Sunday 14 March 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 14/3/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Question marks

This week we received scientific evidence that Monocle readers are a competitive, well-informed and good-humoured bunch. Though events and interactions over the past 14 years have helped to support this claim, we’ve been lacking the big data to convince academics and grumpy sceptics. Thanks to the quiz launched in this column last Sunday however (click here) in case you missed it), we now have all the stats we need to confidently state that ours is the sharpest audience of any Swiss-based, English-language, global media brand.

With a cut-off time of 19.00 CET last Monday, our little quiz attracted responses from Sydney (Australia, not Nova Scotia) to Montréal and the outer suburbs of Munich. It required several hours and a couple of glasses from Schloss Salenegg to sift through the responses, comments and elaborate attachments – yes, someone went so far as to send their answers in Excel and, not surprisingly, was immediately disqualified.

By Wednesday morning it was difficult to declare a clear group of winners as some questions demanded some creative licence and a deep knowledge of all things Monocle-related. So, we decided to throw out the format for this week’s Monocle on Sunday programme (tap here to listen), turned it into a gameshow and invited seven finalists to join us for a phone-in. Sadly we never got round to getting one finalist on the line (Nancy has a nice treat winging its way to her anyway), so in the end we were six along with our very own Andrew Tuck and Emma Nelson as hosts. Below are the correct or best answers to those burning questions. Please note: questions have been edited for brevity and not every answer is from a finalist.

  1. Why do dog owners get fined for not cleaning up after their pooches but horse-owners are exempt and can let their steeds dump away with great delight?

There were no fines for over 50,000 horses (1.3 million pounds of manure a day!) that transported people around London around the year 1900, so why bother with the rare appearance now?
From Camila in Chicago.

  1. Why hasn’t someone created a premium viewing-sans-frontieres service, which recognises that many people have bank accounts outside the countries where they reside, might have temporarily relocated to (are stranded on) the other side of the world or simply want to watch something in a language that might not be on offer in the place they happen to call home?

Licensing: another limitation of nationalism. Open markets = open minds!
From Christopher in Seattle.

  1. Is it okay to wear high-waisted, rib-cage-skimming denim if you’re male and over 30? Even over 20?

No one, ever. Unless they are playing a gondolier in an animated film.
From Nancy in Marylebone.

  1. What’s the name of our editor in chief’s dog?

Macy is the correct answer, though we did like the audacity of someone to suggest Fluffy. Over 30 readers got this right.

  1. Bonus question: what’s the breed?

For some reason most people who don’t know Macy (an opinionated fox terrier who also has some comments on today’s programme at around the 15-minute mark) from Andrew’s Saturday column suggested the dog might be a Podengo. We’re not sure why.

  1. I’m told that Tesla’s vehicles are a joy to drive but why are they so uncomfortable for passengers? (Please note: if you disagree with this truth, you’re disqualified from the competition.)

Mr Musk is too busy buying Bitcoin to bother with such frivolities.
From David in London.

  1. What happened to the kale boom? Are there millions of hectares of empty fields? And what about all those skipping ropes that were purchased about nine months ago?

Kale is so 2018. The fields have been repurposed for growing marijuana to help people get through the pandemic. The skipping ropes were fun for about a month, then they became a suicide hazard for those not smoking marijuana to get through the pandemic. (To be clear: I neither condone marijuana nor committing suicide.)
From Annika in Beirut.

  1. We’ve heard a lot of “the home office is here to stay; the traditional office is dead”. In ten words or less, what would a typical Monocle response be to this?

Shoot me now before someone says, “You’re on mute.”
From Adam in the rural Midlands.

  1. Why is our London hub called Midori House?

While the real answer is that our building carried too much dot-com-bubble karma when we moved in so we opted for something that reflected its leafy side in Japanese, we prefer this answer.

Suntory made it a precondition of being an early advertiser.
Another one from David in London.

  1. Finally, Monocle is lining up its next Quality of Life Conference. Where’s it taking place?

This was a trick question. Many of you answered Madrid but that already happened in 2019. We’re optimistically aiming for the end of June or early July and while we’d still like to go to Tokyo, it’s going to be in Europe – at sea.

Congratulations to our winners: Annika in Beirut, Nancy in Marylebone, Marius in Hamburg, Ian in Oxford, Adam in the Midlands, Christopher in Seattle and David in London. The Sunday quiz will return with even bigger prizes in May!


World of flavours

Led by executive chef Peter Wu, Kinhboy is a softly lit bar and restaurant on Redfern’s Regent Street dining strip. Replete with neon lights, an upbeat soundtrack and Wu’s fusion of Vietnamese dishes with Japanese, Korean, French and US flavours, it’s a great spot for a quick drink or a long meal. Try the beef tartare, kingfish ceviche or bánh xèo tacos for some unexpected and delicious combinations.

Subscribe to our Digital Editions to access the latest issue of the magazine, our back catalogue and regularly updated tips for exploring key cities – such as this editor’s pick from our Sydney guide.


Sauce code

Patrizio Miceli founded communications studio and production house Al Dente in 2004, which crafted campaigns for the likes of Chanel, Costume National and Louis Vuitton. He also tapped into his Italian roots by starting a sugo and pasta company, Al Dente La Salsa, based on a tomato sauce that he and his mother used to make for friends. Here, he holds forth on French wine, why he buys up other people’s vinyl collections and the reason he never picks out an outfit the day before.

Where do we find you this weekend?
In Rome for a restaurant opening, staying at my friend Gabriele Salini’s hotel, G-Rough. The restaurant can only open until 18.00, so it will be more of a late lunch.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I always look through the news and then I’ll take a moment to chill with my two kids and try to go out for a walk in nature.

Soundtrack of choice?
I make very lively Italian playlists on Spotify, populated with artists such as Lucio Battisti. But I do prefer to listen to vinyl on Sundays, as I love listening to whole albums. I’ve been going to auctions and buying private vinyl collections; it’s funny to enter into the life of the people who amassed them.

What’s for breakfast?
I leave it to my kids to prepare things in the morning, such as freshly squeezed grapefruit, so it’s often a surprise.

News or not?
I use Courier International, which translates a range of international newspapers into French, with select articles from worldwide media organisations. And Le Monde too.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I’d rather go for yoga. I stretch every morning; I need to look after my back so I do three minutes a day and hope that it keeps the doctor away.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
I’m mostly about working with the seasons and doing things directly in nature, such as skiing or going for a great swim in the sea.

What’s for lunch?
I cook a lot on Sundays. Now is artichoke season, so I’ll make carciofi alla romana – it’s super easy to do and super good. I’ll always have something a little bit unhealthy too. In our neighbourhood we have very good, very naughty cookies. If I don’t have one of those, I’m going to have an ice cream.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
In winter there’s nothing better than to have very fresh, seasonal tomatoes and salt. Then olive oil and pasta.

Any of your own pasta sauces in there too?
Yes. For Al Dente La Salsa we have been working on two new recipes: cacio e pepe, a very good Roman sauce with a base of pecorino and pepper, and the second, alla nerano, inspired by this fantastic restaurant on the Sorrento peninsula that does an amazing pasta with courgette.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
Drops from Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin.

Dinner venue you can’t wait to get back to?
Nino in Rome.

A Sunday evening routine?
I usually grab food in the second arrondissement at Chez Miki, in Paris’s Japanese neighbourhood. It does fantastic natto spaghetti. This is followed up by a film, usually a good thriller. I start the week with nightmares – just kidding.

Will you lay out your look for Monday?
No, absolutely not. Wearing things is an improvisation and the mood of my Sunday can be completely different to how I’m feeling on Monday. I blast music really loud on Monday morning and get dressed to that.


Blueberry scones

Our recipe writer’s simple scone recipe is a wonderful weekend snack. Enjoy them warm and slathered in cool butter or add a dollop of thick cream and jam for a more indulgent treat. Enjoy.

Makes 8 scones

100g cold unsalted butter
300g plain flour
1.5 tsps baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
½ tsp fine sea salt
180g full fat natural yoghurt
50g runny honey
125g blueberries
2 tbsps milk (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan). Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and keep in the refrigerator while you are weighing the other ingredients.

  2. Sieve flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl.

  3. Add the cold butter to the mixture, using your fingers to rub the butter and flour together until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Alternatively, you can use a food processor: pulse the ingredients together a few times until you get the desired texture.

  4. Make a dent in the middle of the flour-and-butter mix. Mix the yoghurt and honey then pour into the dent. Incorporate the mixture quickly with a spoon. Once it roughly comes together, tip out onto a lightly floured kitchen surface and knead lightly for a minute or so.

  5. Flatten the dough and make it into a rough rectangle shape. Gently work a third of the blueberries into the dough. Then fold the dough in half. Repeat this process two more times.

  6. Roll out the dough into a roughly 15cm x 20cm rectangular shape. It should be about 3cm deep. Cut the dough in half lengthways, then cut each half into 4. You should now have 8 rectangular scones. Brush the top of the scones with milk (optional, but does give them colour).

  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes (keep an eye on them and allow them to brown a little). Remove from the oven and serve warm.


Mark as read

Can you remember what you did before emails existed? If so, I’d bet that you recall that part of your life as one when you had more time and fewer distractions (writes Lewis Huxley). Of course, email can be great. We can stay in touch on the go, share files and – as we hope to do with this newsletter – inform and entertain. But do we really need to send 126 emails each and every day?

Cal Newport thinks not. This number is the average amount of digital correspondence for office workers, as stated in the Georgetown University professor’s latest book, A World Without Email, equating to one missive every 5.4 minutes – and the author says that it’s killing productivity. The problem, as Newport sees it, is that constantly switching between answering emails and doing more involved work leaves us with “attention residue”, where a part of our cognitive capabilities remains focused on what we were just doing rather than the matter at hand. So what’s a sensible reply? Newport’s suggestion is to move as many tasks as possible away from our inboxes. But the fact that several of his recommendations rely on other computer-based tools also demonstrates how pervasive the reliance on digital communication has become.

I know of a CEO of a restaurant chain who refuses to call it a day until he’s responded to every email in his inbox. Noble, perhaps, but would his time be put to better use on less mundane activities? And would everyone get more done if they were sending and receiving fewer messages? Our house view: talk to your staff face to face and use a pen and paper when you can. That’ll leave everyone with more time for the meaty stuff – and less for the spam.


Surfers’ turf

In recent years, Rockaway Beach has become a favourite getaway for New Yorkers. And now, thanks to the opening of The Rockaway Hotel just minutes from the subway, it has become even more alluring.

The hotel’s 53 playful, pastel-hued rooms, filled with wooden headboards and rattan chairs, have a beach-bungalow feel. But what truly makes The Rockaway such a fun weekend getaway is the trimmings: the sixth-floor rooftop; the sun deck overlooking the glimmering heated pool; the Greenhouse café (serving light meals); and Margie’s restaurant for American classics. It’s open year-round but winter might be the best time to visit, when the crowds have dispersed, the pool house is turned into a heated wonderland and Rockaway Beach has the best waves for surfers.


Essential utensils

Japan is a nation that does many things rather well. Here we profile a few problem-solving products to tackle some of daily life’s trickier challenges. Find these, and more Japanese items we admire, in our “Let’s do it better”-themed March issue, out now.

  1. Instant beer cooler, by Mantensha. Place a can in the cooler with some ice then spin the handle for 90 seconds for a quickly chilled drink.

  2. Onigiri holder, by Hakoya. A staple of the school bento (lunchbox), the onigiri is a seaweed-wrapped rice ball, usually triangular. These cases keep them in perfect order.

  3. Portable gas cooker, by Sengoku Aladdin. A fixture in Japanese households, this retro model comes from Sengoku Aladdin. The colour is exclusive to Beams Japan.

For the full run-down, including a bamboozling banana holder and even some unexpected massage pants (really), buy a copy of the March issue here. Have a lovely Sunday.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00