This week, Monocle’s editors sample tinned wine that works (no, really), check in at a smart new hotel in an underserved London neighbourhood and rustle up some Spanish buñuelos, before taking a pit stop in Naha. Plus: a top Amsterdam designer’s ideal weekend itinerary and a Ukrainian outpost in the UAE. Before that, Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, takes the wheel.
You might have heard a snippet of this story before but, for the purpose of today’s column, it needs repeating. During my very brief university stint in the late 1980s, I spent my evenings and weekends working at one of the Toronto branches of the Swiss hospitality group Mövenpick. To be clear, I wasn’t scooping ice cream but working in one of their attempts at a full-service restaurant in the city’s Yorkville district. Though my journalism BA was useful for the first six months or so, I realise now that I learned much more about business, communications and human behaviour while waiting tables than I did sitting in a lecture hall, learning about the mechanics of the newsroom. As Mövenpick was keen to expand in North America, they attempted to woo me away from my studies to join their management-trainee regime with promises of seeing the world as a general manager of a resort in Egypt or vice president of their HQ in Zürich. Of course, it was all very flattering but I had my heart set on becoming the next Peter Jennings and was fully focused on getting work in the news division of a major US TV channel. I dropped out of university a year later, after landing a job at the BBC. I then moved on to work at the London bureau of US network ABC News, did many more stints in TV, radio and print, and somehow wound up with this current gig of owning and running a media enterprise. Along the way, I have always fancied the idea of a little side gig in the hospitality business. While I’m not quite ready to open a Monocle hotel, the notion of running a little guest house, with a few tables and a small bar, has always appealed. Earlier this year an acquaintance asked whether I wanted to join him and two others in a bid for our nearby village inn.
He explained that the mayor was putting it up for tender, there would be a bidding process and, despite our combined wisdom (a general manager of a hotel, an airline CFO, a restaurateur and a media owner), we probably wouldn’t win it. How wrong he was! On 1 November we got the keys to the Gasthof Ochsen in Küsnacht (a few minutes down the lake from Zürich) and, on Thursday evening, we threw open the doors for the pop-up edition of the newly branded Oxen (thanks to Monocle’s art team for their fine branding touches) with close friends and family.
A little more than 48 hours later, I can say that my Swiss hospitality training has come in handy and I’m fully back in the groove of clearing tables, topping up drinks and fretting over the lighting. Come spring, we’ll move out of pop-up phase and the Oxen will shake off its winter coat to emerge as a fully functioning village inn, complete with rooms and an elegant suite, a cosy garden for lunch and late drinks, and a restaurant serving tasty versions of Swiss and international classics. Until then, it’s fondue and tartare throughout the Christmas and ski season, and we’re looking forward to hosting Monocle readers en route to St Moritz or delegates heading up to Davos. You can find us at oxen.ch or you can always contact me at email@example.com if you want a table.
The number of Russians in the UAE has risen considerably since the country’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 (writes Natalia Maiboroda). The war, however, has also brought a steady arrival of Ukrainians seeking stability and opportunities. Mykyta Doroshenko, vice-president of the Ukrainian Business Council in Dubai, estimates that there are about 1,500 Ukrainian-owned companies in the UAE, with expat arrivals doubling this year. Among the firms – many of which are involved in technology, property and finance – is Digis, an Odesa-founded software start-up with clients around the world. “Dubai seemed an oasis of calm,” says founder Nick Nagatkin, who pitched up in the UAE amid the chaos of 2022.
Another business built on the new market is that of Kharkiv-born entrepreneur Pavlo Moroz, who saw an opportunity to offer new arrivals a taste of home. Moroz was already living in Dubai, having founded a group of steakhouses seven years ago, but his latest venture, Yoy, is the first restaurant in the UAE to dish up Ukrainian fare.
Yoy (“Wow” in Ukrainian) opened in November 2022 on the Palm Jumeirah and is largely staffed by Ukrainians. “It’s a meeting point for people who miss the flavours of home and speaking their language,” says Moroz. In March, Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, chose Yoy as the venue for an official meeting with the UAE government. When we visit the restaurant, presenter Vasilisa Frolova (pictured), a familiar face on Ukrainian television, is at one of the tables. She was on holiday here with her husband and two-year-old son weeks before the war began and decided to stay.
Despite the heat and the blue waters of the Gulf beyond the restaurant’s windows, Moroz tried to make Yoy feel Ukrainian. “People like to sit together here,” says Moroz. “They want to feel the unity.”
Located in London’s Soho, the just-opened Broadwick Soho is one of the surprisingly few luxury hotels in the storied neighbourhood (writes Fernando Augusto Pacheco). The interiors of the 57-room bolthole are unusual too. “It feels as though you are at your godmother’s whimsical grand townhouse,” general manager David Monson tells Monocle. “It is like something that’s been here for many years.” The design comes courtesy of Martin Brudnizki and blends mismatched English eccentricity with a few nods to the disco era.
Soho has far more great dining spots than it does hotels but for a good view of the city’s skyline, there is Flute, the hotel’s rooftop dining bar and terrace, as well as another three food-and-drink spaces to choose from. Broadwick Soho represents something of a personal endeavour for owner Noel Hayden who started the project as an homage to his family hotel, Bournemouth’s Mon Ami, which closed in 1988. Judging by the crowds already making themselves at home and the pictures on the walls (from Warhols to the work of up-and-comers), Hayden has hospitality down to a fine art.
Amsterdam-based Esther Stam started interior architecture practice Studio Modijefsky in 2009 and has since become a darling of the Dutch dining scene (writes Liv Kessler). She focuses on hospitality, having worked on the interiors of Polly Goudvisch, Gitane and Café Marcella, and the redesign of the modernist 1930s Blauwe Theehuis in the Vondelpark. Here, she tells us about her very Dutch breakfast, the fear (and joy) of taking her toddlers to the museum and the pleasure of a good bottle of Portuguese wine.
Where do we find you this weekend?
One of my favourite museums in the Netherlands, Museum Voorlinden. It has a forest and is close to the dunes and sea. The garden is by Piet Oudolf and is nice to look at, even at this time of the year.
Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
There are no gentle starts any more because there are two two-and-a-half-year-olds running around. I guess it’s more of a jolt than a gentle start.
What’s for breakfast?
It’s always very Dutch: a good sandwich with cheese. We have bread from a friend who started a bakery called Kometen Brood Café. After years of researching, we have found the perfect cheese called Terschelling, which is the ideal mix of being creamy and having the right amount of salt crystals in it.
Lunch in or out?
Out. I love every opportunity to be in a restaurant, bar, café or hotel.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
I have been doing Ashtanga yoga for years and it’s really my moment to get out of the head and into the body.
A Sunday soundtrack?
Not one thing typically but a combination of artists such as Little Simz, A Tribe Called Quest and Mac Miller.
Sunday culture must?
Museums. But it’s a challenge to get to see enough and prevent my children from ruining some very important piece.
News or no news?
I’m not a newspaper person. I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, though I do read some newsletters.
What’s on the menu?
Sometimes we have friends over. My boyfriend cooks one of his signature pasta dishes and we have wine from our holiday in Portugal. Otherwise, we try to eat with the children. It’s chaotic but nice with cocktails and food.
Any Sunday evening routine?
An early dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Café Restaurant Amsterdam. It serves the perfect smoked halibut with toast and horseradish sauce, Caesar salad, mussels and king crab.
Will you lay out your outfit for Monday?
Never. That’s too organised, even for me. Besides, I don’t know what mood I’m going to be in and I live in the Netherlands, so you never know whether it’s going to rain.
Buñuelos are a traditional, doughnut-like dessert found in Spain in the winter months but can be enjoyed at any time of year, with coffee or hot chocolate. “I prefer them to churros when I’m in Madrid,” says Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “You can also replace the lemon with orange to give them a more seasonal flavour.”
1 tsp lemon zest
140ml oil, preferably canola or sunflower oil
3 tbsps icing sugar
Add the water, milk, butter and a pinch of salt to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then add the flour. Mix everything together until it forms a dough. It should separate from the edge of the pan.
Remove from the heat and add the grated lemon zest. Gradually mix the eggs in to the dough.
Using your hands, form small, equal-sized doughnuts.
In another saucepan, heat the oil to about 190C. Fry the doughnuts in oil until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
As soon as you step out of Naha Airport, you sense that this is Japan – but not as you know it (writes Fiona Wilson). The air is more humid, the plants more tropical. The taxi driver is likely to be sporting a floral shirt. And then there’s the vibrant, blue sea. With a population of about 320,000, Naha is the capital of Okinawa prefecture, a string of islands at the southern end of the country that almost reaches Taiwan.
Okinawa’s history is evident today in its distinctive culture that fuses Japanese elements with those of the historic Ryukyu Kingdom, which was independent until the late 19th century, as well as a sprinkling of Americana. After the Second World War the US held onto Okinawa until 1972. American brand names linger – such as Jimmy’s, which has been baking cakes here since 1956 – as does a taste for Spam. Visit a market, however, and you’ll see the fresh food that has helped to make Okinawans the longest-lived in Japan: goya gourds, winter melons, sea grapes and a selection of fish unfamiliar to cooler waters.
The pace of life in Naha is slower than on the mainland. Some start their day with a dip in the sea at Naminoue beach. With its leafy streets, concrete modernism and small restaurants, the city is a pleasure to walk – unusual in car-centric Okinawa. Tatsuya Irei, who was born here, recently moved back from Tokyo to open Wayobu Yoshi restaurant in Tsuboya, Naha’s pottery district. “I wanted to raise my family in my hometown,” he says. “Children are too constricted in big cities.” He buys fish and fresh food from markets outside Naha in Itoman and Yonabaru; on days off, his family hits the beach. “Okinawa is compact. I can hop in the car and be in Nago in the far north in an hour.”
Nami Makishi, another returnee, co-founded interiors studio Luft in Tokyo but came back to Okinawa with fellow designer Chikako Okeda. “We love the diverse mix of native Okinawans, people who have moved here from other prefectures and tourists,” she says. Multiple flights connect the city to Tokyo from morning to night and Taipei is only 90 minutes away. Tourists throng Kokusai Street and the local markets but residents go about their business with good cheer. “The flow of time is just different here,” says Makishi.
For more inspiring cities to move to and places to experience another pace of life, pick up a copy of our annual guide to the year ahead, ‘The Forecast’, which is out now. Or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue.
Though purists would argue that good wine comes from a bottle, an increasing number of quality wines are coming from cans (writes Claudia Jacob). UK-based brand Candour’s 200ml aluminium containers champion a more casual way of drinking and reduce the adverse effects on the environment that are generated by glass bottles. Co-founded by Kat Mayhew, a sommelier from Oregon, and Guada Oliver, who has a background in marketing, the company launched in late summer and is aiming to shake up the wine world.
“We wanted to create a brand that was approachable and broke down some of the stereotypes associated with wine being intimidating or snobby,” says Mayhew. Its first limited-batch collection features a pale rosé from Spain, a dry riesling from Luxembourg (yes, you read that right) and an Austrian red. “There will always be a place for traditional bottled wine but the industry will eventually use more alternative packaging,” says Oliver. Time to give the tin a second chance?
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