Sunday 14 August 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 14/8/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Layers of goodness

Our Swiss chef extraordinaire shares a recipe for lasagne to make ‘nonna’ proud. We also take an tour of Tarragona, Spain and leaf through a thoughtful Corsican magazine. Plus, some reads for the sunlounger, an Iberian eatery, a Tokyo bolthole and the ultimate picnic wine list. First up, Monocle’s editorial director and founder, Tyler Brûlé, offers a summery summary of a busy week.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Grounded in reality

If you’ve been concerned that much of the Western world has lost its competitive pluck in these gentler, tread-softly times, you’ll be relieved to hear that this is not the case with Monocle readers – particularly those who wake up bright and early, and start their Sundays with this column. In case you missed it, last week I launched the debut edition of The Monocle Common Sense Quiz. The moment the first emails hit inboxes in Wellington and Melbourne, the responses were already bouncing back with answers sharp, naughty and instructive.

While most managed to meet the Tuesday deadline of 18.00 Zürich time, there were plenty of others who tried to push it and made up excuses – “It got caught in my outbox and I didn’t know it was stuck there”; blamed faulty servers – “We might have been hacked”; or, “I was on an aircraft with patchy wi-fi.” On the last excuse, I realise that closed Russian airspace makes much long-haul travel complicated but even Qantas’s longest-range aircraft can’t remain aloft for 24 hours, let alone the three days that were available to send in polished answers. As deadlines are our business at Monocle, we were brutal with the cut-off. But we read through all of the answers and can happily report that our judges decided that there could be more than three winners. Questions and the winning answers are listed below.

It’s a Saturday afternoon, you’re at a lovely hotel in Sardinia but no one told you when you booked that most of the hotel was going to be taken over by Instagrammers with big lips/boobs/bums and their photographers. There’s so much augmentation around the pool that it has been blocked out by the sun. What do you do?

Approach the hotel manager and find out how much the hotel is charging for these “fashion” shoots. If the answer is zero, borrow his/her manager’s jacket and approach the augmentees, suggesting to them that the hotel would like them to contribute to the establishment’s free-evening-spritz fund.
Dan G, UK

Pull out your copy of the July/August issue of Monocle and give the augmented a revelatory touch of paper. Those not beyond redemption will be converted for life and renounce the ways of hyper-digital and fillers.
Imran Y, UK

Immediately seek out the sensible-looking staff member (Wes Anderson cast stand-in?) who appears equally aghast at the state of affairs. Suggest that an emergency security check of the hotel’s IT systems is warranted that requires disabling all wi-fi for a few hours. Generously tip the staff member and order a nice cocktail from the bar. When the Instagrammers get bored with looking at each other rather than their static phones, hop on a vacated lounger and enjoy your time in the sun.
Jonathan B, Germany

The late David Tang used to advocate the use of a mobile-phone-signal jammer, effectively taking the “Insta” out of Instagram, which would I hope be enough to send them all scurrying elsewhere. Unfortunately it appears from a little research that these devices are now illegal in Italy – but then again, so is tax evasion.
William S, Singapore

You’re not a fan of video conferences and you’re also a stickler when it comes to timekeeping. What’s an acceptable window to wait for someone to appear on screen? Three minutes? Five?

Twitch to see an enormous clock over your shoulder. Note the lateness on a good Swiss Mondaine on the wall behind you. If others are on the call, just start, else don’t fret but always close on time or even early; back-to-back calls treat people like battery hens without room to think/drink/or go to the loo between them. The best calls have the freshness of a conversation – to chat and make progress, and leave you time to be human afterwards. Like airlines, always choose the first call of the day to ensure punctuality.
Phil E, Geneva

If the “missing” participant hasn’t had the dignity to send a message that he’s running late, three minutes are more than sufficient.
Eleftherios G, Greece

No hurries. I would use the waiting time to arrange my beard in more fashionable ways.
Hubert, Germany

You’re in the lobby of a grand hotel in the Alps and your friends have invited their dog along to have its tummy rubbed. Of all the pets you’re friendly with, this one’s your favourite. Despite being more mid-sized than toy, he jumps up on your lap. Guests all around ask his name and where he’s from. He’s having a lovely time and is so relaxed that he starts emitting the most silent, violent farts. Moments later a woman nearby gags and another pulls out a hand fan. What action do you take?

Say, fairly discreetly, “Oh I’d better do something about this Crohn’s disease flare-up” and graciously leave with the dog.
Neil M, UK

I’d start chatting with my friendly dog about the quality of the raclette with preserved onions that we had last night. Nothing better than melted real Alps cheese when it’s 30C outside.
India di S, Italy

You apologise for the tacos you had the night before. You don’t get to blame the little one! Take one for the team!
Eleftherios, Greece

Continue rubbing the dog’s belly and take no further action. Dogs are faultless, perfect creatures.
Les L, Phoenix

Ed’s note: There were also an overwhelming number of responses suggesting that the farting dog should have been sent to Sardinia to lounge among the Instagrammers.

You’ve just read an article in a favourite Swiss newspaper about cancel culture. It’s written from the perspective of a bemused correspondent based in Chicago who is a sharp critique of this US export. You conclude that this type of commentary would no longer get past most editors in US newsrooms, which makes it all the more intriguing. Do you send it to all of your US friends and colleagues to show them that freedom of thought and expression is alive and well elsewhere? Or leave them be?

Don’t send it. Americans know that cancel culture isn’t global but they believe in it anyway. So sending it is akin to judgement by St Peter; since some won’t care to enter the gates of heaven anyway, they will continue to do as they wish, notwithstanding the consequences.
Meg F, Philippines

Since there are only three actual newspaper editors left in the States (let alone actual newspapers), go ahead and let them know that their country’s Twain-like culture has not been entirely cancelled and lives abroad in journalistic exile.
Jonathan B, Germany

I would rather encourage them to subscribe to a variety of publications that will provide them with a balanced view of the world. I disagree 100 per cent with some of the journalism in the magazines and newspapers I subscribe to but without exposure to opposing views, we are all doomed.
William S, Singapore

Send it far and wide! We need to stand up for protecting freedom of speech as much as our woke counterparts try to cancel culture and any other truths!
Marek F, Switzerland

Definitely send it on! The US needs Monocle’s smart, pragmatic and independent voice.
Clinton M, USA

Avoid the temptation. Best to just not bother because most of us are tired of hearing about it. We know that the US is a dumpster fire. We are reminded vividly every day. Constructive suggestions on how to, 1) live with it without succumbing to utter despair, and 2) take personal actions to make things better would be much more appreciated and well-received.
Les L, Phoenix

A friend has invited you round for dinner and asks whether there are any dietary issues. In your excitement, you reply that there are no issues and that you’re ‘really into oysters or goat’s cheese’. When you arrive at the alfresco dinner there’s a tower of oysters that have been flown in from France and a wagon-wheel-sized block of chèvre. Perfect for the other assembled guests. After a while, the host asks why you're not touching the items you’re ‘really into’ and you become slightly uncomfortable. Under the table you consult your phone. Horror! You forgot to type ‘not’ before ‘really into’. Now what?

“Not really into” isn’t the same as “dreadfully allergic to”. Embrace the chaos, devour the oysters and eat a little of the cheese. Note: there is always cheese left at the end of a meal, so all will be well.
Dan G, UK

Tuck in and forget my dislikes. Or bring the friend’s dog from question three as he loves oysters and cheese.
Alan M, UK

Say, since a recent rebound of coronavirus, I can’t smell or taste a thing and would hate to waste such luxurious victuals on myself.
Gay S, Wisconsin

Presumably you are an adult. Be an adult and make an effort to eat things you think you don’t like. You might surprise yourself. Children get to be picky; not adults.
Les L, Phoenix

Thank you to all for participating. Presents will be shipped from Monday. Where possible, we will try to fulfil from a nearby Monocle Shop. The Monocle Common Sense Quiz will return in time for Christmas.

Eating out 01 / Nomura Shoten, Tokyo

Sip it and see

Located in a residential area of Misuji near Ueno, Nomura Shoten is a new kaku-uchi (a hybrid of an off licence and a standing bar) by Soran Nomura (writes Junichi Toyofuku). “It’s a next-generation liquor shop where people can discover new drinks,” says Nomura (pictured). The 38-year-old owner knows a thing or two about the art: he trained as a bartender in London and worked at places including Ao Bar and Fuglen in Tokyo. He’s also collaborated with Japanese distilleries to develop new products.

Image: Shigeta Kobayashi
Image: Shigeta Kobayashi

Nomura doesn’t mix cocktails but instead serves spirits, including rum from Okinawa and South Korean shochu, with soda or tonic water to introduce the drink. There are natural wines and craft beers from across the world as well as light dishes such as bao buns and curry made by Nomura’s mother. “If you liked the drink that you had, you can purchase the bottle,” he says, gesturing towards the shop area at the back. Or people can try something that they’re considering buying. “That’s the kaku-uchi style.”

Eating out 02 / Rosamar, Lisbon

Fruits of the sea

Belgian couple Margaux Marcy and Pierre d’Andrimont have an eye for bringing beautiful buildings back to life as lively restaurants (writes Gaia Lutz). Their projects in their adopted Lisbon include Café Janis, which they opened in a quaint corner of Cais do Sodré, and nearby restaurant Javá Rooftop.

Image: Francisco Nogueira, Carlos Vieira
Image: Francisco Nogueira, Carlos Vieira

“I always look for a location with a good energy first and then I adapt the concept to fit it,” says D’Andrimont. It was an ample building with a large Crittall glass ceiling and terrace that inspired their latest opening, a seafood restaurant called Rosamar. “Although I love the typical marisqueiras, I felt that there was something missing that had a more modern approach,” says D’Andrimont. The interiors by British-Portuguese design firm Studio Pim give a nod to the nautical, with off-white and deep-blue fabrics and wood panels. The produce comes from the nearby coast but the recipes are global, from ceviche and tagliatelle alle vongole to prawn tacos and oysters with coconut sauce. For purists, there’s also the option to order the catch of the day, grilled to perfection.
Rua da Rosa 317, Lisbon

Sunday roast / Patrick Lee

Lunch break

Gallerist Patrick Lee has spent more than 15 years immersed in the South Korean art world. During that time he has gone from running the exhibition space in Seoul that he co-founded to heading Gallery Hyundai and, last year, being appointed as director of the first Frieze art fair in Asia. We spoke to the Korean-American about escaping the city, eating out and what’s on his reading list.

Image: Deniz Guzel

Where do we find you this weekend?
Taking a drive outside the city for early lunch at a roasted pork place called Moghyang-Won in Namyangju in Gyeonggi province. The restaurants there aren’t any better but the vegetables, the air, everything just seems fresher. This is something we do once a month.

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
I usually run along the Han river. I can walk down there in five minutes and I ride a village bus up the hill at the end. It’s a nice 8km route. I listen to music or a podcast and it clears my mind. I get up quite early on the weekends, before the family is awake.

What’s for breakfast?
Black coffee. I should eat more for breakfast but I want to fit into my suits.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping, apart from the run?
Tennis would be my sport of choice but getting courts in South Korea is not that easy and the people I would play with are obsessed with golf. I like golf but here it’s a full-day ordeal.

Lunch in or out?
We always eat out on a Sunday. If we stay in the city, we usually go to an area called Seongsu-dong, which is like the Brooklyn of Seoul. We eat a lot at this great Indian restaurant called Indica, which also brews its own beer.

Sunday culture must?
I’m reading two books. One is called Art in the After-Culture by Ben Davis. It’s not an easy read but I’ve been plugging away at it. The other one, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, is published by Phaidon. I’m getting into reading books on religious iconography in art. It’s a personal hobby for when I go travelling.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
South Korean soju. There are a lot of great new brands out there. Khee is one of them. The whole trend these days is having soju on ice, which I’m enjoying.

Ideal dinner venue?

Who’s joining?
Immediate family.

What’s on the menu?
After a big lunch we keep our Sunday night dinners very simple. A nice bread from the local bakery and some prosciutto. With my daughter leaving soon for university, these are the precious moments that I really appreciate.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
South Koreans are great for beauty products but I prefer the betterment part. I live very close to my friends and every Sunday night we find a place outside to smoke cigars. That’s good for the soul.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
I’m very lucky that in the art world there’s a uniform. For men, it’s a dark suit. Theory suits fit me really well but my wife is pushing me to get a bespoke suit. There are a lot of great tailors here so I might get a couple. I’m a tie man but during Frieze New York I was the only person wearing one.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Raw vegan lasagne

We’re not too abstemious or fussy when it comes to our food but this vegan take on the Italian classic is alluring in part because it involves no cooking whatsoever. “I am not necessarily a fan of raw vegan food for the sake of it but this lasagne did make an Italian nonna cry,” says Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. (In a good way, we hope.) “At a party in Portofino recently, I served it as a family dish to share on old terracotta plates, like a real lasagne from the oven.”

Serves 4

220g cashew nuts, soaked in water for at least 6 hours
1 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp yeast powder
2 tsps apple vinegar or lemon juice
200g dried tomatoes
100g walnuts 50ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 courgettes, thinly sliced lengthwise
2-3 handfuls of spinach
10g basil
Pine nuts, to taste (optional)
Pea pesto, to taste (optional)


Drain the cashew nuts and mix with the salt, garlic, yeast, vinegar and a bit of water (little by little) in a powerful blender to form a thick béchamel-like cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix the dried tomatoes, walnuts and olive oil in a blender until they form a coarse paste (with a texture similar to minced meat). This is your ragù.

On a platter, or in a Tupperware if you’re off for a picnic, layer the courgette and spinach alternately with the vegan béchamel and ragù, and serve with basil and a drizzle of olive oil. You can add grated pine nuts on top or a layer of pea pesto for a fresh kick.

For more of Schelling’s quick picnic crowd-pleasers, pick up a copy of the July/August edition of Monocle magazine or subscribe so that you don’t miss an issue.

Weekend plans? / Tarragona

History in the making

When you’re part of a young architecture firm that’s out to make a name for itself, the temptation is to persuade clients to go for bold interventions or to pursue commissions abroad that might garner respect and headlines back home. But in the Catalan city of Tarragona, two architect cousins are taking a very different approach, one that seeks to give neglected buildings in their city a return to purpose without messing about with their integrity. Ferran and Arnau Tiñena, along with Maria Rius, run Nua Arquitectures, which has worked on churches, old townhouses and new commissions too. What unites all their work is a sense of modesty, knowing when to leave things alone, a belief in embedding sustainable practices into their work and, as Ferran says, “putting people at the centre of our architecture”. As well as the striking architecture, Tarragona is home to a burgeoning hospitality scene and several beautiful sandy beaches.

Image: Victor Garrido
Image: Victor Garrido
Image: Victor Garrido

Five things to see in Tarragona

Roman circus
Expect perfectly preserved tunnels, where charioteers used to prepare for competition. You can also climb the Praetorium tower.

Headed by chefs Ana Ruiz and Quintín Quinsac, this restaurant promotes “no-nonsense” Catalan cuisine made with seasonal ingredients in a selection of more than 30 dishes and wines.

La Savinosa beach
This golden sandy beach in the north of the city is calm and sheltered by rocks, which makes it the destination of choice for nudists.

Casa Corderet
This shop, selling all kinds of colourful candles and soaps, was founded in 1751, making it one of the oldest in Spain and one of the longest-standing in Europe.

Civil Government of Tarragona
Opened in 1964 to house the government delegation during the Franco dictatorship, this modernist building is regarded as one of Spanish architect Alejandro de la Sota’s masterpieces.
Plaça de la Imperial Tàrraco 3, 43005.

For more on Tarragona’s charms and its architectural revival (plus plenty of other sunny outlooks) pick up a copy of ‘Monocle Mediterraneo’, our summer newspaper. Have a super Sunday.


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