Sunday. 1/5/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Courses of action

This Sunday we’ve laid on a moveable feast that whisks us from a new restaurant in Atlanta that celebrates the simplicity of good ingredients to a delicious Spanish number in Dublin and a recipe for spring onion pancakes. Plus: Andy Baraghani spins us through his weekend itinerary, we recommend an upbeat new magazine and offer sound advice on some new headphones. First, Tyler Brûlé answers some of your pressing questions.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Your questions answered

The past week saw many kilometres covered on Swiss and French rails – and this meant that there was plenty of time to unzip the Monocle mail sacks and shuffle through the inboxes to respond to unanswered reader queries from the past few weeks. While most readers get a swift, personal response from tb@monocle.com, some letters are reserved for this column as they demand a group response or a wider airing. Here’s what rose to the top of the pile between Basel and Gare de Lyon.

I’m at that tricky age where there’s suddenly a wave of friends and colleagues getting married and my summer has only a few open weekends for me to do my own thing. First, is it OK to decline a few and, second, should I stick to the wedding list or can I go rogue when it comes to gifts?
I know exactly how you feel. Just when you thought you’d have the first “normal” summer all to yourself, you have to deal with best friends, distant cousins and school friends who all think that their special day demands that you drop everything, book out four days and deploy thousands of dollars, euros or pounds to jump through a few matrimonial hoops. In short, you can, very politely, decline. It’s much better to give advance notice that you won’t be able to make it rather than be a grumpy guest in muggy Tuscany, soggy Devon or on a freaking freezing July Saturday in Sweden. On the gift front, I might suggest a subscription to Monocle or you could also do well paying a visit to Svenskt Tenn – always a good bet for traditionalists and modernists alike.

I’m working on my summer reading stack. Have you read any good books lately?
I’ve just finished A Very Short History of Portugal by AH de Oliveira Marques. It’s a snappy and informative little read but I closed the cover none the wiser on why Portuguese names are so long and how so many men can possibly be called Nuno.

You recently mentioned an event in the US. Is that still happening? Any dates?
For the moment, the best bet is a jump across the border up to Toronto on 28 May for our spring preview. Our US event is still in the works and will probably be in the southeast in the autumn.

Have you noticed that a lot of direct-to-consumer brands spend a lot of time talking up purpose and values but when you try to find out where they’re based or who’s behind them, it’s somehow left out of the ‘about’ part of their brand story?
I have noticed this and there’s a simple reason for it. Companies that overuse the word “purpose” tend to be the type of outfits populated by “founders” who find it offensive to ask where people are from in case it is seen as inappropriate, even racist, and could affect their next round of funding. Once upon a time, asking where someone was from was called “being interested”. So now it’s also the case that we shouldn’t ask where companies are from and focus on their purpose instead. And the fact that there’s never an address under the “contact” heading on websites for such companies is a signal that such ventures also don’t like offices, desks or bringing people together, and are terrified that an angry customer might just show up in person – on purpose.

My partner and I are planning a trip to Japan and we’re wondering when we should go this summer. Thoughts?
I’m off to Tokyo next week on a business visa as the country is still closed for tourism, so I wouldn’t go booking just yet. Let me report back once I’ve scoped out the situation. Regardless, I’d avoid Japan in summer and wait till late September. By then, hopefully, the country should have opened up to regular tourism and dropped the mask recommendations.

I’m about to top up my wardrobe for summer. Any fresh discoveries you can recommend?
I don’t know about my discoveries being necessarily fresh but La Paz’s thin cord shorts have already had some outings over the past few weeks and they get high marks. I’m quite fond of the Asket long cut T-shirts I bought in Stockholm, and a navy jacket from Meta Campania Collective has received quite a few compliments. Ditto some crepe-sole suede loafers from Sanders.

I’ve just bought a ticket to your Quality of Life Conference in Paris. Where are all the fun people staying?
That’s a tough one. All Monocle conference attendees tend to be quite fun and will be scattered around town but I reckon you’ll find the perkiest crowd at the hotel Château Voltaire. See you in the lobby or, if not, the cosy bar. (And if you haven’t booked your place yet, get a ticket here.)

Eating out 01 / Le Bon Nosh, Atlanta

Spice of life

Le Bon Nosh’s kitchen is run by Cordon Bleu-trained chef Forough Vakili, whose childhood in Iran as the daughter of a saffron farmer helped to inform the menu (and, by the looks of it, the decor too). From the fresh pastries to the generous seasonal dinner menu, everything is done from scratch.

Image: Anthony Tahlier

The bits that aren’t, such as the wine list, are worthy of exploration too. Don’t miss the guaranteed-to-please classics, from the beef tartare to the confit duck leg and hearty pappardelle Bolognese – further proof that excellent food needn’t be tricksy.
lebonnosh.com

Eating out 02 / Uno Mas, Dublin

Straight and narrow

Too often restaurant rundowns celebrate novelty rather than consistency but Uno Mas has become a bastion of both since opening in a slim space on an old terrace on Dublin’s Aungier Street (writes Josh Fehnert). Co-founders Simon Barrett and Liz Matthews – behind the also-excellent Etto on the city’s Merrion Row – tapped chef Paul McNamara when they opened this Spanish gem back in 2018.

Image: Tristan Hutchinson

Since the pandemic, however, and in spite of the geological pressure put on the hospitality industry by closures, rising costs and staffing woes, this buzzy spot has bounced back even better. On a recent trip – and ensconced in a semi-circular booth by the bar at the back near the lively kitchen pass – I enjoyed one of the best meals I can remember.

The menu is simple, clipped and blissfully free of adjectives, starting with tidbits “para picar” and needing little explanation beyond that. The scallop aguachile is a colourful cornucopia of limey zest, coriander and the crunch of onion. The charred leek, manchego, hazelnut and truffle seems alchemically elevated beyond its humble ingredients; ditto the beetroot and ricotta agnolotti and salt-aged lamb sirloin with belly merguez (sausage) and wild garlic. Even the potatoes on the side – you’re in Ireland, after all – are remarkable, rosemary-topped and slathered in a slick of garlic butter. Save room for the signature flan de queso. Novel? Not really. Delicious? You bet.
unomas.ie

Sunday Roast / Andy Baraghani

Step by step

Andy Baraghani cut his teeth at Chez Panisse and then at New York’s Estela before side-stepping into a career as a recipe developer and senior editor at Bon Appétit. Big Apple-based Baraghani’s debut cookbook, The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress, is released in May and mixes dishes with personal reflections and a particularly tasty Persian egg dish.

Image: Graydon Herriott

Where will we find you this weekend?
I like to escape from the chaos of New York at weekends so I will be in Long Island, in a little town called Bellport, with my partner, our friend and his dog, Goldie. I have convinced myself that she is my dog; I love her so much.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
Nothing too strenuous as we are fairly active throughout the day but maybe we will start with a walk and then a nice breakfast.

What’s for breakfast?
I’m a salty-breakfast person and my partner is sweet, so I usually make him really crispy blueberry pancakes with grains and I’ll have eggs in a quick tomato curry or a scramble with some cured meats and lots of parmesan – or a loaded avocado toast. I will also have a cup of coffee from my Moccamaster machine.

Sunday soundtrack
Sometimes it’s Aretha, sometimes it’s Joni, sometimes it’s Diana Ross. Or I’ve got an app called Radiooooo that lets you choose a country and a decade. You discover so many artists and songs; it’s great.

Sunday culture must? Farmers’ market? Museum?
I will definitely visit HOG Farm [a community farm in Brookhaven Hamlet]; they have incredible produce. I do a lot of cooking on the weekend, so I like to get fresh ingredients from there. My partner and I love antiques, so we might find an auction nearby that has lovely old pieces. It is a bit of a ritual for us to always watch a movie at the weekend as well.

A glass of something?
I am drawn to drinkable, natural bottles rather than big, bold wine. I also love to have sparkling water with lemon on the table with food.

Ingredients we will always find in your kitchen?
For me, it’s all the components that make up a meal, so definitely citrus; fats in olive oil, butter and cheeses; fresh herbs are essential; and anchovies and tomato paste. The Fishwives do the best tinned fish; it is an incredible brand.

Are you preparing Monday’s outfit?
Not really. I am preparing for a book tour so I will be thinking about what events I want to do to promote it and what I might need to wear for those. But I don’t lay anything out the night before.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Chinese spring onion pancakes

These dishy little delights can be eaten on their own as a starter or served as a side for Chinese meals, says our London-based recipe writer, Aya Nishimura.

Illustration: Xihanation

Makes 8 pancakes

Ingredients

For the pancakes
250g plain white flour
160ml boiled water, left to cool

For the spring onion oil
100ml sunflower oil
6 spring onions, finely chopped but keeping the bottom 3cm white part of the spring onion whole
20g plain white flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp sea salt

Method

  1. Pour boiling water into the flour and mix with chopsticks until the flour absorbs all the water and starts to form bigger lumps. When it’s cooled enough, knead by hand for a few minutes until it becomes a smooth pliable dough. Cover the dough with a clean damp towel and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.

  2. While you’re waiting for the dough to rest, make the spring onion oil. Place the sunflower oil and the white parts of the spring onions in a small saucepan over a low heat and cook until they brown; it will take about 10 minutes. Remove the browned onion and discard. Add half of the chopped onion and 20g of flour while the oil is warm and mix through.

  3. Dust the clean work surface with flour and roll the rested dough into a 30cm x 40cm rectangular shape. Spread the spring onion oil across the surface evenly, scatter the rest of the sliced spring onion and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.

  4. Roll the dough up as tightly as possible and cut into eight. Place each piece of rolled dough cut side up. Cover and rest again for 10 minutes.

  5. Flatten the dough and roll it into 13cm-15cm circles.

  6. Heat a frying pan (no need to add oil) and cook over a medium-low heat for about 4 minutes each side. Cover in a clean kitchen towel while cooking the rest of the dough. Eat immediately.
    ayanishimura.com

Weekend plans? / Short Stories, Los Angeles

New chapter

Many of the mid-century motels in Los Angeles have a seedy allure: the 1960s Farmer’s Daughter was once so evocative that Julianne Moore moved in while reading for Boogie Nights. But its star had faded by 2021 when developer Leo Grifka began transforming the motel into Short Stories, a peaceful 66-room retreat amid the bustle of literary Fairfax, with a marble-courtyard restaurant and verdant fountain where the car park used to be.

Image: Stefan Merriweather

LA-based designer Kevin Klein has given the place a top-to-toe perk-up – with terrazzo bathrooms and red oak credenzas in the suites – that summons up its heyday without feeling like a throwback. “When you stay at a hotel, you’re creating these short little stories,” says Grifka. “I wanted to go back to that.”
shortstorieshotels.com

The Stack / ‘The Beautiful Truth’

On the bright side

Created by entrepreneur Adam Penny and edited by Monocle alumna Hannah Finch, The Beautiful Truth is a newly minted magazine that draws together people seeking positive stories and creating change with cheer. The inaugural issue features insights from Saïd Business School’s Charmian Love, writer Will Storr and author Rutger Bregman. A feature called The Basics offers business advice, while The Thinkers taps experts to ask about helping to create a greener and more equitable world. All in all, it’s a beautiful, upbeat biannual to cheer the heart and offer some sunny stories, solutions and suggestions for a world that needs them.
thebeautifultruth.org

Image: Tony Hay

For more about the latest launches, tune in to ‘The Stack’. Monocle 24’s weekly radio show and podcast and print industry review.

Tech talk / Beats Fit Pro

Sound advice

The latest earbuds from Beats have a neat solution to the problem of in-ears not staying in place properly and suddenly becoming out-ears (writes David Phelan). A wingtip on the back of the earbud flexes as you twist it into position and then stays there with serene comfort. The earbuds remain secure even during the sportiest of exertions. These are noise-cancelling headphones and small pressure-relieving vents also help for all-day comfort. Noise-cancelling works best when there’s decent noise isolation through a snug fit and three sizes of ear tips make for a good acoustic seal.

Image: Tony Hay

There’s also spatial audio, which creates an immersive surround-sound effect, and dynamic head tracking so that if you’re, say, watching a film on an iPad, the audio is locked to the right place, even if you turn your head. This effect is so convincing that you might have to check that the sound really is coming through your headphones and not the iPad speaker. Beats is a subsidiary of Apple but where Airpods are most easily set up with an iPhone, these headphones connect seamlessly to any handset, making them a great choice for anyone with an Android phone. Have a super Sunday.
beatsbydre.com

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