Sunday 2 June 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 2/6/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Colour your view

This week we sample Alsatian-inspired appetisers in Fitzrovia, meet the Danish hotelier behind a relaxed residence in Porto’s historic centre and check into a flamboyant Manhattan bolthole where colour reigns supreme. Plus: we meet the Canadian winemaker practising viticulture on Hungary’s volcanic soils and browse a smart menswear selection from a Swiss retailer by Lake Lugano. First up, here’s Tyler Brûlé on why the key to living a little longer might just be a simple ‘hello’.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Season’s greetings

There was a lot of talk about blue zones during my travels this week. I’m quite sure that you’re familiar with the concept but if not, we’re talking about those pockets of the planet where people supposedly live longer, happier lives. Over dinner in Tokyo, lunch in Hong Kong and drinks in Bangkok, various conversations ended up focusing on where people live longest, alongside armchair theories to expand on what we already know about picking vegetables in Okinawa and dancing in Greece.

If you want to fling a clog at the TV, then watch the Netflix series on the topic. I tuned in a few months ago and attempted to follow along as the presenter tried to link people living in high-altitude Sardinia, the urban sprawl east of Los Angeles and Singapore. I struggled to get to the end of the series. I suspect that the production company did too; I feel as though it might have run into financial difficulties, bolting Singapore into the mix part way through. Should you make it that far, you’ll find yourself asking, “Since when did Singapore become a blue zone? And why are the people featured in and around Orchard Road not particularly old compared to the other zones?” I switched off before the credits but I’m still wondering whether Temasek helped fund the whole thing. The series tries to make much of walking up and down hills, being with family, drinking wine and laughing, and having a purpose in life but my read is that blue zones do not occur in cold, dark places or where people happen to be taller than 178cm. Sardinia, remote parts of the Greek archipelago, Okinawa and Costa Rica are not big hunting grounds for NBA scouts. The Netherlands proves my point. The Dutch do okay, despite their country’s lack of sun and hills to climb, but it seems that even all that cycling can’t help them scrape into Europe’s longevity top ten because they’re simply too tall to qualify. Yes, it’s a thin theory but so too is much of the blue-zoning as trotted out in the series.

I have long believed that a bit of daily, personal recognition goes a long way in adding a few years onto your life and, no, I’m not talking about likes on a social-media feed or a video call with your auntie. I’m thinking more about proper eye contact and a good morning, ohayo gozaimasu or bonjour when arriving on the train platform for your morning commute or walking to the grocery store on a Saturday morning. I notice this living in Zürich, where young and old are very good at giving you a nod or a gruezi. I’m most impressed when I’m approached by a bunch of teenage boys on the street and, just when you think you’re going to be ignored, everyone does a polite bow of the head and says hello. Does this make you feel better about the world? Absolutely. Does it make you wonder why this doesn’t happen more often elsewhere? Most definitely.

Earlier today I put the recognition theory to the test bright and early on the sunny streets of Stockholm. I tried to make eye contact with one passerby, then another and another, and came up with not so much as a grunt. First, they’re not big on eye contact on the streets of Stockholm and a god morgon to your fellow walker, jogger or shuffling pedestrian is not a thing. Add a layer of data to this and you will note that the Swiss have an average life expectancy that is a good half year longer than the Swedes. So here you have it dear reader: when you finish reading today’s Weekend Edition and venture out of the house, take the time to say a warm hello to those who you pass on the street, smile at the policeman, tilt your cap at the kid on the bicycle and stride along confidently in the knowledge that everyone might live a little longer thanks to your kindness. Monocle might just land its own series on just such a theory.

New opening / July, London

Month of plenty

The name July – a contraction of the names of co-founders Julian and Solynka – reflects the duo’s intention to recreate dishes from their own home (writes Claudia Jacob). “It’s also a month we tend to associate with an abundance of high-quality produce,” says French-Swiss food writer Solynka Dumas, who co-founded July with German technology consultant Julian Oschmann in London’s Fitzrovia in April. The pair’s Franco-Germanic origins feed into their Alsatian-inspired fare.

Image: Safia Shakarchi
Image: Safia Shakarchi

“It’s a cuisine that is relatively undiscovered in the UK and we hope to change that,” says Dumas, who feels a keen attachment to the northeastern French region on the banks of the Rhine. The region’s river trout, milky Munster cheese and peppery horseradish permeate the menu, created by Holly Hayes, former sous chef at 40 Maltby Street in Bermondsey, while the natural wine list by UK sommelier Honey Spencer sees a neat line-up of low-intervention labels from provincial winemakers in France, Germany and Austria. And in the spirit of the balmy month after which the restaurant is named, diners spill out onto the pavement in celebration of the joyful French ritual of eating and drinking en terrasse.

Image: Avart

Top of the shops / Avart, Lugano

Stitch in time

Alma Veragouth had been dreaming of opening a menswear shop for some time (writes Ed Stocker). She had been running Avart, her Lugano-based womenswear boutique for more than a decade when the opportunity to expand came up. It was too good to ignore. “It was difficult to get the space; there were seven other candidates,” says Veragouth. But she prevailed and Avart’s new menswear shop opened its doors earlier this year after six months of renovation work. It is housed in an elegant building with huge, curved windows and continues Veragouth’s work of bringing niche, high-end brands to the Italian-speaking Swiss city. Veragouth, who worked in fashion in her native Kazakhstan before moving to Switzerland, picked labels such as Nigel Cabourn, RRL, Studio Nicholson and Salvatore Piccolo for the new boutique.

She recently returned from a trip to Japan – part-holiday, part-research mission – and spoke of her deep affinity for Japanese and American brands, pointing to her selection of favourites, including Orslow and Engineered Garments. She is equally fond of refined interiors and hired renowned designer Bruno Keller to work on the shop’s refit. Keller created a warm space, which includes a mezzanine with wooden accents and recessed neon lighting from Italy’s Viabizzuno. Look out for the area featuring shoes, bags and accessories, and the cosy corner where you can kick back on an Eames lounger with a magazine or book from the shop’s selection. “The idea is to create a multicultural, intellectual space,” says Veragouth.

For more fine fabrics and fresh fragrances, pick up a copy of Monocle’s latest issue. Or subscribe today.

Image: Steen Bock

Sunday Roast / Steen Bock

Danish delight

Steen Bock, co-founder of Danish hospitality group Annassurra, has a number of properties in Copenhagen and Porto (writes Hanna Pham). His most recent opening is The Largo in Porto, a hotel with Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes in the kitchen. Here, Bock tells us about his penchant for breakfast outdoors, the smooth sounds on his airwaves and the Danish lifestyle pages where he gets his dose of print.

Where will we find you this weekend?
In my little wooden cabin by the beach in Denmark.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
Mountain biking accompanied by dear friends.

What’s for breakfast?
A cup of coffee and yoghurt with homemade granola. Now that spring has arrived, I’ll enjoy it outside with as much fresh air as possible. Loving the outdoors is an essential part of being a Dane.

Lunch in or out?
It has to be a bite at the local street-food market.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Neither. But I will take a walk on the beach and a cold plunge if that’s on the cards, even without a dog.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Something smooth. Let’s say Sade.

Sunday culture must?
A few of my favourite classic-car gatherings take place on weekends. When possible, I love to attend.

News or no news?
I receive the weekend edition of Børsen in print, which has a great magazine supplement. It’s always a pleasant Sunday read.

What’s on the menu?
I really enjoy hosting friends for dinner. I have an outdoor kitchen, which sees a lot of use. There’s not much that beats a good old-fashioned BBQ.

Sunday evening routine?
An early night. I like to feel rested for the week ahead.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Cherry clafoutis

This week, Monocle’s Japanese chef whips up a classic French pudding topped with plenty of plump cherries. It’s a summery crowd-pleaser and a straightforward centrepiece that uses the bounty of the season.

Serves 6

For the cherries
350g cherries
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp Kirsch
30g demerara sugar
A knob of butter

For the batter
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml double cream
100ml whole milk
A large pinch of salt
4 tbsps plain flour
60g demerara sugar
30g melted butter

22cm non-loose-bottomed heat-proof dish


Preheat the oven to 190C (170C for a fan oven).

Wash and dry the cherries. Use a cherry pitter or a small knife to remove the pits. Roughly tear the cherries in half. Mix together the cherry halves, 1 tbsp of caster sugar and Kirsch, and toss in a bowl. Set aside.

Spread the knob of butter over the bottom and sides of a 22cm non-loose-bottomed heat-proof dish. Sprinkle 30g demerara sugar into the dish and tilt to cover the bottom and sides.

Mix all the batter ingredients together except for the flour, 45g of the demerara sugar and the melted butter. Then, place the flour mixture in a medium bowl and slowly add the batter. Pour in the melted butter and whisk until no lumps remain.

Place the cherry halves on the bottom of the baking dish, cut side down. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the demerara sugar and place in a preheated oven for 35 minutes. Halfway through its cooking time, turn the dish 180 degrees. Once the time is up, remove it from the oven. It should look brown around the sides but a slightly paler in the middle.

Sprinkle 15g of demerara sugar on top. Serve warm.

Weekend plans? / The Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York

Top of the glass

On a busy corner in Manhattan’s NoMad, The Fifth Avenue Hotel straddles a 19th-century mansion and a contemporary 24-storey glass tower (writes Mary Holland). Designed by Martin Brudnizki, the Swedish architect also responsible for the riotously colourful Broadwick in London, this property is anything but dull. Its 153 guest rooms feature emerald-green walls, bubblegum-pink couches and mustard-yellow curtains.

Image: William Abranowicz
Image: William Abranowicz
Image: William Abranowicz

At restaurant Café Carmellini, diners are transported to old-world New York via velvet booths and mirrored walls. Dishes such as rabbit primavera and duck tortellini have been dreamed up by US chef Andrew Carmellini. In the Portrait Bar, guests can sip punchy cocktails containing unlikely combinations, from sesame-oil washed whisky to cherry bark vanilla bitters. Everything here is amped up and all the better for it.

For more on our selection of hospitality hotspots around the world, pick up Monocle’s June issue on newsstands now.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Gilvesy Pincészet wine, Hungary

Volcanic activity

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Canadian-born Róbert Gilvesy returned to his family’s roots in Hungary and decided to take up winemaking (writes Ivan Carvalho). Since 2012, he has practised viticulture on volcanic soils on the north side of Lake Balaton in the Badacsony wine region. After his success crafting a new style of dry white made from the local furmint grape, he launched Gilvesy Pixu, a range of easy-drinking, low-intervention wines.

His Pixu Olaszrizling is an unfiltered wine that goes through spontaneous fermentation. “Olaszrizling is a grape indigenous to the Carpathian basin and one that’s very important around the Balaton area,” says Gilvesy. “This wine has a lovely character of fruitiness with notes of peach and pear. As a result of the volcanic terroir where my vineyards are located on Mount Saint George, it also has a hint of minerality in the finish too.”

For more delectable drinks and tasty morsels, pick up a copy of Monocle’s latest issue or subscribe today. Have a super Sunday.


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