Sunday 26 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 26/3/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Rising to the occasion

This week we sample the best new ‘sandwicherie’ in Paris and check in with a high-flying Canadian CEO about his long-haul ambitions. Plus: a star chef from Abruzzo on his Sunday rituals, a weekend escape in Franschhoek and a Korean pancake recipe. But first from the company cockpit, it’s Monocle’s editorial director Tyler Brûlé.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Pride of place

“Where are you from?” asks the driver on the way in from the airport. “Where are you from?” asks the front-desk manager as he walks me to my room. “Where are you from?” asks not one but three waiters in the restaurant. If I’m playing by the new but definitely not improved book of modern etiquette, I should have been hugely offended at every inquiry. I should have reported the driver, reprimanded the hotel staffer and not tipped the waiters.

Thankfully, I’m not that person and firmly believe that countries, cities and corporations are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, euros and pounds on microaggression-management classes when most of the world is actually curious about the rest of humankind and where they’re from, how they ended up where they are and how they might be enjoying their new life on the other side of the world – and on it goes. The fact that much of the “enlightened” Anglo world (and let’s be clear, this was not a concept cooked up on a campus or at a management consultancy in Singapore, Bologna or Buenos Aires) has wound up in a place where asking the simplest of questions has somehow become demonised reveals a number of things.

First, it’s simply rude not to show interest in where someone’s from and want to learn about their life’s story. Second, how exactly do you have a conversation without engaging in someone’s background? Do you only discuss the weather and business? Or are we all supposed to be following potential acquaintances on social media and therefore already know their backstory so that we don’t need to bother asking? And third, it’s this type of thinking that makes management consultancies a lot of money, drains municipal coffers and indulges a tiny portion of society who might have had their feelings hurt, were simply misunderstood or might have even been having an off-day that was blown out of proportion.

Have a word with your management or drop a note to a couple of shareholders suggesting that profits are being squandered when there isn’t actually a problem

Last night, I landed in Dubai and, if you haven’t been, the emirate thrives on the question “where are you from?” That’s because the overwhelming majority of people who live here are from somewhere else. Also, Dubai has the energy of a place that is still being built, is not governed by Anglosphere codes of the thought-and-sensitivity police and hosts a variety of ideologies about how the world might end up looking in the next part of this century. The struggles of German, US or UK cities are not the struggles of Dubai, Bangkok, Jakarta or Dakar. All of these places have their own problems to get on with. Yet, somehow, management consultants, academics and too many Western media outlets like to think that the daily woes of life in Brooklyn or on a British university campus must also apply to people working at a law firm in Penang, design agency in Taipei or coffee shop in Bandung. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

To the readers in these places, you know this already and probably roll your eyes when you see your company trying to import such issues into your working environment. Rather than shrugging your shoulders, it might be time to have a word with your management or drop a note to a couple of shareholders suggesting that profits are being squandered when there isn’t actually a problem. I promise that you’ll get swift action. I might not agree with how many countries deal with their citizens or residents but is it really my business, as an outsider, to impose my views on how they conduct themselves within their own borders? If laws aren’t being broken, is it up to me to tell my neighbours how to behave, what music to listen to and what flowers should be on their terrace? Trust me, I’d love to! But it’s also about being tolerant of the likes and dislikes of others.

In less than 24 hours, Monocle will be throwing open the doors here in Dubai and welcoming an audience that is resident, passing through or maybe setting down roots. Find out more here. “Where are you from?” will be a defining question of the evening because it’s natural and we’re a curious, engaged and passionate group of journalists who thrive on the power and positivity of human connection. I hope to see you there. And if you haven’t sent over your RSVP, Hannah Grundy will put you on the list. Drop a note to

Eating Out / Micho, Paris

Home comforts

Some might consider the jambon-beurre the quintessential Parisian sandwich – but not devotees of Micho (writes Annick Weber). Behind the green-and-white-tiled façade of this new sandwicherie on Rue de Richelieu, diners delight in fluffy challah buns stuffed with all manner of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fillings: think kebab meat, labneh and za’atar. “It’s what I used to eat on Saturdays as a child,” says 30-year-old chef Julien Sebbag as he stands behind the counter, facing an open kitchen where a team of five makes as many as 150 sandwiches a day. “We would put the leftovers from Friday’s Shabbat dinner in a challah and finish them up. It was always delicious.”

Image: Alex Cretey Systermans
Image: Alex Cretey Systermans

With fillings ranging from fish shawarma to a rather special mushroom omelette, it’s comfort food that will keep you going until well past dinner time. If you arrive after 13.00, be prepared to queue outside for a table or settle for a takeaway. With its green banquettes and old photographs adorning the wood-panelled walls, it feels more like a Jewish deli in New York than a Parisian café, especially in the evening when Sebbag turns his hand to Levantine-inspired small plates and offers a tasty wine selection.

For more food stories you can savour, pick up Monocle’s April issue, which is on newsstands now, or subscribe to Monocle today.

Sunday Roast / Niko Romito

Keeping it Reale

Italian chef Niko Romito has always favoured quality over quantity (writes Lucrezia Motta). Born in Abruzzo, his businesses – including the three Michelin-starred Reale in Castel di Sangro, Milanese outpost Il Ristorante and shop Laboratorio Niko Romito in Brera – all celebrate the classics of Italian cuisine. Here, the Milan-based chef tells us about his pared-back scrambled-egg recipe, his Sunday soundtrack and his two beloved Abruzzese sheepdogs.

Image: Andrea Straccini

Where do we find you this weekend?
At Casadonna Reale, in the Reale restaurant’s kitchen. Maybe I’ll go jogging in the afternoon (emphasis on the maybe).

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
Ideally a very gentle start and the whole morning to laze around. At the moment that’s more like a dream than a reality.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I’ll be walking Pane and Olio, our two Abruzzese sheepdogs.

Soundtrack of choice?
“Stay” by U2.

What’s for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs, with no milk and no butter, just a bit of water. Or – if I’m relaxed and in a good mood – I like to have avocado on toast, with a soft-boiled egg on top and tomato salad on the side. And orange juice. But only if freshly squeezed. I’m very picky about that.

Lunch in or out?
Out. In a nice, simple and good trattoria.

Larder essentials that you can’t do without?
Very good anchovies and extra virgin olive oil; in the fridge, butter and lemon. You just need to add a thick slice of good bread and you’re in heaven.

The ideal dinner menu?
That depends on who’s coming and who’s cooking.

Will you lay out your look for Monday?
No, never, but it would be a very good idea. I keep buying nice clothes and always end up wearing the same things.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Korean-style kimchi pancake

This week, our recipe writer serves up a simple take on a Korean classic with plenty of tang. The recipe serves one as a main or two as a starter. Enjoy.

Illustration: Xihanation

Makes one large pancake


For the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted and ground sesame seeds
Large pinch of Korean chilli powder or Japanese shichimi spice
Large pinch of sugar

For the pancake:
2 medium eggs
1 tbsp water
1 tsp light soy sauce
75g plain flour
3 tbsps toasted sesame oil
30g potato starch or cornflour
50g garlic chives, roughly chopped
100g kimchi, roughly chopped


Mix the dipping-sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Mix the egg, water and soy sauce in a separate bowl and beat well. Pour the flour into a third bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the egg mixture and whisk until it’s all combined.

Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a small frying pan. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pancake mix and stir well, then transfer into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side over a medium heat. Pour a tablespoon of sesame oil into the side of the pan and allow the oil to go underneath the pancake. Cook for a further 30 seconds on each side to make the pancakes extra crispy.

Remove the pancake from the pan and cut into four pieces. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

Weekend Plans? / Sterrekopje, Franschhoek

Natural selection

“I wanted to open something that was not a hotel or retreat but something in between,” says Nicole Boekhoorn of the Sterrekopje hotel that she founded with Fleur Huijskens in the South African town of Franschhoek, a 40-minute drive from Stellenbosch. “Retreats can be rigid and ask a lot of you in a short amount of time. Offering nothing is the art.” The 11-key property is filled with four-poster beds, plush chairs and wide tables that Boekhoorn picked with designer Greg Mellor. The garden was created by Leon Kluge, who represents South Africa at Chelsea Flower Show. It has hundreds of nooks in which to get lost, as well as an orchard, indigenous garden, swimming pools and a dam.

The couple, originally from the Netherlands, started the retreat as an addition to their lifestyle, as well as to welcome guests. “I wanted to bring together all of the things that I like,” says Boekhoorn, who has adorned the hotel with hallmarks of her travels in India, Morocco, Kenya and Mexico. They initially sought suitable properties in Europe until a wedding invitation reminded Boekhoorn of her childhood love of South Africa. Shortly afterwards, she found a 50-hectare family farm for sale just outside the small but picturesque town. And there is little doubt that it is the right location.

Image: Yves Bachmann
Image: Yves Bachmann
Image: Yves Bachmann

Franschhoek address book

To eat
Chefs Warehouse at Maison
Tapas-style meals in a shaded garden with vineyard views.

Grab lunch at The Greenhouse or Babel restaurant then stock up on produce in the farm shop.

To drink
A decent outpost of the beloved Cape Town coffee brand.

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines
Raise a glass to Andrea Mullineux, one of South Africa’s rising stars, at this smart winery.

To see
Everard Read
Explore two local branches of South Africa’s oldest commercial art gallery group.

Report / Porter Airlines

On the up

Porter Airlines recently unveiled a new addition to its fleet of narrow-body, short-haul aircraft at an airstrip in Toronto (writes Tomos Lewis). This is the first of 50 E195-E2s that Porter has ordered from Brazil-based aerospace manufacturer Embraer. Robert Deluce started Porter in Toronto in 2006 and his son, Michael, is now its CEO, overseeing the most ambitious expansion of a Canadian airline’s inventory in years.

Image: Ian Patterson
Image: Ian Patterson

Delivery of the new fleet is expected to be complete by late 2024, with the option of 50 more. The 132-seat E195-E2s will fly from Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax. Porter’s new routes will increase its presence in eastern Canada’s major cities, as well as those in the US, potentially upsetting the balance of Canada’s aviation sector, where flag carrier Air Canada and Calgary-based Westjet have long been dominant.

Porter’s CEO, Michael Deluce, has an eye on expansion and hopes that elevating Economy Class travel can make his company unique among the major North American carriers. “The E195-E2 is highly efficient, with the lowest fuel consumption of all narrow-body aircraft,” he says. “It’s also the quietest. It fits with our desire to offer a modern, comfortable product while respecting noise and sustainability issues. There has been a drive among North American airlines to reduce costs and that has had a significant effect on economy travellers. It has created a two-tier environment: you have a great experience if you’re a premium passenger but economy is treated differently. Our approach is to bring enjoyment back to economy. Porter will elevate travel for everyone.”

For the full and exclusive interview with Michael Deluce, the CEO of Porter Airlines, buy the April issue of Monocle magazine, which is out now.

Tech Corner / Oneplus 11

Snap happy

The latest Oneplus smartphone retains the brand’s association with camera-maker Hasselblad (writes David Phelan). Three rear lenses include a 32-megapixel sensor that is dedicated to portraits and aims to mimic a Hasselblad camera fitted with an XCD 30mm or 65mm lens. The improved photo capability is matched by a smart design, available in “eternal green” or the standard black. The Oneplus 11 is one of the first smartphones to feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. There is no wireless charging but, as it goes from flat to full in 25 minutes, that might not be a problem.

For more tech finds, hospitality and the best in everything from art to architecture, subscribe to Monocle magazine. And don’t forget to take some time to recharge yourself this Sunday too.


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