as plenty in the way of shopping, mingling and more.

We’re also on hand to help with ski passes, hotel recommendations and pointers. Places are strictly limited. Get your ticket here or email Hannah Grundy at with any questions about the event. We’ll see you on the slopes.

Pantry staple / White Mausu Black Bean Ketchup

Secret sauce

Genius comes in many forms and is a title all too lightly bestowed on anyone from physicists to footballers (writes Josh Fehnert). But please do believe us when we tell you that in the (ever-so-slightly less lofty) pantheon of condiments, White Mausu’s achievements are positively Pythagorean in their smarts.

Dublin-based Jasper O’Connor, with partner and company co-founder Katie Sanderson, has grown a business selling nutty, spicy rayu, a chilli sauce that goes on eggs and almost anything else, from a market stall. It’s now a sensation that’s stocked in more than 1,000 shops in 12 countries. Its forthcoming addition to the pantry shelf is the thick, umami-rich Black Bean Chilli Ketchup with a spicy kick.

On the vine / Robert Gilvesy winery, Hungary

Bottled up

Despite being born in Canada, Robert Gilvesy returned to his ancestral home country, Hungary, in the 1990s to work as an architect. Drawn to the Szent György-hegy region’s unspoilt beauty and vinous traditions, he instead decided to set up as a wine-maker on the northern bank of Lake Balaton.

Image: Felix Brüggemann

“It developed into a new career, a lifestyle change and a new mission: to bring quality Hungarian wine to the international market,” says Gilvesy. His furmint and olaszrizling are especially recommended, and can be found in good Budapest restaurants as well as at quality vintners across Europe and the US.

Sunday Roast / Natsuko Shoji

Sweet spot

Japanese chef Natsuko Shoji’s interest in cooking was sparked by a school assignment to make cream puffs and in 2014 she opened Été, a much-loved cake shop in Shibuya. Today, Été has become a six-seat Tokyo restaurant, where her 10-course dinners might include such delicacies as a salted tart topped with Hokkaido sea urchin and mimolette cheese. Then, of course, there are the cakes, which are made with some of the best fruit in Japan: strawberries from Saga or white peaches from Okayama. Shoji is the 2022 recipient of the Asia’s Best Female Chef award and here, she fills us in on her breakfast rituals and an easy-going champagne.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I’ll be meeting guests or clients at my restaurant.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
Being a chef means early mornings, so my ideal Sunday would involve a long lie-in. Unfortunately I’m usually working so there isn’t much chance for lazy mornings or seeing friends at the weekend.

Exercise or not?
Yes, I like sparring. It’s a very intense sport that requires me to sharpen my focus while building up a sweat.

Soundtrack of choice?
Some of my guests are very talented musicians, so I like to listen to the music composed or played by them.

What’s in your Sunday breakfast?
I eat natto [fermented soybeans] for breakfast every day. I grew up eating this traditional Japanese dish. It is very high in nutrition and protein so it keeps me full for a long time, which is good for busy work days.

Lunch in or out?
I don’t eat lunch unless I’m eating out.

A glass of something to recommend?
Champagne by Jacques Selosse. It’s very complex but easy to drink. I usually have a glass to help me wind down after work.

What’s on the menu for dinner?
I’m almost always at Été in the evening so dinner is usually a tasting from the preparation. Right now, the menu might include grilled oysters and crispy chestnut falafel with caviar and pomelo salsa.

Ideal dinner venue?
As long as I’m with friends, I don’t mind where we go for dinner. For me, who I’m with matters more than where I’m dining.

What will you be laying out to wear on Monday morning?
I’ll be laying out my sportswear – either Nike or Off-White – for Monday morning. I usually start Mondays with a sparring session and I like to feel comfortable.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Lamb, turmeric and fig

This week, Swiss chef Ralph Schelling brings us a slow-cooked lamb shoulder with punchy ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric. This takes time (six hours in the oven) so prepare it in advance. The flavour of the lamb can also be improved by allowing the shoulder to marinate overnight in the fridge. Enjoy.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4

1.5kg lamb shoulder, on the bone
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsps paprika powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 dried red chilli peppers
15g fresh ginger, grated
2 tsps salt
50g butter, room temperature
500ml dry sherry
3 white onions, coarsely chopped
10 dried figs
4 tbsps olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 190C. Score the skin of the lamb diagonally with a sharp knife and place it skin-side up in a large roasting dish. Blend the garlic with the paprika, turmeric, chillis, ginger, salt and butter in a food processor to create a paste. Spread this all over the lamb shoulder.

Place all remaining ingredients around the lamb. Pour in the wine and add water so that the liquid covers about half of the meat.

Cover the tray with aluminium foil (or a lid, if it has one) and put in the oven. After an hour, reduce the temperature to 140C and leave to roast for another 5 hours, until the meat separates easily from the bone. Check occasionally and add a little water if the lamb starts to look dry. Serve warm with salad.

Report / UAE modernism

Closer look

The UAE is better known for the ambition than the tastefulness of its building projects. There’s the dhow-shaped seven-star hotels, palm-like islands and the world’s tallest building. But the nation’s very first high-rise structure was the relatively modest Dubai World Trade Centre, a neat 38-storey building at the eastern end of Sheikh Zayed Road that still adorns both the city and the 100 dirham banknote.

As with most things here, when you get past the glitz and headlines, it’s possible to spy all manner of odd and intriguing buildings that tell another, more measured, tale about the nation’s development. These mid-century structures speak of modernist masterplans, architectural experimentation and intense ambition (sometimes justified, sometimes a little wayward in execution).

Image: Anna Nielsen
Image: Anna Nielsen
Image: Anna Nielsen

In recent years, the reputation of the nation’s mid-century stock of Arab-influenced modernist buildings has found a more receptive audience, and calls to preserve and protect what’s left are getting louder. And there’s plenty to discover: from Sharjah’s space-age Flying Saucer and the interlocking concrete façade of Abu Dhabi’s tessellating Al Ibrahimi building to the stark, sandy-hued majesty of the Dubai Petroleum building. The history of the UAE as a sandpit for architects is longer than most people imagine.

Seven smart buildings you might not expect to see in the UAE:

  1. King Faisal Mosque in Sharjah
  2. Flying Saucer in Sharjah (pictured, bottom)
  3. Dubai World Trade Centre
  4. Saeed Obaid Al Mazroui building in Abu Dhabi
  5. Abu Dhabi’s central bus station (pictured, top)
  6. Al Ibrahimi building in Abu Dhabi (pictured, centre)
  7. Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi

Tech talk / Technics EAH-AZ60

Listen up

When Apple launched its Airpods in 2016, the world of in-ear audio changed its tune (writes David Phelan). Being truly wireless suddenly meant having no cables, even between the buds. The Airpods’ design was striking and they were also the first to offer easy pairing with smartphones. But rival companies, such as Japanese brand Technics, sought to do something different: its EAH-AZ60 earbuds have a neat design that allows them to twist into place and hold firm even when you’re on the move.

Image: Tony Hay

They’re water-resistant to handle the elements too. A snug fit is crucial, so the buds come with seven ear-tip sizes. Meanwhile, an array of built-in microphones listens to the surrounding noise and uses it to cancel out unwanted sound; impressively, the system can filter out an aeroplane’s roar while you’re airborne. On the ground, the call quality is excellent and the audio is exceptional: it’s powerful and bright with plenty of bass that is present without being overpowering.

Parting shot / Monocle photographers

Shutter speed

Monocle’s bumper March issue includes an Expo feature on the art of photography. We asked 14 of our favourite shutterbugs across seven cities to shoot a portrait of one another and tell us a little more about being a photographer in the age of the camera phone. Ready for our close-up?

Rena Effendi (pictured, top)
Shot by Maria Klenner on a Canon EOS 6D Mark II
“The Rolleiflex is the second camera I ever owned. Not long after September 11, I went to New York and visited a Richard Avedon exhibition at the Met. His portraiture is one of a kind and when I saw his auto-portrait with his camera, a Rolleiflex, I made a note of it and bought it the next day. It has been my companion ever since. I am a neurotic but analogue forces me to surrender. I know that I have only 12 frames in a roll so I take my time. There is also this beautiful mystery of not knowing the result. Every place, whether it is Libya, Turkey or the DRC, has its own colour palette so there is always an element of surprise, something to look forward to when the photographs arrive. I’ve been drawn to portraiture from the moment I set eyes on Magnum’s exhibition on life after the Soviet Union. I dropped painting, which I thought was what I wanted to do, and picked up a camera. Baku [the capital of Azerbaijan] was undergoing a lot of change and I became enthralled with one neighbourhood. I would go back to photograph the same people. Street portraiture drew me in. Those photographs won the Fifty Crow award in the US. I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I can become a full-time photographer.’ Four years later, I was. My first assignment for Monocle was an Expo on Levantines living in Izmir. The most memorable portrait I took there was of Alfred Simes, who had just turned 101.”

Maria Klenner (pictured, bottom)
Shot by Rena Effendi on a 2.8 planar Rolleiflex 75mm
“No matter who is standing in front of the camera, the more you pay attention to them, the more beauty you will find. Not in the conventional sense but as the uniqueness of the individual. Nobody else will be able to stir something in you or touch you the way this person does. That’s why I adore taking portraits. I find people’s faces fascinating. I love to work with analogue but it is not always possible. Because sometimes things need to go faster and that is what digital provides: speed. The main thing for me is that it gets the job done. After I studied photojournalism in Hanover, I worked for a while at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the photographic department. It taught me how to get the assignment done no matter what, whether it is a weather photo or a portrait of an old lady at a church. I was first commissioned by Monocle to photograph Lebanese fashion designer Rabih Kayrouz at his atelier in Gemmayze. Later, the aftermath of the Beirut blast was a hard one to capture because the lines of reality were blurred. The night of the explosion, Monocle’s photography director Matthew Beaman emailed me to check in if I was fine and if I was OK to shoot. It was healing to photograph the cleaning up of the streets. I couldn’t run away. I had to look at it – and to face it made it better.”

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