Sunday 26 January 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 26/1/2020

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Crushing the lag

People who’ve worked with me over the years can confirm that I don’t suffer from jetlag. No matter how many time zones I cross or how often I zip back and forth between the Korean Peninsula and the shores of Lake Zürich, I can confidently say that I’m generally perky, always “in the room”, quick with my responses and never, ever, let travel become an excuse for shortcomings in my professional conduct. The same people might also tell you that I’m very good at the taxi nap (head back and tilting to one side, mouth open and a dribble of drool on the seat belt), the office nap (shoes off, blanket on, horizontal on the sofa and alarm set for 25 minutes of serious slumber) and the very tricky to manage “I’m just going to take this call while at dinner” nap (pretend you’ve missed a call, excuse yourself, make for the bathroom, find a stall, set your alarm for seven minutes and collapse). My ability to sleep wherever, whenever is one of the key weapons in my arsenal against skipping meridians. I’d also add that sitting close to door one on Swiss 777s, eating once a day (most of the time – I promise) and ultra-light duvets also ensure that jetlag is never a complaint.

On Wednesday I flew to Tokyo (on an A340 rather than a 777) and made the very silly mistake of missing my post-pinot noir nod-off over Belarus. Why I decided to watch Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston in The Switch is quite beyond me and I shouldn’t have ploughed on with the empty thriller I was reading either. Before too long the sun was coming up over the Pacific and we were on approach to Narita. As Thursday was light on meetings, I made another error in taking a nap after I checked in. It seemed like a good idea at the time but I struggled to find my groove for an end-of-day meeting and was spacey for most of the evening.

Worried that I was going to be completely out of sync, I attempted to get to sleep at a normal hour (01.30-ish) and set my alarm for 08.00. With a bit of luck and the help of a few drinks at a sweet little bar in Hiroo, I fell asleep with the lights on and made it through to just after 07.00. Now what? Try to gain another hour? Or was it time to catch up on overnight emails? I was about to call for a coffee when I had another idea. Why not walk from Shinjuku to Shiodome for my first meeting? I looked out across Tokyo, spotted a tower near my destination and set a course across the city – no map, no phone guidance. Ok, I did check the walking time on Google to ensure a prompt arrival but after that it was just me, my trainers, a crisp morning and 8km to cover.

While I know Tokyo well, I often make this particular journey by cab on a raised motorway. Covering the distance by foot is a completely different exercise and one that gives you a fresh take on how a slight curve in a street can easily send you way off course (particularly when you lose sight of a key marker) and little diversions – to snap a handsome building or grab a card from a cosy-looking basement bar – can devour valuable minutes. At the same time, watching where people are coming from allows you to find well-used short cuts; taking risks on little lanes not made for cars can also be a time-saver. After an hour and 45 minutes I made it to the tower in Shiodome, had enough time for a coffee and made the ascent to my meeting. From the 25th floor I looked back to the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku and studied my route – trying to establish if I could have done it faster. Perhaps. More importantly, I found a new way to jolt my internal compass and ensured that there would be a taxi nap on my return journey.


Crash course

Strike-struck Paris isn’t much fun to navigate right now (writes Josh Fehnert). So Libertino, a vast Italian restaurant in the city's 10th arrondissement, should have been a welcome relief from the traffic, trottinettes and turmoil outside. Should have but wasn’t – expect a queue on arrival. Visiting the latest opening from Parisian firm Big Mamma Group’s lively string of trattorias is about as likely to help you unwind as crossing the Périphérique at rush hour, on a scooter, naked and blindfolded – but it’s rather fun as a result. Wade to your table through the flora and you’ll spy a bar, delicatessen and main restaurant where no inch of wall, shelving or space has been spared adornment. All furnishings, accents and dishes have been dialled up to an almost cartoonish brightness: oil paintings, decorative dogs, wooden votives, a porcelain Madonna and child, and a pitcher shaped like a yawning fish are all within arm’s reach of my snug table.

The pace of service is pretty feverish too, as waiters careen around the blind bend of a T-junction at the heart of the restaurant, passing in platoons and bearing trays of steaming pizza, cacio e pepe in wheels of pecorino cheese and wobbling globes of burrata. Some hold strawberry sharing cocktails aloft in ceramic bowls the size of human heads. Goods delivered, they return hastily, narrowly missing a collision with colleagues heading in the opposite direction before the frantic dance begins again; though never in earnest. The (mainly Italian) staff seem to enjoy the joke and loudly remonstrate with each other as they pass. It’s stressful, yes, but more in the manner of a choreographed theatre piece than the anxiety of watching a bad juggler fumbling with the flatware.

The food is all Italian favourites vamped up in high-contrast colours: artichoke salad, amatriciana di polpo (a simple peasant dish elevated to umami-sweet heights) and a fleet of lip-smacking Sicilian-style pizzas. Everything I tried is worth writing home about and the menu rewards hungry exploration. Libertino isn’t for everyone though: those with nervous dispositions or pacemakers for instance. It’s perfect for a bibulous bacchanal rather than a laid-back lunch. This said, given the boisterous mood and the long queue outside, relaxation isn’t what its customers are after. Unlike in the traffic-choked Paris streets beyond it, Libertino’s success is in part the good-humoured congestion it carries off with a grin.


Bill Granger

The Aussie chef, writer and food broadcaster Bill Granger’s first café – Bills in Sydney’s Darlinghurst – opened 27 years ago and has since led to outposts in Seoul, Tokyo and Honolulu. His latest venture, the fifth London branch of Granger & Co, will open later this year.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I live in Notting Hill around the corner from my restaurant, which is handy. On the weekend I enjoy relaxing, pottering around and being at home. Because London is so vast and I run around during the week, I like to stay in my neighbourhood.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
Straight up. I’m always an early riser. I love eight o’clock on a Sunday morning when everyone else is sleeping in after Saturday night. I have three teenage daughters, so I sneak out of the house [while they’re asleep]. I go and get a coffee and chat with the guys at the restaurant. My favourite time in my restaurants is when they’re empty.

Soundtrack of choice?
I will be brutally honest: it’s normally just what the girls are putting on. They like Amy Winehouse and Frank Ocean. I have no say in it.

What’s for breakfast? I will have the scrambled tofu, which is a new thing. It is becoming a bit of an obsession. Good turmeric, lots of spice and chilli.

News or not? I do love the Financial Times. I like the paper version on the weekend or The New York Times. I love the supplements but I don’t really understand the business part of the paper. Instead, I look at the ads for places in Courchevel.

Walk the dog or downward dog? I wish it was walking a dog but our children are very allergic. [For exercise] I do Pilates. I go to Opus Gym in north Kensington – David up there is a genius. They do classes for eight people and I run into lots of friends. I’ve trained myself over many years just to do it, now I enjoy it but that has taken a long time.

Lunch in or out? I love having a wander down Golborne Road. Falafel King has just reopened, after having been on Portobello Road for 20 years. They are the best falafels in London. The owner is a real eccentric, a great character. It’s fun and £7 [€8], so it’s cheap. I like to cook a big Sunday lunch. After the gym I will head to Queen’s Park farmers’ market and pick up some stuff.

Larder essentials you can’t do without? Bread. I have tried being carb-free but I can’t. I am obsessed with bread.

Sunday culture must? I love Kensington Park Road; there is a great bookshop. They have a tight selection so you can buy anything there and know that it’s going to be really good. There is also a newsagents across the road, which is great because I love buying piles of magazines.

A glass of something you’d recommend? Cynar, the artichoke liqueur, as a spritz. I like those not-too-strong aperitifs.

The ideal dinner menu? On a Sunday, if we have had a big lunch it is always something really simple. The kids’ favourite is a Sunday-night pizza so I’ll make one in the oven at home. I will sometimes make focaccia and some salad with cheese. It’s fun and casual, we never entertain on a Sunday night so it’s that time just to settle before the week starts.

Ideal dinner venue? Home. I have got a big table for 10 or 12. I love nothing more than being at home. I spend my life in restaurants. If I can see they’re having a bad night I will take on their stress. I feel for them.

Will you lay out your look for Monday, what will you be wearing? Never. But I do dress in a bit of a uniform. I am obsessed with Stella McCartney’s Piet Pants. They are not too stretchy but are as comfortable as a tracksuit. I have got a pair that are blue and black, and a plain blue and black jumper from Jac + Jack in Australia. The older I get, the more I understand Mark Zuckerberg. In Australia I would just wear a white T-shirt but that does not quite work in London; the biggest thing now is warm socks.


Grits with garlicky prawns

Japanese-born, London-based food stylist and recipe writer Aya Nishimura shares a hearty recipe from the southern states. If you’re living outside the US and can’t get your mitts on grits, then swap in either fine polenta, maize meal or coarse cornmeal instead. Oh, and enjoy.

Serves 2

100g grits (or fine polenta) 550ml water (but check the cooking instructions on your packet, especially if you’re not using grits or using “instant” grits) 1 tsp sea salt 2 tbsp unsalted butter 20g finely grated strong cheddar cheese 330g shelled and deveined prawns 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 50g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes Juice of ½ lemon ¼ tsp smoked paprika ½ jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped Hot sauce and chopped coriander to taste


  1. Bring water to a simmer in a medium pan over medium heat, then add grits and salt. Mix the grits with a whisk until they start to thicken. Turn the heat down to low, keep whisking and cook for 30 minutes (or follow the cooking instructions on your packet).
  2. Once the grits are ready, add the butter and grated cheese, stirring until they’re melted.
  3. Set the pan aside and cover to keep warm while you prepare the prawns.
  4. Put the garlic and butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to melt, add the prawns.
  5. Cook until the prawns turn pink on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Add the smoked paprika, chopped jalapeño and lemon juice, then stir through.
  6. Divide the grits in between two bowls, add the prawns and pour some of the juice over them. Eat immediately, served with hot sauce and chopped coriander to taste.


Better by application

I recently met a woman who spends $50,000 (€45,000) a year on keeping fit (writes Andrew Tuck). Although she is one of the bigger spenders at her US workout-base she is not the biggest. She looks great but couldn’t she achieve the same look for a little less? There are lots of reasons why people get addicted to their gym routine, from trying to hold ageing at bay to boosting their self-confidence and being healthy. This addiction can get out of hand in all sorts of ways but, to be truthful, I am a little jealous of the people who get bitten by the dedication bug. So on 1 January, as I clunked the final empty wine bottle into the recycling bank, I determined to have another push.

A few years ago, in a very different attempt at self-improvement, I signed up to the language-learning app Duolingo and have been a little obsessed ever since. The way it gamifies language-learning means that I have notched up 560 days of study without missing a beat. So I looked for an app that would do the same for fitness – one that would challenge me and bring out my inner completist.

Not wanting to spend $50,000 shedding my chardonnay deposits, I went for the free Nike Training Club app. And since then? Well, the workouts are challenging but easy to follow, with videos explaining what to do. I can choose short or long ones and pick the bits I want to stretch and bulk. And the woman who cajoles me along actually has a good voice. It means that I have won awards for being in “Beast Mode” (grrrr), achieved “High Heat” (normally an award given to a neighbour’s dog) and hit 15 workouts in as many days.

Normally sceptical about such things, I’ve found that this free app has gently informed and encouraged me, and got me to the gym with unswerving dedication. I am not saying that it’s been dramatically transformative but maybe one day I’ll be on a version of Love Island – perhaps a mature version called Love-handle Island.


Swede spot

Distance: 3.5km
Terrain: Flat, urban and leafy in parts
Notes: Stockholm’s furniture fair starts in early February and our tour helps unlock this smart neighbourhood’s best design, architecture and shopping options.

A tone-setting start to enjoying the architecture of Östermalm can be sought within the finely built Kungliga Biblioteket and its ornate gardens. The 19th-century national library is sometimes overshadowed by Gunnar Asplund’s public library across town but shows off an equally considered and elaborate vernacular. Walk through the park and if you’re peckish then head down to Östermalmstorg to the Östermalms Saluhall, housed in a light-filled temporary structure while the magnificent red-brick market halls from 1888 are revamped.

The food hall is a triumph of temporary architecture that many will be sorry to see go. Once inside, take the opportunity to dip into Swedish delicacies such as skagen toast, pickled herring or meatballs with lingonberry jam – we like Lisa Elmqvist’s deli and bistro. Next, head to Scandinavian design and furniture gallery Modernity on Sibyllegatan. Here you’ll discover classic pieces from the 1920s Swedish Grace movement and more modern works. Continue your home improvements at Svenskt Tenn, which is a few steps downhill on the city’s glimmering Nybroviken harbour. Founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson and later joined by Sweden’s adopted Austrian modernist master Josef Frank, it’s an inspiring spot to secure colourful furniture in floral finishes or works from more contemporary names, including Michael Anastassiades.

Now saunter north past Berzelii Park (pictured) and along posh Birger Jarlsgatan. If you’re interested in finding some design-minded inspiration then stop at Rönnells Antikvariat for antique books, rarities and unlikely finds. The last leg is a wander north to Ett Hem in Lärkstaden. Designed by London’s Studioilse, it’s everything a small hotel should be and a great spot to see comforting and alluring design done well.


Tanked up

International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) bills itself as the “world’s largest dedicated armoured vehicles conference” (writes Andrew Mueller). However, upon arriving for the first of IAV’s three days at Twickenham Stadium in London this week, one is vaguely downcast to discover that the heartland of English rugby has not been repurposed as an immense vehicle park.

The only hardware immediately visible gleams from the shoulders of the uniformed cohort of attendees – an impressive global gathering, largely colonels and upwards, from Nato and points beyond. The Chileans probably take the deportment prize, their silver tunics and gold epaulettes cutting a splendid dash amid the khakis and blues of their fellow soldiers, and the suits of the civilians.

IAV occurs in three of Twickenham’s conference rooms. Two of these rooms are devoted to scheduled talks. The other is used for lunch and coffee breaks – a dozen or so manufacturers of assorted military kit have set up small stalls herein. At the table operated by Palomar, a US company that makes binocular gunnery sights, its vice-president of business development, Zeev Kalansky, says that everyone present will be familiar with his merchandise. His display of handsome, chunky accessories is a bat-signal to people he has met at previous IAVs.

This event, at its core, is really about maintaining networks and making contacts. Possibly for this reason the trinkets on offer are disappointing. Turkish firm Aselsan (“Armoured vehicle solutions”) offers a gold box of Turkish delight. A representative of the Boxer armoured-vehicle programme is seen to lay out a small paddling of camouflage-print rubber ducks; they don’t last long, either because they are snapped up or because he thinks better of it.


Next week is about...

Monday marks the Francophone world’s take on the Golden Globes. The Prix Lumière was created by journalist Edward Behr and producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier in 1995 to celebrate French-language cinema. This 25th edition calls upon the Académie – 200 journalists and film folk from 50 countries – to decide on the industry’s award-worthy contributions. Les Misérables is a frontrunner but look out for François Ozon’s By The Grace of God and Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire too. This year also marks a new prize for French producers working abroad, with Brazilian drama Bacurau and Algerian film Papicha up for awards.

Snow Friday marks the beginning of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in northern Japan. Some two million people will visit Odori Park in the Hokkaido capital to admire snow and ice sculptures and winter wonderment that extends from the streets of Susukino to the Community Dome Tsudome. Participants include 11 sailors from the Naval Air Facility in Misawa charged with sculpting a bust of a pilot and aircraft to mark the military’s 37th year of participation. First held in 1955, the festival has rather snowballed in recent years and runs until 11 February.

Super Bowl
Next Sunday sees the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs face off in the 54th Super Bowl at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Regardless of who gets their hands on the Vince Lombardi trophy, many will be keenly watching the half-time show (and not just for the performances by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez). At least one of the notoriously expensive advertising slots has been bought by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, while earlier this month it was confirmed that Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg would also be investing in 60 seconds of ad time at a reported cost of $10m (€9m). Odds on the latter’s likelihood of upsetting the incumbent, however, remain rather long.


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