This weekend we’re hoisting a glass in Tokyo, heading to northern England to meet entrepreneur and designer Patrick Grant and exploring Alpine Austria to try out a smart new hotel. Plus: French cookbooks, a toe-tapping new radio from Revo and a recipe for a mean mango tapioca pudding. First up, Tyler Brûlé on a week spent in New York and Asheville, North Carolina.
You will have noticed that your Sunday columnist has been covering a lot of ground of late. There have been two sizeable Asia tours, a touchdown in the Gulf, dashes to Paris, Copenhagen, Milan and Lisbon, and now I find myself in Asheville, North Carolina, halfway through Monocle’s first Weekender event in the US. (More on this a little later.) There’s nothing I enjoy nothing more than being out on the road, meeting readers, visiting editors and seeing clients. Something strange happens when you’ve spent a lot of time on one side of the world seeding ideas and concepts with business partners and then you find yourself in a completely different cultural setting (earlier this week, New York) while still trying to interact with Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok, then Europe and, finally, North America.
The good news is that all of those trips over the past few weeks have generated projects in various cities but due to Easter, Ramadan and other regional holidays, the new assignments all seem to be landing at once. When you find yourself on the east coast of North America, Hong Kong and Tokyo have a significant head start when it comes to filling up the inbox. I think I’m doing a decent job at keeping on top of the correspondence and calls. One trick that works well, for me at least, is to limit the number of comms channels: e-mail, text and, for a select few, I use Line.
My next stop is Mexico City and, as there’s a dazzling line-up of meetings, I’m wondering how my inbox will be restocked in the coming weeks? Do I need to wake up in more of a Mexican mindset, then shift to Korean-thinking, jump to the Gulf, catch my breath in Europe and then recalibrate for the US? Should I possibly match my media consumption to follow the sun? And why stop there? Maybe my diet should also reflect the regions where I’m interacting. If a plate of huevos rancheros becomes part of the daily routine, you’ll know that the Mexico City visit was a success.
If you think that the Met Gala is a one-evening affair where celebrities and their sponsors show up for a red-carpet twirl and head home then you haven’t stayed at The Carlyle in the days running up to the event. I checked in on Tuesday and almost every trip in the lift involved a group of make-up artists or stylists paying a visit to a suite for consultations and fittings. Despite three days of shuttling up and down in the lift, the only “celebrity” sighting was Michael Bloomberg popping into the hotel for a breakfast meeting.
It has been nearly a decade since I was last in São Paulo but on Thursday I felt as though I was back in the middle of Jardins the moment I stepped into the Fasano hotel on Fifth Avenue. The elegant, slender property is much smaller than its Brazilian siblings but that suits the brand just fine as the Fasano restaurant further down the island is a sprawling, buzzy and tasty melange of the group’s various outlets in São Paulo.
The last time I flew into New York’s LaGuardia Airport, the place was being pulled apart and I was greeted by renders showing what the gleaming new facility might look like. On Friday, I got to sample part one of the overhaul – and top marks to the architects, operators and tenants. For sure there are some things that are still clunky – what happened to the much-hyped “leave everything in your hand luggage” scanning technology? The airport also needs a proper bookshop. But, overall, the Port Authority has done an excellent job of raising the bar and engineering the type of facility that New York has long deserved. Let’s see what they cook up with the next-gen JFK.
Where am I? I’ve never been to Asheville and it’s all a bit disorienting. The dense, lush rolling hills look nothing like Italy or Switzerland and, from the moment I touched down, I’ve been trying to get a topographical fix on the place. It wasn’t till I woke up yesterday morning and saw the low clouds clinging to the forests that it hit me: I’m in Kyushu. Well, sort of. The 50 Monocle readers in attendance are now assembling for coffee and I’m off to join them for some gallery and atelier tours. For an update on everything we’ve been up to, join us for a special edition of Monocle on Sunday, broadcast live from downtown Asheville, at 09.00 Eastern Standard Time (14.00 London time). Do tune in.
Less than a year after his opening his liquor-shop-cum-bar Nomura Shoten (see Issue 156), Soran Nomura started this new cocktail bar. “This is my main base,” he says of Tokyo’s Quarter Room. There are six staple drinks and ever-changing specials. Our favourite is “woman with a fan”, a negroni made with fig-leaf gin, cacao liquor, roasted tea, Pedro Ximénez sherry, white chocolate and cues from Amedeo Modigliani’s 1919 painting of the same name. It’s proof that inspiration can be found in confounding places but the result requires no explanation.
5-10-7 Daita, Setagaya, Tokyo
For more tasty ideas, new openings and food scoops, subscribe to Monocle magazine.
Scottish fashion designer Patrick Grant started his career at Savile Row’s Norton & Sons. In 2016 he founded his own brand, Community Clothing, which is focused on sustainability and longevity. He shares an appreciation for England’s rural north, his favourite cheese emporium and his wardrobe essentials.
Where do we find you this weekend?
I live on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, up in rural Lancashire near Preston.
Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
If the weather is even half good, I’ll be on my bike or going up a mountain on foot. I’m blessed to have incredible countryside and deserted lanes on my doorstep.
What’s for breakfast?
I love a couple of thick slices of toast, my mum’s marmalade and a pot of Assam tea. After cycling, I’ll cook an egg or two – James, one of my cycling buddies, keeps chickens and he’ll sometimes bring a couple of fresh eggs.
Lunch in or out?
If I’m on a walk, I’ll prepare a sandwich and a flask of tea beforehand to eat up the hill. If I’m cycling, I’ll eat at home when I get back.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
I’d choose to walk the dog but sadly I have no pets at the moment. I see loads of great birds in the garden, though.
A Sunday soundtrack?
I always listen to Radcliffe and Maconie then Cerys Matthews on BBC Radio 6 Music, either live or on catch-up, then I’ll put on some music. I still shop for records at the brilliant Action Records in Preston. Recent purchases include albums by Yard Act, Young Fathers, Gretel Hänlyn and Anna B Savage.
Sunday culture must?
I normally get my nose in a book. I’m currently reading book two of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. I read it for the first time when I was in my twenties but it’s even more enjoyable now that I’ve enjoyed more of the dance myself.
News or not?
Not routinely, no. I like to get away from it all on a Sunday.
What’s on the menu?
I’m not far from Honeywell’s Farm Shop – its beef fillet is pretty special. Maybe dauphinoise potatoes and a green salad to go with it? And a nibble of cheese from the lovely folks at The Courtyard Dairy over on the Yorkshire side of the Bowland Fells.
Sunday evening routine?
If I have friends ’round we’ll crack out a board game: Puerto Rico, Azul or Modern Art, a recent addition. Old favourites such as Zooloretto still make an odd appearance.
Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
If I’m up north I wear the same thing pretty much every day. Community Clothing chinos and sweatshirt with Tricker’s shoes, Vans slip-ons or Red Wing boots, depending on the weather.
Monocle’s recipe writer rustles up a sweet treat that will act as a light and tasty pudding or an indulgent breakfast. Enjoy.
4 tbsps (about 60g) small tapioca pearls (about 3mm in width)
125ml canned coconut milk
75ml whole milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
170g mango (fresh or frozen) cubed
Pour the milk, coconut milk and sugar into a small pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let it cool, before chilling in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.
Purée 100g mango with a tablespoon of water.
In another pan, bring water to the boil and add the tapioca pearls. Cook for 15 minutes over a medium heat with the water bubbling vigorously (this makes the water roll so that the tapioca pearls won’t stick to each other). Drain and rinse the tapioca under cold water. Let it cool.
Divide the tapioca between two serving bowls and pour the milk over it. Scatter the mango pieces on top. Drizzle over the mango purée and serve.
It’s hard not to be charmed by Bad Gastein (writes Florian Siebeck). The town, about an hour-and-a-half drive south of Salzburg, boasts a charming mix of belle epoque buildings and 1960s modernism surrounded by the forested slopes of the High Tauern mountains. Once beloved by emperors and empresses for its recuperative thermal waters and underground caves, the destination fell into disrepair in the 1980s.
However, creative openings in the 2000s including the Miramonte and Regina (as well as a rather convenient rail link from Salzburg and Vienna) started to awaken the town from its slumber. Barbara Elwardt, the founder of new Bad Gastein hotel The Comodo, compares the feeling here to that of Berlin in the 1990s. “It’s like a new beginning,” she says. Elwardt teamed up with architect Piotr Wisniewski to transform the hotel from a kurhaus (“health resort”) into a contemporary mountain escape. “We were trying to evoke the ambience of a 1960s Alpine resort,” says Wisniewski as he shows Monocle around the airy space. “It’s like a modern interpretation of an Austrian chalet mixed with Viennese coffee-house culture.”
That is evident in the spacious lobby, which Wisniewski dubs the “living room”. A bar offers a good cocktail menu, while strong colours create a warm, cosy space that feels a world away from the stricter palette of Nordic minimalism. When it comes to stretching out with a book or newspaper, guests have options: Italian architect Gae Aulenti’s iconic leather lounge furniture, Wisniewski’s custom-made and comfy Pebble couch or Mario Bellini’s 1960s Camaleonda sofa for B&B Italia. Settle in.
Bad Gastein address book
A rustic hut with meat from the hunt and top regional cuisine (try the Topfenstrudel).
+43 66 4910 9530
One of the oldest huts in Austria, dating back 600 years, offering hearty classics including fondue and Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancakes and compote).
Guesthouse also run by a pair of former Berliners who keep tables for walk-ins, though booking is strongly advised.
Cosmopolitan flair in an incredible old building with a fantastic bar. Good hosts, good cuisine, good drinks. A Monocle favourite.
No-frills Italian café offering good espresso, pasta and homemade cakes.
+43 6434 6269
Undeveloped plateau with an impressive panorama offering long walks in summer and perfect snow for freeriding in winter.
Unspoilt mountain lake with breathtaking view. (Accessible only in summer.)
Revo was founded in 2004 and has grown hugely, with a special-edition Monocle radio as one of its many highlights (writes David Phelan). One of its most popular models, the SuperConnect, has been updated: the SuperConnect Stereo has the same design language, with DAB+ as well as FM tuners. If that’s not enough, the wi-fi connection can access 36,000 internet radio stations, including Monocle Radio. You can also listen to streaming services and it has Bluetooth. The sound quality is exceptional: warm and rich with lots of detail, and the twin speakers ensure that the radio has a wide soundstage.
From apricots and anchovies to vodka and yuzu, the Dix façons de la préparer (“Ten Ways to Prepare”) collection of cookery books focuses on an eclectic range of ingredients. Produced by Les éditions de l’Épure, a Parisian publisher with a specialisation in food and wine, the series comprises more than 300 titles, which can be spotted at smarter delis around the French capital. Sold at €10 each, the booklets contain 10 recipes based around one chosen ingredient or theme, spread over 24 pages. Titles cover anything from smoke to cheeky butchery cuts such as “the ball”; the latest batch includes titles on harissa and poison. Every edition is bound with a different shade of cardboard and matching linen thread. To read the recipes, the pages need to be cut open using a knife, an old-fashioned touch that adds to the booklets’ tactile appeal. “Once you have opened the pages, don’t worry about staining them,” says Les éditions de l’Épure co-founder, Sabine Bucquet-Grenet. “After all, these books are made to be cooked with.”
For more from Monocle and to support our independent journalism, subscribe to the magazine. Have a super Sunday.