This Easter Sunday we crack the case of Brazil’s ballooning chocolate consumption, try our hand at a spring lamb recipe and offer some tips on the sharpest Japanese gardening gear. Plus: a snapshot of a secret photography archive, Toronto’s best new restaurants and a British-Aussie cookbook author shares some weekend tips. First up, is that the Easter Bunny hopping into view? No, it’s Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé.
On a recent flight to Dubai, shortly after the meal service had ended, the last coffees and liqueurs had been poured and the final emails of the business day sent, I reached for the remote control in the side console and decided to watch a film or short series before touchdown. But what to watch? In the US, many airlines are doing away with in-flight entertainment as they believe that everything you need to watch or listen to is available via your smartphone. In so many ways, this goes against not only the magic of a good flying experience but also the sense of discovery when an airline (or its service partner) puts some extra effort into selecting the best in Spanish thrillers, South Korean dramas or never-to-be-seen-again nominees from obscure alpine film festivals. I decided to scroll through the A to Z of film offers and stopped occasionally to view a trailer or read a short synopsis. On the first pass I paused on EO as I’d read positive reviews and noted that it had done well at Cannes and stars a donkey. Should I try to watch something else and then end on EO? Or just go for it and not hold off as this was something of a Friday-evening gift at 10,000 metres above the Black Sea.
I hit play, asked for my wine glass to be topped up and settled in for what I thought would be a sunny, happy romp through the Polish countryside. Wrong! At 12 minutes in I was already holding back the tears (there are at least two more scenes that will have viewers welling-up) and it should be noted that just because this is the story of life seen from the point of view of a handsome donkey, it’s not meant for anyone under the age of 16. If I was in charge of film ratings and general appreciation of life, then I’d say 21-plus for sure. Let me add that this is not a film for happy, Easter Sunday vibes.
I rubbed his muscular neck and stroked his beardy chin, and he strained against the wooden beams for more
I won’t give away the story but it’s fair to say that most of humanity does not come off well through the eyes of Eo, the donkey, and you tumble into the credits with thoughts of either giving away all of your life’s earnings to your local donkey-rescue charity or daydreaming about abandoning your current life, buying a plot of land in Portugal, Greece or Spain and building an architecturally outstanding compound for 15 to 20 donkeys to lead perfect lives with plenty of grooming, easy chores and all the other things that donkeys are into.
On Friday, I arrived at one of my favourite retreats in Europe, if not the world. São Lourenço do Barrocal is an estate in Portugal’s Alentejo region that attracts a certain type of customer – one who likes the wide-open landscape, the property’s outstanding wine cellar and produce grown on the surrounding terrain, the elegantly spare, “Made in Portugal” interiors and Jerónimo the donkey. Shortly after I arrived, en route to the pool, I went to check in on Jerónimo. He was lying in the sun, his enormous ears flicking away flies, and he seemed to be in deep concentration. I figured that he was gearing himself up for his much-publicised Easter assignment involving carting children around the property in search of various hidden treats. I watched him for a while and then set off for the pool.
Later in the afternoon, on my way back to the room, I swung by Jerónimo’s enclosure and he was standing in the shade. I approached the fence and Jerónimo did the same. I rubbed his muscular neck and stroked his beardy chin, and he strained against the wooden beams for more. A little later, I went back to say hello with my mom (she said that she’s going to paint Jerónimo’s portrait) and returned again at the end of the day to see what he was up to. Naturally, donkey stuff. Jerónimo doesn’t seem to have a lot of big concerns: he lives in an idyllic setting, gets plenty of attention, has a few projects, keeps the neighbouring horses calm and bellows out a throaty “eeee-awww” every few hours to remind everyone that he’s at the centre of the compound and he’s having a grand old time being a well-mannered Portuguese donkey. Eo would have been very happy sharing quarters with Jerónimo here at Barrocal.
Harbord Village, between the University of Toronto’s downtown campus and Koreatown, has a fine new addition: Parquet, a French-style bistro opened by Daniel Bernstein and Matt Cohen. Solid Design Creative, the studio behind the refit of Toronto’s Canoe and Paradise Theatre, designed its wood-panelled dining rooms. Executive chef Jeremy Dennis’s menus include an irresistible riff on steak tartare, gruyère tartine and steak frites. We also enjoyed the Nova Scotia scallop and sablefish with brussels sprouts and hazelnuts.
Three more Toronto food openings:
Natural-wine bar and restaurant Paris Paris on Ossington Avenue has launched a small, dedicated bottle shop and wine club that is well worth a visit.
Housed in a grand former post office building, smart new supermarket Stock TC is a joint venture from two of Toronto’s best independent food and drink brands, the Terroni Italian restaurant chain and the Cumbrae’s group of butchers’ shops. It makes the cut.
Pastry chef Soyoung Lee won awards in East Asia before opening this bakery in Toronto’s Little Portugal. Try the curry buns or an epi loaf, stuffed with potato and bacon.
981 College Street, Toronto
Bre Graham is an Australian food writer and editor based in London who hosts podcasts, panels and supper clubs and writes a weekly newsletter about cookery. Graham’s debut cookbook, Table for Two, was released in January and offers illustrated essays, fail-safe recipes and tips on how to make every meal a special occasion. Here she shares her recommended hangover cure, creature comforts and what to do with the leftovers of that roast chicken.
Where do we find you this weekend?
At home in north London, waking up to my cat, Joni, probably curled up under my arm.
Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
Always gentle. I’m very lucky to wake up with a coffee on my bedside table – courtesy of my boyfriend – and the slow start to my morning is sipping that in bed.
What’s for breakfast?
Depending on whether I’m waking up after a late night out with a slightly sore head, I’ll either make a quick hangover cure, such as my brown sauce and marmalade bacon sandwich, or something more elaborate like a stack of pancakes. I also love making latkes with smoked salmon for breakfast.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
I don’t have a dog but I usually go for a long walk around Regent’s Park on the weekend and admire all the dogs out for their walks.
A Sunday soundtrack?
Audiobooks in the bath on a Sunday evening. When I’m cooking, I always put on my favourite playlist of Haim, Nina Simone and Mallrat.
News or not?
I read the news every morning and always check the weather back home in Sydney. I still read both Australian and British papers.
What’s on the menu?
If I’m not going out for a Sunday roast, I’ll be making one at home and it’s always roast chicken. There’s a roast chicken menu in my book. I love it paired with a crisp green salad and potato and fennel slowly baked in cream, and with ice cream-filled chocolate profiteroles for dessert.
Sunday evening routine?
I’ll usually be making a chicken soup with the leftover roast chicken from lunch and, while that’s simmering, I’ll be editing or finishing writing my weekly newsletter, Dishes To Delight, which is sent out every Sunday night.
Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Never. Every day is a new day and my outfits are always inspired by my mood.
This week our Swiss chef Ralph Schelling rustles up a spring dish with plenty of kick. “When I lived in San Sebastián, I often made the dish with Spanish sidra [cider] instead of beer,” says Schelling. “White wine or Brandy de Jerez are also fine. Instead of the gigot [leg], you can also use shoulder.” And don’t forget that the taste is too good to confine just to a one-off Easter weekend.
1 milk lamb gigot (approximately 1.5kg)
2 medium onions
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Fleur de sel, to taste
100ml olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes (optional)
100g pepperoni, diced (optional)
2 330ml cans of beer
Preheat oven to 170C.
Rinse the lamb with cold water and pat dry.
Prepare the onion and potatoes by cutting cut into coarse, thumb-sized pieces and halve the garlic.
In a bowl, rub the lamb, potatoes and onions with oil and season.
Place lamb and vegetables in a large baking tray.
Add the diced pepperoni or whole tomatoes (if using) to taste then pour in the beer and put into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes.
Turn meat and bake for another 30 minutes until crisp. During the last 15 minutes, baste the meat occasionally with sauce.
Leave lamb to rest for at least 15 minutes and serve warm.
There’s a charming, unhurried atmosphere that pervades Montpellier’s Café Cours during the mid-morning coffee “rush” (writes Annick Webber). Standing behind the shop’s steel counter is co-owner Qian Chen, measuring out ground coffee for the handful of customers gathered inside. In front of her are two V60 drippers that she is about to use to make filter coffee. “French people still think of café filtre as jus de chaussette or ‘sock juice’,” she says with a grin. “We want to show them that it’s anything but.”
Chen and co-founder Florian Babon aren’t the only ones in the southern French city who are luring shoppers into the pedestrianised old centre of L’Écusson. The area’s shopkeepers and craftspeople are well-placed to meet the Montpelliérains who would prefer to smell, feel and see the things that they’re parting with their hard-earned cash to own. “We’re here to tell stories and inspire emotions that you don’t get online,” says Olivier Bardou, who founded his homeware boutique, De La Luce, here 20 years ago. Under the vaulted ceilings of a 17th-century hôtel particulier, De La Luce sells everything from Japanese clothing to Provençal flea-market finds.
On a stroll around L’Écusson’s labyrinthine lanes, you might also spot Camille Lameynardie throwing pots at her light-filled studio-boutique, Claycraft. While it has only been two years since Lameynardie left Paris in search of a sunnier life at a lower cost, she has already firmly integrated into the local community. “Montpellier feels like a village but it has the creative energy of a big city,” she says.
Lameynardie is part of Ateliers Saint Roch, an association founded by the neighbourhood’s artisans to attract footfall to their workshops by organising exhibitions, classes and craft-themed walking tours. With the opening in 2019 of the Mo.Co contemporary arts centre, businesses have started spilling out into the streets around Montpellier’s historic heart.
For more on Montpellier’s best buys and top shops, pick up a copy of our April issue, which is out now and includes our annual Retail Survey. Or subscribe to Monocle today so that you never miss an issue.
Whether you’re planning to tackle a window box or tame a peskily overgrown garden, help is at hand for budding botanists. Here are three Japanese gardening tools to get your spring spruce underway.
These wooden-handled wonders are made in Niigata.
Japanese scissors by this veteran blade-merchant are a cut above the rest.
Osaka-based Montbell is a specialist in hardy outdoor gear. Its apron is no exception.
If you’re digging our selection see the full line-up in the April issue of Monocle which is on sale now.
For a warm country, Brazil loves chocolate and its consumption is rising mysteriously quickly (writes Fernando Augusto Pacheco). The industry here is currently valued at about R$22bn (€4bn), which is 57 per cent up on five years ago.
As trends have shifted during the Easter season, chocolate eggs have fallen out of favour with children, who tend to be given smaller bars and wafer biscuits instead. Brazilian chefs are targeting adults with a convention that’s being spotted from Brasília to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro: the so-called “pudding egg” or ovo pudim.
According to London-based Brazilian chef and Easter-egg aficionado Carla Pagot, this year’s bizarrely sought-after combination of chocolate and a favourite Brazilian flan made from condensed milk is in demand even from Brazilians abroad. “Last year the star was the brownie egg,” she tells The Monocle Weekend Edition of the competitively cloying new favourite. “But I really believe that for the next few years, this new pudding egg will be on the menu.” Case cracked.
Over the course of a glittering 25-year career, British photographer John Balsom has travelled the world but his latest assignment is closer to home (writes Josh Fehnert). In a dusty box at a relative’s house in Hampshire, Balsom unearthed 7,000 pictures shot – but never shared – by his late grandfather, Percy S Waite. In the incredible images, the London-based amateur photographer captured mid-century moments of sun, fun and nuns on his breath-taking travels across southern Europe and northern Africa – all in pioneering colour. But more than this, he was a real (and until now unknown) talent. In the April issue of Monocle, Balsom shares highlights from that archive for the first time and reveals a snapshot of a life through a lens. Here we share a teaser: a small selection of the beguiling, beautiful snapshots of the sun-soaked moments that Waite captured between 1952 and 1970.
To read the full report, buy a copy of the April issue of Monocle, which is on newsstands now. Have a super Easter Sunday.