Sunday. 10/5/2020

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

THE FASTER LANE / TYLER BRÛLÉ

Easing the pressure

For the past few days there’s been a pleasant, dull hum rumbling through Zürich’s streets and neighbourhoods. The first time I heard the muffled sound, I thought it was a bit of construction work going on in the cellar of a nearby building. Or perhaps it was a new energy-efficient heating/cooling system switching over for the summer season. Then came the giveaway clue. As I approached a restaurant that’s a regular for the Monocle crew, the hum grew louder. A high-pitched whine could also be heard and, as I got a few metres closer, a gentle mist suddenly settled on my shins. Ah yes, a Kärcher high-pressure water cleaner was being put through its paces by a familiar waiter who was enjoying giving the terrace a proper blasting.

All over Switzerland (and perhaps in front of our editor Mr Tuck’s Bloomsbury digs - he does love getting his hand on his Kärcher), Kärchers are out in full force this weekend as the country prepares to reopen its retail and hospitality sectors from bright and early tomorrow. For the past two weeks everyone has been able to get trimmed, buffed and plucked in preparation for the country’s proper restart – hair salons and barbers were the first to open. Now it’s also back to school and the office (for some, not all) as the nation attempts one of the most aggressive easing exercises in Europe.

On Saturday morning, Zürich’s Seefeld district and the nearby enclave of Küsnacht felt more like resort destinations starting the holiday season than parts of a city springing back to life. In a normal year you don’t have an entire industry working to a fixed date to kick off the season but the fine weather and sense of purpose created a feeling that holiday hordes were making their final approaches to a tiny speck in the Aegean.

Along the lake, barriers are starting to come down and parks are packed with families and groups of friends stretched out while working on their base tans. For the third weekend running we’ve had our friend Dani, from Gelati am See, serving ice cream in front of Monocle’s HQ and the queues are snaking around the block. Every 15 minutes a police van drives by to monitor the crowd but they don’t seem too concerned with the street-fair vibe. From Monday, restaurants will have tables set further apart; groups of four or full families will be able to sit together as cosily as they wish; and waiters will not have to don masks or gloves. So far, so reasonably normal. Part of the plan does call for guest tracing, however. But, this being Switzerland, it’s not surprising that people aren’t too keen on leaving their details or having their social movements recorded.

While there’s been some grumbling about the new measures, the federal, cantonal and city governments have been trying their best to be flexible. Given that restaurants won’t be able to function at full capacity indoors, the city of Zürich has made the extraordinary move of allowing cafés and restaurants to expand their seating on public pavement so long as there’s enough space left for pedestrians to pass and high-pressure street cleaners to do their work after last call.

I’ll be back with more on how this experiment unfolds on the Monday edition of The Briefing on Monocle 24 and in Tuesday’s edition of The Monocle Minute.

F&B / GLOBAL

Glass act

In its 326 years of operation, Swiss wine merchants Schuler St Jakobskellerei has weathered many of the world’s ups and downs (writes Nic Monisse). To survive current events, it’s calling on wine drinkers – which, in a lockdown, it seems we all are – to help by purchasing a bottle (or two) of red or white through its Help With a Bottle Today initiative. Working with wine-makers in Spain, Switzerland and Italy, the programme, which is currently only operating in Switzerland and Germany, will direct all profits to hospitality workers and restaurateurs, whose operations have been on hold since March.

“It’s on us to take care of our partners, and to support young chefs too,” says CEO Nikolas von Haugwitz. We’ve long loved a crisp Swiss white or a hearty red – and we’ll be toasting Monocle friend Anne Petersen of Salon magazine, who tipped us off about the project. Prost!helpwithabottle.today

SUNDAY ROAST / JEANETTE MIX

Room service

Jeanette Mix is founder of the peerless 12-room hotel Ett Hem in Stockholm. The former townhouse is flanked by embassies and parks in Lärkstaden, a short walk from the city proper but its rooms, living spaces and cobbled garden feel a world away from the hubbub outside. Here Jeanette talks pitch-perfect playlists, recommends a tasty Tuscan sangiovese and tells us why it’s a good time to sleep more.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I’m at our summer house in the Stockholm archipelago. It’s 30 minutes outside of the city.

How has the pandemic changed things for you?
Dramatically. We are told to stay at home but and at the same time keep our businesses open. People who can are working from home, which makes running a business like this [Ett Hem is open] hard.

Who is staying at Ett Hem right now?
Mostly people from Stockholm having a staycation. The hotel is usually fully booked so people are taking advantage of there being openings. We are actually busy.

How are you handling all this extra time at home?
It’s given me the time to relax and reflect. I’ve got more time to take care of my mind and body. I also try to sleep a bit more.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday?
Enjoying nature and working in the garden has become a much bigger part of my daily life and my weekends.

Gentle start or a jolt?
Start with walking the dog and then some exercise: yoga or a jog.

Soundtrack of choice?
I’m a very lucky girl because the head sommelier at Ett Hem loves music and makes playlists for the hotel, which I listen to at home. It’s a very eclectic selection and he makes a mix for different times of the day. I completely depend on him.

What’s for breakfast?
Definitely some nice bread and cheese, preferably some fresh fruit, with a cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.

News or not?
On Sundays I tend to read the papers. I’ll read the Financial Times and both our Swedish national newspapers.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I started yoga many, many years ago but I’m usually too busy to practise. I do yoga a bit more now and I realised I want to keep that in my life when things go back to normal.

What’s for lunch?
Usually on Sundays we’ll have a late breakfast and an early dinner. Nowadays it’s important to support our local restaurants so we try to use them as much as we can.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
My cupboards are very full even though my children aren’t at home anymore. I like to be fully stocked with cheese and charcuterie, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Sunday culture must?
I tend to take the opportunity to read a bit more. I always have a lot of books by the bed but now I try to read more in the daytime. I also try to watch a movie or a documentary. We recently watched Somm, a documentary about sommeliers.

A glass of something you would recommend?
The same sommelier that makes my playlist provides me with a lot of great wines. I like elegant wines with less alcohol, like you find in Burgundy and Piedmont. There’s also this amazing vineyard in Tuscany called Riecine, which makes beautiful sangiovese.

Dinner venue you love?
Babette is a very nice pizza place, which has the best wine list in Stockholm.

Who would join?
Sunday is for family. My husband and our two boys. Our daughter is still in the US finishing her degree.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
I take a bath every day. It’s an excellent time to relax and for reflection.

Will you lay out your look for Monday, what will you be wearing?
When I was younger I would always lay out my clothes. Now I just think it through. What you wear is important for me; I believe it reflects your personality.

RECIPE / AYA NISHIMURA

Breton galette

Our Japan-born, London-based recipe writer turns her talented hand to a French classic: a buckwheat crêpe with plenty of gruyère and lashings of butter. Join us as we enter the fold.

Ingredients
Makes 4 galettes (with extra batter for a dessert outing)

115g buckwheat flour
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
6ml whole milk
50ml water
15g butter, melted
20g butter
4 slices of ham
4 eggs
60g gruyère, grated (though any cheese will do)

Method

  1. Put the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and make a dent in the middle.
  2. Mix the milk, water and egg in a separate bowl, whisk until incorporated.
  3. Pour the liquid into the dent and use a whisk to mix it thoroughly until there are no lumps. If you have time, set it aside for 30 minutes, which will help the consistency. You could prepare up to this point on the evening before. Though it also works if you’re making the galettes straightaway.
  4. Pour the melted butter into the galette mixture. Melt a quarter of the rest of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. When it is melted, pour in a half ladleful of the batter and tilt it to cover the bottom of the pan.
  5. Cook for 2 minutes until the edge of the galette starts to crisp up and come away from the pan. Use a spatula to flip the galette (no heroics, please). Place the ham in the middle of the batter, then break the egg on top of it. Use a spatula to stop the egg from sliding off. Fold over the 4 sides of the galette to make a square shape (as pictured).
  6. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny. Carefully lift the galette from the pan and plate it, then grate the cheese over the top.
  7. Sprinkle cracked black pepper and eat while warm. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Galettes are also good sweet so with the fifth galette you could try adding chocolate spread or jam.
    ayanishimura.com

PERFECT MATCH / BASEBALL

Fever pitch

I have a confession to make (writes Christopher Cermak). Back when I lived in Berlin I used to play for a mixed softball team called the Crosshill Creeps. Aside from the kick-ass name (that only Berliners will understand) and the fact that they won the city title in 2018 (full disclosure: I played for the second team – but still), the best part was the team’s diversity. Baseball and softball might be most often associated with the US but the sports are far more global than you think: my team in Berlin included Europeans, Asians, Latin Americans and, as the team participated in a project welcoming refugees to the city, even some Iranians, Syrians and Afghans.

Americans in the know are well aware that we don’t dominate the sport, even though we refer to the final encounter of the North American league as the World Series. International men’s baseball competitions are more often won by Cuba or Japan than by the US, though women’s softball is dominated by the US. And this week, Americans will have seen just how global the sport really is: with Major League Baseball on hiatus, US sports network ESPN, eager for live television broadcasts, has turned to the South Korean professional league, which is up and running and played its opening day of the season on Tuesday.

Many of us have been suffering from sports withdrawal during this pandemic. So every little bit of pleasure helps, whether that’s opening our eyes to the professional competitions in a foreign country or preparing for the return of our local sports leagues. Here in London, I’ve taken to keeping fit by throwing a baseball around in the park with my partner. It’s the best we can do here for the moment but it means that I’ll be ready for my own softball season to start, whenever the government allows it.

CULTURE / ADAPTED FOR TELEVISION

Stealing the scene

I love books (writes Chiara Rimella). So much so that even the pushy “you might also enjoy” categories on Netflix nudge me towards the slightly more highbrow (is it, though?) “Films Based on Books”. That’s fine by me because, unlike the literary purists, I don’t find this insulting. Yet it’s true that screen adaptations of books can be complicated. It’s a cliché but there’s always someone to suggest that the “book was better”.

Many people had to confront this issue with the release of Normal People, a fairly risqué take on Irish novelist Sally Rooney’s will-they-won’t-they saga that was released on BBC and Hulu last week. I have read the book and liked it very much but the prospect of TV version didn’t horrify me.

However, I did wonder how those tender interior monologues might work on screen. And how the breadth and beauty of the love that Rooney committed so convincingly to paper and ink would unfold in half-hour snippets. Well, it turns out that actors’ embarrassed glances can do much setting of the story and the steamy sex scenes recreate some of the fizzing intensity of the novel’s poised prose.

Books help us to read emotions, setting them out for us to understand easily. On screen though – as in life – deciphering them is more ambiguous: characters move as our eye wanders; we’re presented with the setting rather than having to imagine it. It’s why I think that turning books into TV is exciting (and this series is too). Remember, even if you loved the book, the show or film won’t replace the text that it’s taken from. Done well, a decent adaption can even add to and embellish the book from which it came.

MY NEXT MEAL / NEW YORK

Calaca

Calaca might not be the most sophisticated restaurant in New York (writes Ed Stocker) but it serves the best Mexican food I’ve found in the city. I used to live just a couple of blocks away and it quickly became a staple: a place where you are always greeted with a warm embrace from the ebullient Ecuadorian manager, David. Calaca is a tiny neighbourhood spot in Brooklyn that can’t have more than about eight tables. The kitchen is the size of a postage stamp and yet it turns out simple but always fresh and delicious dishes, and knows how to mix the meanest tequila and mezcal-laced drinks.

It’s easy to look at some of the doomsday figures that are being bandied about, such as the one saying that 75 per cent of independent restaurants in the US that have been forced to close due to coronavirus won’t survive. But I have faith in Calaca. For one, it will have far lower overheads than some of the mega rents of downtown Manhattan (and it was only ever open about half the week during evenings anyway). I also know that I’m not the only one who feels so strongly about its continued success; Calaca has become a community benchmark.

One unforgettable memory is of going there for a friend’s birthday. We ended up sharing shots of mezcal with the waitstaff as the last diners were leaving. The cumbia [Latin dance] music was blasting and it turned into an impromptu conga line around the restaurant’s tiny floor, out of the door, onto the street and back again. And then it was over with hugs and “hasta pronto” – they really did have to be clearing up. You can’t get that doing the dishes at home. calacabrooklyn.com

Ed’s order:
Chips and guacamole
Vegetarian quesadilla
Raw tuna tostada
Spicy mezcal margarita

POT LUCK / GARDENING GEAR

Tools you can trust

So you’ve transformed that barren patch of balcony or bare sill into the hanging gardens of Brooklyn or Bermondsey (writes Josh Fehnert) but what kit do you need to keep your garden growing? Peter Milne of London’s Nunhead Gardener explains that investing in one of three or four simple items can make all the difference. “Everybody likes a nice decorative watering can and if you want to leave one around I think that’s great,” he says. “My personal thought, though, is that you’re better off with a good, big plastic one so that you can water all your plants in one go.” Style can compete with substance when it comes to misters too, which Milne explains are great for indoor plants that often hail from humid climes but can be too small for any larger tasks at hand.

Last up, Milne recommends a decent trowel to help with the repotting (he favours a stainless-steel model with a wooden handle) and some sharp secateurs too. “Most outdoor plants are going to need some cleaning up at some point,” he says. “Dead leaves need cutting off, or if they’re perennial then late in winter, before they jump into life, they’ll need cleaning up. So a nice set of secateurs will be handy – and the Rolls-Royce of secateurs is a brand called Felco.” You heard it here first, gardeners. Have a lovely Sunday. thenunheadgardener.com

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