Sunday 21 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 21/4/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Raising the bar

This week we have prepared somewhat of a cocktail special, where we stir up a sophisticated martini courtesy of London’s Connaught Bar and catch up with a renowned London bartender. We also bask in a sunny spot at a tropical restaurant-cum-art shop in São Paulo and sail the shores of the Caribbean in a luxury liner bringing a touch of Swiss elegance to the seas. Plus: lunchtime ‘smørrebrød’ at one of Copenhagen’s oldest establishments and a new cookbook from the French duo behind the Big Mamma group. But first, Tyler Brûlé has a nation statement...

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Going up the country

If you’re a properly paid-up Monocle subscriber and you happen to reside in a country with a superior postal service, then you might already be in possession of our May edition. If you’re a subscriber residing in a nation with a rubbish postal service, then you might get your edition by next weekend. If you’re not a paid-up subscriber, regardless of the efficiency of your postal provider, then you really ought to subscribe as running our organisation ain’t cheap and you will note that this seven-day-a-week news service (not to mention radio) transmits around the world for free. If you lend your support by going to the good old newsstand, then we thank you for not only propping up the news trade (have you noticed that fluffy neck pillows have now replaced books and magazines at most airport kiosks?) but also for helping us to do our jobs as journalists, fact-checkers, designers, sound engineers and producers.

The other reason to subscribe is that our May issue has a hefty section devoted to the winners of the annual Monocle Design Awards. While it will be relatively easy to read the full list in some digital form or hear it dissected on Monocle on Design, there’s nothing quite like seeing it sharply and coherently laid out on page. Our design editor, Nic Monisse, has done a stunning job spinning the globe and offering up awards to retailers, rail operators, packaging pros and people who know a thing or two about delicately assembling wood to create new classics. While some individuals and brands from certain countries appear more than others in our list, there isn’t an overall prize for countries that place design (or aspects of it) at the core of their national strategy or are undisputed leaders in areas such as urban planning, branding and education.

As I joined more than 12 other colleagues at the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan this week (all there on our bill and not paid for like so many influencers on a self-absorbed PR jolly), I couldn’t help but think about adding a top-nation prize to our line-up next year. Many countries do their bit to support young talent or specific manufacturing sectors, with grants to show their wares, do press interviews and drum up clients, but too few take the time to place their best and do their hardest bidding under one roof. There are some half-hearted attempts to knit together regions or creative clusters but many nations are missing an opportunity to play a soft-power card. As I walked around the fair before boarding the train back to Zürich, I realised that there were many countries that had much to trumpet about but did little, if nothing, in the way of getting their key talent in the spotlight and highlighting areas of deep expertise for potential partners.

Two of Italy’s neighbours seem to “get it”. I’m not sure whether this has something to do with their proximity to Milan or the fact that both are quite clever in their own way when it comes to pushing culture and commerce. In the case of Switzerland, its “house” in the Brera district is part gallery, part exhibition and a complete reminder of how and why the country punches above its weight in the industrial and graphic-design space. It could have done a bit more “selling” and reminding visitors about its outstanding emerging and traditional brands but the visitor was in little doubt of the country’s emphasis on education and its role in helping to foster and market young talent. Austria, with its prime corner location, also recognised that a small nation needs to be an umbrella for its designers and brands, and occupies a prime piece of real estate. But I was missing Poland and its muscular message in both inherited skills and manufacturing. Where was Portugal? Yes, these countries are production powerhouses and might think that they needn’t market themselves given all that they make for other brands but they should also be telling their own stories and reminding the world why they’ve ended up where they are today. And no, it’s not solely on price. This time next year, we’re going to amp it up a notch with our design awards; a country with design smarts and a respect for making things well is going to snag the trophy. Will it be yours?

Image: Dois Trópicos

Eating out / Dois Trópicos, São Paulo

Down to earth

Despite its address on São Paulo’s buzzing Rua Mateus Grou, Dois Trópicos restaurant offers a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the city (writes Fernando Pacheco). Opened in 2020 by Fernando Werney and his partner, Carolina von Atzingen, it serves organic Brazilian fare in its open-air courtyard, ranging from ice-cold mate tea with cambuci fruit and honey to classic snacks such as pão de queijo (cheese bread).

It also sells art and Brazilian craft products. Nextdoor, you’ll find Misci, a clothes shop owned by fashion designer Airon Martin. “The idea was to combine care with our connection to the land and Brazilian culture,” Werney tells Monocle. This aspiration is reflected in MNMA’s design for the building, which features earthy tones and a spiral staircase.

Image: Kadir Gold

Sunday Roast / Ryan Chetiyawardana

In the mix

Ryan Chetiyawardana, known as Mr Lyan, is behind some of the most celebrated bars in London (Seed Library), Amsterdam (Super Lyan) and Washington (Silver Lyan) (writes Gabriella Wong). Here, he raises a toast to the martini, shares his love for indulgent breakfasts and walks us through his Sunday soundtrack.

Where will we find you this weekend?
In London. It still inspires me and there’s so much to discover. The South Bank is particularly great when it comes to demonstrating the culture of the city.

Your ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
I like being busy but Sunday is the ideal time to do something more sedate.

What’s for breakfast?
I’ll have some fruit with a bacon-and-tattie scone roll (ketchup and mustard, please), and copious amounts of tea by the Rare Tea Company.

Lunch in or out?
After a walk to see the deer at Clissold Park, we’ll have pie with lots of seasonal vegetables at home.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
There’s something amazing about being among nature with a dog. I’ve never experienced that in London but I miss it from growing up in Edinburgh and walking friends’ pets in forests or on the beach.

A Sunday soundtrack?
I listen to 1970s sunshine rock or electronica in the morning (and a bit of BBC Radio 6) but I have always loved a mix of classic and modern hip-hop. The genre can cover the full breadth of your emotions across a day.

Sunday culture must?
A gallery visit. London has so many of them but Tate Modern is a great all-rounder. It’s beautifully designed and there’s so much life to it.

What’s on the menu?
I’ll have a dry martini before dinner, then hit somewhere in the city. The Anchor & Hope, Bao Borough, Rambutan and Elliot’s are real gems.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
I rise early, well ahead of schedule, but still dress in a whirlwind. Over the years I have accrued several timeless items that come together well as outfits.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / ‘The Connaught Bar’

Keep it simple

At once the simplest and most challenging of all cocktails, a martini signals that the workday is over and the evening has begun. This concoction, taken from Phaidon’s new release The Connaught Bar, is garnished with a lemon twist to cut through the spirits.

Serves one

½ tsp bitters
15ml vermouth blend
75ml gin or vodka
1 lemon


Gently pour the bitters around the rim of a frozen martini glass using a dropper.

Fill a mixing glass one third from the brim with large ice cubes. Add the vermouth along with the gin or vodka. Stir well until chilled.

Raise the mixing glass high – this helps to aerate the drink – and strain into the prepared martini glass.

Cut a slice of lemon rind in a spiral shape to create a twist to garnish.

Cooking the books / ‘Big Mamma: Italian Recipes in 30 Minutes’

Quick fixes

If its flamboyant trattorias scattered around Europe are anything to go by, restaurant group Big Mamma knows how to delight diners and have a little fun too. Celebrated for its restaurants’ over-the-top, adorned-on-every-inch interiors, the group – founded by two Frenchmen – isn’t afraid to slaughter a few sacred cows when it comes to Italian cooking (do try the beef ragù on page 298). This is Big Mamma’s second cookbook, published by White Lion Publishing, and it’s brimming with 100 simple, tasty and, at times, utterly frivolous recipes that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or fewer.

Image: Tony Hay
Image: Tony Hay

Under the covers there are puns aplenty, including the Panna Wintour, a citrusy set cream served in a lemon, and the altogether fishier Jon Bon Chovy. There are also classics from bruschetta vitello tonnato and fried courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta to a chocolate mousse garnished with Sicilian fior di sale and olive oil. Egle Zvirblyte’s fruity illustrations set the scene from the cover but Jean-Baptiste Strub’s borderline unhinged photoshoot of a lady in the shower with an octopus on her head and a man in the bath displaying his meat (no sniggering at the back) let readers know to anticipate and savour the unlikely originality of it all.

Weekend plans? / ‘Explora I’

Raising sails

Cruising is the fastest-growing tourism sector but how to entice those travellers who would never think of going aboard? Explora I might have the answer. It’s the latest venture from the Geneva-based MSC Group. The family-owned firm is hoping to attract a new generation of passengers and reframe cruising as a stay in a high-end, all-inclusive hotel that can whisk you around the world, with six first-rate restaurants and bartenders who remember your favourite tipple. Accordingly, guests sleep in spacious suites rather than in cabins.

Image: Rose Marie Cromwell
Image: Rose Marie Cromwell
Image: Rose Marie Cromwell
Image: Rose Marie Cromwell

With its 14 decks, Explora I is no boutique operation but the experience feels old-school, almost stately, even if the crowd is a bit cruise-y in Hawaiian shirts. A maritime spirit runs through the culture onboard, especially when it comes to the warm welcome from staff. “In my experience, guests come back not because the ship they were on was beautiful but because of the crew,” says Captain Serena Melani, who sailed Explora I out of the shipyard. “There must be a human connection.”

For more on ‘Explora I’, pick up a copy of Monocle’s April issue.

Image: Benjamin Lund

Hospitality holdouts / Schønnemann, Copenhagen

Open secrets

Our April issue’s Expo celebrates five hospitality holdouts that pride themselves on good service and have never felt the need to constantly change their recipes. This week we take a seat at Schønnemann in Copenhagen, which has been dishing out quality Danish cuisine since 1877.

“Members of our kids’ generation think of themselves as global,” says Juliette Rasmussen. “But it actually means that they value local specialities more.” Rasmussen bought Copenhagen institution Schønnemann with her husband, Thomas, in 2015 (writes Michael Booth). Founded in 1877, the cellar restaurant is known for its smørrebrød (open sandwiches), beer and schnapps. “My generation didn’t eat smørrebrød but today’s young people do,” says Rasmussen. Between the 1970s and the early 2000s, Schønnemann often faced closure. Rasmussen attributes its renaissance to the New Nordic food movement spearheaded by René Redzepi’s restaurant Noma. “He started putting the focus on local food,” she says, though she acknowledges the vast difference between the complex fare on Noma’s menu and her restaurant’s simple offerings.

“We Danes went back to our roots and smørrebrød became trendy again,” she says. Part of the restaurant’s charm, however, is that its decor has spent decades unaffected by passing fashions. Rasmussen is proud to employ “real waiters who have time for guests” but the main attraction is the food: from classic marinated herring to signature dish Madame Schønnemann (calf’s tongue, chicken salad and mustard). When it comes to smørrebrød, the eternal question is: how many to order?

For more hospitality holdouts, pick up the latest issue of Monocle magazine. Or subscribe today. Have a super Sunday.


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