Sunday 17 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 17/3/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Lore and order

There’s plenty brewing in this week’s dispatch from the Monocle HQ. We head to a Korean tearoom in Berlin that’s steeped in ancient rituals, drop by an elegant design destination in Lausanne and check into an intimate island retreat off the coast of Japan. Plus: a canned aperitivo packed with Sicilian sunshine and an Austrian appetizer to see off the last of the winter chills. But first, Tyler Brûlé checks in from Lisbon…

FASTER LANE / Tyler Brûlé

Best in show

Cities are magical, maddening and mysterious places. If you caught last week’s column, you’ll know that I was more than a little seduced by the early spring charms of Athens. I know that a city has sprinkled a little sparkle dust my way when I wake up the next morning with a stiff neck. In the case of Athens, the sore muscles were prompted by a morning spent walking around Kolonaki looking upwards and ogling at all the amazing balconies with their abundant greenery and orange awnings. The “Could I live here?” and “What would be my typical Athenian Tuesday?” questions popped up as I gazed at verdant terraces and found myself drawn into the morning buzz of the city with its open-front cafés and well-stocked kiosks.

The return to Zürich was a bit on the cloudy, chilly side. My week started with quick dashes to Milan (feeling very springy but a bit sleepy), Frankfurt (on strike) and then some time in the office to plan for a mini Monocle management summit in Lisbon. On Thursday the Edelweiss A320 descended through the clouds and touched down at the totally inefficient, yet brilliantly located, Lisbon airport. With no checked luggage, we sped through the baggage and were greeted by our regular driver, Samuel. We made good time into the city centre. My colleagues had landed a little earlier, so when I arrived at the JNcQUOI Club, everyone was in position and chattering away in the breezy privée that we had booked for our strategy session. Over tasty courses, bottles of Super Bock and house white from the Douro valley, we plotted out the months and years ahead, while constantly commenting on the quality of service and the sheer number of staff on hand. Afterwards we walked the 30 seconds to our hotel up the Avenida da Liberdade (we can highly recommend the Valverde Hotel for business or a long weekender) to host subscribers and commercial partners. Then, the evening suddenly took the most extraordinary turn.

Even with the best planning, it’s no easy feat to book a table for 15 and not be whacked with minimum-spend stipulations and dull fixed menus. When Herbalife’s global jamboree is happening in the same city at the same time, fitting in a group bigger than four is next to impossible. Faced with this dilemma, I contacted JNcQUOI’s ever-resourceful head of PR, Marcela, on Wednesday evening. Within 10 minutes she had secured tables for us at JNcQUOI Frou Frou – one of the group’s newer outlets. Slightly hidden off to the side of the well-established JNcQUOI Asia, the double doors and smoke-machine entry were a good start. The wait staff, in their hot-coral mandarin-collar jackets, were fast off the mark getting everyone sorted and settled, and within minutes the lazy susans were spinning back and forth, laden with dim sum, spring rolls and the best prawn toast that any of us had ever sampled. It was already shaping up to be a perfect evening. Then, the lights dimmed, a spotlight flashed on and all eyes turned to the exotic hostess in a unitard with a fringe at the front of the room. If you caught Andrew’s column yesterday, this was the drag act referenced: the appropriately named Miss Frou Frou. For the next two hours, at 20 minute intervals, we were treated to a mix of jazzy and more modern standards, sharp banter and a lot of dramatic hand and glittery-nail choreography. By the final act everyone was in full chorus mode, fuelled by rounds of margaritas. What was supposed to be a simple Chinese dinner among colleagues had turned into something exotic yet elegant.

I slipped away briefly to do a recce of the petite disco atop the building and, with a wink to the team, ushered everyone upstairs to the dancefloor, which was thumping with 1990s classics. Indoors and outdoors, groups of chic Lisboans were drinking and smoking, while waiters in white jackets were serving cocktails and lighting cigarettes. Beyond, the city was twinkling and there was the scent of the Atlantic and a slightly tropical weight to the air. We carried on until about 02.00, said our goodnights and made for our rooms. I woke up feeling heavy in the head and the bed might have spun a bit before I was hit by a thought. Had Lisbon been feeling a bit jealous about Athens? Had the city read last week’s column and decided that it would pull all the stops to win back my attention? I think so. Obrigado!

Image: René Riis

Eat here / Soopoollim, Berlin

To a tea

As a health-conscious bunch, Korean fare – fermented rather than fried – has long appealed to the palates of Berliners (writes Claudia Jacob). Restaurant and tearoom Soopoollim opened in October in Berlin’s buzzy Mitte district and serves dishes such as white bibimbap with steamed cabbage and fermented soybean paste. But it’s the sticky gochujang chilli sauce, which is founder Yurim Byun’s mother’s recipe, that will keep us coming back.

Thirsty? Wet your whistle with Soopoollim’s medicinal teas. “Japanese and Chinese remedies are popular in Berlin but I wanted to introduce Korean herbal teas, which also have significant health benefits,” says Byun. The signature brew, ssanghwacha, draws on ancient Korean folklore and comprises fragrant ingredients such as goji berry, ginger and arrowroot.

For more fresh brews and quaint watering holes, pick up a copy of Monocle’s March issue, which is available on all newsstands now.

Top of the Shops / Tempo, Lausanne

Mountain high

Setting up shop in the Swiss Alps in November was a culmination of the travels of business partners Pablo de Pinho and Ana Deffarges (writes Claudia Jacob). The co-founders of Lausanne’s Tempo concept shop unearthed an affinity for craft culture while travelling around Brazil, Tokyo, California and Montréal, before putting down roots in the Helvetic city. “It’s rare to find lifestyle shops in Switzerland,” says De Pinho. “After getting so much inspiration living and studying across three continents, we knew that Lausanne was missing something.”

Image: Dorentina Emini

The result is a selection of tasteful design objects from across the world, featuring items from furniture ateliers such as Bangalore’s Phantom Hands and Copenhagen-based Frama. There are also luxurious leather goods from Tokyo’s Hender Scheme and Taiwan’s Kamaro’an, as well as garments from Galicia’s Lichen Goods. Tempo sits at the foot of the mountains overlooking Lake Geneva and its ethos of slow living is effortless to embrace.

Image: Rebecca Munroe

Sunday Roast / Hannah Crosbie

Grape minds

London-based Scottish wine writer Hannah Crosbie is launching her first book, Corker, an incisive and light-hearted guide to drinking, published by Penguin, this month (writes Chloé Lake). Crosbie launched Dalston Wine Club in 2020, an events series that aims to make wine more accessible to a younger generation of drinkers. Here, she tells us about her batch-cooked biryani, eclectic taste in music and penchant for pilates.

Where will we find you this weekend?
I’ll be winding down and drinking plenty of coffee. And you can’t go wrong with a trip to the pub.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
I’m a heavy sleeper and don’t like to get up early. I’m a bit of a workaholic, so Sunday is a time for me to rest and recharge.

What’s for breakfast?
I have a lot of black coffee.

Lunch in or out?
At home. If I want to indulge, I’ll have pancakes with cream and a dollop of my mum’s homemade blackberry jam – it’s the best but the recipe is a secret.

Downward dog or walk the dog?
Neither. I do pilates to reset my mind.

Sunday soundtrack?
It varies. I have an eclectic music taste but I can be a creature of habit when it comes to listening to things that I enjoy. I tune in to radio stations such as Do You Radio and NTS when I’m at home, which gives me the chance to discover new songs and artists.

Sunday culture must?
Columbia Road flower market is the perfect place to pick up a new plant or two but I prefer the nearby area of Broadway Market in the heart of London’s Hackney. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance. The Broadway Bookshop and Donlon Books have a great selection of print, while there’s also Shrine to the Vine for wine.

News or no news?
I don’t think that we can afford the luxury of not reading the news. It can feel overwhelming but it’s both important and a privilege to stay informed.

What’s on the menu?
I’m an unfussy cook. I’ll make a big batch of biryani or follow my friend Sophie’s recipe for a warming chicken-noodle soup, which is packed with plenty of heat in the form of chilli and ginger.

Sunday evening routine?
You’ll find me in front of the TV, where I’ll probably be glued to whatever I’m watching until I fall asleep.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Never. I always wake up a little later than I mean to and then sprint out the door in my day-to-day uniform of all black.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Wurst und kartoffelsalat

Monocle’s Swiss chef recommends the version of this dish that’s served in Vienna’s Gasthaus Grünauer restaurant. It’s a comforting and straightforward Austrian sausage-and-potato dish that’s ideal for a warming dinner at home.

Serves 4

800g potatoes
1 onion
4 pickled gherkins
60ml rapeseed oil
3 tbsps flour
A bottle of white wine
700ml broth
60ml pickling liquid from the gherkins
1 tbsp mustard
A pinch of salt and pepper
A couple of sausages


Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Put the potatoes in a large pan with water and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes until soft. Remove them from the water and drain.

Peel the onion and cut it into small cubes. Dice the pickled gherkins.

Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Make a classic roux: add the oil to the pot, followed by the cubes of onion. Let them glaze. Add the flour and let everything brown briefly.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, add a third of the broth and stir. Bring to a boil. Continue to stir and add the remaining broth, as well as all of the pickling liquid.

Add the mustard, salt and pepper, and let everything reduce until the broth is nicely thickened.

Meanwhile, cook the sausages on all sides on a grill or in a frying pan until the outside is crispy.

When the sauce is thick enough, add the potato cubes and cook them until they start to lose their structure.

Serve the potato mixture with one of the sausages. Enjoy while it is still warm.

Weekend plans? / Okinawa, Japan

Force of nature

Miyako and Seiichi Shimmi opened their villa, Nakijin Tsuwabuki, on the day of the 2022 winter solstice (writes Ben Davis). The project was four years in the making and is located on the peaceful, forested northern side of Okinawa’s Motobu peninsula. “We surveyed almost everything, including individual tree heights and locations, to determine how best to work with the topography,” says Nanjo-based architect Hiroyuki Yamaguchi. This led to a design that features a main bedroom, dining area and open-air bath, all of which are dispersed throughout the landscape.

Image: Fuminari Yoshitsugu

Booking is limited to one group per night and the dining area hosts a daily breakfast service that is prepared by Seiichi with the same warmth of a home-cooked meal. An emphasis on local organic produce sees a range of Okinawan flavours worked into the morning spread, including locally caught snapper, freshly made shima dofu (island tofu) or mangoes from a nearby farm. Drawing from the power of the surrounding landscape, Nakijin Tsuwabuki is a place to feel at home and relax in the company of nature.

For more ideas on your next getaway, check out the March issue of Monocle, which is available on all good newsstands now.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms Up / Ramona

Canny concept

Italian wine spritz brand Ramona is a pioneer of high-quality canned beverages (writes Liv Kessler). “For a long time, people really needed convincing but now there’s a lot more curiosity about the can,” says Ramona CEO Jordan Salcito.

Packed with Sanguinello oranges grown on the sun-soaked hills of Sicily and mixed with wine from white muscat grapes, Ramona provides on-the-go drinkers craving an Italian-style aperitivo with a delightful fizz. Coming from the formal world of fine dining as a former sommelier in New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park, Salcito saw a gap in the market for something a little more light-hearted.

Raise a glass to independent print and journalism by picking up the latest issue of Monocle today. Or subscribe so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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