Sunday 30 May 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 30/5/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Dates of play

Today we’re going to do a bit of planning, so fix yourself another coffee, find a pencil and eraser, pull out your diary and let’s get a couple of dates in the diary because Monocle is very much back out on the road.

First stop is Antwerp, bright and early Tuesday morning. I’ve not been for about two years (could be more?) so I’m looking forward to a little walk around the city, a couple of meetings with some Flemish businesses and organisations, a round of shopping at Morrison (home to the very, very good Belgian label Howlin’) and then from 18.00 on we’ll be at Copyright for a book signing. The focus will be on the new Monocle Book of Homes but as pens will be at the ready we’ll be happy to scribble on back issues, our Italy book or pretty much anything else that requires a signature. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Channel, Midori House will also be throwing open the gate for three nights of talks – from Tuesday evening to Thursday. Editor in chief Andrew Tuck and senior editor Nolan Giles will be on hand in London to offer decorating tips and architectural guidance. If you want sound advice, please ensure you speak to them before the second round of negronis appear.

On Wednesday it’s off to Copenhagen to see what’s happening in the Danish capital, to do a bit of research around our forthcoming book on the Nordics (due out in time for Christmas), and lay the groundwork for a national survey of Denmark. On Thursday evening we’ll be heading up the coast to Hellerup to catch-up with our Danish readers, enjoy a few drinks and do a little talk and signing session at Books & Company.

On Friday it’s back down to Zürich to prepare for the summer 2021 edition of our Badi Market. If you’re not familiar with the concept, we take over our stretch of pavement in front of our HQ in Seefeld and bring together our favourite makers and mixers for a little street fair to mark the start of the swimming season. DJ Pitsch is going to be taking care of the mixing bit, alongside a debut for the Hamburg-based drinks brand Companion and around 12 other vendors offering the best in ceramics, greenery, undies, bags, bikes and more. If you fancy a little weekend in Zürich, a whole Monocle contingent will be on hand hosting radio segments, jotting down story tips and making introductions. Next Saturday will also mark the debut of our new rosé, Hibou Heureux (“happy owl”, get it?), that we’ve developed with our wine correspondent Chandra Kurt and a small producer in Switzerland’s Valais – if you’d like to secure a case, drop a note to

Sunday it’s on to Lisbon for a long overdue check-in with our Portuguese subscribers and a little afternoon cocktail at Livraria da Travessa. All of Monocle’s senior crew will be on hand as Lisbon also happens to be the only place that the London and Zürich editorial teams can come together for a meeting without having to go through the rigamarole of some sort of quarantine. One day we’ll find out how Portugal managed to be the only European holiday destination to make it onto the UK’s early summer green list. In the meantime, we’re very happy that there are some zones of sanity that allow for reasonably friction-free travel.

Looking a bit further ahead, 6-10 October should be blocked on the calendar as next we’ll be announcing the city for this year’s Quality of Life Conference. Yes dear reader, our summit devoted to consumer and social affairs, urbanism and infrastructure, is going to be dipping its toe in the Med for the first time and we think the first week of October will be the perfect time to round off the summer and look ahead to 2022 with a sharp line-up of mayors, architects, CEOs and other clever characters. If you’d like further information on any of these events please drop Hannah Grundy a note at All other special requests can be sent to me at Have a good week; I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.


Locally sauced

Ensconced in the rolling hills of Barcelona’s El Coll neighbourhood, Agreste de Fabio & Roser serves slow-style cuisine in a relaxed former bus station that dates back to 1925.

Italian chef Fabio Gambirasi sources herbs from the restaurant’s rooftop garden to include in dishes that range from ravioli stuffed with pork cheek to ray fish with beurre blanc and elderflower in tempura. Catalan wine, by the likes of organic producer Bàrbara Forés, tops the drinks list.


Dine and wine

Lisbon chef Leopoldo Garcia Calhau has doubled up his presence in the Mouraria neighbourhood by opening a wine bar next door to his restaurant, Taberna do Calhau. Bla Bla Glu Glu serves plates of petiscos (Portuguese-style tapas) including an egg-and-truffle twist on the croissant.

The food is paired with a selection of red and white wines; many of the bottles come from natural-wine vintners, such as Aphros in Portugal’s Minho region, as well as from producers in Spain and across Europe. + 351 910 163 649


Top of the pops

For the better part of two years Daði Freyr, frontman of the band Daði og Gagnamagnið, was a hot tip to be Eurovision champion. Originally tapped to represent Iceland in the 2020 competition with the song “Think About Things”, the year-long delay meant that the tune was released early and hit the charts in Iceland, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and the UK. Last weekend the band’s song “10 Years” placed a respectable fourth in this year’s song contest. Here he tells us about reading gossip about himself, what’s brewing in Iceland and his Sunday rituals.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I’ll be in the countryside in Iceland.

What have you been working on recently?
Now I am working on the music for the Daði og Gagnamagnið video game, which should be out soon.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I like to wake up gently. I’ll get up, have a coffee and look out the window.

Soundtrack of choice?
I mostly listen to energetic music. I’m very much into New York duo Sofi Tukker right now.

What’s for breakfast?
Just coffee.

News or not?
Not really. Lately I’ve mostly been reading what people write about me.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
No exercise. But I know I should.

What’s for lunch?

Sunday culture must?
I like to listen to Icelandic soul band Moses Hightower.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
We are actually making a Daði og Gagnamagnið beer, which should be out soon in Iceland. We are working with a brewery and helping to make it. It’s a cream ale – the first time one has been made in Iceland. It’s quite light and lager-esque.

Dinner venue you can’t wait to get back to?
W-Der Imbiss. It’s a great Mexican-Indian fusion in Berlin, near the Kollwitzkiez neighbourhood.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
I don’t have one but I should take better care of my skin.


Fried squid with roasted-garlic aioli

Beloved of the bagni crowd, this simpler, squid-focused take on Italian fritto misto is a summer staple of a snack. We’ve only made enough roasted-garlic aioli for one sitting as it doesn’t keep well. Luckily the dish is so good that the squid won’t last long either. Enjoy.

Serves 2 as a starter

For the aioli:
4 garlic cloves
2 egg yolks
4 tsps lemon juice
75ml light olive oil
150ml sunflower or vegetable oil

For the squid:
350g cleaned squid (cut into rings), plus chopped tentacles
75g plain flour
75g semolina
1 tsp sea salt
3 large pinches of crushed black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
500ml sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to season

1. To prepare the aioli, put 3 of the garlic cloves (skin on) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat and sauté for 3 minutes each side until slightly charred.

  1. Remove the skin, add the extra peeled, raw garlic clove and crush them with the back of a large knife. Place the garlic purée, egg yolks and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and stir until combined. Mix both oils in a jug and slowly add to the bowl, constantly mixing with a whisk (an electric one is easier). Keep adding oil and whisking at the same time until you finish adding the oil. The result should have a mayonnaise-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat 500ml of oil in a medium-sized deep pot and bring up to 190C. If you don’t have a thermometer, test with a dry wooden spoon: dip the handle of the spoon into the preheated oil and if the oil bubbles consistently and regularly, then it is ready.

  3. Mix the flour, semolina, seasoning and spice in a flat tray. Coat ¼ of the prepared squid and drop into the oil carefully. Deep fry for about 1 minute, until the squid becomes nice and crispy. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain the excess oil on a wire rack. Repeat for all of the squid. Serve immediately with your homemade roasted-garlic aioli but go easy to avoid getting your fingers burned.


Change of destination

Turning one of Finland’s most famous buildings into a hotel is no mean feat (writes Petri Burtsoff). Indeed, the Finnish Heritage Agency kept a close eye on designer Jaakko Puro as he set about transforming large parts of the Eliel Saarinen-designed 1909 Helsinki railway station into a new venture from Swedish hotel firm Scandic. The 491-room Grand Central now occupies the eastern wing of the station, which used to house the headquarters of the Finnish national rail operator VR and its 600-odd employees.

Over the years, Saarinen’s designs gave way to the dictates of the modern office with its clean lines, fluorescent lights and low ceilings. On Puro’s orders, much of Saarinen’s work was restored and his footprint can be spotted throughout the hotel. His 1909 office chairs greet guests from the moment they enter the building and the ornamental wooden railings and pillars in the stairways are original.

Some hints of the railway office remain, which was a conscious decision given that the adjoining building still hosts the railway hub. In one of the lobbies, original signage painted on the wall indicates the locations of various offices. Up above and in the hallways, 1950s lighting by Finnish designer Paavo Tynell casts a soft glow into the space. All aboard.


Lagoon with a view

On a peninsula north of the coastal town of Vilankulo in Mozambique, Sussurro is a six-bungalow lodge set on a glimmering lagoon (writes Mary Holland). A celebration of craft and design, it is decorated with an array of carved items such as Senufo stools and woven baskets.

Almost everything – from the palm roofing to the stone baths, doors and window frames – has been handmade. “It’s very minimal, which is key to showcasing the items,” says co-owner Sarah Birkett. Better still are the views of the mangrove-filled lagoon and the magical sunsets that streak the sky right in front of the lodge. You might spot dolphins too.


Working order

As you’ll doubtless be aware, the pandemic has disrupted working lives more than any wiseacres reinventing fintech, dog walking or shopping ever could (writes Josh Fehnert). So isn’t now an opportune moment for us all to consider our careers carefully? This is the thinking behind the latest issue of The Entrepreneurs, a handbook for the enterprising, interested and shrewd. In this spirit, we’ve corralled a few short lessons for those of you eyeing up the moment to start a side-hustle, invest in a new office or just daydream about your next moves.

Widen your network
You need sage advice along your entrepreneurial adventure – so ask people who you admire for some guidance. Look for mentors who have skills that you might be missing. And who to have as a business partner? This will be tough and can cost friendships. Do you all have the same vision? Will it fall apart when one person is working 24/7 and others are not able to commit? Cast your net wide for collaborators and surprise yourself.

Don’t rely on digital
Online advertising can create “impressions” but not necessarily the ones you want or the sort that amounts to presence or credibility. Don’t believe the hype about “guerrilla marketing” and word of click, or be the one writing your number on a beer mat when you meet an interesting contact but realise – too late – that you never invested in a smart business card. Build a brand that will last and look good on anything from a letterhead to a van and you’ll be rewarded in time.

Consider your cash
Making sure that you have control of your finances and that the business can support you in those first lean years is a given but what’s missed is a longer-term plan about what you want. Is this a business for life or a means to an end? Something to foster for future generations or flip in an instant? That can be a question of motivation. Are you as likely to be happy getting around on a bike as a super yacht? It’s a simple question but a surprisingly philosophical one too. How you answer it will affect many things throughout your journey.

Consider your role
There’s value in growing and cultivating a company over time, especially for the love of what you do and the staff who help along the way. But, if you don’t mind us asking, how did you end up doing all the dirty jobs and feeling like the one who wants to quit? If you’re too busy to enjoy what you’ve built, then it’s time for a bold shake-up. Business is good but not if it makes you sad – so think about what success looks like to you and pursue that.

Do and be good
If you’re making shirts, flogging financial advice or landscaping, your business probably provides goods or a service. But is this venture also about something bigger? Maybe safeguarding family firms or filling an under-served niche? Can it help a community or nudge the world in the right direction? The best companies embed this idea of a greater good into their mission. You should too. Have a super Sunday.

For more tips, pick up a copy of our business handbook ‘The Entrepreneurs’, which is out now and listen to our radio show of the same name.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00