This week we’re taking the temperature of the beachside restaurants in Spain, cooling off with a refreshing strawberry shrub recipe and making plans to splash out on a weekend by the Med. Also in our sights are some smart new headphones for a sunny playlist, plus our fashion editor’s tips on five summer bags for your next trip. First up, and in fine fettle, is Tyler Brûlé.
It has been a week of tropical nights, stormy evenings, packed train stations, fruitful meetings, thought-provoking dinners and fresh alpine air. Let’s start at the beginning.
Monday evening, a small restaurant on Lake Zürich. I’m dining with a former Canadian diplomat. We’ve moved on from the Aperol spritzes and the conversation has flitted from playing hockey and multiple lives lived overseas to the state of English-language media. My dinner guest is wondering why American and Canadian media outlets have lost themselves in turning niche issues into topics that feel as though they affect the majority of listeners, viewers and readers. He’s concerned that Canadian news organisations don’t have nearly enough correspondents out covering the world and he’s wondering whether a revived or new Canadian outlet could hone a fresh, moderate, pragmatic voice within the North American and global media landscape. “The collapse of informed, reasoned conversation is a danger for democracy and newsrooms need a reset to remind editors and writers what matters,” he says. I send him off into the night. He has an interesting plan and there’s certainly an audience hungry for a more nuanced take on the world (particularly in North America), I’ll keep you posted on his progress.
Tuesday morning, back at the lake and enjoying my pre-TGV morning dip. Monocle’s Quality of Life ranking is out; Zürich took second position this year and the lake has a lot to do with the city’s standing. On this particular morning I have the whole park to myself. There’s a gentleman from the community picking up tiny pieces of paper in the gravel with tongs and he’s worried about a parched bit of lawn. He has pulled out his phone and is consulting with someone back at city hall while pacing around the charred grass (we’re talking a 30cm x 20cm patch). He looks concerned. I jump out of the water, dry off and pull on my shirt and slides. I say good morning and feel very good about the taxes I pay.
Wednesday morning, Paris and it’s muggy. The traffic is the usual nightmare it has become and I’m struggling to get to my meeting on time. I manage to arrive on the dot and my architect acquaintance pulls up a few minutes later. He explains that Paris’s mayor, Madame Hidalgo, does not know how to read the room, is governing as though coronavirus never happened and doesn’t quite get that the city is in a moment that should be celebrating its good fortune on the world stage and encouraging a more business-friendly climate. He’s particularly irked by the wilding of the French capital. “It’s a romantic idea to let things grow wild and not trim them but then don’t look at what’s happening underneath the weeds and tall grasses,” he says. “It’s all condoms, food packaging, cigarette butts and worse. You can’t keep the city clean.” I think about my man with the tongs in Zürich and how he’d feel.
We’ve moved on from the Aperol spritzes and the conversation has flitted from playing hockey and multiple lives lived overseas to the state of English-language media
Thursday morning, a packed Gare de Lyon and I’ve got 10 minutes before my return train to Zürich. I pop into the Relay kiosk to stock up on mags. I’m impressed that the French still take the printed media seriously and that there’s so much space given to newspapers, magazines, books and comics. It’s not the most international selection for a station that has multiple connections across borders but I spend €80 on various reads and the four-hour journey back to Switzerland zips past.
Friday evening, a restaurant terrace around the corner from Zürich and I’m dining with a friend who runs a large retail business. She’s back from the US and is full of energy. Her mood is infectious and she’s busily thinking about how to reinvent the department store. She’s already embarked on this journey but she’s had a fresh jolt of ideas and wants to see department stores move away from being boxes full of smaller boxes belonging to a clutch of luxury groups. She has a very good point and is definitely on to something. Over dessert we plot a research trip to find some fresh talent and hopefully make a few discoveries. Where first? Seoul? Paris? Manila?
Saturday lunch in Gstaad and I’m sitting near a woman who works in the hospitality industry. She’s back from a trip to the US west coast and is frustrated by the need for bathrooms that are supposed to serve everyone but in the end serve no one. “Here’s the thing: I want to go to the bathroom with other women,” she says. “End of story. It’s complicated to have to devote so much time and energy just because someone wants to build themselves a vagina and we have to rethink how to rebuild bathrooms as a result.”
Today at 10.00CET you can tune in to Monocle on Sunday, live from the World of Words literary summit in Gstaad. Georgina Godwin will be co-hosting with me and we’ll be chatting to author Elliot Ackerman, of 2034 fame. Do tune in.
A languid lunch service is a familiar scene of the Spanish summer: sanguine, unhurried, far removed from the pace of city life. But not all is as it seems in Spain’s beachside-restaurant trade. “This is a weird time for our tranquil little island,” says José Luís Pelayo, owner of Restaurante Pelayo on Formentera’s Migjorn beach. A recent (and hastily announced) government announcement to retender operating licences for the island’s chiringuitos and smaller kioscos has put many of its businesses on hold.
These seasonal, no-frills eateries are staples of the Spanish coast and, despite their size, still do a mean trade. In Formentera, nervous chatter abounds about what many see as a hostile takeover of their shoreline. Legal challenges were launched and protests erupted. A typical “government concession” for operating a small kiosco can currently cost the owners about €20,000 a year. But talk of “professionalising operations” has seen some rates jump to an eye-watering €173,500.
Locals are dubious about the motives but also worried about losing their affordable places to eat. Although many see the professionalisation of these time-tested family businesses as a tragedy, there’s also a fightback happening from Formentera and Ibiza to the Costa Brava.
As managing director of publishing house Cornerstone, Venetia Butterfield oversees imprints such as Century, Hutchinson Heinemann and Del Rey. Since joining Penguin in 2007, she has published the work of authors including Michelle Obama, John le Carré and Elif Shafak, and commissioned best-selling history books, memoirs, pop science and fiction. Here, she shares her Sunday itinerary of science podcasts and dim sum in London’s Chinatown, and some cultural tips.
Where will we find you this weekend?
In Queen’s Park, in London.
Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt
I prefer a gentle start: leisurely breakfast with my sleepy teenagers and then a run – though I have been known to spend most of the day in running clothes without actually running.
What’s for breakfast?
Deliciousness from Gail’s [a bakery in Queen’s Park]. A cinnamon bun is my favourite.
Lunch in or out?
A late lunch at home or dim sum in Chinatown.
A Sunday soundtrack?
A podcast while cooking lunch. I am addicted to The Rest is Politics by Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart and I love a science podcast – Huberman Lab is my current favourite.
Sunday culture must?
London’s Hayward Gallery always has must-sees. Their recent Louise Bourgeois exhibition was unmissable. I’ve also been meaning to go to the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery [which is on until 31 July].
Three summery reads you’d recommend?
Sure. First there’s Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s the ultimate beach read and you’ll want to party in Malibu. Then, The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – perfect if you’re on the road. Finally, there’s The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, which is wildly romantic and unputdownable.
News or not?
Yes, usually online but on the weekend I prefer print – the Financial Times, The Observer or The Sunday Times.
A glass of something?
Coffee, coffee and more coffee! And a glass of Château Minuty rosé if it’s sunny.
What’s on the menu?
Roast lamb with wild garlic and a bulgur wheat salad.
Sunday evening routine?
A hot bath and piles of reading in bed. I always stay up far later than intended. Robert Harris is writing his next novel, Act of Oblivion, and I am hoping to receive the next chapter soon. It’s like reading in serial form – bliss but I have to wait a whole week for my next hit.
Are you preparing Monday’s outfit?
No! At the moment, I prefer to decide on the day. It depends on my mood and the temperature but I can’t get out of trainers and a trouser suit, so it will probably be that.
Shrubs are a type of non-alcoholic drink that can be diluted with water to make refreshing summer sippers. Usually made with fruit, vinegar and sugar, they have plenty of kick. “You can also vary the fruit – try elderberry or blueberry,” says Schelling. “Or add a shot or two of white rum to create a strawberry mojito shrub.”
500g strawberries in pieces, stalks removed
200g cane sugar
200ml apple cider vinegar
600ml mineral water
Mint leaves or lemon verbena (optional)
Mix the strawberries with the sugar and vinegar. Cover and leave to macerate at room temperature overnight.
Purée the strawberries and pass through a sieve, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Funnel into a bottle. When ready to serve, mix with the mineral water and ice cubes to a ratio of one part purée to three parts mineral water.
Packing needn’t be painful (writes Natalie Theodosi). To help you fit in everything you need for your next trip, we asked Sam Treffers, co-founder of Kind Curations, a multi-brand shop on Australia’s Gold Coast, for his travel tips. Treffers is half of the creative team behind Kind Curations, which prides itself on offering “nice things for nice people”. He travels far and wide to source these goodies and has picked up plenty of packing tips along the way. His number-one rule? “Pack as little as possible,” he says. Treffers keeps things simple and always considers staples that go well together in several combinations. “There’s nothing worse than reaching the last day of your holiday and ending up with a shirt that doesn’t match your trousers,” he says.
For him, the right formula consists of good-quality white T-shirts – a two-pack from Californian jersey specialist Lady White Co will do. Add to that a pair or two of swimming shorts and some long-sleeved button-downs in the right fabrics for the climate; he suggests seersucker or linen if it’s hot. “They have a nice drape and always look good, even straight out of the bag,” he says. “I hate it when a shirt requires 30 minutes of ironing to make it feel new again.” For trunks, Treffers turns to Yellow Rat, a brand by Japanese designer Kio Inagaki, whose shorts riff on styles from the 1950s to the 1970s and work just as well on the beach as when heading to the corniche for a sundowner.
Five bags to bag this summer
1. Rimowa Essential Cabin Suitcase
Rimowa’s Essential range features the brand’s most lightweight suitcases to date. The Cabin size, with its internal packing dividers, will neatly fit all your summer essentials.
2. Pas Normal Studios x Porter-Yoshida & Co Weekend Tote
For roadtrips and weekenders, pick this compact tote that doubles as a backpack.
3. Away Duffle FAR Bag
Designed with outdoor adventures in mind, the new FAR bag (an abbreviation of For All Routes) is made from water-resistant, recycled nylon and can be packed flat.
4. Proteca Stratum Suitcase
For long-haul trips, look to Proteca’s Stratum check-in luggage, known for its grainy, scratch-free finish.
5. Timo Beach Tote
Timo’s colour-block beach bag, made from sturdy canvas, matches summer’s optimistic spirit and provides ample space for towels, sun cream and a sunny read. A nice upbeat magazine, perhaps?
Saint-Tropez is a seaside gem with plenty to offer (and, in truth, a few touristy bits to avoid). While the hilltop Château de la Messardière, which was recently renovated by French firm Airelles, is a must, there are plenty of other delights to unearth. Here’s where to start.
Cheval Blanc Saint-Tropez
The latest Cheval Blanc has riviera glamour in spades with plenty of nautical nods, a hammam and a Guerlain spa. Wherever you’re staying, pop in for a sundowner on the pine-shaded terrace with views of the gulf.
La Crêperie Gourmandiser
A classic venue in the old town that’s turned out the best crêpes on the Côte d’Azur since 1959. Don’t be shy with the pistachio-cream topping.
Rue des Remparts, Saint-Tropez
Mory Sacko at Louis Vuitton
The French chef whose Mosuke restaurant in Paris earned him a Michelin star is bringing his African and Japanese-influenced food to the White 1921 Hotel this summer. The seasonal spot will be this summer’s must-visit for an unfussy menu, which includes croquettes, oysters and tacos.
A 10-minute taxi through the pines brings you to Ramatuelle beach, the best spot for swimming, tanning and people-watching. Grab a sunbed at Byblos Beach Ramatuelle for cocktails and great Greek-inspired food.
Les Caves du Roy
This celebrated bar on Avenue Foch is a Saint-Tropez institution. Book ahead during the busy season from June to September.
Monocle 24’s senior culture correspondent Fernando Augusto Pacheco has fashioned what he has dubbed the ultimate holiday playlist. It is full of fresh releases and timeless classics selected by him and whittled down from the Monocle’s team’s suggestions. Here, we share a sneak peek of his roadtrip soundtrack, which shifts gear from breezy Aussie electro-pop to rocky riffs from Texas and smooth French hip-hop. Pop it on, roll down the windows and enjoy.
- “Push It Up” by Confidence Man
- “Supermodel” by Måneskin
- “Steal My Sunshine” by Len
- “Night Drive” by Shinichiro Yokota
- “Le Banana Split” by Lio
- “Nouveau Western” by MC Solaar
- “Hell on Wheels” by Cher
- “Samurai” by Cairokee
- “É Proibido Fumar” by Rita Lee and Gilberto Gil
- “Summer in New York” by Sofi Tukker
- “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack
- “Texas Sun” by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges
- “Soaked” by Benee
- “Summer in the City” by Quincy Jones
- “I Got the Moves” by Habibi
- “Mediterranea” by Irama
- “A Gira” by Trio Ternura
- “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates
- “Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson
To listen to the playlist – and several more from Fernando himself – search for Monocle 24’s account on Spotify. And be sure to tune in to our round-the-clock programming at monocle.com/radio for more.
When it comes to noise-cancelling headphones, you can count the brands that get it right on one hand: Bose, Apple and Sony (writes David Phelan). Of the three, Sony’s noise-cancellation is the most enjoyable. It’s better than ever in this latest, fifth, edition of its over-ear headphones. Even with noise-cancelling switched off, the audio is improved with better bass thanks to a new internal design. The sleeker look is the biggest change yet for Sony’s headphones. Smart effects include Speak-to-Chat, which sounds tautological but just means that when you start talking, the headphones automatically pause playback so that you can hear the person you’re talking to. The only downside is you can’t sing along to your favourite track.
Monocle’s quality of life-themed July/August issue, which is out now, includes a feature espousing 25 tips for living well and being happy. Here’s an easy one to try yourself: just jump.
It doesn’t need to involve a bungee or a mad leap into unknown waters (breaking a limb is never a great addition to your quality of life) but jumping into a lake, off the end of a pier or the edge of a boat is good for the soul. Too often we dither and ease ourselves into the chilly sea. But sometimes it’s better to let out a scream, a mad holler, and just go for it. While we might not have the skills of the divers who leap from Pigeon Rocks in Beirut, the Monocle posse has been seen leaping into the sea along the coast at Sporting Club. But whether from a Copenhagen dockside (pictured) or Greek-isle-anchored cruiser, take a leap (with care) this summer. Oh, and have a super Sunday.
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