Sunday 12 February 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 12/2/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Cruising at altitude

This week we start off in the cockpit with Monocle’s captain, Tyler Brûlé. Then we’ll be serving up an Alpine delicacy from western Austria, checking out an unforeseen hotel in Mexico City and taking a trip to a distillery in New York. Plus: Planto’s new Lisbon restaurant and three new books to tuck into. Enjoy your flight.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Asia’s awakening

Week two of my Asia tour has been a mix of positive surprises, a few raised eyebrows, red carpets, wonderful reunions and strained necks. We start at a bar counter in Tokyo.

Sunday evening six pack
When my office told me that one of my favourite Italian restaurants on the planet could only accommodate us in the nearby new restaurant, I was a little miffed. A downgrade because I hadn’t been since May? Simply overbooked because it has had a dash of fame since Justin Bieber piled in? (By the way, back off Beebo; this Canadian was on the scene long before you.) I was about to swap to another top Tokyo Italian but decided to stick with the plan – and I’m so happy I did. It turns out that the main restaurant was closed but chef-san was so keen to welcome us that he opened his new 10-seater just for us. Joined by our Tokyo bureau crew, Fiona and Jun, Monocle special Japan and Aussie affairs advisor Melanie, my travel sidekick Linard from our Zürich branch and our house model, Takayuki Suzuki (keep an eye out for him not only in more Monocle fashion stories but also in season two of Tokyo Vice), the multi-course evening turned into a proper culinary night to remember, with live lobster from Chiba, beef from Miyazaki and an array of other produce from Saga to the outer reaches of Hokkaido – all accompanied by the best freshly baked bread to soak up the sauces. It might seem indulgent to fly to Tokyo for an Italian dinner but try – just try – to secure a table at Cignale.

For the past 20 years or so, the Park Hyatt Tokyo has acted like my third residence. It has this status for a reason: it works. Insiders will know that there’s a plan to close it down for a renovation and overall update. There might be some corners that need a fresh dusting of powder, a bit of lip gloss and a flash of mascara but what it does not need is an acid peel, fillers, tummy tuck and permanent lip liner. The PH Tokyo is a modern icon and its owners and managers should stick with John Morford’s original vision.

Da’an fine
I don’t recall the last time I did the rounds in Taipei’s Da’an District but despite its higgledy-piggledy planning (or lack of), it offers so many elements that make a neighbourhood. From mid-century buildings with loggias and overgrown rooftops to tiny, recessed shopfronts, it has multiple lessons for urban planners confronted by dead streetscapes. Tuesday was also a delightful reunion with Kurt, Ming, Ping and a whole new crew.

Fully onboard
Four years ago, Cathay Pacific was my airline for shuttling to and around Asia. Wednesday morning marked a wonderful return inbound to HKG. The airline is only scraping a 50 per cent return toward full fleet capacity but I’m told that it has some ambitious plans for later in the year.

Bay watch
As epic welcomes go, my friend Daryl’s was the best. We feasted and drank in the views (and very fine vintages) at his recently opened new Fullerton outpost. With sidekicks Paulo, Bernard, Melvin and Douglas also around the table, it felt like the Hong Kong of old: candid discussions, opportunities galore, fast connections and a promise to do it all over again. I’ll be honest, I was worried about the mood in Hong Kong and it certainly has its work cut out. The masks need to go now and, like Tokyo, the nightlife needs a reboot. But the snap is definitely there. It just needs to amp up a notch.

Family reunion
On Thursday we threw open the doors at our HK outpost to host our regulars for a few drinks and bites. Thank you to all for popping by. We’re planning on something even bigger for later in the year. Also, I’m happy to report that The Monocle Shop at Hong Kong International Airport will return in April.

With a bang
I’m filing this column from the rooftop of the Park Hyatt in Bangkok; there’s an easy breeze and good bossa in the background. The Thai capital feels just as I left it but with some fine new additions, including our own James Chambers, who is now establishing our new base in Southeast Asia here. As soon as I hit send, I’m off to meet our Thai team of illustrators, photographers and regional den mother, Gwen. More from Singapore and Helsinki next Sunday.

House news / St Mortiz pop-up shop

Peak retail

Don’t miss Monocle’s pop-up shop at St Mortiz’s Hotel Steffani, which is open now. Swing past for a takeaway coffee or hot chocolate, and to browse our selection of exclusive collaborations with brands we admire, from clothing to homeware and plenty of fine print too. Our Engadine outpost is welcoming visitors until 26 March.
Hotel Steffani, 6 Via Traunter Plazzas, 7500 St Moritz

Eating Out / Planto, Lisbon

Head in the sando

After the success of his first solo project, Restaurant Plano, chef Vítor Adão is back with Planto, a more casual offering in Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré neighbourhood that emphasises ingredients from his native Trás-os-Montes region (writes Ivan Carvalho). Adão, who cut his teeth as executive chef at Lisbon’s beloved 100 Maneiras, has pulled together an appealing all-day menu at Planto. Patrons can opt for breakfast treats, such as fluffy pancakes and eggs royale, or tuck into a tasty burger that’s made from premium barrosã beef and topped with Azorean cheese.

Image: Rodrigo Cardoso

Creative dishes include his katsu sando with Iberian pork and a ceviche made with corvina. Go for Sunday brunch and don’t miss the cocktails by Ukrainian barman Hutnyk Kostiantyn.

For more food scoops and hospitality news, subscribe to Monocle today so that you never miss an issue.

Bottoms Up / Tenmile Distillery, New York

That’s the spirit

In New York state’s Hudson Valley, Joel LeVangia and Eliza Dyson run a whiskey distillery in a former dairy barn (writes Mary Holland). Tenmile, owned and founded by Dyson’s father, John, is largely a family affair but with one key exception: Scottish master distiller Shane Fraser.

Image: Eric Medsker, Francesco Lagnese
Image: Eric Medsker, Francesco Lagnese

“We tried to do as much as possible locally,” says Fraser, who uses barley grown in the region. Tenmile’s Little Rest Single Malt will debut in March, alongside a gin and vodka that are already in production. The distillery is open for tours and food-and-drink events inside the snug, wood-clad tasting room with its plaid booth and carved bar.

Sunday Roast / Jenny Keisu

Crest of a wave

Jenny Keisu is CEO of Swedish electric-boat pioneer X Shore. Here, she reflects on Stockholm’s archipelago, business meetings on the move and how she spends her Sundays.

Image: Mikael Sjöberg

Where do we find you this weekend?
I spend most weekends in our country house on a small island in the Stockholm archipelago with my husband and our three children. All of us really enjoy Sweden’s natural spaces and we go boating to explore Stockholm’s nooks and crannies.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
With three kids – aged between two and five – there’s no gentle start. But I do have the luxury of starting Sundays with a big family breakfast. We spend a lot of time at the breakfast table discussing whatever the children bring up.

What’s for breakfast?
Avocado on toast with red chilli flakes, a cappuccino and grapefruit juice.

Lunch in or out?
Out. Surrounded by wildlife on the island or at a restaurant in the city with friends.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I love to go out walking, either in the forest examining the plants and animal tracks or in the city taking in the architecture. I often incorporate walking into business meetings; some of our most exciting ideas come during walking meetings.

A Sunday soundtrack?
We often have music playing in the background at home. We’ve been listening to Nils Frahm’s early works.

Sunday culture must?
My personal favourite is Fotografiska [The Museum of Photography]. If the kids choose, it’s the Museum of Technology, the Maritime Museum or the Museum of Natural History.

News or not?
I check the headlines on my phone.

What’s on the menu?
Preferably good fish or seafood paired with a glass of chablis or a bourgogne blanc. My husband is a great chef and enamoured with his Kamado Joe grill, so we often have homemade pizzas or bread on weekends.

Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
I have a quick morning routine. Some people fear the Monday wake-up but I always feel excited. Not many people can say that.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Austrian cheese dumplings

This week, Swiss chef Ralph Schelling whisks us up a mountain for an Alpine favourite from western Austria. Kaspressknödel are cheesy dumplings that are often served in broth – a good vegetable stock will do. You can experiment with the spices by adding fennel or caraway seeds, as Tiroleans tend to. “It’s the perfect dish for a winter’s day, especially if you’re on the slopes in the comfort of Suvretta House in St Moritz,” says Schelling.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4 as a main course


1 onion
100g butter, plus extra to prove a pan
300g breadcrumbs
150g hard mountain cheese, grated
100ml full-fat milk
4 medium eggs
1 pinch marjoram
Fleur de sel, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
½ bunch chives or parsley, finely chopped


Finely dice the onion and sauté in the butter in a pan on a medium heat until soft. This should take about three or four minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Add the onion, milk, eggs, marjoram and seasoning. Mix well until everything is combined.

Form the mixture into small dumpling-like spheres of about 4cm in diameter, then flatten into patties.

In batches, fry the flattened dumplings in a pan on a medium heat in a little butter. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve warm with the chopped herbs.

Weekend Plans? / Casa Polanco, Mexico City

Role reversal

The Casa Polanco project in Mexico City started when Octavio Aguilar happened upon a permit in a drawer to open a hotel. He had just bought the building with the intention of turning it into a shop. “I knew I had to do this project,” says Aguilar of the 1940s whitewashed mansion surrounded by a wrought-iron railing.

Image: Karyn Millet
Image: Karyn Millet

Across the street from leafy Lincoln Park, Aguilar’s first hotel is near the lively Chapultepec Park and the neighbouring Roma and Condesa districts. “I want guests to feel as though they are in a home in Mexico and that they have a sense of place,” says Aguilar, who worked on the refit with architect Claudio Gantous. Communal areas include a light-filled, wood-panelled library that spills out onto the front terrace and an atrium where guests are invited to an afternoon tea displayed on a marble bar that can be enjoyed on any of the hotel’s four terraces. Furniture across the 19 rooms was selected by mother-and-daughter duo Monica Romo and Monica Novelo, with pieces by Mexican designers such as Héctor Esrawe being complemented by art from prominent Mexican artists, including Ricardo Mazal. Artful work – especially considering that Aguilar never intended for this to be a hotel at all.

The Stack / Fiction

Book ahead

Our new Sunday series of recommended reads continues with a delve into the world of fiction. Our culture team has its eye on a love triangle, Japanese short stories and something curiously compulsive. Enjoy.

Image: Tony Hay

1. ‘The End of Nightwork’ by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce
An eccentric, Benjamin Button-esque tale about getting lost in obsession and the way that it can lead to paranoia.

2. ‘The Trio’ by Johanna Hedman
A cross-country novel of a love triangle that shimmers with the nostalgia of youth and melancholy of lingering what-ifs.

3. ‘Night Train to the Stars’ by Kenji Miyazawa
This bewitching short-story collection introduces English-speakers to the late Japanese writer’s curious and whimsical world.

For long reads, zippy dispatches and plenty of recommendations, pick up the latest issue of Monocle magazine. Or better yet, why not subscribe, so that you never miss a beat? Have a super Sunday.


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