Sunday 16 April 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 16/4/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Sunday best

This week we tuck in to supper at a smart, new Berlin bolthole, before touching down at Tokyo’s revamped Haneda Airport and checking in to a new hotel in Paris. Plus, a coconut custard pudding recipe, gardening gear and Marco Baldassari’s Sunday itinerary. But first, Tyler Brûlé finds some inspiration on the banks of the Tagus.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Rocking the boat

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m sitting on the terrace of MAAT (Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) watching life on the Tagus river. There’s a small freighter heading out towards the Atlantic, a sailboat is heading up-river, a few ferries are crisscrossing back and forth and there’s a navy-hulled cruise ship coming into view. It has one of those new-generation, inverted, bulbous bows that makes it look less than sleek. I’m about to reach for my phone and tap on one of those ship-tracking apps but I decide to wait for it to come a bit closer and see whether I can make out the name on the side. After about two minutes it’s right out in front. I can’t read the name of the vessel but the yellow rectangle is an instant giveaway. Who knew that National Geographic had a proper cruise business? How did I miss this? I was aware of their expeditions but didn’t know that they had moved into fully branded ships.

I suddenly feel like a terribly tiny media owner sitting on the banks of the Tagus – perhaps a bit like an estuary fisherman watching Portuguese caravels setting off to discover the world circa the 15th century. For a moment, I’m distracted by the epic scale of the National Geographic enterprise (much of it powered by Disney) and in awe of all they do but I refocus on the mini meeting I’m having and make a mental note to do some further investigation a bit later.

Days pass and I finally poke around National Geographic’s travel activities – and they’re impressive. How amazing would it be if Monocle had its own ocean-going vessel? Imagine the uniforms, the newspaper press at sea, the disco, the elegant readers chattering away at the captain’s table and the exotic excursions. And think about the classes and courses on offer. I try not to get too distracted by all the possibilities or depressed at the scale of the National Geographic franchise vs. mini Monocle. After looking at their line-up of penguins, polar bears, more penguins and jungle life, I spot an opportunity. Maybe Monocle could focus more on journeys of personal discovery rather than disturbing wildlife? Could it be that we would offer masterclasses in pragmatism and advanced reasoning? Crash courses in harnessing hidden common sense? Summits devoted to sharpening self-awareness? And functioning partly like a clinic, we could also create special intervention units that would allow employers or family members to call upon our trained teams to pluck individuals out of their destructive daily routines and set a new course in life.

Imagine the uniforms, the newspaper press at sea, the disco, the elegant readers chattering away at the captain’s table and the exotic excursions

From a business perspective, the revenue opportunities are surely enormous. After a round of consultation, what wouldn’t you pay to transform yourself from dinner-table bore to life of the party? €25,000 for a three-day deep-immersion programme? More? I could see my colleague Andrew teaching the most self-absorbed dinner guests how to occasionally pause, chew and come up for air. Then he would move on to teach them how to not only look curious under candlelight but also how to ask questions of those seated around them, laugh in a genuine manner and stamp out the very bad habit of bringing the conversation back to one’s self. My colleague Sophie could do a twirl teaching people to mingle properly, espousing the power of effective introductions and revealing how to elegantly and seamlessly do the “two-step hand-off”, which allows pupils to embrace the art of letting guests get on among themselves while the host keeps the reception alive with banter and good cheer.

My course would be a one-week programme called, “Reading the Room: Why It Matters and How Not to Be an Asshole in Daily Life”. It would help people to recognise the environment they’re in and why their actions are completely out of step and disturbing to those around them. A sample group might be the father and son (both old enough to possibly know better) who decide to play American football in the middle of a serene pool setting at a hushed resort. Through role play and electric-shock therapy, I would teach these men not only how to read the environment but also the power of actually reading a printed page and why playing a ball game and splashing around in front of others is perhaps not the most intuitive of activities. All going well and clients progressing, I might also suggest that reading the room is not just about behaviour but also appearance. Before venturing out of the suite and appearing among other guests, they might learn how to examine themselves and ask, “Do I fit with my surroundings? Should I be wearing a combat-style sun hat with a chin strap and a long-sleeve, skin-tight electric-blue UV-protection top? Do I possibly look like a chubby toddler even though I’m 47 and no longer living in a frat house?”

I’ll keep you posted on our progress in developing these programmes. In the meantime, we’re putting the final touches to our first-ever karaoke privée evening here in Zürich. If I sound a bit throaty during today’s edition of Monocle on Sunday, you’ll know why.

House News / Monocle in Asheville, North Carolina

Mountain high

Tyler Brûlé, Andrew Tuck and the Monocle team are heading to the US for a weekend event in Asheville, North Carolina. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is known for the individualism and inventive spirit of its inhabitants, which is reflected in its booming creative and culinary scenes. Guests will enjoy two days of inspiring talks, fun drinks, outstanding restaurants and brisk hikes in the fresh mountain air. Join us from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 April.

Image: Mike Belleme

For the full programme and to secure your place, click here.

Eating out / Trio, Berlin

Simple pleasure

A buzzy restaurant opening often comes with promises of gastronomic revolution (writes Stella Roos). Trio, from the team behind Berlin’s Otto, does not. “We’re not reinventing techniques or flavour combinations,” says the restaurant’s head chef, Vadim Otto Ursus. “Our dishes don’t need much explanation.”

Image: Robert Rieger
Image: Robert Rieger

Trio is co-owned by Ursus, Eva Alken and Clemens Roesch (pictured), all of whom wanted to start a more casual sister space to Otto. Behind a curving corner window in Mitte, guests can tuck in to a hearty menu of Austrian fried chicken, venison goulash and Königsberger Klopse or enjoy a draught beer and gherkins at the bar. The interiors are equally relaxed, with moss-green cabinetry and red laminate tabletops. “They just need some scratches,” says Ursus with a smile. “We’ll get there soon.”

New Opening / Haneda Airport Garden, Tokyo

Welcome arrival

Haneda in Tokyo is one of the world’s busiest airports. In the year before the pandemic, nearly 87 million passengers passed through its gates; hotel rooms at the international terminal were at capacity and the shopping area had plenty of scope for expansion (writes Fiona Wilson). A new addition, which had been expected to open in 2020, was inevitably delayed. Now, Haneda Airport Garden has finally opened – and it’s huge. It has 80 shops and restaurants, a 1,717-room hotel and a 12th-floor spa with open-air baths that offer views of Mount Fuji.

“It was tough waiting,” says Naoyuki Murata, who runs the operation. Murata works for Sumitomo Fudosan Retail Management, which won the development bid in 2016. Airside shops can be repetitive but here the retail team had some fun. “Our theme was Japanese culture and hospitality. There are many independent businesses that couldn’t afford a big space, so we’ve made room for small shops.” Tokyo confectioner Mamezono sells Japanese-style sweets with a twist, adding raspberry and chocolate to its squares of soft azuki bean paste. Kyoto bread shop Miyabi offers pale-pink sakura croissant loaves served by staff in full kimono, while green-tea company Kimikura’s first Tokyo outpost sells everything from takeaway matcha latte to tea ceremony sets. “We tried to represent all of Japan,” says Murata. “We’re bringing something fresh to airport retail.”

For more on this story and what’s in store for the world of retail, buy a copy of Monocle’s April issue, which is out now.

Sunday Roast / Marco Baldassari

Good sport

Marco Baldassari is co-founder and creative director of Italian menswear brand Eleventy (writes Grace Charlton). After beginning his career as an agent and fashion consultant, Baldessari started the Milan-based brand with his friend Paolo Zuntini in 2007. Here, he shares his penchant for long breakfasts, George Michael and keeping up with the headlines.

What’s for breakfast?
Pancakes with maple syrup and berries. After that, Greek yoghurt with honey and muesli. Plus, coffee with soya milk and, to top it off, some hot, lemony water.

A kitchen essential?
I love ice cream. Chocolate and caramel are my favourite flavours: the perfect treat.

Lunch in or out?
At the office because the show must go on and business never stops, even on Sundays.

Your Sunday must?
I’d say the gym. I’m a great sportsman. Sport gave me the ability to focus on my goals and stay motivated over the years. Then I do some research on fashion trends or I go to the park. Being out in nature teaches us to slow down.

What’s on the evening menu?
Usually, it’s meat or fish with vegetables.

Who’s joining?
My lovely wife, Monica.

Your soundtrack of choice?
“Careless Whisper” by George Michael.

News or no news?
News. I find that reading it helps you to develop an open and critical mind. It can also be a rich source of creativity.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
I drink a lot of water but I never turn down a glass of good wine or champagne.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Coconut custard pudding

This creamy coconut and caramel pudding is our recipe writer’s riff on a crème caramel (or purin, as they’re known in Japan). Set aside some time to cool it after cooking, then refrigerate before serving. Enjoy.

Illustration: Anje Jager

Serves 3


For the caramel:
3 tbsps granulated sugar
1.5 tbsps cold water
1.5 tbsps hot water

For the puddings:
150ml tinned coconut milk
50ml whole milk
40g granulated sugar
1 medium egg
2 medium egg yolks


Start with the caramel. Put the sugar and cold water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Keep the hot water ready on the side.

When the sugar has completely melted and the syrup becomes dark brown, turn off the heat and add the hot water to the pan. Be careful as the caramel will bubble up, making a hissing sound.

Swirl the pan to mix the caramel. When it has cooled slightly, pour equal amounts into three small, heatproof ramekins.

Now, for the puddings: pour the coconut milk and whole milk into a saucepan and heat until it starts to bubble. Turn off the heat.

In a fresh bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg and yolks, then add the warm milk little by little, whisking continuously.

Once you have added all of the milk, put the mixture through a sieve to ensure that the pudding is extra smooth.

Divide the mixture equally between the three ramekins.

Put a large pot on the counter. Place the lid on top of a large tea towel and secure the towel by tying its corners together: this will soak up the steam and prevent water from dripping onto the pudding later on.

Line the bottom of the pot with a folded tea towel. Place the three ramekins on top. This will stop the ramekins moving when the water boils. Carefully pour boiling water into the pan from the side, up to half of the height of the ramekins. Cover the pot with the lid, sealing tightly.

Cook over a medium heat for 1 minute, then turn down to a low heat and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pudding for 10 minutes without removing the lid.

Remove the puddings from the pan and allow them to cool for about an hour, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set before serving.

Weekend plans? / Hôtel Dame des Arts, Paris

Divine intervention

Hospitality options on Paris’s Left Bank have always been limited, so the opening of Hôtel Dame des Arts a few steps from Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is all the more intriguing (writes Rooksana Hossenally). Fresh from his work at Hotel National des Arts et Métiers, designer Raphaël Navot has created a similar blend of hushed tones, theatrical lighting, oak-panelled walls and charred-wood floors. Mexican chef Othoniel Alvarez Castaneda’s menu is short but sumptuous and showcases delicious French produce in dishes including tuna tostada with chipotle sauce and pork ribs marinated in achiote with tangy salsa roja. By the summer a rooftop bar that offers views of the city skyline will be open for cocktails and choice nibbles, including pâté en croûte from Maison Vérot. We’ll see you there.

Image: Ludovic Balay
Image: Ludovic Balay

Three more Paris openings

Bloom House
Opening in summer on the offbeat stretch between two of Paris’s busiest train stations, Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord, Bloom House will have a large rooftop restaurant and pool.

Maison Delano
Miami Beach’s slick Delano is getting a little sister. Slated to open before spring inside an 18th-century space close to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Maison Delano will have a French-Andalusian restaurant led by chef Dani García.

Grand Mazarin
The first Paris hotel by Maisons Pariente will open in Le Marais. Designed by Martin Brudnizki, the space includes two restaurants, a bar and a pool. Time to splash out?

Parting shot / Gardening gear

In full bloom

Haven’t got round to that window box or taming your unkempt outdoor space yet? Help is still at hand for budding botanists. Here are more Japanese gardening tools to keep you protected and watered – and something to mop your brow with too.

Image: Yuhki Yamamoto

Arm protectors
These Montbell arm protectors are excellent for seeing off stinging nettles and thorny tasks. They’re also an outré fashion statement.

Green Life
Sturdy and perfectly constructed, Green Life’s self-winding hose is quite simply the best that you’ll find.

This fetching cotton tenugui (towel) from Kamawanu is handy for mopping your brow or wearing as a headband.

If you dig this selection, see our full line-up in our April issue, which is out now. Have a super Sunday.


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