Sunday 26 February 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 26/2/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Something new

This week, we sample the fresh flavours on offer at a storied Paris department store’s new restaurant floor, stay overnight at a guesthouse in the Costa Brava town of Cadaqués, leaf through the most covetable coffee-table books and cook up a simple yet satisfying twist on a pesto pasta. But first, Tyler Brûlé rifles through his correspondence.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

World of difference

Does anyone know what happened to February? Did it fall between cushions on the sofa? Did it melt under the warm winter skies? Or did it just disappear because January was a bit of a slow starter and things only started to move over the past few weeks? Today’s column is being tapped out on my balcony up in St Moritz under clear, warm, sunny skies that feel very much like early April rather than the end of February. In a couple of hours we’ll be hosting a little cocktail party on the terrace at the Hotel Steffani to mark the arrival of the Nomad art fair in St Moritz and at about this time on Sunday (10.00am CET), I’ll be settling in behind the mic with my colleague Chiara Rimella for a special two-hour edition of Monocle on Sunday. If you want to get a high-altitude take on the state of the art market and more, then please tune in.

This week involved a lot of rail time (London to Paris, Paris to Bern, Bern to Zürich) and that meant many hours spent looking out of the window, taking stock of the first few weeks of the year and assessing the stark differences between the Americas, Europe and Asia in this slightly altered world. Off the back of my North America tour in mid-January, I penned a column about the problem with the work-from-home free-for-all, its effect on cities and the role that companies have within their communities. It was no surprise that it generated plenty of correspondence but what was striking is that it also proved a theory that there’s a sizeable pocket of the Anglosphere (New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Canada, the US and their expat communities) that doesn’t want to hear opposing ideas, aren’t interested in different perspectives and are quite prone to angry language if you step outside the prevailing narrative.

A sizeable pocket of the Anglosphere (New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Canada, the US and their expat communities) doesn’t want to hear opposing ideas

If I could have put this into an infographic, it went from the first time zones (New Zealand and Australia) being generally upset that I might raise a few critical questions about withering business districts and then on to readers in Singapore and Hong Kong being in favour of functioning urban cores. After a few hours, Europeans started opening their newsletters and the response chimed with Asia: there were plenty of business owners and salaried staffers who said that they liked the rhythm and importance of office life and urban vibrancy. After that it was mostly angry letters from the UK all the way to the US west coast, with no one wanting their new routine upset and many arguing that city cores were dying anyway, so it is best just to leave them to rot. In a few instances, I had to question whether some were really fully paid-up Monocle readers but I’m always happy to engage. In a couple of cases, I think I managed to get our readers to at least start examining a new take on how our cities might be unravelling (at speed) rather than shutting down the notion altogether.

“The concept of inclusion and diversity is a very American invention,” said a Singapore lawmaker during my recent visit. “And it’s being forced on nations and businesses that operate by different codes for a variety of reasons: historical values and circumstance, religion, geography and more. Not recognising these differences and trying to force a US liberal agenda through Indonesian society in itself is not very inclusive.”

Over several lunches and dinners in various Asian cities, I also heard parents and policymakers saying that there’s a rethink going on around the status of sending sons and daughters to US institutions. “It’s one thing to send people with master’s degrees or doctorates to the US for degrees when their view of the world might be more fully formed and they’re secure in their convictions but I’m not sure whether many people want their children going over to the US straight out of high school,” said a friend over lunch in Singapore.

Could it be that Asian conservatism and Germanic pragmatism is acting as a much-needed buffer to the Anglosphere’s culture of intolerant tolerance? Have new, well-funded media outlets revealed that the supremacy of established news organisations is far from guaranteed? Are we seeing slivers of courage where politicians, business owners and journalists choose to use cold, hard data to call out missteps in municipal policies and federally funded programmes? And could it be that the climate where too many were constantly on watch for signs of the slightest offence is moving on to a place of reason, understanding and forgiveness? Here’s hoping.

House News / Monocle’s March issue

Let’s get moving

Monocle’s ahead-of-the-pack March issue is on newsstands now. Between the covers we survey the future of the electric car and the potholes ahead.

Elsewhere we examine tensions in North Cyprus, an architectural wizard of Aus and the fashion firms that are intent on making it in the EU. Plus, reports on the shortage of Kiwi sailors, a trip to hear an orchestra in Mosul and a look at the US’s unlikely (and porky) soft-power asset: Spam. If that doesn’t sate your hunger for ideas and opportunities, what will? Subscribe to Monocle today so you never miss an issue, and get discounts in our shop and exclusive invitations to events.

Eating out / Les Nouvelles Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, Paris

French connection

It’s 12.30 on a chilly Friday and the lunchtime rush is in full swing at Les Nouvelles Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, the new Les Tables du Gourmet restaurant floor in the storied department store that offers seven places to eat (writes Annick Weber). “Our job is to promote new talent and share their know-how,” says food and catering director Dominique Louis. “We were looking for the best up-and-coming chefs to bring customers something from artisans who are younger than those we are already working with.” All of the chefs have existing Parisian outposts but it’s the street-food side of things that is highlighted here, from Peruvian ceviche and New York-style hot dogs to Japanese gyoza and French chickpea panisses. You might start with apéro at the dimly lit La Cave before moving on to Bagnard, where diners feast on Mediterranean fare, or walking through Rice Street’s noren curtain for sushi and yakitori skewers beneath the hanging lanterns. Leave room for dessert: you’ll almost certainly pass a macaron stand on the way out.

Image: Alex Cretey Systermans
Image: Alex Cretey Systermans

Three to try:

Mosugo for Cajun fried chicken
French-Malian chef Mory Sacko’s take on comfort food.

Bagnard for pan-bagnat
A salade niçoise – tuna, anchovies, eggs and olives – served in sandwich form.

Yora for empanadas
José Arias’s cheesy, meaty and veggie turnovers are the, ahem, toast of Paris.

Sunday Roast / Klara Kristalova

Taking shape

Born in the former Czechoslovakia, sculptor and ceramicist Klara Kristalova moved to Sweden with her parents at the age of one. Drawing on Nordic stories and mythology, Kristalova’s work has been exhibited in cities from Stockholm and Miami to Seoul. Here, she shares her Sunday rituals, her love of big hotel breakfasts and some cultural recommendations.

Image: Claire Dorn

Where do we find you this weekend?
At a big dinner at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, then a hotel in the city. I live an hour outside the capital in the countryside. I am also planning to see the Jockum Nordström exhibition at Liljevalchs Konsthall.

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday? A gentle start or a jolt?
I prefer long, lazy mornings. My dogs have learned to accept that.

What’s for breakfast?
A black coffee. But if I’m at a hotel, a large breakfast.

Lunch in or out?
It takes 20 minutes to drive to the nearest restaurant so usually in.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Walk my dogs.

A Sunday soundtrack?
My husband plays an old piano. And sometimes we listen to a playlist from our salsa class before practice.

A Sunday culture must?
If a must-see exhibition is closing, I go to the museum. I’m planning on visiting the Moderna Museet in Stockholm to see the Nan Goldin exhibition that’s on now.

News or not?
News, even if it frustrates and saddens me.

Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Working with clay, I need to make sure that my outfits are always comfortable.


Trofie al pesto

“Always prepare the pesto fresh,” says our Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “But if you have a little left over, you can always smooth over the surface with a spoon and cover it with olive oil so it doesn’t spoil.” We think that you’ll have no trouble polishing this off with trofie, a thin, twisted pasta shape from Liguria. Parmesan will work if you can’t find pecorino.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4 as a main


400g trofie pasta (dry is fine or fresh if you can find it)

For the pesto
80g pine nuts
150g mild olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
100g pecorino, grated (plus extra for serving)
4 bunches basil (about 250g)

To finish
Zest of a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Start with the pesto. Toast the pine nuts in a pan in a little olive oil on a medium heat for a few minutes until light brown. Don’t let them burn as they’ll become bitter.

Allow them to cool a little in a bowl. Then mix them with the remaining pesto ingredients in a blender and season to taste.

Cook the trofie pasta until al dente (according to the packet instructions, minus a minute or so).

Drain the pasta and retain about 30ml of the starchy pasta water.

Mix the pasta, pesto and pasta water in a hot pan with the lemon zest. Season to taste, add a little grated pecorino and serve.

Weekend plans / Casa Nereta, Cadaqués, Catalonia

The art of hospitality

The picturesque Costa Brava town of Cadaqués has long been a favourite with artists: Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí both painted and lived here. The latter was a friend of the painter Joan Ponç, whose grandson James Pons now runs a 12-room guesthouse in a mid-century home. “We aim to offer a memorable experience when it comes to food,” says Pons, who opened the adjoining Bistro Nereta last year. Guests can wash down fresh seafood with a glass of Catalan wine.

Image: Ben Roberts
Image: Ben Roberts

For the best from this Iberian nation, order a copy of our new book, ‘Spain: The Monocle Handbook’ today.

The Stack / Art books

Visual delights

Lush, glossy coffee-table books are the kind of item that you might frequently talk yourself out of buying but you secretly hope that someone would give you as a present. The following wish list was put together by Monocle’s art and photography desks.

Image: Tony Hay

1. ‘Get Your Shit Together’, David Shrigley
The largest-format book to date on Shrigley’s work, this volume celebrates the British artist’s absurd, deadpan sensibility.

2. ‘Steven Klein: Steven Klein’, edited by Mark Holborn
A book that celebrates the work of the fashion photographer and provocateur with images originally published in a variety of glossies.

3. ‘Polaroid 54/59/79’ by Dana Lixenberg
This monograph is a remarkable collection of portraits that reflect the US celebrity culture of the 1990s and 2000s.

Make my day / Lock & Co Hatters

Top suggestion

A deftly deployed hat can add a sense of occasion and elegance to everyday life – as well as a little formality, fun and eccentricity. Styles change but family-owned London firm Lock & Co Hatters has existed since 1676. Its wares have perched on the heads of luminaries including Horatio Nelson (beloved of a bicorne) and Winston Churchill (a homburg man). Go on, get ahead of the season.

Image: Harry Mitchell

To read the March issue of Monocle magazine, subscribe today. You’ll also get access to our digital editions and online travel guides. Have a super Sunday.


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