Sunday 21 May 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 21/5/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Safe bet

This week we gamble on a lively new Italian restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, rustle up some wild garlic soup with rye-bread croutons and catch a view from a terrace in Cadaqués. Plus: artist Rosemarie Auberson discusses her weekend rituals, new earphones you’ll want to hear about and Bulgari’s Tokyo opening. All after Monocle’s editorial director Tyler Brûlé offers a snapshot of a life on the move.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Up and at ’em

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you wake up with a jolt and can’t process where you are, what day it is, what appointment you might have missed and whether you’re actually awake or still in a dream? I had one yesterday and spent quite a bit of time trying to process the room, calculating the time of day and looking for clues that might suggest where I was. After a brief survey, I determined that I was in a very large suite at the Rosewood Hong Kong, it was Saturday morning and I had beaten my alarm by a few minutes. I also remembered that I was on the early Cathay flight to Bangkok and needed to get packing.

By the time I had unbundled the laundry that had been returned overnight, fragments of the evening before started to form a mottled picture of what might have been responsible for my somewhat confused state: a bonkers girl who used to work at Hong Kong Tatler, who ensured that everyone around her always had a fresh martini; a pair of Bahama mamas who held court in the corner of the bar and dissected all that was wrong with Florida; and a revolving door of others (Lebanese, Egyptians, Germans, Canadians, Swedes and Brits) who were all up for a very good evening. As I collected my belongings from assorted surfaces and cupboards, and felt that I had everything required to make the journey out to the airport, it also occurred to me that I had a free day ahead with only a dinner in Bangkok but nothing before. What to do?

I passed out the second we were wheels up and awoke as we made the final turns before lining up for the touchdown in Bangkok

First, I needed to refuel. As soon as I cleared immigration, I went straight to the Cathay lounge, parked myself in the dining room and tucked into a plate of dim sum and a bowl of dan dan noodles. If you don’t know this ritual, it’s one of the best food-and-service combos in civil aviation – not to mention a proper boost on a hangover. It’s also one of those dependable offerings that somehow grounds you when you’re darting between places and you occasionally find yourself in need of a safe harbour manned by attentive, considerate staff. On board the A330 down to Bangkok, the announcements from the Aussie captain were the same as they have been for the past 25 years, the crew was on point and I imagine that the service was good but I passed out the second we were wheels up and awoke as we made the final turns before lining up for the touchdown in Bangkok.

Outside customs, my regular driver was there to take me into town, at the Grand Hyatt a familiar crew was on hand to greet me and villa 503 was just as I had left it a few weeks ago. With the temperature hovering around 40C at midday, the plan to go out and see an exhibition by an emerging Thai artist was abandoned in favour of a bit of reading, a lunch consisting of fried rice and a papaya salad, and a much-needed nap.

When I did step outside, the sun was dipping and it was a more comfortable 35C. For a split second I felt guilty for not going out earlier and doing my duty as a journalist to explore, interrogate and report back. But I figured that the rest was required as I needed to pace myself and be fully fresh for tomorrow night’s twirl at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. If you’re in Bangkok or passing through, then do come along and listen in as my colleague Gwen Robinson moderates an evening that will focus on the state of media, the enduring power of paper and a couple of observations about Asean. If you would like to secure a spot, drop a note to Hannah Grundy at Drinks are on me.

Eating out / Casino, New York

Ace in the hole

There has been a host of new restaurant openings in New York’s Lower East Side over the past few months. The liveliest and most fun is Casino, from the founder of Primo’s and Mr Fong’s. Swing by at 17.30 and you’ll spot the first guests fly in. By 19.30 the place is packed with people sipping spritzes and tucking in to bowls of pasta. In a city where tables change as quickly as the lights in Times Square, it’s rather rare to be able to linger at a restaurant without feeling hurried. For its owner, Aisa Shelley, spontaneity is important. “My favourite restaurants always have a walk-in bar,” says Shelley, who has designated the rear dining room for reservations and the front café for walk-ins. Given that the restaurant was inspired by a roadtrip from the south of France to Italy, the laid-back atmosphere makes sense and is in stark contrast to the stuffier restaurants nearby. “I fell in love with that Riviera feel,” says Shelley as he shows Monocle around.

Image: Clark Hodgin
Image: Clark Hodgin
Image: Clark Hodgin

That feel is reflected in the design by Camilla Deterre. The café is bright, with bistro tables and light, curved walls that nod to the work of Mexican architect Javier Senosiain. The dining room is more sophisticated, with dark hues, slick red booths and pressed white tablecloths. “A lot of the design references the 1970s eco houses that I saw in the south of France, Italy and Mexico City,” says Shelley. And if Casino’s interiors don’t transport you, the menu will: think whole roast turbot with capers and lemon, wood-roasted prawns with garlic and chilli, and bucatini pasta with clams. “The space is supposed to feel like something – and that feeling is whatever you get on vacation.”

Sunday Roast / Rosemarie Auberson

Understated weekends

Paris-based artist Rosemarie Auberson is known for her abstract, understated paintings, which can be found at the Le Sentiment des Choses gallery in the city’s Marais neighbourhood and at Francis Gallery in Bath, UK. The latter recently hosted a solo exhibition of her work, Distant Though Near. Drawing on elements of her Japanese heritage, she explored society’s relationship with the objects that we place around us. Here, Auberson tells us about walking her dog along the Seine, her love of Japanese composer Midori Takada and her favourite breakfast pastry.

Image: Nathalie Mohadjer

Where do we find you this weekend?
In Switzerland. It is vacation time in France and we will go to Lake Geneva and the Swiss mountains to visit my family.

How do you like to begin a Sunday: a gentle start or a jolt?
A gentle start – usually reading and listening to music. But we often need to go to the market to buy some fresh food for lunch and dinner, which is a good excuse to have coffee outside.

Your soundtrack of choice?
In the mornings I particularly like listening to Cutting Branches for a Temporary Shelter by Japanese composer Midori Takada. For this record, she was able to use old African instruments originally preserved in the Museum of Ethnography in Geneva. The music is very light and rhythmic and it has a powerful energy that comes from somewhere far away. I also love radio and podcasts, especially those from France Culture. I am currently listening to a podcast series about Ryuichi Sakamoto on France Music.

What’s for breakfast?
Pain au chocolat or a very good bread with butter and jam or honey. And coffee.

News or not?
No news. Books instead.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
It depends on the weather. Our dog hates the rain. While we love walking along the Seine together, if the weather is bad, it’ll be a downward dog.

Lunch in or out?
In. Either a real lunch with some friends or a very light, quick lunch and a good family dinner with lasagne or roast chicken (I usually do the Georgia O’Keeffe recipe with lots of lemon and olive oil) to end the weekend with our kids.

Any larder essentials that you can’t do without?
Olive oil, herbs, cans of tomatoes, pasta, parmesan, bread, coffee and tea.

A Sunday culture must?
A museum, of course. But I like going to the cinema sometimes and recently I have really appreciated talks by writers at bookshops. They are often interesting, surprising and warm exchanges.

A glass of something that you would recommend?
In Switzerland, I had a very good white wine from the French part of Jura: Savagnin Ouillé Arbois.

Do you lay out your look for Monday?
I always choose what to wear depending on my mood that day and I rarely plan ahead. But it will always be something simple and comfortable.

For more from Auberson, buy the latest issue of our sister magazine, ‘Konfekt’.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Wild garlic soup with rye-bread crunch

This reliable soup from our Swiss chef is a great way to use up your wild garlic before the season passes. The versatile vegetable makes a delightful pesto and works well in mashed potato but it’s particularly tasty in soup. Add a little wholegrain mustard for an extra kick.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4 as a starter


50g rye bread, cut into 3mm cubes
1 medium white onion
1 tbsp butter
100ml Noilly Prat or similar white vermouth
1 litre vegetable broth
350g wild garlic
250ml single cream
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste


Toast the cubed rye bread in a pan without oil over a medium heat until crispy, ensuring that it doesn’t burn (this should take about 5 minutes). Set aside.

Dice the onion into small pieces. Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the vermouth and add the broth, and simmer over a medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Coarsely chop the wild garlic. Add the cream and wild garlic, and purée the mixture with a stick blender until smooth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add croutons and serve.

Weekend plans / Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, Japan

Best of both worlds

To get a sense of Tokyo’s overwhelming scale, try viewing it from above (writes Fiona Wilson). And where better to see the city’s magical jumble than from the new Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, an amber-hued oasis that occupies the top five floors of a new skyscraper, Tokyo Midtown Yaesu. With its basement walkway to Tokyo Station, busy shopping and office floors, and even an elementary school, this new development is a microcosm of the Japanese capital. For Milan-based architectural studio Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, responsible for the design of all eight of Bulgari’s hotels, it was an irresistible proposition.

Image: Fuminari Yoshistugu
Image: Fuminari Yoshistugu
Image: Fuminari Yoshistugu

“We liked that the project maintained the complexity of the old neighbourhood,” says Patricia Viel. “To build a liveable place, you need a mixture of real life and aspirational life.” If the school provides the reality, the hotel brings the aspiration and more than a touch of Roman glamour. The hotel’s colour palette is all warm caramels, rich saffrons and deep browns – a deliberate contrast to the concrete world outside. “The colours in Japan are always a little dusty, very sophisticated,” says Viel. “Tokyo is a very medium-grey kind of environment, which I like very much, but we thought that we’d bring some colour into this picture.” There’s Italian travertine, Japanese wood, custom Italian mosaics and handblown Murano lights. The 25-metre-long swimming pool, lined with emerald mosaic tiles, is big enough for proper lengths but has cabanas for snoozing poolside too.

For more new openings, top tables and hospitality finds, subscribe to Monocle or buy a copy of our May issue today.

Tech corner / Nothing Ear (2) earphones

Sound investment

In-ear headphones need to look good as well as sound good (writes David Phelan). As with London-based electronics company Nothing’s earlier models, the design here goes big on transparent coverings and internal components – in the stalk of the earbud, for example – are visible. The earpiece is a glossy white, with three sizes of tip to ensure a snug fit. The Ear (2) also offers active noise-cancelling, so you’ll be able to hear your music above the din of your commute. The earbuds are Hi-Res Audio certified, which means that they can handle the highest-quality sound files.

Parting shot / Cadaqués

Time out of mind

The Cap de Creus peninsula juts out from the coast of Catalonia into the Mediterranean. Its jagged shoreline has proven treacherous to many a ship. But on the terrace of Restaurant Cap de Creus, near the town of Cadaqués, you can think of happier things. And this image summons something that always makes our day: allowing time to idle by in the heat of a European summer. If it all feels too good to walk away from, well, they rent out apartments too.

Image: Ben Roberts

For more of our favourite Iberian outposts, pick up a copy of our new book ‘Spain: The Monocle Handbook’. And subscribe to the magazine so you’ll never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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