Sunday 5 May 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 5/5/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

In high spirits

This week, we peruse a picture-perfect Mallorcan hotel housed in the former studio of a Spanish painter with a penchant for Venetian architecture. We also tune into the tranquil hum of a Norwegian roastery in Tokyo, take a trip to Zürich’s Pavillon Le Corbusier with a Swiss designer. Plus: a fermented South Korean spirit bringing a different kind of drinking culture to Copenhagen. Fresh from the Mediterranean is Monocle’s captain, Tyler Brûlé, with a little hospitality competition…

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Knowing the score

This time next Sunday, Europe’s airwaves, TV channels and various media outlets will be abuzz with compliments, criticism and much analysis of the winner and losers from the continent’s latest edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. At the time of tapping this column out, Switzerland and Croatia are tied for the bookies’ favourites but I think that Italy’s Angelina Mango might just pull through and saddle state broadcaster Rai with a big hosting bill for 2025. Having just returned from a little spin around the Med (Italy very much included), there’s room for the European Broadcasting Union (the Geneva-based outfit behind Eurovision Song Contest) to launch a whole new franchise in the form of the EuroMed Hospitality Contest. This high summer event will pit Europe’s beachy nations against each other across a variety of categories, while also welcoming countries from the broader Mediterranean basin to add a bit of additional visual and culinary flair, and assist them in bolstering their own tourism sectors. While not explicit in the opening sequence or during commercial breaks, you can be sure that a large part of this programme will be sponsored by Frontex (Europe’s border-security force). The underlying focus will be dedicated to stimulating economies to the east and south to create jobs, improve the overall hospitality offer and ensure that dinghies are more for leisure use.

On the flight from Málaga back to Zürich, over lunch at the tasty new Elsa at the Monte-Carlo Beach and while walking through the side streets of Alassio, I sketched out the categories, as well as what some sample voting might look like. As the emphasis is on summer hospitality, the engine of many European economies, the span is broad and engineered for maximum flare-ups among contestants, judges and the voting public. Here we go:

Coffee. Nothing sets the tone better than a morning jolt at a classic bar or funky little pop-up along the Med. But who does it best? Are new-gen baristas getting it right in Valencia or are the Italians still the masters? And what about the French? Or will they forever be laggards in this department and settle for bitter brown water with their croissant? While I sampled some very good coffee in Marbella at a little joint run by some recent arrivals from Mexico City, the Italians are still top of the league. Douze points Italia!

Beach furniture. Turn over your lounger or director’s chair and there’s a good chance that it was made in Italy or Spain. At the Windsor Hotel in Laigueglia (very much worth checking out if you want an easy beach set-up an hour from Nice, dear reader) the owner had hedged his bets and went with a mix of classic Kettal from Spain and dependable basics from a supplier in Rimini. And the French? They do a good beach but where are they when it comes to furniture? It isn’t a bad idea to keep something from Lafuma Mobilier in the back of your vintage Renault. For outfitting a hotel terrace along from Marseille, however, they’re not really in the game. Dix points for Italia and España.

Hotel design. On the flight back from Nice to Zürich, I went through a stack of magazines with various round-ups of new or recently renovated hotels along the Med. If I had to use the pages that I ripped out to inform my voting, then the French would be in a league of their own. Too many classic Italian hotels have squandered their Covid renovation loans to rip out all the chic elements and replace the wonderfully worn upholstery and carpets with wooden, simulated-ceramic floors, mocha leather everywhere and brutal, non-dimmable, surgery-certified lighting. The French, with new additions such as the Hôtel du Couvent in Nice, which opens in June, and the Lilou in Hyères, are in a completely different league: comfy, lived-in, timeless and a little decadent. Add to this new openings inland and France sets a new standard. As for Spain, it’s somewhere in between Italy and France. Some good classics that should remain untouched and some promising newcomers but too many chilly new releases. Douze points for France.

With at least 10 other categories ranging from quality of rosé and best summer soundtracks to sharpest uniforms, you can be sure that this will not only be compelling viewing but also spark a new generation of entrepreneurs and passionate talents who are proud to serve, groom, mix and mingle. See you beachside.

Eating out / Fuglen Sangubashi, Tokyo

Fresh brew

Norwegian coffee roastery Fuglen is slowing things down with its latest Tokyo venture (writes Fiona Wilson). Kenji Kojima, who runs the company’s Japanese operations, renovated an old house for the new café in Sangubashi near Yoyogi Park, adding wooden furniture and a stone counter from Miyagi.

Image: Kohei Take
Image: Kohei Take

You won’t hear the hum of espresso machines here: the coffee is ground, sieved, filtered through organic paper and served in ceramic cups from Yame and Yomitan. Customers can also try kokekaffee, coffee steeped in a kettle, with Norwegian brown cheese on knekkebrød (crispbread). “We don’t have time to serve coffee like this in our other cafés,” says Kojima. “Our baristas are enjoying themselves too.”

For more of the finest food-and-drink addresses, pick up a copy of Monocle’s May issue, which is available now.

Image: Jonas Weibel

Sunday roast / Daniel Freitag

Reinventing the wheel

Daniel Freitag is the co-founder of Zürich-based brand Freitag, which created one of the first messenger bag designs in 1993 (writes Claudia Jacob). His newest product is an electric cargo bike known as Monopole, a svelte two-wheeler bringing a touch of elegance to the commute. Here, shares his strict Sunday-morning routine, his dog Hazel, who keeps him on his toes, and his favourite read.

Where will we find you this weekend?
On my bike, cycling through the woods and up the hills around Zürich.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
No different from Monday; habit prevails over the need for sleep. Nowadays, I rise at 06.00, embodying Swiss precision. My day begins with the lively trot of my dog and fetching freshly baked bread the local bakery.

What’s for breakfast?
Coffee in my cup, fruit on my plate.

Lunch in or out?
I’m typically found sitting by the fireplace at farm-to-table restaurant Osso or enjoying soup at the Atelier Bar. Occasionally, an onigiri is enough.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Walking the dog, no question. Thanks to Hazel, I reach 19,000 steps a day.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Shouse’s Won’t Forget You always sets me up well for the day.

Sunday culture must?
I like to see what’s on at Pavillon Le Corbusier in Zürich.

News or no news?
I enjoy briefings from Tsüri magazine before breakfast and read online headlines once a day. Otherwise, I mainly listen to audiobooks and podcasts or watch videos on YouTube.

What’s on the menu?
Ramen, amen!

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Never. Looks like my future self has just developed a Sunday evening routine.

Freitag’s freshly designed, functional freewheeler is the recipient of Monocle’s Best Two-Wheeler award. You can read more about the Monocle Design Awards in our May issue, which is on newsstands now.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Beef-shin ragù

Monocle’s Japanese chef whips up a hearty bowl of ragù courtesy of rich stock and a generous glug of red wine. Prepare this the day before for a well-developed flavour.

Serves 6

4 tbsps olive oil
1kg beef shin, remove fat and cut into large chunks
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
300ml red wine
500ml passata
300ml beef stock
2 tbsps tomato purée
1 bay leaf
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
100g pappardelle, per person
Parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).

Heat half of the olive oil in a large cast-iron pot over a medium-high heat and sear the beef chunks in 2 batches until browned on all sides. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add the rest of the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Add the chopped onions, celery, carrots, chopped anchovies and a large pinch of salt. Fry for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are translucent and everything has reduced by half in volume.

Turn up the heat, add the red wine and let it bubble for 3 minutes. Add the passata, beef stock, tomato purée, bay leaf and balsamic vinegar and bring to a gentle boil.

Once the ragù is hot, place a tight-fitting lid over the pan and put it in the oven to cook for 2 to 2.5 hours, until the meat is soft enough to shred easily with a fork. Season with half a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. You can then shred any of the larger pieces of beef that haven’t fallen apart already.

When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta and mix with the sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water. Serve with lots of grated parmesan cheese.

Weekend plans? / Portella, Mallorca

Picture perfect

It’s the early 1970s when painter Joaquín Torrents Lladó secures a new home and studio in the Old Town of Palma de Mallorca (writes Andrew Tuck). His new base, a compact palace, has elements dating to the 11th century but it isn’t listed. He sets about making attractive interventions to reflect both his passion for Venice and his need for natural light to aid his work but the structure of the house endures, including a courtyard with a shallow pool that can be glimpsed from the street. In 1993, Torrents Lladó died young, aged 47, and his home became a museum that is dedicated to his work. A few years ago, his heirs decided that it was time to sell, just as someone else was looking for property in the city: the Miró-Sans family. Monocle readers will recognise that name, as Inés, the daughter, created hit hotel Casa Bonay, Barcelona, in 2016.

Image: Anthony Perez
Image: Anthony Perez

So, when the deal was struck in 2017, Inés, and her brother Enrique, were enlisted by the family to guide this special place towards a new life as a hotel. Working with architects Gras Reynés, the pair plotted out a 14-room establishment and ended up waiting four years to be granted a licence. But that time has served them well; they’ve been able to protect the elements that Torrents Lladó fell in love with – the flow of rooms, his Venetian-style galleries on the first floor, that light – and to source tiles, terracotta and stone that match the building’s soul. “It should feel like you are staying in a home that you can’t afford to buy,” says Inés. Portella also comes at a time when there’s a generational changing of the guard at play, as old aristocratic families pass on palaces to those with the wherewithal to give them architectural CPR and entrepreneurial purpose. Every ancient street seems to reverberate with the sound of drills and diggers. But at Portella, you can ignore all this and be transported to a place that feels both ancient and modern, private and urban. A place that looks so perfect that it could almost be a painting.

For more on Monocle’s sharp selection of hotels, hospitality and haute cuisine, pick up a copy of the May issue, which is on newsstands now.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Yunguna Brewery

So far, sool good

South Korea’s traditional, fermented rice-based tipple known as sool is one of the country’s lesser-known exports but one of its most enjoyable (writes Julia Lasica). But at Copenhagen-based microbrewery Yunguna, South Korean-Danish entrepreneur Emilie Yung Meiling intends to change that. “I wanted to introduce ‘sool’ to the European palate,” says Meiling. “I had a firm belief that people would accept it and, luckily, I was right.”

Launched last year at the lauded South Korean-Nordic restaurant Koan on Copenhagen’s serene waterfront, Yunguna Brewery offers three variations made from rice, water and a wheat-based culture known as nuruk that is fermented for six weeks. Nuruk offers a comforting taste of South Korea’s traditional drinking culture, while Meiling’s modern interpretation incorporates umami, butterscotch and lychee flavours.

For more of what to eat and drink this month, pick up a copy of the May issue, which is on newsstands now. Or subscribe today. Have a super Sunday.


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