Sunday 30 June 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 30/6/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Summer heights

This week, lunch is served in São Paulo, where fine food meets modernist architecture. Next, we check in at a hotel in Saint-Tropez, where a new opening on the French Riviera sees old-school glamour meet modern-day elegance, and prepare onigiri with a French-Vietnamese restaurateur in Tunis. Plus: we make a toast to the fertile soils of Mount Etna and a fresh Franco-Japanese guesthouse in Paris. Tyler Brûlé begins with some news from Paris.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Fine print

You’ll be happy to read that a couple of weeks ago, Monocle embarked on the next phase of its digital overhaul. We know that there is much to improve, much to rethink and much to launch. We have spent the past six months meeting with various consultants, sparring partners, listening to you, dear reader, and also spending considerable time thinking about what would enhance the Monocle experience on your phone, tablet or laptop screen. If you’re concerned that too many of us have been spending too much time out in the sun, worry not. First, the sun has not been shining much in Zürich or London. Second, we are not stepping back from any print. Far from it. 2025 will likely see a further expansion on paper. And third, it’s simply time to improve.

One thing that digi consultants like to talk about is the power of lists and rankings. “Have you ever thought of using lists and rankings more?” asked one gentleman. “People love that you know.” This news was delivered like we’d never thought of it or considered rankings ourselves, let alone published a few over the past 17 years. Oh to be a casual observer, dear reader; to see the look on our faces. “Really, you don’t say?” No matter, we moved on and smiled politely.

Over the coming weeks you’ll start to see us embarking on a few changes and experiments but without the trickery or annoying tactics employed by others in our sector. Part of the challenge is getting people to pay for news and current affairs on screen – and to pay properly. Let’s be clear, there are many media outfits that claim high readership and subscription numbers but paying one euro, dollar, or franc a week is not a business model. Nor is paying three, four or five if your output is daily, round the clock. There are a clutch of titles and outlets who are starting to figure things out but getting a new generation of media consumers to spend on quality information the same way that they do for quality food and drink is a challenge. Yes, there are those who say that it’s pointless to pay for media these days because the journalism is generally bad but the output is depressing. There is some truth to this but there are many fine news and current brands out there doing exceptional work, spending on journalism, illustration and photography, engaging in real debate and challenging herd thinking.

As you might have read in yesterday’s newsletter, we have fixed the brass plaque to the wall and front door of our new bureau in Paris. This set-up is going to be a key part of our forthcoming tweaks and improvements – and not just digitally. After we said goodbye to the last of our guests, the Monocle crew walked over to the very tasty Taverna, a very satisfying Cypriot restaurant in the 11th. My colleague Jackie (she’s thinking of demanding everyone call her Jacqueline in celebration of our new space) commented how impressed she was by France’s love of paper. “The bookshops, the packed newsstands, so much to read and so much of it French,” she said, with great delight. “It’s not counting all the other international press.” And she’s right. While it’s a woeful situation for bookshops and newsstands in too many corners of the world, the French are committed to upholding and even improving the experience of buying cookbooks, newspapers and comics. Monocle wants to capture this energy and spirit, while also using the new Paris bureau to add a fresh accent to our radio shows, newsletters and the face of our new look on screen. And, as a digital expert told me that visuals and photography are important, here are a few party pics. Hope to see you in Merano next Saturday for our annual summer celebration in the heart of Obermais.

Image: Iorgis Matyassy
Image: Iorgis Matyassy
Image: Iorgis Matyassy

Today is the last day to enjoy our special subscription rate for graduates, which you can get here. As one reader recently told us, what better way to easily find a perfect match for their child than to look for another early twenty-something also reading Monocle on their beach lounger on the Med. We didn’t set out to make romantic introductions but why not?

Image: Fran Parente

Eating out / Parador, São Paulo

Modern marvel

Parador is a relaxed, beach-style restaurant and bar on the third floor of office block-turned-residence Edifício Renata Sampaio Ferreira, which won this year’s Monocle Design Award for best retrofit (writes Fernando Augusto Pacheco). Paulistas drop by to have breakfast by the striking modernist pool or sip cocktails late into the evening. Among Parador’s key attractions is its location in the iconic 1950s building, designed by Oswaldo Bratke and outfitted by Metro Arquitetos Associados.

As well as thrilling views of the surrounding urban landscape, patrons are treated to a colourful selection of healthy toasts and sharing dishes such as feijão e coalhada (white beans, curd and pickled purple onion) or the salada parador (shredded duck, cabbage, lentils, orange, pomegranate and walnuts). Plump for the renata cocktail, specially created as a homage to the building from vodka, lemon and jaboticaba fruit.
Rua Araújo, 216, São Paulo

New opening / Hotel Hana, Paris

Mix and match

The streets surrounding Rue Saint-Anne, in the 2nd arrondissement’s Little Tokyo area, are lined with Japanese restaurants, épiceries and tea salons (writes Annick Weber). Since March, the neighbourhood has also played host to its first Japanese-inspired hotel. The key word here is “inspired”: Hotel Hana is subtle in its appreciation of Japan and doesn’t reach for the obvious signifiers. You’ll be searching in vain for tatami floors and shoji screens.

Nicolas Saltiel, founder of the Chapitre Six hotel group, commissioned interior designer Laura Gonzalez to infuse Hotel Hana with both Japanese and belle époque flavours. “It’s the most minimalist project that I have worked on so far,” says Gonzalez, who is better known for her signature mix of patterns and colours. “I have given attention to incorporating details that reflect Japan, while also ensuring that the design harmonises with the aesthetic of Paris.” The meeting of two worlds is best witnessed in the 26 guest rooms and suites, which blend custom lacquered furniture, straw wall panelling and Pierre Frey carpets, with lavish marble bathrooms and views of the Haussmannian façades outside.

These influences also inform the hotel’s restaurant Hanabi. Shirley Garrier of The Social Food dug through the menu archives of the city’s most celebrated belle époque-era establishments and found ways to invite Japan into these traditional French dishes. “I wanted the menu to read in two ways, like a palindrome, where French and Japanese classics nod to the cuisine of the other,” she says. The Japanese-French dialogue is evident in concoctions such as lobster bisque with udon noodles, yuzu-jam-drizzled camembert tempura and, for dessert, soy sauce crème brûlée.

To discover more from Monocle’s grand tour of the French capital – and honour the opening of our new bureau – pick up a copy of the Monocle Paris Edition newspaper, which is available on newsstands now.

Image: Sadik Sans Voltaire

Sunday roast / Chanh Vo

At your convenience

Earlier this year, French-Vietnamese chef Chanh Vo opened Japanese-inspired restaurant Konbini in the Tunisian city of La Marsa (writes Claudia Jacob). Drawing on Vo’s experience as a sous-chef at Matsuhisa in Paris, Konbini combines local ingredients with Japanese preparation techniques and riffs on Tokyo’s convenience-store culture. Here, he takes us through his experiments with onigiri (rice balls), gives us a guided tour of Carthage’s ancient ruins and shares his tip for the best couscous in town.

Where will we find you this weekend?
At a vintage shop, where I’ll be stocking up on furniture for future projects. I first started doing this when I moved to Tunis five years ago.

Your ideal start to a Sunday? A gentle start or a jolt?
I don’t set an alarm. After I wake up, I’ll go out to do the weekly shop for Konbini.

What’s for breakfast?
I have been experimenting with ideas for our new brunch menu, which will launch soon. The base will be eggs on shokupan – airy Japanese bread – topped with a choice of condiments. We have created our own furikaké seasoning, made from dried harissa and sesame seeds. We’re now using it as a topping for our onigiri. It brings out the flavour in an unexpected way.

Lunch in or out?
On Sundays it’s couscous at Le Café Vert in former fishing village La Goulette.

A Sunday soundtrack?
It depends on my mood. Probably something between free jazz and electronica, plus a bit of hip-hop.

A Sunday culture must?
A tour of the Tunis medina and a cup of mint tea on one of the city’s rooftops. Tunis is a city steeped in history, a paradise for lovers of the ancient world. The northern suburbs are studded with the ruins of Carthage.

News or no news?
I prefer to read business-oriented books about how to build and maintain a brand.

What’s on the menu?
Our menu at Konbini is influenced by Japan’s convenience stores that sell onigiri, sandos, donburi and hanetsuki gyoza. We also use extra-fresh local tuna. We’re especially delighted when we get bluefin toro.

Your Sunday-evening routine?
Sunday is for washing the team’s uniforms. We like to wash them because we’re making our own line of workwear and it allows us to see how the garments change over time.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Garlic prawns and coriander on rice

Monocle’s Japanese chef whips up a plate of gambas al ajillo, a Filipino-style prawn dish that originates in Spain. The tender prawns are gently macerated in white wine and garlic, and served with fluffy rice and plenty of fresh coriander.

Serves 2

120g jasmine rice
12 large prawns
3 tbsps olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsps white wine
15g unsalted butter
1 tbsp light soy sauce
20g coriander, finely chopped
A pinch of salt and pepper


Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Shell and devein the prawns. Set the shells aside in a small bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the prawns until they begin to turn pink on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the garlic to the pan but keep it on one side. Add the shells to the other side with the white wine. Cook until they turn pink. Then, press them with a potato masher to squeeze out the cooking juices. Remove the shells and discard.

Add the prawns back to the pan, along with the butter and soy sauce. When the sauce starts bubbling, add half of the chopped coriander and toss lightly.

Serve with sauce over the cooked rice and sprinkle with the rest of the fresh coriander. Add seasoning to taste.

Weekend plans? / Arev, Saint-Tropez

Rooms with a hue

The French Riviera welcomed a colourful newcomer this year: Arev, a 50-key hotel with the feel of a charming private estate (writes Lucrezia Motta). The Arev Collection’s first hotel in Saint-Tropez is just a short drive from the town centre but its lush gardens provide an instant escape from the bustle of the tourist spots.

Image: Arev
Image: Arev

Madrid-based Luis Bustamante Design Studio crafted the interiors to reflect the spirit of the Côte d’Azur: there are bold stripes reminiscent of the region’s vibrant boating culture and rich shades of blue, white and red that are typical of the Mediterranean. “We want our guests to pause their busy lives and fall into a relaxed routine while exploring our extensive grounds,” says Arev’s brand director, Magdalena Hamya. Staying here is an opportunity to dine, laugh and dance to live music under the starry Saint-Tropez sky.”

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms Up / Girolamo Russo, Sicily

Under the volcano

Concert pianist-turned-winemaker Giuseppe Russo manages his family’s estate in one of Italy’s most sought-after appellations, the Etna DOC territory (writes Ivan Carvalho). Here he tends to the vines of his company, Girolamo Russo, some of which date back more than a century and are located in various contrade – the cru-like classification system of vineyards in the area below the active volcano. Over the years, Mount Etna has spilled out lava that, when dry, has helped to enrich the soil. “I was fortunate enough to have inherited land that has great potential for winemaking,” says Russo.

Ancient lava flows have helped to give his wine a distinctive minerality and salinity. Among his reds is ’A Rina, made from two indigenous varietals: nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio. It tastes similar to a complex pinot noir, with a mineral backbone derived from the volcanic terroir. It undergoes fermentation in stainless-steel tanks and maceration on the skins for up to 10 days, ageing for 12 months in second- and third-passage barrels. The result is an elegant, quaffable red with a unique personality.

For more sunny updates from Monocle’s team of editors and correspondents, pick up a copy of our July/August bumper issue, which is available on newsstands now.


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