Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category


Brand Brazil is good to go

By Tyler Brûlé
Published: August 20 2010 22:16 | Last updated: August 20 2010 22:16
It’s time for a little Fast Lane pre back-to-school, back-to-work quiz to sharpen your faculties for the last third of the year.
1. If you were going to buy a holiday home, would you choose:
a) a spacious beach apartment in Sochi, Russia
b) a Thai-inspired villa on the resort island of Hainan, China
c) a thatched bungalow on a beach in Goa
d) a Marcio Kogan designed bungalow in Trancoso, Brazil?
2. Where would you like to spend your retirement years:
a) Russia?
b) China?
c) India?
d) Brazil?
3.) If you were organising an end of summer cocktail party on your terrace, would you choose:
a) Dacha-style discotheque with a vodka bar?
b) Sweaty Shanghai swing with a dumpling buffet?
c) Kerala trance party with buckets of beer?
d) Breezy bossa nova with a caipirinha bar staffed by Brazilian waiters?
While there’s no scientifically correct answer to any of the questions above, they do form part of my ever-evolving list of metrics for my Bric nation liveability, lifestyle and soft-power index. No matter how I shuffle the deck, Brazil always leads the pack.
After a brief stop in Abu Dhabi and Dubai followed by a 16-hour flight on Emirates I happily touched down in São Paulo last week for a 72-hour visit. The drill in São Paulo is always the same: an early evening arrival at the somewhat tired but perfectly compact Guarulhos airport, a blacked-out (sometimes bullet-proof) Kia sedan into town and a warm welcome at the Fasano Hotel.
I have many favourite hotels around the world, but the Fasano is the one brand that I’d like to see more of while I travel.
On Tuesday evening I pulled up in the driveway and was greeted by a doorman in an elegant suit. While his colleagues attended to my bags I walked into the dimly lit, clubby lobby. In the main lounge area a couple of men in business attire were having a meeting, a lone photographer was sipping a glass of red, a chic young couple (she Italian and he perhaps Swiss) were flipping through the São Paulo dailies and the fireplace was filling the whole space with that wonderful fragrance that can never be captured in a scented candle or room spray.
The cosy-modernist theme is carried through to the Fasano’s guestrooms and I’m often tempted by the low-lighting, warm woods and elegant reading chair to abandon my evening plans and settle in for an early night. The hotel’s rooms are neither too big nor too small and have a purposeful sense of scale that allows you to get on with work for a couple of hours, but never make you feel like you’re trapped.
Much of this has to do with the meticulous planning executed by the hotel’s founder Rogerio Fasano and his architect sparring partner Isay Weinfeld. The former is the man behind one of Brazil’s most respected hospitality powerhouses, and Weinfeld is the man who virtually every Brazilian billionaire wants to commission to build their beach houses and city compounds.
Later this year the Fasano brand will venture beyond Brazil’s borders for the first time when the company opens a resort property outside of Punta del Este in Uruguay. This will signal Brazil launching an international luxury brand to take on the likes of the Four Seasons and Hyatt, and exporting its own style of inn-keeping and design that’s a welcome relief from all of the tired and tested Asian formulas mimicked by many of the big global brands.
The following morning, while enduring the tedious stop-start, stop-start traffic of São Paulo I started doing a mental brand audit of shop fronts. Most of the names around the Fasano are the usual international luxury suspects, and I wondered whether this was a new metric worth adding to my Bric index. How many home-grown, designed and owned brands do I consume in daily life from those four economies? By the time I pulled up at the Cidade Jardim shopping mall a few kilometres away it seemed that Brazil was out in front again. I came up with: Made in Brazil Havaianas flip-flops that are found in my luggage on trips to hot climates, Made in Brazil Embraer aircraft to shuttle me around on short haul journeys, elegant Made in Brazil chairs from Sergio Rodrigues under my bum, and Written, Recorded and Pressed in Brazil tunes by Bebel Gilberto and Barbara Mendes stored on my laptop. I tried very hard to think of Indian, Russian and Chinese brands that I owned or used and I couldn’t think of any – no Russian design brands in my house, no reservations at any Indian hotels and no Lenovo laptop in my bag.
Brazil’s energy companies might be the engine for the country’s economy but it’s the softer elements (music, fashion, hospitality, design) that are going to make brand Brazil that little bit more seductive and sexier than Russia, India and China.
Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle
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MOJAVE, Calif. — The left main landing gear on Virgin Galactic’s space tourism jet collapsed as it landed after a test flight in the Mojave Desert Thursday, federal aviation authorities said. No injuries were reported.

Two Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were on the scene to examine WhiteKnightTwo, a four-engine jet that will serve as the mothership for Virgin’s passenger-carrying spaceship.
“The left main landing gear is damaged, but we don’t yet know if that’s the extent of the damage,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The problem occurred around 11:15 a.m. PT at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
In a statement, aircraft builder Scaled Composites described the event as a “minor incident.” The company said there was a mechanical problem with the left landing gear.
Scaled did not describe the problem in any detail, but said there were no injuries. The rocket-powered spaceship, known as SpaceShipTwo, was not attached to the jet at the time.
WhiteKnightTwo is designed to carry Virgin’s spaceship to high altitude and then release the rocket, which will then fire its engine for a brief dash into space.
Virgin has said the test program is expected to run through next year before commercial operations begin. About 300 clients have paid for a $200,000 ticket or placed a deposit.
Seven years ago, SpaceShipOne — the predecessor of the rocket plane currently being developed — suffered a partial landing gear collapse and ran off the runway at Mojave at the end of its first powered test flight . The plane went on to make three successful spaceflights in 2004, winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize in the process.
This report includes information from The Associated Press and

© 2010

Space tourism jet has trouble during test run – Technology & science – Space –



Behold brilliant Beirut

By Tyler Brûlé
Published: August 14 2010 00:47 | Last updated: August 14 2010 00:47
The last week has been something of a hot, hazy blur. When I landed in Beirut on Wednesday, the air over the city was so thick and heavy that it felt as if I were being pushed downwards through the soft, mushy pavement. Still, a super-humid evening didn’t stop us (me, Mom, Mats, my magazine colleagues Todd, Bruce and new friend Moritz) from co-hosting a party at Papercup in Mar Mikhael, commandeering a wonderful new Armenian restaurant a few streets away and then enjoying the crowd, fire-show, sounds, sparklers and impossibly large bottles of vodka at Skybar above Beirut’s harbour.
While the quick stop in Lebanon was mostly work, it also marked the official handover of the flat I fell for back in May. If you caught the dispatch from my trip in early June, you’ll recall that I found two flats in the Ashrafieh district but hadn’t managed to secure the one I wanted before I departed.
Fortunately, I now have the keys to the better of the two and have set to work scouring the city’s market, galleries, antique dealers and rubbish heaps for choice pieces to populate the terrace, reception rooms and hotel-size kitchen. My friend Kamal bundled me into his car before I left to select the essentials for the kitchen, and assured me that anything I couldn’t find in the country could be easily made. “Whatever you want,” he said. “Furniture for the terrace, deep sofas for lounging, bed-linen, lamps, storage units. We still know how to make things here.”
Aside from Lebanon’s winning sense of hospitality and an anything-goes lifestyle (elements that should be at the cornerstone of its tourism campaign), it’s the rich culture of craft that makes it a potentially interesting case-study for a country at the cross-roads of Europe and Asia.
A lack of investment in basic infrastructure over the past three decades has turned into a bonus for everyone from book publishers to furniture designers. A young woman who has a stationery business is able to print and hone her craft in the suburbs of Beirut on machines that were long ago replaced by digital equipment in more developed economies. The final product is luxurious and wonderfully tactile – and also incredibly rare.
Across town in Hamra, a furniture gallery that deals in pieces from Jean Royère has started adapting the designs of the respected French furniture designer from the 1950s and launched a local production facility. Boomerang-style tables that have been altered for 21st-century living are covered in plastic laminates that would have been consigned to the bin decades ago but are still found in warehouses around the country. Indeed, small-scale Lebanese furniture manufacturers are now winning jobs that might have otherwise gone to factories in China.
If Turkey is focused on going for volume when it comes to manufacturing clothes, furniture and houseware, then “Made in Lebanon” could become a mark of quality for ceramics, tailored garments, printing, food, even footwear. Lina Audi’s Liwan brand, L’Artisan du Liban, Orient 499, the couture of Rabih Kayrouz, the rustic leather goods of Johnny Farah, Rouba Mourtada’s stationery and Karim Bekdaches’ storage systems are all examples of businesses that combine Lebanese design talent with homegrown manufacturing.
The country has plenty to fix, but a focus on encouraging a culture of craft, which not only bolsters the small and medium-sized business sector but also maintains a sustainable base that allows for a differentiated tourism experience, is a good place to start building. It also puts Beirut in a unique position across the whole region (save for Syria perhaps) by offering up products and experiences that are wholly original.
As more restaurants pop up and hotels start to emerge from the ruins of derelict buildings, Lebanon will need to decide what type of tourists it wants to attract and how it will get them there. For the moment, and not through engineering, it’s a premium destination that’s avoided the hen-party and stag-weekend set or package tours in search of cheap buffets.
Two weeks ago, the government announced an expansion plan that will see the airport almost double in size. As there seemed to be some excitement about building an infrastructure to support big A380s, the government and Lebanon Inc would be wise also to ensure that they support their home-grown carrier MEA (Middle East Airlines) – something of a national treasure. One of my most memorable flights was the first time I flew with them in 1991 from Heathrow to Beirut where the service included a Sunday roast trolley – complete with huge carving utensils and chic flight attendants who smoked in the galley. On my MEA flight to Abu Dhabi last Sunday, I was greeted by an elegant woman with a French twist, deep tan and smoky voice who looked like a poster lady for the “golden age of flying” – and she was. All that was missing was the cigarette.
Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle
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Shackleton Scotch Freed From Antarctic Ice

A crate of Scotch that once belonged to famous explorer Ernest Shackleton was opened Friday, several months after having been rescued from a 100-plus old prison of Antarctic ice.

The crate, which contained 11 bottles of ‘Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky’, was discovered along with four others in Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island in 2006. The famed traveler brought the liquor with him during his 1907 Nimrod expedition, according to the AP, and the cases were ultimately discovered encased in ice under the floor boards of the hut.

The liquor inside, however, had not frozen, despite temperatures of -22 Fahrenheit.
The Scotch, which was defrosted at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, will eventually be returned to Shackleton’s hut and preserved “for its historic significance,” according to the AP. However, samples will be sent to Whyte and Mackay, the distiller who took over Mackinlay’s operations, so that they can attempt to duplicate the brew.

“The original recipe for the Scotch no longer exists,” notes the Associated Press (AP).
The whiskey was first discovered, along with a couple of crates of brandy, back in 2006 by a team that included Al Fastier of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust. However, it could not be extracted until January of this year because it was too deeply encased in ice.
“To our amazement we found five crates, three labeled as containing whiskey and two labeled as containing brandy,” Fastier told French news agency AFP earlier this year. Also included along with the Mackinlay’s Scotch were crates of brandy labeled Chas McKinlay & Co and The Hunter Valley Distillery Limited Allandale.

Whyte and Mackay master blender Richard Paterson previously called it “a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers… If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated. Given the original recipe no longer exists, this may open a door into history.”

Ten of the bottles were reportedly perfectly intact, save for the labels, according to an August 13 press release from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

“It’s been a delicate and slow process but we are delighted to be able to confirm that the crate contains intact bottles of whisky,” Lizzie Meek, the Antarctic Heritage Trust Artifacts Manager at the Heritage Trust, said in the press release.

Image Caption: Crates of Mackinlay’s whisky. Credit:

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 Piemonte addresses

Great Food and Wine in the Piemonte region of Italy

Dre Caste, or Il Mongetto
Hotel, restaurant, wine producer, as well as sauces and stuff. Great place.
Find more info by googling Dre Caste, or Il Mongetto
Nice Wine estate:
Gallina restaurant:
Long heavy meals. Nice and Cheap.
Great Moscato d’Asti but other wines not great.
great restaurant:
Del Belbo da Bardon

San Marzano Oliveto
Via Valle Asinari 25
Tel 0141 831 340
Well-known as the ‘Bardon’. Large, easy-going and friendly. Fine local cuisine and the largest wine list in Piedmont. Seats outside.
(Closed Wed p.m, Thurs.)
other place I’ve been to:
Trattoria della Posta ‘da Camulin’
Cossano Belbo
Via Fratelli Negro, 3
Tel 0141 88 126
Well-known and critically acclaimed for its top quality food.
Excellent wine list.
(closed Sun pm, Mon)

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