This week we chart the rising fortunes of a French bakery, try some sizzling dishes in Shenzhen and drop anchor in Comporta, on Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Plus, a Copenhagen company to cosy up to, perhaps the perfect wine glass and a word with New York’s first public realm officer on her weekend itinerary. But before that, take it away, Tyler Brûlé.
Good morning, happy Sunday and brace yourself – it’s the first day of Q4 and it’s time to get your skates on! The countdown to the arrival of the Christmas season is officially underway and there is much ground to cover. If you haven’t made a list of all you need to do over the next 90 or so days, here are a few prompts. In no particular order, you might want to add a few of these to the top of your to-do list.
You need to get out and sample three new cities for fresh business opportunities, inspiration and a bit of Christmas shopping. Worry not, a little further down the page I have some thoughts on where you need to go no later than mid-December.
In many corners of the northern hemisphere, we’re enjoying an Indian summer and this means you might not have updated your autumn/winter wardrobe yet. You must. More in a moment.
Have you booked your year-end lunches and dinners? Time to sort out your tables for intimate one-on-ones, group bashes and extended karaoke evenings. Again, I might have a few tables worth securing.
Where are you taking your colleagues for a bit of plotting and planning for 2024 and beyond? The boardroom down the hall or an elegant retreat in southern Europe? Stay tuned for a tip.
And what about a holiday before the big holiday? Think pre-charge rather than recharge.
This year I have done a decent job sampling new destinations and re-acquainting myself with cities that had slightly slipped off the itinerary. I’m not going to pick favourites but if I had to recommend a set of cities that are worth checking in to for a few days, it would go like this:
- Madrid because it’s a European capital that just keeps getting better, it’s packed with exceptional restaurants and it’s becoming a hub for doing Latam business without even having to go to Lima or Montevideo.
- Mexico City is the best thing going in North America at the moment. It makes Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto all feel sleepy.
- Hong Kong needs some love. It had an okay start earlier in the year but it hasn’t had a post-summer bounce-back and deserves a couple days of attention. Spend a day there and you’ll be reminded why it’s still the most efficient city for doing business.
On the sartorial front, Madrid can solve many style issues. Gentlemen can head to Sportivo (they have just unveiled a second outlet around the corner, so more on this soon) and Denis, while women can find some good tailoring and knitwear from Cordera at Pez.
Did you read last week’s column? If not, allow me to bring you up to speed. Off the back of my Tokyo trip I spent a little time jotting down thoughts about what a Monocle hotel might be and the amount of time I spend considering such a topic. Now for a newsflash. Along with a few friends, I’m launching a guest house and restaurant venture in the tiny village of Küsnacht, a few kilometres from Monocle’s Zürich HQ. To be clear, this is a personal project and not under the Monocle banner but I can promise there will be much input from my Monocle and Winkreative (our design agency) colleagues. To kick off the venture we’re launching a fondue pop-up until Christmas and a few guest rooms will also be available for hire. After that, we’ll close for a few touch-ups and tweaks and re-open at the end of winter. You can book your Christmas lunch or dinner or singing session from 1 November via my colleague Izumi at email@example.com. More details over the coming weeks.
Should you want something a bit sunnier and toastier for a year-ahead planning session with your board or management team, how about a long weekend at the Casa Nossa in Alentejo? Designed with private retreats in mind and only two hours from Lisbon (even closer if you own or charter a PC-12 and fly into Évora), the new venture is lakeside, designed by Studio Astolfi and catered and created by José Avillez.
Finally, it’s definitely about a pre-charge around the very end of November – you won’t need more than five days. For our readers in the APAC region, how about the Halekulani in Okinawa? For our readers bordering the Atlantic, it’s hard to beat the proximity of Madeira and a couple of nights at Reid’s Palace, the wild ocean and co-operative weather. And if you want the smoothest touchdown in Funchal, fly Edelweiss via ZRH.
After working in Florida, Shanghai and London, Pierre-Antoine Arlot has returned to his hometown of Nantes to open a bakery with his wife Chin-Jy Cheng (both pictured). The former branding consultant discovered his passion for baking in the UK, honing his craft at London’s E5 Bakehouse, while Chin-Jy trained as a barista at nearby Allpress roastery. The couple took everything they had learnt and gave it a French twist to create boulangerie-cum-café Maison Arlot Cheng. Pastry chef Konatsu Maruyama, who is inspired by her native Japan, creates baked goods such as walnut and adzuki bean tarts and loaves of shokupan bread.
Extol the virtues of your glassware at a dinner party and you run the risk of being pigeonholed as a pedant (writes Grace Charlton). A good glass, though, can make all the difference. Sixth-generation Austrian glassmaker Kurt Josef Zalto considers his Josephine series of wine glasses and decanters to be his masterpiece. After decades of studying how shapes and materials affect the behaviour of liquid in a glass, he distilled his findings into this distinctive, elegant collection.
“I follow the approach of calculated form,” Zalto tells The Monocle Weekend Edition. “Time and feeling developed the form of the glass until the radii and angles harmonised with each other perfectly, creating a new glass shape.”
The Josephine glass is certainly unique, with a kink in the bowl that sits lightly atop the long stem. “The bend creates an interruption in the swirling motion, causing the wine to spiral back on itself,” says Zalto of the glass, which is made by hand in the EU. Demand for the glasses and decanters has grown rapidly, even in countries where the collection is not yet available in shops. Copycat collections have sprung up too. “Vintners tell us that their wines present themselves precisely, authentically and unadorned in our glasses,” says Zalto. “We are convinced that the best product will prevail.”
Ya-Ting Liu is New York’s first chief public realm officer and was a speaker at Monocle’s recent Quality of Life Conference in Munich. With 15 years of policy, coalition building, government affairs and community organising under her belt, she has also held the roles of director of government affairs and policy for rideshare company Via and sustainability programme director for the New York League of Conservation Voters. Here she tells us about her favourite Stevie Wonder record, carting the children around town and why she likes to stay home on Sundays.
Where will we find you this weekend?
As a mum with three kids (ages 11, 8 and 8), you’ll find me schlepping around the city to and from basketball games uptown, birthday parties downtown, sleepovers on the West Side and errands in between.
Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I am adamant about having a gentle start on Sunday mornings. It’s the only time in the week when I am not rushing to something (unless my oldest has a basketball game).
What’s for breakfast?
Black coffee. I know, it’s so disappointing. I’ve never been a breakfast person.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
Walking my dog and taking my kids around town are my exercise.
A Sunday soundtrack?
Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale album is a household favourite. It’s always on repeat.
Sunday culture must? A market? Museum?
I try to stay in on Sundays and catch up on reading. Getting at least 30 per cent through The New York Times Sunday Edition is a must.
A glass of something?
What’s on the menu?
Anything Asian cuisine – Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, South Korean or Japanese.
Sunday evening routine?
I like to get the kids in bed by 20.30. Then I watch Foundation.
Are you preparing Monday’s outfit?
No. But if I have an event or big meeting then, yes, I’ll put the clothes steamer to work.
This week our London-based recipe writer Aya Nishimura whips up a fresh, herby take on a summer roll steamed to perfection and served with a punchy dipping sauce. Don’t forget to brush your steamer with vegetable oil in advance or use non-stick paper. Our recipe serves two to three people, as a starter or a snack. Enjoy.
Makes 6 steamed dumplings
For the rolls
Saké, to sprinkle
12 large prawns, shelled and deveined
6 large sheets of rice paper
40g carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped (including the stems)
For the dipping sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
½ tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsps water
½ small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Sprinkle a little saké on to the shelled and deveined prawns and leave them for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Mix the dipping sauce ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
Fill a large, shallow bowl with water. Place a chopping board in front of you.
Dip a sheet of rice paper into the water for a second – don’t allow it to become completely soft. Place it on the chopping board.
Place two prawns next to each other in the middle of the rice paper, then add about a sixth of the chopped carrots and coriander.
Lift the bottom part of the rice paper and place over the filling, then fold the sides in and roll to enclose. Repeat with the rest of the filling and rice paper.
Brush some vegetable oil on the bottom of the steamer or place on non-stick paper, so the dumplings don’t stick.
Place the dumplings, closed side up, in the steamer, before setting the steamer into a pan with boiling water. Steam for 2 minutes.
Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
Off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean lies Jncquoi Beach Club, the latest opening from Portuguese hospitality group Amorim Luxury. Established in Lisbon in 2005, the group had five restaurants and a private members’ club, as well as a boutique hotel in the capital on the way, but it felt that it was time to expand to Comporta. “The beach club is a gateway into our world,” says Miguel Guedes de Sousa, president of Amorim Luxury and co-founder of Jncquoi. Set on Pego beach, the venue is split between the cabana, its beach service and a restaurant that has a certain je ne sais quoi about it – as the club’s name suggests. A South African team of artisans was flown in to weave its thatched roof, while its hardwood floors were imported from Sweden. The bamboo in the outdoor space “provides a seamless integration with the landscape”, says Guedes de Sousa. There are several seating options too: you can perch outside, on the terrace or indoors with a view of the kitchen. “Regardless of where you sit, you’ll see the sea and feel the breeze,” he says.
White sunloungers are carefully lined up along the waterfront, complete with thatched parasols, side tables and cabana-shaped sunbeds. There’s full table service, a live DJ and beach chair rentals that start from €25. “Even though we’re a luxury company, we want everyone to be able to experience our world,” says Guedes de Sousa.
But the beach club is only the first step. “We’re creating a resort-type complex in Comporta with 48 villas, 16 club villas and a hotel designed by Vincent Van Duysen, along with restaurants, an athletics club, a spa and more.” The project is taking shape behind the beach, meaning that upon completion the brand will have a new hub by the sea. “Wherever we go, we want to create a community,” says Guedes de Sousa. “We have international ambitions and we are super excited.”
The hottest food trend in Hong Kong right now is actually happening in the neighbouring city of Shenzhen – a former fishing village turned innovation hub (writes James Chambers). Local diners are bypassing the starry options on their doorstep in Causeway Bay or Central in favour of a 40-minute drive to mainland China. As Hong Kong’s once-mighty hospitality industry stares at empty tables and wonders when international visitors will return in large numbers, the question on everyone’s lips is whether this new direction of travel is a short-term reaction to being stuck at home for so long or something more long term.
Shenzhen day trips are nothing new. Before the pandemic, Hong Kong residents would routinely pop across the border for cheap electronics, manicures and massages, in much the same way that they would head to Macau for a flutter. The difference this time around is that higher spenders are heading north too, tempted by a change of scenery and far, far cheaper prices. I’ve even heard of Hong Kong’s beleaguered restaurateurs jumping in their cars with a few friends to see what all the fuss is about.
Among Chinese, Shenzhen’s diversity of provincial cuisines has traditionally been one of its biggest culinary draws. Migrants from all over China flocked to Deng Xiaoping’s experimental southern city to work in factories and brought with them their hometown dishes and recipes. Tasty? Yes. Fancy? No. This all began to change, however, when Shenzhen’s technology firms were upgraded from sweatshops to research-and-development hubs. Salaries rose, the standard of hospitality improved and foreign chefs began working in the kitchens of international hotels. Last year, Ensue at the Shangri-La in the downtown Futian district made it into a respected annual ranking of Asia’s 50 best restaurants. After years of talk, Shenzhen is threatening to eat Hong Kong for lunch and dinner.
Three of our favourite Shenzhen dishes:
Coconut chicken hot pot at Run Yuan Si Ji
A sub-tropical southern twist on the tongue-tingling Sichuan classic. Coconut milk replaces the spicy soup for a milder taste.
Suan Cai Yu at Tai Er
Don’t be misled by the English translation: “Chinese sauerkraut fish”. Suan Cai Yu is a popular Chinese fish broth with picked vegetables and not some wacky Sino-German fusion.
Traditional Cantonese pork at Bingsheng Taste
An import from the provincial capital Guangzhou, home of Cantonese cuisine in mainland China. Pig out on Hong Kong pork dishes without the Hong Kong prices.
For more on food and drink – and most things in-between – buy a copy of the October issue of Monocle. Or subscribe to support us and so you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.