As 2024 gets under way, we serve up some ideas to start you off on the right foot. Want to take things slowly? Take a break at a new urban hotel in Paris and stock up on some unexpected wines with which to round out the evening. Plus: why a visit to one of Budapest’s hottest districts is at the top of our agenda this year. But first, Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, leads us into the new year with a few thoughts from the road.
Happy New Year and sunny greetings from Lisbon! I greeted 2024 high up in St Moritz, kicked off the year with a strategy session and champagne with my COO and made my way back down to the lowlands on Tuesday. The touchdown in Zürich allowed for watering the plants, checking the post and a slight wardrobe tweak before setting off for the Portuguese capital. The pit stop also allowed for a chirpy encounter with our mayor as he was shifting some boxes into the town hall while I was doing some measurements at my little hotel venture across the square. We exchanged New Year greetings, discussed the snow conditions in the Alps and he asked how I was getting on with the hotel project. I told him all was going well, there was much to be bought and buffed and I looked forward to seeing him over the coming weeks as the project progressed.
My mayor seems to be everywhere. Lately I have seen him on the train heading back from Zürich, in front of the rotisserie at the grocery store, chatting to the butchers in the local gourmet shop and striding around the village. It’s exactly what I want from the leader of my little town. Indeed, it’s what I want from any leader – someone who’s out and about, meeting and greeting, observing what’s going on around him and hopefully spotting ideas and opportunities to improve liveability and bolster commerce.
2024 is a big election year: Taiwan shortly, Indonesia, the US and, possibly, the UK come autumn. I’ve never quite understood media nags and grumpy voters who beat up politicians for not getting out and addressing enough people on the election trail and then beat them up when they’re out in the world drumming up trade and patching up relations. Not every leader uses government aircraft for the right reasons but I’m much happier knowing that my head of state is flying the flag rather than lounging around the official residence. Aside from having someone in office who’s engaged with the world, what else do I want from my governments – local and federal? How about these:
The UK recently appointed a minister with a loose portfolio that encompasses taking common-sense decisions and implementing policies that rewrite laws and guidelines that are wide of being remotely pragmatic. While I’m not sure how well this is going, I’d like to see Switzerland (Portugal and France can jump on board too) and create ministries for brand and national aesthetics. Switzerland has a serious problem with graffiti, so much so that it’s going to become increasingly difficult for its tourism authorities to portray idyllic views of the country in its marketing campaigns without seeing rockfaces with tags for local football teams sprayed across them or museums defaced with “fuck the cops” scrawled on their most visible façades. The government might consider using prisoners or those awaiting deportation to get the scrub brushes out to assist in a nationwide tidy-up. Across the border in France, who’s going to be in charge of coming up with the design for the national uniform? I’m all for education minister Gabriel Attal’s idea to create a greater sense of sartorial order in the classroom and de-escalate the trainer-and-trackie wars but what’s going to look smart and inspire pride among disconnected youth? The ministry for brand could oversee such initiatives.
A social-benefits intelligence agency is a good idea for those countries that are spending far too much on propping up people who could easily find work and stop sponging off of the system. For such a system to function, it requires manpower (more jobs created) to ensure that Juliet or Janek aren’t sipping matcha lattes on the state when they should be out applying for jobs or honing their skills to get back into proper employment. They could also be put to use sandblasting away offensive graffiti.
Are many developed nations in danger of seeing critical infrastructure and defences collapse? Judging by the amount of recruiting advertisements that I see for policing, rail operators and branches of the military, then it must be more critical than ministries are letting on. Some tram lines in Zürich have had to reduce their schedules because they can’t find enough drivers. In the UK there’s a threat to decommission front-line Royal Navy vessels because there aren’t enough sailors to man them. To address these issues, see point two. Juliet could even enjoy her latte while driving a tram and making CHF 50,000 a year.
On the topic of salaries and talent gaps, what about upping wages for teachers and letting them get on with the business of educating rather than having to be security officers and sensitivity coaches. We’re collectively stuffed if we don’t get to grips with restoring a degree of status around being a teacher – be it kindergarten or grade 11.
Finally, let’s plot a road map for better infrastructure and think very, very carefully (even slowly) before venturing forward and opening the public purse. Reducing 50 per cent of a snowy city’s street capacity with bike lanes is nonsense when no one is out riding on slushy avenues because such an arrangement doesn’t work with the dynamics of snowploughs. Likewise, e-scooters seemed as though they were a great time and energy saver. But now that so many pedestrians have been killed as a result and many smart cities have banned them, how many are rotting sustainably in a landfill? I’ll let you do the maths.
L’Eldorado hotel, a leafy sanctuary in the concrete jungle of Paris’s Batignolles district, makes for a rejuvenating stay (writes Claudia Jacob). The building, which is just a few steps from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, was designed by architecture studio Artefak. The interior was inspired by 18th-century Chinese motifs that nod to an era in which trade between Europe and China began to flourish.
Combined with art deco pieces from Parisian antiques dealer Galerie Vauclair, Italianate sinks from Rome-based retro specialist Bleu Provence and vibrant floral upholstery from London’s House of Hackney, the hotel’s 26 guest rooms are an eclectic melange. In the winter garden, you can sample traditional French fare such as a vol-au-vent, oeuf mimosa or steak tartare.
It has been more than 90 years since Norwegian adventurer Jørgen Jørgensen founded outerwear label Norrøna but the demand for its durable winter apparel remains strong. Four generations later, Jørgensen’s great-grandson, who bears the same name, is leading the business into its next chapter with the opening of Norrøna House, a new multi-purpose hub featuring an indoor-climbing gym, a development factory, repair centre and Nordic restaurant.
“We wanted to create a space for our customers where they can find inspiration and get their gear fixed, offering an experience that enhances what we already offer online,” says Jørgensen. The building, which is near the centre of Oslo, is a former paper mill from 1862 with a waterfall outside where freshwater salmon swim. “We want to combine this affinity for nature and good design because many of our consumers now wear our pieces in urban environments too.”
New York-born photographer and film-maker Sam Youkilis released his debut monograph, Somewhere, which was published by Loose Joints, in November (writes Gunnar Gronlid). Based in Umbria, he documents his experience of living in Italy through photos and videos, drawing inspiration from the country’s most celebrated film-makers. Here, he tells us how he likes to brew coffee in the morning, a recipe for warming Tuscan bean soup and a tipple of choice.
Where will we find you this weekend?
I’m flying from Marrakech to Rome. Then I will drive to my home in Umbria and spend the weekend there.
Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
If I’m not working, I try to start the day slowly with an espresso from a Bialetti Moka pot, candles and books in bed.
What’s for breakfast?
Greek yoghurt, honey that I bought a few days ago in the Atlas Mountains, and crushed walnuts.
Lunch in or out?
There is an antiques market in Umbria, so I’ll probably go there and grab a porchetta sandwich.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
“Sodade” by Cesária Évora.
News or no news?
Lately, news nonstop.
What’s on the menu?
It’s 10C colder in Italy than when I was last here, so something warm and comforting. Maybe ribollita [a Tuscan bean soup] with the neighbours, tortellini in brodo, pasta e ceci or pasta e fagioli.
I have been in Morocco so I haven’t had a drink in a week or so. I’ll probably have a vermouth-heavy martini by the fire, before taking a bath and then heading to sleep.
Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
No. But I do love my Kiko Asics trainers.
This simple, sumptuous pasta dish is said to have been invented by Roman restaurant Alfredo alla Scrofa in the early 20th century. “It doesn’t take much to perfect but make sure you use good ingredients,” says our Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “I like butter from Andeer. Its yellow colour shows that it is high-quality. And the parmesan? Only use the real stuff, though in Switzerland we also have fantastic sbrinz.”
80g parmesan cheese
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook the fettuccine until al dente.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a low heat. Then, add a ladle of pasta water to the pan and whisk thoroughly to make a creamy sauce.
Once the fettuccine is al dente, use pasta tongs to transfer it all to the frying pan. Add another ladle of pasta water and mix everything together.
Turn off the heat, add the freshly grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly again and top with more pepper before serving.
Budapest’s charms are twofold: the city consists of two distinct halves divided by the Danube River. On one side is the quieter, more residential Buda, with its hills and soaring baroque castle. On the other, there’s the bustling Pest, the beating heart of which is the fifth district.
First on our list is Pauza, a shop run by husband-and-wife duo Zóltán Nádasy and Éva Klément, which sells everything from ceramics to backpacks. Thirsty? Marlou wine bar behind Budapest’s Opera House offers a wide selection of wines from both Hungary and France. Nearby are independent women’s fashion labels Aeron and Nanushka.
Venture eastwards to Syrian chocolate shop Ghraoui to try Szaloncukor (flavoured chocolates in foil), followed by a visit to Írók Boltja, a bookshop that has served as a meeting place for the city’s writers, artists and intellectuals since 1950. Concept shop Printa offers art, clothes and coffee, while a visit to Plante will inspire anyone with a green thumb. Whatever your route, on this side of the Danube there are treasures on every corner.
The Wasted Wine Club started as a solution to a little-known problem: winemakers often end up with excess wine, which is then poured down the drain because it’s not worth bottling and selling (writes Liv Kessler). Since 2022, Angelo van Dyk, a South African winemaker living in London, has sold surplus wine under the Wasted Wine Club label.
Saving these wines from being poured away, he says, is “an opportunity to celebrate the work that has gone into them”. Part of the brand’s charm is how playful it feels, thanks to designer Andrew Wren and illustrator Ty Williams. The label’s first collaboration was with winemaker Alex McFarlane; for its second, the brand worked with South African wine producer Angus Paul. Though previous releases have stayed close to Van Dyk’s South African roots, the Wasted Wine Club will work with Sonoma-based Jenny Schultz and Scott Schultz in 2024.
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