Sunday 13 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 13/8/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

On the menu

Time seems to tick a little more slowly in August but there’s plenty to keep apace of in the world of food and hospitality. Tyler Brûlé shares the latest from his travels to Ottawa and drops anchor at a smart property in Comporta. We also whip up a quick dessert to help keep you cool, check in on a Brazilian chef’s Sunday rituals and leaf through a new food magazine worth savouring. Ready for your first course? Then we’ll begin.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Tour de force

According to the plan in my diary (that is yet to be erased and revised) I should be writing this somewhere well north of Stockholm right now, approaching the end of a week spent in Denmark and Sweden. On paper there was a stay at a grand hotel on a wild Danish beach, a visit to Louisiana just down the coast, some tasty dinners in Copenhagen and Stockholm, and a bit of a retail tour to see what some of my favourite shops had on display for the autumn/winter season. Instead, some family and business commitments brought about a course correction and I’m filing today’s column from Ottawa. How did I get here? Let’s rewind the tape – four decades.

If this column is part of your Sunday morning wake-up regime then you might recall that my grandmother turned 105 at the start of June. As important as any birthday is once you pass 99, this year marks a special anniversary between grandmother and grandson: it has been 40 years since we did our grand tour of Europe together. After a long career working as a lab technician for an agency of the Canadian government, my grandmother retired in the spring of 1983. To mark the occasion, she decided that she wanted to do a tour of Europe and who better to chaperone her than the grandson who had been living with her for the past year. With multiple visits to Mags & Fags (a once famous newsstand that served Ottawa’s diplomatic community with periodicals from around the world) and a considerable outlay of Canadian dollars on all kinds of magazines from the UK, France and Germany, I started to plan a trip that would start in London, shift to Paris, head north to Stockholm and Helsinki, and then back south to Essen and on to Basel and Zürich. It would be a full month on the rails. With family recommendations and photocopied pages from my favourite magazines, I picked up the phone and started booking rooms, pulled out maps and timetables to accurately plot connections and spent the month before our departure working at our yacht club scrubbing as many decks as possible to save up for my first trip across the Atlantic.

Armed with a pouch of travellers cheques, pounds, D-marks, kronor and francs (French and Swiss), I was the treasurer, logistics chief and bodyguard for my grandmother on this journey. Through the magic of efficient postal systems we alerted relatives of approximate arrival times as we made our way up and down the Continent and, whenever or wherever possible, I would find a fine patisserie or café in which my grandmother could take in the sun and the local scene while I made side trips to shops and sites that may not have been core to the original itinerary. After four weeks of travel and loaded down with at least 50 Swatches in our luggage (this was the summer that the watch made its debut), we boarded our Air Canada flight from Düsseldorf back to Montréal and I could tell that it was going to be a rough landing after a magical month spent with my grandmother. At 14 I was already questioning why the Swedes had such an elaborate subway network, why Swiss villages were so perfectly formed and why we didn’t have department stores like Parisians. I had a vague inkling that I might pursue a career in journalism (architect was also in the running) but it took another trip with my grandmother five years later (this time to Australia) to jolt me out of my Canadian comfort zone and prompt me to pursue my career beyond the shores of the North American continent. Thanks to our little tour 40 years ago I found my groove in London and Zürich, and even find myself based in Seefeld, just streets away from where we stayed in the summer of 1983. I’m off to see my grandmother now – I have bought her yellow roses and sunflowers and I’ll grab her a cappuccino en route. I won’t be surprised if she suggests that we plot another grandmother-grandson super grand tour.

New Opening / Apollo Palm, Athens

Top of the tree

Athens has undergone something of a Greek revival when it comes to smart new downtown hotels (writes Hester Underhill). The latest notable project is Apollo Palm, a 48-key stopover housed in a Bauhaus-style 1930s police station. Interiors come courtesy of Mariette Sans Rival, a Paris-based designer who knows how to make a space dramatic given her specialism in opera-set design. “I used a lot of colours that play with the light,” says Sans Rival. “Think yellow, white and gold.”

Image: Apollo Palm
Image: Apollo Palm

The result is a series of spaces that are kitted out with rich furnishings, custom brass light fittings and plenty of mirrored surfaces. Locals can also drop by for a drink at the rooftop bar, which boasts unobstructed views of the Acropolis and a cocktail menu put together by Alekos Alexiadis, founder of the acclaimed Athenian watering hole Santa Rosa. There’s also a palm tree-shaded café in the hotel courtyard that serves cups of locally roasted coffee.

Eating Out / Florette, Toronto

Scene stealing

The Victorian shopfronts and elegant townhouses that line Toronto’s Queen Street West have long been home to some of the city’s most appealing independent shops and dining rooms (writes Tomos Lewis). Among the newest is Florette. “The way that I discovered Toronto as a teenager was through its restaurants,” says founder Jerry Zhang, who left a career at Warner Music to open his own venue.

Image: Margot G Kenny, Scott Norsworthy
Image: Margot G Kenny, Scott Norsworthy

“That’s how I fell in love with the city. I wanted to open something that would become part of what makes Toronto’s food scene special.” Toronto studio Denizens of Design worked on the interiors, which include a luminous ceiling printed with flowers. The furniture is either custom-made or sourced from antiques dealers nearby. Florette’s menus are mercurial and defy categorisation – try the clams from the Pacific coast served with fried curry leaves or chicken croquettes with house-made marinara sauce.

Image: Rafael Cagali

Sunday Roast / Rafael Cagali

Home comforts

Originally from São Paulo, chef Rafael Cagali moved to London 20 years ago to start his career (writes Tala Ahmadi). Today he’s the co-owner and executive chef of two-Michelin-starred restaurant Da Terra in Bethnal Green and the owner of a more casual restaurant called Elis, which opened this year. Here, he shares his love of Lebanese wine, Brazilian jazz and his dog.

Where do we find you this weekend?
On Saturday I will be at Da Terra and Sunday is my day off. My ideal Sunday includes watching Formula One and relaxing with my husband, Charlie, and Rolo, my dog. Sometimes we cook together or Charlie makes a Sunday roast – it’s his thing.

What is your ideal start to a Sunday, gentle or a jolt?
Gentle. We start the day with eggs and coffee.

Downward dog or walk the dog?
I love to spend time in the forest with Rolo.

A pantry essential?
Extra virgin olive oil that we bring over from Gonnelli, near Florence.

Lunch in or out?
In. We like to spend Sundays at home.

What’s on the evening menu?
If it’s not a roast, and the weather is good, our favourite thing is to light the grill and open a good bottle of wine: Chateau Musar by Gaston Hochar in Lebanon is a favourite of mine.

Soundtrack of choice?
Elton John, George Michael, Michael Jackson and Roxette. If I’m homesick, I listen to Elis Regina, a famous Brazilian jazz artist – I named my second restaurant after her.

News or no news?
News. I like to be informed.

Will you lay out your outfit for Monday?
We’re off on Mondays so I don’t need to.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Ricotta ice cream with cherry compote

This week our Japanese recipe writer shares a favourite for keeping cool this summer: a light, bright ricotta-based ice cream laced with a sweet cherry sauce. You can thank us later.

Serves 4


For the ice cream:
250g ricotta cheese
50g clear runny honey
100ml double cream
1 large unwaxed organic lemon
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice

For the cherry compote:
250g black cherries
4 tbsps caster sugar
100ml water


Blend the ricotta cheese and runny honey in a mixer until very smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

Place the double cream in another large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it forms soft peaks.

Add the whipped cream and grated lemon zest to the ricotta cheese mixture and fold together gently. Once incorporated, add the lemon juice and mix. Pour the mixture into a container and freeze overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Wash the cherries, halve them and remove the stones. If you have a cherry pitter, it will be much easier and faster.

Place a small pan on a medium-low heat and add the cherry halves and sugar. Leave for 30 minutes. Then add 100ml water and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes – keep stirring until the cherries soften and the juice thickens slightly. Set it aside to cool.

Take the ice cream container out of the freezer and leave for a few minutes to soften. Scoop the ice cream into a bowl and serve with a drizzle of compote.

Weekend plans? / JNcQUOI beach club, Comporta

Shore start

It’s no small task to take on the chore of reinventing the beach club in a European context (writes Tyler Brûlé). How do you break away from white painted planks and plaster? Pots of swaying oleander? Staff in striped shirts that suggest France but are now equally at home in Bodrum? One answer is to pair the clever people from Lisbon’s JNcQUOI group with the very talented Vincent van Duysen and give them a stretch of Atlantic just south of Comporta as the plot to work with. Last weekend, its new beach club threw open its doors to a largely local, elegant crowd and the result was something fresh, modern and wholly Portguese.

Van Duysen worked with local materials, earthy tones and textures, and a wild backdrop to provide a holiday genre that we all love with fresh perspective and a sharp turn in direction. The group has much more in the works for the region and, if you find yourself in need of something for the beach, their nearby fashion lab has you covered. Monocle left with a very chic kaftan from Marrakshi Life. And worry not, no need to rush. The club is open well into November.

Image: Tony Hay

The Stack / ‘Slop’ magazine

Fresh produce

The name ‘Slop’ might not be immediately appetising but there’s much to savour about the first issue of this British food title (writes Fernando Augusto Pacheco). The seasonal magazine was co-founded by Jack Stanley and Nicolas Payne-Baader. “We basically wanted to create something that focused on everything between a farm and a restaurant,” Payne-Baader told Monocle Radio’s weekly print-industry review, The Stack.

“I used to be a butcher and, when I was doing that, I realised that there’s nothing that covers this area.” In the first issue of ‘Slop’, which is freely distributed in the pair’s favourite retailers and restaurants in London, Manchester and Copenhagen, the topics vary from Slovakia’s best new wine region to the English company that is trying to take a piece of the tinned-fish market from Portugal.

Image: Satoshi Hashimoto

Parting Shot / Perfect City

Living the dream

In the penultimate part of our round-up of fresh ideas to help improve our cities, we ask whether trams offer a timely solution to getting mass transit back on track (writes Josh Fehnert). Plus: why designing for all ages will add to the pleasure of urban life and why things are looking up when it comes to making the most of all that wasted roof space.

Space to play
Designing for all ages starts with wide, even pavements for ambling, pedestrian islands in roads to offer slower walkers more time to cross and somewhere shady for the elderly to read the paper. We’ve also built adventure playgrounds, inspired by Gärten der Welt and Park am Buschkrug in Berlin, with water, slides and sandpits for children. The spaces are leafy, fenced-off and have room to run, play and doodle in chalk.

Looking up
We’re elevating our expectations of unused roof space. Developers already pop solar panels, rainwater-capture systems and planting on most roofs. Our perfect city is also well on the way to self-sufficiency and better biodiversity thanks to urban gardeners, allotments and a few well-placed bird bricks. We would also develop a side hustle selling the city’s lavender-scented honey from our many thriving apiaries and just approved licences for new rooftop restaurants and bar spaces.

Rail for change
Too many trams were torn out of city centres when the car came to prominence – but perhaps it’s time to get back on track? A swift, well-maintained Siemens fleet that’s boldly branded (like, say, those red-trimmed numbers in Vienna) will help to stem traffic, reduce emissions and keep more people moving. The smooth ride will be appreciated by older folks and children, especially on uphill slogs. Our ideal service runs around the clock and has a few lines crisscrossing the city centre but no fiddly ticketing to contend with. Any questions? Well, there’s always a driver and conductor on board and well-designed maps to hand (and to censure loud phone users). Whether you’re paying by card, cash or a city travel card, our civic-minded residents value the humane honour system. No one is flinging grandma off if she forgets her handbag. Everyone here is heading in the same direction.

For more city tips and urban benchmarks, buy the latest issue of Monocle or help support our solution-oriented journalism by taking out a subscription today. Have a super Sunday.


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