Sunday 8 November 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 8/11/2020

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Rays of light

Thursday: The time is shortly past 19.00 on a crisp autumn evening and we find a cosy corner table in the bar at Kronenhalle. It’s busy and crowds of locals are in good spirits. We’re waiting for friends to arrive from Gstaad, so we order drinks and take in the scene. A moment later they wander in and immediately apologise for being a few minutes late.

“You’re not late at all,” I say. “We were a bit early and wanted to secure the best place to sit.”

“Thank you for that. I must say that we got totally carried away by what was happening in the building across from our hotel,” said the one who works in finance. “It was quite extraordinary.”

I wondered what they might have witnessed from their hotel room but I couldn’t come up with anything that could pass as “extraordinary”.

“I pulled back the curtains and it was the most incredible sight, quite mesmerising,” he continued. “It must have been just after five o’clock and it was a cross between shocking and beautiful.”

“Tell! Tell!” we pleaded.

“It was a building full of people working! There were people at desks, lots of walking back and forth, real activity,” he said. “I could have watched it for hours. It felt almost exotic.”

There’s currently a new “work from home if you can” order from the federal government in Switzerland but many now know the pitfalls of the home office and have decided that they prefer to be among colleagues. The Baur au Lac might want to charge extra for suites with a view to the busy bank opposite. Who needs a pass to the zoo when you can watch real, live Swiss bankers in their natural habitat?

Friday: It’s just after lunch and I’m waiting in a quiet little alley in Zürich’s old town for my dealer. At 14.00 sharp he pulls up a metal shutter and welcomes me in. I survey what’s on offer and he says he’s had a fresh delivery. He disappears for a moment to sort through his supply and returns with a couple of boxes in different colours and sizes. For a moment we discuss the quality and supply chain. Most comes from Eastern Europe and he’s confident it won’t dry up any time soon. I ask him to fill a big bag. Cash is exchanged. I walk back out into the alley with a rumpled brown-paper Migros shopping bag. I have just scored a year’s supply of proper light bulbs. If you too are frustrated by the slow pace of LED development and poor light quality I can introduce you to my dealer.

Saturday: It’s a sunny afternoon and the area in front of the Monocle Café and Trunk shop in Seefeld is packed. Aussies are gathered for flat whites and a bit of chitchat, regulars are popping in for their copies of the FT Weekend and NZZ and there’s just enough of a chill for people to be trying out an extra layer of knits, new scarves and perhaps a pair of gloves. One of our most regular customers walks past in a loden cape, knee-high riding boots, an olive beanie, mask and big sunglasses. He tells me that he’s been knocked out by the virus for the past few weeks and this is his first walk around the block with his dog. He looks incredibly chic, like a Habsburg cavalry officer ready to return to the frontlines and do battle. It’s wonderful seeing him back and on form.


Bean feast

Hong Kong interior designer Johnny Wong and his wife Xixi Chen used to spend their holidays exploring independent coffee shops around the world – a hobby that recently led them to realise their longtime dream of opening their own (writes Nina Milhaud). Wong decided to convert his North Point design studio into a café, restaurant and bar.

Hidden under the stairs of a secretive back lane in the heart of eastern Hong Kong, Artistry Brewing Company is easily missed but hard to forget once you’ve found it. You can enjoy a delicate cup of slow-drip coffee, while surrounded by lush plants and sitting in one of the many mismatched wooden chairs, most of which were designed by Wong himself. Visitors would do well to try a generous slice of homemade cake or dig into a mouth-watering plate of linguine alal frutti di mare or moules frites from the simple, bistro-style kitchen. All of which makes Artistry Brewing Company hard to pigeonhole – it might be best for you to visit and see for yourself. G/F, Tung Fat Building, 43A Kam Ping Street


Noble endeavour

It’s the mid-noughties and Dan Keeling is working as the managing director of Island Records on London’s Kensington High Street, while spending more time than he might in wine shops (writes Josh Fehnert). Mancunian Mark Andrew (a man who Keeling describes as having “more front that Blackpool Pleasure Beach”) is employed in one nearby. Neither suspected how the other might influence their careers – Keeling is now an award-winning writer while Andrew is a master of wine. That chance encounter led to the founding of a magazine in 2013 called Noble Rot, which had a stated aim to “de-twattify wine”. Before long the ambitious pair’s publishing project had gathered pace, winning them enough fans to open a restaurant on Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury in 2015. They opened another in Soho this year.

Noble Rot has found a niche in championing honest and interesting makers and running lively and lovely places to eat. Wine From Another Galaxy, published by Quadrille, tells that tale with the same un-sniffy pursuit of the honest and the unexpected, including a breakdown of how wine is made and best ordered. The book comprises a mix of interviews, illustrations and ideas that shuttle readers from the slopes of Mount Etna to the cellars of Burgundy. It offers a quaffable and tantalising sup of everything that the pair have achieved – and the wit and wisdom with which they’ve managed to do it. Cin cin!


Table talk

The third-generation owner and managing director of Danish furniture firm Carl Hansen & Søn, Knud Erik Hansen has been in and out of the company’s factory for as long as he can remember. Famous for his diligence and chipper disposition, Hansen tells us about his capacious larder, UK crime shows and why he likes a lie-in on Sundays – relatively speaking.

Where do we find you this weekend?
My wife has just returned from Poland and she needs to quarantine for the moment so we’re at our summer cottage near the Great Belt by the sea. I love the ocean view and the fresh air.

How are you handling all this extra time at home?
I spend my time at the factory and at home with my family. We also have a large house and garden that’s constantly in need of attention.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I normally wake up at 04.45 and go straight to my home office to go through the e-mails that came in overnight. But on Sundays the dog and I get up at 07.00 and go for a walk together in the garden. Then I go to the baker, buy some bread and prepare breakfast, before waking up my wife with a cup of coffee.

Soundtrack of choice?
Well, I still love almost everything that Queen produced. But a little Bach or Beethoven will also do on a Sunday morning.

What’s for breakfast?
Fresh coffee, butter, marmalade, honey and cheese. Sometimes also eggs and bacon, when we feel like it. On weekdays we usually have muesli with milk.

News or not?
Definitely news. On a Sunday morning I usually listen to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

What’s for lunch?
Often our breakfast lasts a couple of hours, meaning that lunch is very simple – just a piece of black bread with cheese or a piece of fruit.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
In our house, which was built in 1670, there’s a big larder. There are too many things to choose from: canned food, ketchup, honey, sweets, beer, soft drinks and all the other long-life ingredients.

Sunday culture must?
My wife and I often enjoy a good British crime series on Sundays, when the weather isn’t good enough to go outside. Our favourites are Endeavour, about the young Inspector Morse, and Midsomer Murders.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
In winter, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate; in summer, a cold beer or a glass of homemade lemonade.

Favourite dinner venue?
We have an excellent fish restaurant, Rudolf Mathis, right by the sea in Kerteminde. It’s relaxing here and the food and wine are first class. We always visit it on the Friday evening before our summer vacation.

Who would join?
Our children if they’re home and our friends. Or else just my wife, me and the dog.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
Dog-walking in the evening is my betterment routine. In summer I enjoy wandering the freshly cut lawn and through our vegetable garden and flowerbeds that are maintained by my wife. In winter I need my torch to see where we go.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
If I have guests, I usually wear a suit but no tie. If it’s just me and the staff at the factory, it’s always casual dress.


Orecchiette alla cime di rapa

Our recipe writer plates up Puglian perfection with orecchiette pasta (literally “little ears”) and cime di rapa (“turnip tips”). It’s worth seeking out the latter southern Italian speciality but you could substitute in tenderstem broccoli if you’re struggling to track down some suitably topped turnips.

Serves 2

300g turnip tips (cime di rapa) or tenderstem broccoli
90ml olive oil, plus extra
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
5 anchovy fillets (tinned and salted), chopped finely
30g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
200g orecchiette pasta
Parmesan cheese to serve


  1. Put the oil, garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes into a frying pan and heat gently until the garlic turns golden and the anchovies break down and form a paste in the oil. This will only take a couple of minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and heat gently, stirring frequently until they are nicely toasted and golden in colour.

  2. Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add a large pinch of salt and cook the turnip tips for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and add to the sauce. Use a potato masher to mash the turnip tips roughly, then cook until the turnip tips break down and submerge into the sauce, which doesn’t need to be completely smooth but should look like a sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bring water to the boil in another large pot. Cook the orecchiette pasta, follow the pack instructions for the cooking time but do leave a little bite. Once cooked, drain the water and add the pasta to the sauce and toss lightly.

  4. Separate the pasta into two bowls, shave the parmesan cheese over it, drizzle in olive oil and serve.


Turn the page

First things first – this invocation to read more isn’t about making you feel bad for not finishing The Fountainhead or Ulysses or your friend’s 1,000-page manuscript (although maybe you could lie and say that you got further than page seven). Instead it’s about celebrating the act of taking the time to read (writes Josh Fehnert). Why? Well, it’s fulfilling, fun and good for you, and doing so in print helps you to retain information better than on a screen. Crucially, reading offers a simple method of escape – and time travel and excitement – that costs less than a bottle of wine or a packet of smokes (as George Orwell argues somewhat punctiliously in his essay Books v Cigarettes). Without sounding too much like an over-caffeinated literature teacher, there really are other worlds to discover in books: secret lives and jokes and plenty to enlighten, enrage, unsettle and challenge us.

Books are also a physical record of where we’ve been and what we were thinking. Taking time with an old paperback offers some release from the information bombarding us from backlit screens. As long ago as the 1930s, British-American poet TS Eliot suggested that we were “distracted from distraction by distraction”. Books – highbrow, lowbrow or in-between – break the cycle of multi-tasking and can allow us time to reflect, imagine and learn. Hopefully, The Monocle Book of Gentle Living, from which this quick scribble is adapted, proves this point in some modest way. Books matter. The end.

To start a new chapter in which you’re kinder to yourself, those around you and the planet, there are plenty of tips on taking it a little easier in ‘The Monocle Book of Gentle Living’, out now.


Shore thing

Jonas Stenberg, CEO of Gothenburg-based ESS Group, has several successful hotels and restaurants under his belt. Now, despite the cooler weather, he’s opened Stockholm’s first beach club, Ellery Beach House (writes Liv Lewitschnik). “Stockholm doesn’t have a product like this and there are plenty of people who are not currently travelling and want to spend money in destinations at home,” he says. Launched in September, Ellery Beach House is already close to fully booked to the end of the year. Guests come as much to stay overnight – the property has 122 rooms – as for the relaxed atmosphere and activities, including paddle-boarding and boules.

“Ellery is all about sharing,” says Stenberg. “We hope that families with small children, as well as 75-year-olds, will come to stay with us.” Visitors are encouraged to saunter between the seaside sauna, the three pools (there are indoor and outdoor options) and the gym – and on from those to one of the bars or restaurants. “You can come here to work, play or relax but it’s not all wholesomeness,” says Stenberg. “You can have treatments here but this is not a spa. We want this place to be fun and alive; you can party and you can recharge too.”

The design reflects that ethos. Playful interiors by Swedish firm Spik Studios have a 1960s and 1970s Palm Springs feel. But the entire complex (part of which is a former regional office for IBM, shaped like a microchip) has an elegant, serious look. All of this is enhanced by its superb location next to the Baltic Sea on Lidingö, one of the islands that make up the Swedish capital proper. This beautiful part of the Stockholm archipelago is a 20-minute drive from the city centre. The western half of Lidingö is more built-up with some high-end housing, a museum and several embassies, including those of Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan and North Korea. The eastern end of the island consists of farmland, forest and beaches – and now Ellery Beach House.


Tips for the tulips

The reopening of garden centres in mid-May was a moment of real hope and high spirits in my patch of north London (writes Josh Fehnert). There was hysteria among the wisteria, glee amid the cheese plants – and I saw more than a few saps queuing for hours to purchase pots, seeds and secateurs outside the N1 Garden Centre on Englefield Road. We all needed to get out more. Things feel different today, a few days into a second lockdown in the UK, and much of Europe, but there are still ways to get out, enjoy your garden and prepare it for the coming cold snap.

Make sure that you clear those fallen leaves from your lawns, beds and ponds and insulate your tender plants from the frost, along with any hardier ones that will be very exposed to the cold or rain. Raising containers on feet is useful to prevent waterlogging in wetter patches and, in the spirit of bonfire night earlier this week in the UK, you could also burn off those lopped boughs and cuttings in a little inferno (check the doubtlessly complicated rules and bylaws in your area first, and be sensible with that bonfire, won’t you). Lastly, plant a few tulip bulbs for a spring display. They’ll need a space in full sunlight and should be placed twice a bulb’s width apart to prosper. Think of it as a little act of defiance against the slight sadness of the season and a reminder that as your garden’s glory wanes for the year, there are always reasons to be hopeful. It’s an act of inherent optimism to seed life that’s quietly stirring beneath the soil. Have a lovely Sunday.


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